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Switzerland: interreligious prayer for the opening of the Gotthard tunnel

Before it is unveiled, on June 1st, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which with its 57 km course is the longest in the world, will be blessed in an interreligious ceremony. “The purpose of the ceremony is to portray – as explained by the news office of AlpTransit, the company that completed the project – the subject of connection, in the religious sense too”. The organisers of Gotthard 2016 asked Father Martin Werlen, a former abbot of the Einsiedeln Monastery, to act as consultant “because of his strong bond with the railway”: actually, Werlen has a deep passion for train journeys and is the author of the book “Bahngleichnis” (“The Parable of the Railway”). Such exchanges with the abbot “led us to believe that the religious side of the celebrations had to be inspired by ‘togetherness’, that is, cooperation between the different religious groups that live in Switzerland”. The following “spiritual delegates” have been appointed for such three big monotheistic religions: rabbi Marcel Ebel from Zurich for the Federation of the Switzerland-Israel groups; Father Martin Werlen from Einsiedeln for Clcs (Community of Work of the Christian Churches in Switzerland); imam Bekim Alimi from Wil for Fois (Federation of Swiss Islamic organisations). The delegates “agreed on having a plain religious service and on inviting people ‘who do not belong to any religion’, who account for one quarter of the Swiss population”.

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