A historic ecumenical Easter message broadcast on French national television encouraged people to adopt “an ethic of solidarity, charity and unity” as they work to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant co-presidents of the Council of Christian Churches of France, for the first time, aired the message as churches remained closed throughout the country.
France has been in lockdown since 17 March due to the virus, with meetings, gatherings and church services cancelled, and people allowed to leave their homes for only a few strictly-defined reasons.
“This year we are not able to gather together to celebrate Easter,” the co-presidents said in their message. “Yet our perspective is not ‘locked down’ to this medical crisis or turned in on ourselves. In the midst of this ordeal, we proclaim together our hope.”
They praised “the courage and dedication of doctors and nurses, of the personnel of hospitals, care homes and medical practices, and of scientists and researchers,” and those going to work to ensure essential tasks vital to the running of the country could continue.
The three co-presidents also expressed concern about the situation of rough sleepers and of migrants in France and at Europe’s borders.
Founded in 1987, the Council of Christian Churches of France brings together church leaders from a wide diversity of France’s Christian churches. Its three co-presidents are Rev. François Clavairoly, president of the Protestant Federation of France; Metropolitan Emmanuel, president of the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of France; and Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French (Roman Catholic) bishops’ conference.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who are ill, as well as to all who have lost members of their families and loved ones,” they stated in their message.
“During this time of social distancing we encourage all members of our churches to continue to create tangible signs of fellowship, an ethic of solidarity, charity and unity,” they said.
English translation of the Easter message
Council of Christian Churches in France – Easter Message 2020
16 April 2020
“Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” (Matthew 28, 5-7)
On this Easter Day when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Council of Christian Churches in France (CÉCEF), together with men and women of all churches, Christian agencies and movements in all their diversity, offers its support to each one of you in prayer and in hope.
In recent months, the world has been engaged in the struggle with the Coronavirus. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who are ill, as well as to all who have lost members of their families and loved ones. This pandemic has demonstrated the courage and dedication of doctors and nurses, of the personnel of hospitals, care homes and medical practices, and of scientists and researchers. We also commend those who, by remaining at their workplaces and through their acts of solidarity, are responding to the needs of all in many different ways, maintaining our country’s economy, keeping logistics and deliveries going, and safeguarding the cohesion of our society.
Neither do we overlook those who are sleeping rough on our country’s streets, nor the migrants in our country or at the gates of Europe.
We also offer our prayers for those in authority in our country and for the leaders of all nations, that wisdom and discernment may guide their decisions and that they may be granted the strength they need to accomplish their responsibilities. After the time of the Passion, let us walk with the risen Christ. This year we are not able to gather together to celebrate Easter. Yet our perspective is not “locked down” to this medical crisis or turned in on ourselves. In the midst of this ordeal, we proclaim together our hope.
Jesus Christ goes before us and comes to meet us. He accompanies us and awakens in us both peace and determination. He strengthens our sense of fellowship, and opens us up to the joy of sharing and being attentive to others.
During this time of social distancing we encourage all members of our churches to continue to create tangible signs of fellowship, an ethic of solidarity, charity and unity, reading the Bible together, praying together, or developing telephone chains to take care of one another.
In this situation of being locked down, we encourage everyone to do all that they can to help those most in need, through sharing resources and means available.
In communion with one another, we give thanks to the Lord for his active presence in our lives, at the very heart of the trials we are facing.
Christ brings his light to our darkness: Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!
Co-presidents of the CÉCEF:
Revd François Clavairoly, President of the Protestant Federation of France
Metropolitan Emmanuel, President of the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of France
Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, President of the (Roman Catholic) Conference of Bishops of France