Week for Christian Unity in Jerusalem postponed to Pentecost because of COVID-19
Celebrations and meetings “cannot be replaced by virtual celebrations,” says Fr Frans Bouwen. Unlike Christmas or Easter, technology and the worldwide web are not enough to make up for events with people present. The decision stems from health restrictions imposed by the authorities and a rising positivity rate in the area.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity for the year 2021 in Jerusalem has been postponed as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
The annual event, which takes place in January after the Armenian Church celebrates Epiphany, will be held this year at Pentecost in May.
According to Fr Frans Bouwen, president of the Episcopal Commission for Ecumenical Relations, the ecumenical celebration and meetings among the different Churches in Jerusalem “cannot be replaced by virtual celebrations online.”
Unlike other important events in the life of the Church, such as Easter or Christmas, technology and the worldwide web will not be enough to replace events with people present.
This explains the decision by the Churches of the Holy Land to join their sister Churches in the southern hemisphere of the world to celebrate the Week at Pentecost, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (LPJ) said.
Plans “to organise one or two virtual celebrations online, with the help of the Christian Media Center” were not possible, Fr Frans noted, because of the rise of coronavirus infections and the new quarantine restrictions in Jerusalem.
Given such a situation, all Churches and religious communities are invited to pray from 23 to 31 January 2021 only with their respective members, the clergyman said.
The invitation to pray and post messages of unity on social media this week could also be extended to the faithful.
The Monastic Community of Grandchamp, Switzerland, chose this year’s theme: “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (John 15:1- 17). It expresses the Community’s “vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the Church and the human family”.