How does the pandemic of world religions affect – this extremely interesting topic was discussed in detail in the column “Beyond the Horizon” on the Bulgarian National Radio. Here is Silvia Petrova’s point of view:
At the beginning of the pandemic – March last year, the search for the word “prayer” in Google marked a 5-year high. Of course, this in itself does not mean that people pray more, but it reflects an increase in interest. The fact is, however more people are turning to religion in times of uncertainty. This is confirmed by various studies by anthropologists around the world, which conclude that in countries affected by hostilities or natural disasters, participation in religious rituals subsequently increases. Two or three years after the traumatic event, however, the peak begins to decline.
During the pandemic, 28 percent of Americans reported a strengthening of their religiosity, followed by Spaniards and Italians with 16 and 15 percent increases in piety, respectively, according to a study by the Pew Research Center in 14 countries. At the other pole are Danes with 2 percent, Swedes with 3 percent and Germans and Japanese with 5 percent answered in the affirmative to the question of whether the pandemic has strengthened their faith in God. Another study concluded that when people are more often reminded that they are mortal – for example, by showing images of coffins, people become more committed to religion and more zealous in defending their religious beliefs.
Another emphasis was made by Professor Andrea Paras in the Department of Political Science at the University of Canada, Guelph, Ontario: “Religious leaders enjoy considerable authority and respect among his followers. This means that they have a potentially great influence on the advice they give on how to deal with a pandemic. For example, when the pope canceled Sunday liturgies in St. Peter’s Square, he sent a strong message not only to Catholics in Rome, but to all Catholics and even all people in the world. When such leaders speak, people listen. But it can also have the opposite effect. For example, in the United States, some churches continued their services, which were attended by many people. Other communities ignored the recommendations of the health authorities. Many people trust their religious leaders more than their governments. “
Prof. Paras’ words are confirmed in the extremely orthodox Jewish community in Israel. Although about 4 million of the nearly 9 million population have already been vaccinated against Covid-19, the community there has strongly opposed the restrictions, and last year even forced soldiers to help police enforce the measures. There were also street clashes. Rabbi Nechemi Bluestein: “At first we were skeptical and did not think that the society would want to be vaccinated. But now that the rabbis have agreed to the project and promoted it, there is a great demand for vaccines and everyone wants to be immunized. coronavirus, and because of the coronavirus it is very difficult to pray three times a day in a synagogue. And the community is very important to us. Once the rabbis said that the instructions of the Ministry of Health should be followed, everyone left the synagogues and stopped to pray in them. We pray in the courtyards, away and fresh air. “
What are the messages during a pandemic of some of the world’s religions?
As the number of deaths worldwide continues to rise, Buddhist monk Reiku Sasaki of Japan prays daily for an end to the pandemic: “Belief in the Buddha helps maintain peace and tranquility of mind, which plays an important role in religion. All human beings they will die one day. According to Buddhist teachings, we all live with the four inevitable truths: birth, aging, illness and death. It is important to accept this reality. “
The pandemic is a time of loss for millions of people around the world. French Bishop Patrice Saunière helps families who have lost relatives: “Priests are there to comfort, listen and accompany. The church is a real place to overcome and comfort. We are social beings and when we are deprived of contact through the eyes, the face, the smile, There is a serious concern, so we need to maintain this connection, this relationship, if possible, a challenge not only for the church, but for society as a whole, not to lose these social connections.”
And the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, condemned seeking political and economic benefits during the pandemic: “Unfortunately, in these times we are witnessing the rise of party interests. For example, some would like to appropriate possible solutions, in this case – vaccines. Some take advantage of the situation to sow division, seek economic or political benefits, create or exacerbate pre-existing conflicts, others do not care at all about the suffering of others, and the crisis we face affects everyone. If we seek the common good together, otherwise we will get worse The Christian response to the pandemic and the ensuing socio-economic crisis is based on love. A virus that does not recognize borders, barriers and cultural and political distinctions must be met with love without borders, barriers and distinctions. “
Restrictions due to the pandemic often affected worship services. As in other countries, common prayers in Iraq have been banned in some cases, even for months. Iraqi Abbas Yassim and Imam Sheikh Latif al-Hafaji said: “Usually during the joint prayers, people get together and their mood improves. This way they can return to their normal state. But in times of pandemic, everything is divided, as the earth and the sky are divided. “
“We are very sad when Covid kills someone and we cannot perform funeral prayers or even arrange a funeral, as is the custom. We are sad, but our grief is healed with patience and love by Allah.”
The pandemic has led to the use of new technologies in the church as well. Many liturgies were streamed on Zoom or Facebook, which attracted people who did not visit prayer houses often. Priest Alison Joyce of St. Bride of Anglican Church in London, who uploads liturgies to an online podcast platform:
“There was a lot of the soul block, but also some remarkable gifts. We are learning to be priests in a completely different way. We are learning lessons, as in many other churches, that will help us take religion into the future. These are times of great opportunities, precisely because we had to rethink everything we do. “
How to keep faith and hope in the days of Covid?
Tim Cole, an American priest from Christchurch Georgetown Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., said: to look at things with humor as much as possible. More importantly, friendship and close relationships between people. While I was in the hospital, the fact that people prayed for me helped me not to be afraid. And last but not least, of course this is faith in God. “
And this month, Europe’s oldest man, 117-year-old French nun Sister Andre, celebrated her birthday after spending asymptomatic Covid-19: “I wasn’t afraid because I’m not afraid to die. I’m glad I met all whom I have loved and thank the Lord for bringing them to me. I would advise young people to be brave and compassionate. Not to blame. “
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