The restrictions imposed on society because of the new coronavirus pandemic have raised debates about what is essential and what can be closed during the toughest phases of social isolation. This Monday (5) the minister of the STF (Supreme Federal Court) Gilmar prohibited the holding of services, masses and other religious ceremonies with a public presence in São Paulo, contrary to what his colleague Nunes Marques had decided on Saturday.
For many professionals working in the area of health and personal development, faith and spirituality are important in times of anguish and social uncertainty. Therefore, keeping churches and temples open is essential at this time, in their opinion.
“Religion has played a crucial role over the centuries, with temples and churches open, keeping people lively, happy. And leaving churches closed takes that away from people,” says pedagogue Felipe Nery, a graduate professor at the Faculty of Law at the Santo Toribio de Mongrovejo Catholic University in Lima, Peru, and president of the Sophia Perennis Institute.
“I believe that the attack on the faith has been immense during the pandemic and, for me, it is evident that the churches, in general, have always played a fundamental role in these moments of epidemics and pandemics in the history of mankind”, he completes.
In defending the opening of religious spaces, Felipe does not rule out science, on the contrary. “People unite the two, reason and faith. They are not enemies, they never will be. Faith and reason are united”, he believes. And he asks: “What is the difference between being seated in a temple watching a service and being seated at a restaurant table?”
“The most difficult thing for those who have faith is not being able to go to church, to the temple, in search of comfort, comfort. Your relative is in the hospital and you cannot visit him, he cannot watch over his dead and is still deprived of finding shelter in a religious space. That doesn’t help anyone “, says Felipe.
The psychiatrist Davi Vidigal, with more than 30 years of experience in the office, agrees with the pedagogue. Davi considers religious spaces essential for maintaining hope and welcoming people, especially those who have suffered losses or are afraid of the covid-19.
“I think that churches, in general, should have their doors open 24 hours a day. To have a religious figure there who receives people, who welcomes them, to offer a medicine for the soul,” he says.
The psychiatrist dedicated himself, some years ago, to researches all over the country. In one of them, he interviewed more than 1,200 people with a simple question: ‘What is happiness for you?’. In response, faith came first, says the doctor.
Davi says that this spontaneous response confirms his observation in decades of consulting. “With my patients, I could clearly see the improvement in those who had faith and a strong spirituality, regardless of which religion they followed,” he says. “In general, they had more adherence to treatment and better recovery.”
Temples open, but not crowded
For obstetrician and gynecologist Julia Barbi Melim Marques, having faith can make a difference in people’s lives. “We already have articles and scientific research that prove the importance of faith in improving patients, in preventing depression,” she says.
Julia believes that, therefore, it is very important that religious spaces are reopened with all care to receive a smaller number of people, with respect to social distance and without promoting agglomerations. “If we compare, in a restaurant, for example, even with restrictions, people are much closer and take off their mask to eat. This will not happen in a church,” she says.
“If there is an open temple, a church, and the person can set a time to go there in a week, it can have a lot of impact on emotional health and coping with the pandemic”, defends Julia.
David agrees with the doctor and states that, just as we must seek, as human beings, healthy food for the body, we must also seek food for the soul. For this reason, Davi argues that churches and temples are essential services, “as are markets, pharmacies, gas stations and restaurants with reduced occupancy.”
“If the human being loses hope, which is deeply linked to faith, the negative impact of the pandemic will be much greater. True faith is liberating, makes people go to the fight and take a stand, go after changes in habits, resources doctors “, he believes.
“This pandemic, you can be sure, will pass and others will come, as they already did, and the world is not over. Faith makes us clear and helps us to face better everything we are going through,” concludes Davi.
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