Kirk backs global ceasefire call to tackle deadly virus

The Church of Scotland has backed calls for an immediate ceasefire in all wars and conflicts around the world to enable humanity to work together to combat the Coronavirus outbreak.

Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convener of the Faith Impact Forum, has signed a letter to the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council which calls for action to "avert a catastrophe of unimaginable proportion".

The minister of Dornoch Cathedral in the Highlands said the gain or loss of military goals "must be second to the protection of all human life".

Very Rev Dr Susan Brown
Very Rev Dr Susan Brown

Drafted by an organisation called Crisis Action, which protects civilians from armed conflict, the letter states: "This virus does not discriminate - it threatens us all but the poorest and most vulnerable will pay the greatest price."

Dr Brown said: "The impact the coronavirus outbreak has had on our way of life has been dramatic and it is unlikely that our society will ever be the same again.

"Bad though it is for us, imagine if we were living in a place of war or conflict?

"How would the necessary public health measures be implemented? How could governments support those whose livelihoods were being affected?

"How possible would it be for the sick to get the help and care they need?

"Yet these things are absolutely essential if lives are to be saved."

Death, misery and pain

People are encouraged to sign the global online petition and write to their MPs to ask what action the UK Government is taking to make it happen.

The Church of Scotland has worked closely with church and political leaders in South Sudan for several years to help secure meaningful, lasting peace in wake of a devastating civil war.

Dr Brown said the sad reality is that where war exists, Covid19 will spread unimpeded, leaving death, misery and pain in its wake.

"With a willingness to lay down arms, warring can be stopped in order to support efforts to overcome a disease which affects everybody," she added.

"In the face of the outbreak, the gain or loss of military goals must be second to the protection of all human life."

Meaningful engagement with women leaders

The Church of Scotland is one of more than 190 international civil society organisations that have signed a letter which urges people with influence across the world to "overcome disagreement and find consensus".

It reads: "A global ceasefire is vital to protect health and humanitarian workers and to enable effective preparation and response to coronavirus that meets the needs of diverse groups and protects the most vulnerable.

"To allow unimpeded life-saving humanitarian aid to meet escalating needs on the ground, provide a crucial window for inclusive peacebuilding and the pursuit of durable political solutions (including meaningful engagement with women leaders) to build sustainable peace.

"Without this there can be no effective global response to Covid19."

A prayer for ceasefire

Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly, has prepared the following prayer.

It is offered to all who wish to use it and those leading online worship during the coming weeks may wish to include it in their services so that the whole Church of Scotland can be praying for peace, healing and reconciliation.

Jesus, Prince of Peace

Teach us your way of peace

Inspire leaders with the courage to seek out peace

Help your Church honour you in our quest for peace

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Jesus, healer of bodies, minds and hearts

Show us how to heal and be healed

Bless those working with the sick, here and all over the world

Help your Church be a place for healing

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Jesus, bringer of hope

Inspire us with your love

Strengthen those working for peace and for public health

Help your Church be known for reconciliation

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer