In a letter to Andrea Riccardi, Archbishop Anastasios of the Orthodox Church of Albania shares his feelings, as a Christian and as a pastor, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
My Dear Prof. Riccardi, Beloved brother in the Lord,
Christ is Risen! Christus Resurrexit!
Thank you for your kind letter and cordial wishes of April 8, 2020. The friendship with the Community of Sant’Egidio and its efforts remain on our mind in this trying point in history as it works to help those in need.
One essential gift which the Risen Lord gave to us is noted in a hymn of the Paschal period: “When the doors were shut, Jesus carne to the Disciples and gave them fearlessness and peace”. Freedom from every form of fear, from depression, from the fear of ruthless injustice. Fearlessness from the pervasive insecurity and from the threat of poverty, fearlessness from every infirmity, from the pandemic COVID-19. Fearlessness even from death. This fearlessness is not insured by an abstract optimism, but by two unique antidotes: faith in the God of love, and unselfish love. God will not abandon us. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Those of us who have the gift of faith should take care to nurture it, with humility, study, and prayer, asking, like the disciples, “Lord, increase our faith”. Nor let us forget to pray for those who find difficulty in believing. That is a duty of love and respect towards them. Let us celebrate Pascha free from every syndrome of fear. To the shock and anxiety that this unprecedented pandemic has diffused, let us respond with the fearlessness that the crucified and risen Christ grants. A fearlessness suffused with peace and solidarity.
Thinking warmly of the Community of Sant’Egidio, and praying for its efforts, especially in the trying time of this pandemic, we wish that the Crucified and Resurrected Lord illuminate your life and guide your works by the peace and the solidarity that Christ the victor over death inspires, we remain with fraternal love in the Risen Lord.
Tirana, 29th April, 2020
Anastasios, Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and all Albania