13 September 2021

Secretary-General Draws on Religious Leaders’ Strength, Solidarity, Joining Annual Prayer Service ahead of General Assembly Session

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the Holy Family Church Prayer Service, in New York today:

I am honoured to once again join this annual Prayer Service.  What a year since we last met.  More death.  More sadness.  But also more solidarity and more caring.  In these difficult times, people turn to faith.  I turn to faith communities because they can help transform our world.

That’s why I called on religious leaders to join together against the pandemic.  And that’s why I asked them to support my appeal for a Global Ceasefire — to put armed conflict on lockdown and unlock our ability to beat this virus.  I am deeply grateful to the many religious leaders who responded to these calls.

Last year at the General Assembly, His Holiness Pope Francis said:  “We never emerge from a crisis just as we were.  We come out either better or worse.”

I totally agree.  And I thank him, and all of you, for doing your part to lay the groundwork for coming out better.  We have a long way to go.  Too often, solidarity is in short supply.

Yet for more than 30 years, this annual tradition has uplifted us right before the new General Assembly session.  Right before the most powerful leaders meet on the world’s worst problems.

We draw much needed strength from this moment — and from all of you.  When doors close, you open hearts.  When people lose jobs, homes, even their loved ones, you provide hope.

When the forces of hate build barriers, you shatter them with truth.  When the forces of denial sow fear, you stand up for coexistence.

The agenda this year is heavy:  The pandemic, climate change, war, humanitarian emergencies, human rights abuses and poverty.  But we will hear ideas, forge partnerships, listen to young people, show results, protect our planet and save lives. 

Thank you for your united prayers today.  We need these prayers for the wisdom to find solutions, the energy to act on them and the unity that that this gathering represents.

Together, we can realize our vision of a healthier, safer, more peaceful world.

For information media. Not an official record.