By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted humanity’s vulnerability and interdependence, as well as serious social and economic inequalities, the Pontifical Academy for Life said in a new document.
The eight-page reflection, “‘Humana Communitas’ in the Age of Pandemic,” details a number of key and “untimely meditations on life’s rebirth” in the face of a global health, environmental and economic crisis. They are “untimely” or “old-fashioned,” Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, academy president, said in a written statement, because such reflections do not seem to be a popular or “fashionable” part of the current debate.
“At a time when life seems suspended and we are struck by the death of loved ones and the loss of reference points for our society, we cannot limit ourselves to discussing the price of masks or the reopening date of schools,” he said.
“We will have to take the opportunity and find the courage to discuss better conditions to transform the market and education instead,” he added.
There has to be a recognition of the universal fragility of the human condition, a profound rethinking of humanity’s purpose in the world and a concerted effort to rebuild models of coexistence, health care and development, he said July 22.
“We are all in the same storm, but not on the same boat,” with many communities’ resources and infrastructures being so fragile or lacking that these communities “sink more easily,” Archbishop Paglia said.
The archbishop’s remarks accompanied the academy’s second document this year on the consequences of the global health crisis and how the world, particularly Christians, should respond.
Published on its website academyforlife.va in five languages, including English, the document includes the following considerations:
— To see the current pandemic as a “symptom of our earth’s malaise and our failure to care” and as a “sign of our own spiritual malaise,” which should compel people to reconsider their relationship with creation and each other, no longer seeing oneself as “masters and lords,” but as “stewards.”
— To understand that certain public policies and measures call for “the solidarity of the young and healthy with the most vulnerable” and for sacrifices from those who “depend on public interaction and economic activity for their living.”
— To recognize how the “common good of public health needs to be balanced against economic interests” and the need for international coordination and cooperation in finding and sharing remedies and vaccines.
— To recognize access to quality health care and essential medicine as a universal human right.
— To support and improve international cooperation through the World Health Organization.
— To address and transform the “oppressive and unjust” structures in the global community, starting with a “real conversion of minds and hearts” that entails embracing one’s responsibility and no longer being unwilling to see the obvious wrongs in the world.
The document said “the narrow-mindedness of national self-interests has led many countries to vindicate for themselves a policy of independence and isolation from the rest of the world,” which will not be effective in addressing the global pandemic, will only worsen inequalities and will make even more people vulnerable and marginalized.
“Everyone is called to do their part” in being responsible toward others in need, it said.
“A responsible community is one in which burdens of caution and reciprocal support are shared proactively with an eye to the well-being of all,” it said.