05/12/2020, 15.20
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Bishop Bejoy: religious leaders to pray together with Pope against the coronavirus

by Sumon Corraya

A public meeting will not be held because of the lockdown. Even without Mass, Catholics can pray to defeat the pandemic. The crisis is making people rediscover their spiritual side. There is concern over the reopening of shopping malls during the Eid al-Fitr festival.

Sylhet (AsiaNews) – Bangladesh's religious leaders welcomed Pope Francis' invitation to pray together on May 14 to defeat the coronavirus, this according to Bishop Bejoy N D’Cruze of Sylhet, who also chairs the Episcopal Commission for Christian unity and interreligious dialogue.

At present, an actual prayer meeting between all religious representatives is not planned. The government has imposed strict social confinement measures, and public meetings are banned.

So far 15,691 cases of infection have been reported in the country, with almost 3,000 people in hospital and 239 deaths.

“For Catholics, it is hard not to be able to attend Mass,” said Bishop D’Cruze, “but this hasn’t prevented them from praying to Almighty God to help them against the disease. I can say that the faithful of other religions are doing the same.”

According to the bishop, the crisis is causing believers to rediscover their spiritual side, which is usually sacrificed to earthly things. People spend more time with loved ones, taking care of them, praying together.

People can now also value more the environment, something especially important in a highly polluted country like Bangladesh.

The partial lockdown of factories and restrictions on vehicles have in fact improved air and water quality. In the Gulf of Bengal, fishermen have even spotted dolphins, something not seen for years.

However, the imminent restart of some economic activities is a source of concern. According to the bishop of Sylhet, the government is making a mistake in allowing shopping centres to reopen on 23 May.

This is the day of Eid al-Fitr celebrations, marking the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month dedicated to fasting and prayer.

As contagions are already on the rise, reopening large stores is likely to worsen the situation. For Bishop D’Cruze, "The authorities should help small shop owners, not the big ones. This is not the time to do business, but to save lives.”

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