Dr Souraya Bechealany. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC, 2018

Dr Souraya Bechealany. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC, 2018

On 26 March, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and Regional Ecumenical Organizations released a historic joint pastoral statement affirming the urgency of standing together to protect life amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WCC has since been gathering viewpoints from diverse regions about the importance of taking care of our one human family.

Dr Souraya Bechealany is secretary general of the Middle East Council of Churches.

Why did you think it was important to support the historic statement of the Regional Ecumenical Organizations related to the COVID-19 response?

Dr Bechealany: At the moment when the COVID-19 crisis defies and questions the entirety of humanity, it is important for churches to raise their voices loud and clear together in the body of Christ to witness our faith and our hope in the risen Jesus Christ and dare the prophetic word we are entrusted with.

What do you think is the best outcome of the message?

Dr Bechealany: It is a call to protect our lives and health, and the health of the others, as the highest sign of love to God and to our neighbors. To live this time in strong spiritual solidarity with yourself and with humanity. It is also a call to consider this period as a blessed time that allows us to “profoundly reflect on the common good, good governance and ethical values rooted in our tradition.”

What is the role of the churches in your particular region at this time?

Dr Bechealany: Accompany the faithful in his trail through the desert, listen to him and give a meaning to the tough and challenging experiences he is undergoing. Suspend entirely the “worships,” the gatherings, and the parochial activities. In the framework of the health care as well as in research, allocate hospitals belonging to the churches to host cases infected with COVID-19. Involve universities in the research; the Lebanese experience is a convincing one in this sense. On the social level, support governments and public orders putting church buildings and social capacities and potentials at the service of the people. Support families and individuals in need.

In joint statement, ecumenical organizations across the world stand together to protect life (WCC news release 26 March 2020)

WCC landing page: Coping with the Coronavirus