UN urges religious leaders to work for peace, fight virus

International News
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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to religious leaders of all faiths on Saturday “to join forces to work for peace around the world and focus on our common battle to defeat COVID-19.”

The U.N. chief said Christians will be celebrating Easter, Jews are marking Passover, and Muslims will soon begin the holy month of Ramadan, which are usually occasions of communities and families coming together, “of hugs and handshakes and the gathering of humanity.”

But Guterres said the coronavirus pandemic, with its lockdowns and social distancing, has led to a “surreal world” of silent streets, shuttered stores, empty places of worship and of worry “about our loved ones who are equally worried about us.”

In trying to celebrate at this time, the secretary-general urged people to remember “the most vulnerable of the vulnerable around the world” in war zones, refugee camps, slums and other places “least equipped to fight the virus.”

Guterres also said special thoughts should be given to “heroic health workers on the front lines battling this awful virus – and for all those working to keep our cities and towns going.”

He urged people to “draw strength” from communities of diverse faiths and ethnic traditions uniting “to care for one another.”

“Together, we can and will defeat this virus – with cooperation, solidarity, and faith in our common humanity,” Guterres said.

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