15 September 2020

At ‘Defining Moment’ in History, World Has Duty to Reduce Injustice, Build More Caring Societies, Secretary-General Tells Annual Prayer Breakfast

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the virtual thirty-fifth International Prayer Breakfast, in recognition of the opening of the seventy-fifth United Nations General Assembly session, in New York today:

I am grateful to join you for this annual prayer breakfast.  Every year, this service represents an important moment of reflection before the busy days of the General Assembly.

This year, we gather under extraordinary circumstances.  We are mourning the nearly 900,000 victims of a global pandemic that has disrupted lives and put the world at a standstill.

But while this crisis may have temporarily distanced us physically, it has highlighted the importance of working hand in hand.  The pandemic has brought together people of different faiths, nationalities and traditions, united in a common cause:  fighting this global threat.

Since the beginning, we have seen extraordinary acts of kindness and compassion.  Heroes providing food and care to families.  Religious leaders from across faiths working together to assist all communities.  The United Nations family has mobilized to help lead a global health response.  We have provided support to Governments and life-saving humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable.  We have also called all warring parties to silence the guns.  I thank religious leaders for supporting our global ceasefire appeal, so that we can focus on fighting the pandemic together.

As we address the terrible health effects of the pandemic, faith leaders are also crucial in helping to combat misinformation and promote well-established, science-based, health guidelines.  Together, we must end stigma and bigotry against any community.  That is also the spirit of our Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites and the Plan of Action on Hate Speech, launched last year.

This is a defining moment in human history.  We have the opportunity to reduce inequalities and injustices that the pandemic has exposed and aggravated.  We have the responsibility to reduce human suffering and build a better, more caring, world for all.  Let us pray together — and work together — to make it happen.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.