ROME — In the midst of a pandemic, when so many people are suffering and tempted to despair, the teachings of both Christianity and Hinduism call believers to spread hope through gestures of care and concern, said the top officials of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Amid the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the council expressed hope that the Hindu celebration of Diwali would “dispel every cloud of fear, anxiety and worry, and fill your hearts and minds with the light of friendship, generosity and solidarity!”
Diwali is a festival focusing on the victory of truth over lies, light over darkness, life over death and good over evil. The Vatican released its 2020 message to Hindus Nov. 6 ahead of the festival that begins Nov. 12 in most countries.
Signed by Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso, council president, and Msgr. Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku, council secretary, the message for Diwali 2020 was the 25th annual message wishing Hindus well during the festival and proposing themes of common concern for dialogue and action.
With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, the message said, it is appropriate to discuss ways “to encourage a positive spirit and hope for the future, even in the face of apparently insurmountable obstacles; socioeconomic, political and spiritual challenges; and widespread anxiety, uncertainty and fear.”
“Our efforts to do so are surely based upon our conviction that God, who created us and sustains us, will never abandon us,” the message said.
While “an encouragement to be optimistic may well sound unrealistic to those who have lost their loved ones or livelihoods or both,” trust in God’s providence inspires believers “to remain optimistic and to work to rekindle hope in the midst of our societies,” the Vatican officials said.
And, they added, people should notice the “positive changes” that have taken place during the pandemic, including many signs of solidarity, sacrifice and neighbor helping neighbor.
“Our respective religious traditions teach us to remain positive and hopeful even amid adversity,” the message said. “In cherishing those religious traditions and teachings, may we strive in the midst of this global crisis 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.”