By Vatican News staff writer
The Vatican is inviting Christians and Hindus worldwide to “join all people of good will in working to build a culture of positivity and hope in the heart of our societies”, not only during these difficult days of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also in the future that lies before us.
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue made the call in its annual message on the occasion of Deepavali, or Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, which this year falls on 14 November. The festival symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness or good over evil.
“Rekindling Positivity and Hope during the Covid-19 Pandemic and Beyond” is the theme of the Vatican message, signed by Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot and Monsignor Indunil Kodithuwakku Janakaratne Kankanamalage, respectively president and secretary of the Council.
Positive spirit and hope for future
Considering the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Vatican’s 25th message for Diwali shares some thoughts, encouraging “a positive spirit and hope for the future, even in the face of apparently insurmountable obstacles, socio-economic, political and spiritual challenges, and widespread anxiety, uncertainty and fear”.
This encouragement, it says, may well sound unrealistic to those who have lost their loved ones or livelihoods or both. It acknowledges that “even the boldest hope and positivity can dissipate in the tragic situations caused by the present pandemic and its grave effects on daily life, the economy, healthcare, education and religious practices”. Yet, the trust of Christians and Hindus in God's providence inspires them “to remain optimistic and to work to rekindle hope in the midst of our societies”.
Despite the suffering and lockdowns disrupting normal life, the Pontifical Council points to some positive changes in people’s thinking and living. The world has seen communities coming together in solidarity and concern, in acts of kindness and compassion for the suffering and those in need. This has led people to appreciate more deeply the importance of coexistence and the need for one another for the well-being of all and that of the common home. In this regard, the message recalls Pope Francis who said, "solidarity today is the road to take towards a post pandemic world, towards the healing of our interpersonal and social ills", and "a way of coming out of the crisis better" (General Audience, 2 September 2020).
“The contagion of hope”
Christian and Hindu religious traditions, the Pontifical Council says, “teach us to remain positive and hopeful even amid adversity”. “In cherishing those religious traditions and teachings”, it hopes that in the midst of the global crisis they strive to spread what Pope Francis delights in calling "the contagion of hope", through gestures of care, affection, kindness, gentleness and compassion which are more contagious than the coronavirus itself.
Instituted by Pope Saint Paul VI in 1964, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue regularly sends out messages each year on the occasion of Diwali, as well as the Muslim observance of Ramadan and Id al Fitr, and the Buddhist festival of Vesakh.