“This pandemic has especially hurt vulnerable communities – be it women, children, the poor, non-formal workers, or indigenous peoples. But this period has also revealed the hope, resilience and solidarity shown by faith communities,” added Chang.
Moderated by Dr Mathews George Chunakara, general secretary of Christian Conference of Asia, “Overcoming challenges of inequality in Asia” was the fourth regional webinar on the WCC’s Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr T Jacob John, former director at India Council for Medical Research’s Centre of Advanced Research in Virology, spoke of the challenges related to vaccine distribution and hesitancy in Asia. For him, the pandemic demands much questioning and reflection.
“The world has stopped for a while. Our high-speed journey towards a destination has always been marked by a high risk of self-destruction. When we resume journey, do we want to continue in the same direction?” he asked. “The pandemic is a spotlight exposing the too-many fault lines that we have ignored in the past.”
“Healing and health are integral to our faith and duty,” added John. “The role of the faith communities should be to let the medical experts, the health educators, to give honest and complete information to build confidence about thee vaccines among our people. Complete and honest information is essential.”
An estimated 124 million people have been forced into extreme poverty since the beginning of the pandemic.
The discussions of the regional consultations also raised issues related to the increase of gender-based violence in the context of the pandemic, the threats to livelihoods such as mental health and unemployment, and the rights of indigenous communities.
Chunakara, in his closing remarks, noted that the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace has always been an ecumenical calling affirming “the one God of life, one creation, and one humanity.”
The Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is part of both common life and the journey of faith, added Chunakara. “It is actually considered as a transformative journey of the ecumenical movement.”