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COVID-19: Exploring Faith Dimensions
Focus on the Philippines, a Maskless Pope, and the United States Election

This week, we’ve added more to the repository on faith and COVID-19 in the Philippines, with articles dating from March until now. Early reports described the suspensions of Sunday Mass across the country. Guidelines developed by the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the Philippines detail the management of the dead during the COVID-19 pandemic for those of Christian faith. Later reports pointed towards the balancing act needed with adaptations to peacebuilding programs, so that local faith actors can continue their awareness-raising work on peace and COVID-19. Debates on religious freedom, as seen in other countries, also arose. Another area of debate covers the increase in religiosity brought on by the pandemic and the role of religion in public health. Survey results released in July seemed to indicate that 9 out of 10 Filipinos believe religion to be "very important" in fighting COVID-19, and another survey in September reported that almost 52% of people had become more religious, with women slightly more likely to indicate increased religiosity. Recent updates demonstrate that “normal” religious practices are still upended as lockdowns continue, but some churches have reopened. One role that religious actors have particularly stepped into is that of spiritual and pastoral support. 

The last few weeks also saw some dissent about Pope Francis’ missing mask - the Pope has not regularly worn a mask in public, even though he has one, and commentators have called for him to adopt the practice that greatly reduces the risk of transmission and infection. Elsewhere, more journal articles continue to report on guidance materials around faith and COVID-19, as we have covered previously. While the content is similar, the audience changes with, for example, this recent overview article published in the Annals of the National Academy of Medical Sciences (India).

Finally, more stories will emerge in the months ahead, but we could not go through this week without mentioning the election results United States and commentary on the roles of faith and COVID-19 for President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition and first hundred days. Commentators predict that President-Elect Biden will take an interfaith approach, while he has already committed to a thorough stance on COVID-19 by announcing a COVID taskforce filled with medical professionals

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