MUMBAI, India – In India, Pentecost was marked by an ecumenical spirit, with members of various churches around the country praying together at noon from home, since the country is still in lockdown due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The intention of the prayer, according to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, was to implore God to end the crisis.
“In India, in spite of the lock down, the number of cases and of fatalities is gradually going up. It appears that we are nowhere near the end of the pandemic,” he wrote ahead of the event. “This would be a good occasion for all Christians together to implore God for this intention.”
So far, India has had 191,000 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, with 91,819 deaths; although the true number is thought to be much higher.
“The ecumenical prayer meeting with the neighboring congregations, these five churches came to my church, there is a great fraternal communion with each other,” said Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios of the Syo-Malankara Diocese of Mavelikara, the vice-president of the bishops’ conference.
He said the Pentecost celebration in his church included representatives of the Orthodox Church, the Marthomite Church, the Church of South India (CSI), and the Salvation Army.
“We meet often, but on the feast of Pentecost, we came together and joined together in my church for prayer with all the Christian across the country to pray,” he told Crux.
Mavelikara is located in Kerala, the Christian heartland of India. Although Christians only make up just over 2 percent of the population in the whole of India, they are nearly 20 percent of the population in Kerala.
“This Prayer service was telecast live, for all families and peoples all over India and for all Indians abroad to participate in praying on the feast of Pentecost,” the bishop said.