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NYC Mayor de Blasio: In the Face of COVID-19, Our Faith Leaders Changed the History of Our City for the Better

NYC Mayor de Blasio thanks our Faith Leaders for their Heroic Deeds of doing what was needed to Help New York City in the midst of COVID-19

Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability. City Hall. Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

On March 12, 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio would declare and sign a State of Emergency for the City of New York. It would mandate that gathering places under 500 people will need to keep to 50 percent or less of their legal occupancy. Two days later on March 14, the New York Archdiocese would announce the cancellation of all church masses. Not long after that, New York State would be ordered into a lockdown.

That week, on March 19 the Mayor would state the following during his daily COVID-19 Emergency Response Press Conference:

“We understand that people at this point cannot in general go to their house of worship. We understand how painful that is for people of all different faiths, what a pillar of their lives, their faith is, and how important their visit each week or more often to their house of worship is. But we are in a moment of tremendous danger and we have to deal with that reality. We have to protect each other. So, I know that clergy all over this city, and I’ve talked to clergy leaders. I had a call with members of our clergy leadership just a few days ago and there were unified across all faiths, led by Cardinal Dolan unified in recognizing that many, many people will have to forego traditional religious services and clergy had been leading the way and telling people to stay.”

I’ve tried to keep an ear out for the Mayor’s mentions of faith in our city. There’s no question as to its importance wherein our recovery is concerned.

I wanted to share the following as it pertained to that which was mentioned above.

Mayor de Blasio this morning,

“Okay, a few more things. I talked about the hope and the joy I feel when I think about our pre-K kids – well, when you talk about hope, you think about faith, you think about our extraordinary faith-based communities in this city. And I cannot say enough, I cannot praise enough the faith leaders of this city – of all faiths – who came together. This is a kind of consensus, a kind of unanimity that you could rarely find anywhere in the world, but here in this beautiful city, people of all faiths came together and their leaders did something extraordinary and said in common – it won’t be easy – it will be painful in many ways for people not to have their normal faith services. It was particularly painful around the holidays, the major, major moments each year that have occurred in so many faiths just in the time of the Coronavirus, but our faith leaders did it. They said, look, there is nothing more important than saving lives and we will take the lead. And they did the tough thing and they said, we can’t have our services until this crisis is over. And what they did was heroic and what they did changed the history of the city for the better because their leadership helped us to move into this time of shelter in place and social distancing so effectively, so well.”

“I had the real honor last night of calling together faith leaders of every tradition as part of our Advisory Council from faith communities; hearing their concerns, hearing their ideas, hearing their commitment to the city. And it was a fantastic exchange and a very life affirming exchange and a reminder of the extraordinary role our faith communities play in this city and particularly the strength that these leaders have shown in this crisis. So, I just want to thank and commend all the faith leaders of New York City; special thanks to those who are serving our advisory council to help us figure out how we restart the city, how we create a fair recovery, how we address the material and spiritual needs of the people in this city, how we do things at the right time to keep people safe; a very, very powerful discussion and a very tangible discussion.”

“So many of the faith leaders are concerned to make sure members of their congregations get the food they need and they’re partnering with us and they’ve always partnered with us in so many things including helping homeless New Yorkers and so many other people in need. So, it was a great indicator of another strength in New York City, that our faith communities are present and accounted for in this fight and we are all working closely together to fight back this disease and get to a better place.”

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