Pope Francis greets Mohamed Husin Abdelaziz Hassan, president of al-Azhar University, during a Sept. 11, 2019, meeting of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity at the Vatican. The committee has called for an interreligious day of prayer May 14. CNS photo/Vatican Media
Pope Francis greets Mohamed Husin Abdelaziz Hassan, president of al-Azhar University, during a Sept. 11, 2019, meeting of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity at the Vatican. The committee has called for an interreligious day of prayer May 14. CNS photo/Vatican Media
Religious leaders and faithful around the world are asked to join May 14 in an interfaith day of fasting, charity and prayer for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The global day of "Prayer for Humanity," a request from the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, is an opportunity for all believers because "prayer is a universal value," Pope Francis said.

“I have accepted the proposal of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity for believers of all religions to unite spiritually this 14 May … to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Remember: 14 May, all believers together, believers of different traditions, to pray, fast, and perform works of charity,” Pope Francis said earlier this month.

The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity was established in 2019 after Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, signed the “Document on Human Fraternity,” which promotes interreligious dialogue, respect, understanding and "human fraternity."

In calling for the day of prayer and fasting, the committee said that while medicine and scientific research are key in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, "we should not forget to seek refuge in God, the All-Creator, as we face such (a) severe crisis."

In a tweet posted May 3, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said that "in difficult times, we must stand together for peace, humanity and solidarity."

"I join his Holiness Pope Francis and the grand imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, in their support for the 'Prayer for Humanity' this May 14 – a moment for reflection, hope, and faith," Guterres tweeted.

El-Tayeb also expressed his support for "the noble humanitarian call made by the committee." In a statement posted on Facebook, he urged people to join in prayer "in order to eliminate this pandemic from the entire world."

In a statement May 2, the committee said, "Each one from wherever they are and according to the teachings of their religion, faith, or sect, should implore God to lift this pandemic off us and the entire world, to rescue us all from this adversity, to inspire scientists to find a cure that can turn back this disease and to save the whole world from the health, economic and human repercussions of this serious pandemic."

Calling on all religious leaders and people from around the world to take part, the committee said that in joining together in prayer, "our world will become a better place for humanity and fraternity than ever before."

Catholic News Service contributed to this report