03/25/2020, 09.34
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India, Orthodox Christians and Protestants in prayer with Pope Francis at 12 noon

by Nirmala Carvalho

The National Council of Churches in India and the Indian Evangelical Alliance have taken up the pontiff's invitation. Felix Machado: "People are terrified and anxious; the situation asks us to witness a profound faith". Rev. Vijayesh Lal, EFI secretary general: “We ask all communities to pray and take care of the elderly and unemployed people”.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and the Evangelical Fellowship of India, (EFI) have accepted Pope Francis' invitation to pray to the Our Father at 12 hours in Rome (at 4.30 pm in India) to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

NCCI brings together the majority of the Orthodox (Syriac, Chaldean, Malabar, Malankarese, ...) and Protestant (Lutheran, Baptist, Evangelical, Presbyterian, Mennonite, Salvation Army, ...) Churches in the country. The EFI gathers around 50 Pentecostal evangelical denominations.

On March 22, Pope Francis invited all Christians in the world to recite the Lord's Prayer together "simultaneously" to respond to the "viral pandemic" with "the universality of prayer".

NCCI and EFI will also take part in the pontiff's proposal for a moment of prayer on March 27th at 6pm, when he, from the façade of St. Peter's Basilica, will lead the prayer that can be followed on social media. Due to the isolation imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, it will not be possible for pilgrims to participate physically in it.

Announcing the initiatives and inviting all Christians, Francis explained: “We shall hear the Word of God, we shall raise our plea, we shall worship the Blessed Sacrament, with which, at the end, I shall give the Urbi et Orbi Blessing, to which is attached the possibility of receiving the plenary indulgence".

Pope Francis 'invitation was sent to the NCCI and the EFI by Archbishop Felix Machado, secretary general of the CBCI (Indian Bishops' Conference) and its president Card. Oswald Gracias.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Msgr. Machado explains: “Pope Francis has invited all Christians to join in prayer with the Our Father to respond to Covid-19. The situation in India is alarming and prayer is the only tool we have in hand at the moment. People are terrified and anxious; the situation demands we witness to a profound faith. This is why I ask all people, individuals and families to join Pope Francis in prayer. EFI and NCCI will join Catholics in praying the Our Father".

Rev. Vijayesh Lal, EFI secretary general, explains that the Alliance gathers more than 50 denominations, with over 65 thousand churches, which gather 3-4 million faithful.

“The EFI- he explains - will join the Holy Father in the prayer of the Our Father today at 4.30 pm and will observe the Day of prayer on March 27th. We want to support every prayer initiative promoted by different denominations. The EFI, in union with the World Evangelical Alliance, Wea, also promotes a day of prayer and fasting on Sunday 29 March. At present there will also be a 24-hour global prayer drive. At the same time, we invite everyone to take care of people, while maintaining the necessary safety distances and precautions. "

"The EFI - he adds - asks all communities to promote "Prayer and Care ", encouraging evangelicals to find creative and practical ways to help people, for example day workers; and we ask young people to help the elderly and those who live alone in the face of this pandemic”.

Asir Ebenezer is the secretary general of NCCI, which brings together 30 Christian denominations and around 14 million faithful. "The NCCI - he said - wants to respond to the invitation of the Holy Father. We have alerted our leaders and faithful to participate in this prayer appointment at 4.30 pm".

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