The coronavirus pandemic will leave lasting wounds on society, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned at an ecumenical conference held in Frankfurt on Sunday.
“The social effects of the virus will not simply disappear with the last vaccination, the last measure,” Steinmeier said in his closing address to the gathering.
Things would not return to the way they were before, he predicted. “But meeting family and friends again, shaking each other’s hands, hugging each other and holding church services as we know them – we are all looking forward to that,” Steinmeier said.
“We have fought bitterly about the virus and compulsory mask-wearing, about restrictions and easing, about child centres and schools, about vaccines and vaccination priorities,” Steinmeier said.
Many were at the end of their tether, friendships had broken up and families had been divided.
But the ecumenical conference had shown that Catholics and Protestants had more in common than what divided them, he said. This applied to society as a whole, he said, calling for bridges to be built between those that the pandemic had made enemies of.