A call to grieve and honor those who have died from COVID-19 and join together
in a National Day of Mourning and Lament for the healing of our nation
Note: Pax Christi USA Executive Director Johnny Zokovitch joined other faith leaders in signing and issuing the following call.
Our nation has passed a grievous point in history: 100,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. As people of faith, we cannot allow this grim number to go unnoticed. Always and everywhere, it is the duty of religious communities to remember the dead and mourn their passing. From generation to generation, we have been given this task: to speak their names and honor their lives. The deaths of 100,000 Americans shall not pass by unmarked and unlamented.
It is hard to comprehend this magnitude of deaths in so short a time. The past three months have been some of the deadliest in U.S. history. Americans have endured more death than in many of our wars, as we just memorialized last weekend. At 100,000 deaths, COVID-19 becomes the fifth most deadly event in U.S. history. The number of deceased is equivalent to whole towns and cities. The pandemic now ranks among those moments in the life of our nation marked by national remembrances, somber memorials, and moving tributes. As people of faith, we cannot let this moment pass unnoticed. The nation must be given the chance to mourn, lament, and remember the dead.
The rapid spread of the disease, the scope of its impact, and the mitigation through “social distancing” has prevented the time and space for us to grieve. It has been impossible to bury our dead as people have for thousands of years—communally and intimately with friends, family, and neighbors. As religious leaders, we are deeply connected with our nation’s pain. Both as individuals and collectively as a nation, we need time to stop, reflect, pray, mourn, and honor the dead.
To meet this need, religious communities across faiths will act with unprecedented unity, gathering together safely to mourn, memorialize, and remember their lives both in our diverse faith traditions and in our public squares. Together, we will pray for the healing of our nation.
On May 29, 30, and 31 — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday — America’s religious communities will gather for the first time following this grim 100,000 marker — many of us still virtually. Keeping with their own traditions and practices, each will mourn our American dead and pray for the healing of our nation…