from Vatican News
Pope Francis is certain of this and is repeating it to everyone: we will emerge either better or worse after the pandemic. The global crisis requires that the parameters of human co-existence be rethought through the lens of solidarity. On this foundational idea, “Covid19: Building a Healthier Future” has been created in collaboration with the Dicastery for Communication and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, to offer a vision that might lead to the beginning of a new fraternity after the pandemic.
From a “common evil” such as the pandemic, we have rediscovered the “common good”, a value that contains every other value: solidarity, helping one another, the need for community. In such a “fragile” moment never before experienced in recent history, these are values that exceed market logic. The Pope is dedicating a series of catecheses specifically to the theme of the resurgence from the pandemic. But, last March, he had already asked the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to create a Commission of experts to investigate future socio-economic and cultural challenges and to propose guidelines to confront them. Two of these experts, economist Luigino Bruni and Marie Dennis of Pax Christi International, express their viewpoints regarding the construction of a post-Covid world and the role of both the Church and religion. The first objective, they stress, is to form a “robust conscience” in young people which will help them face the new state of affairs.
You are part of the Vatican COVID 19 Commission, Pope Francis’ response mechanism to an unprecedented virus. What do you personally hope to learn from this experience? In what way do you think society as a whole can be inspired by the work of the Commission?
Bruni – The most important thing I have learned from this experience is the importance of the principle of precaution for the common good. Absent for the most part in the initial phase of the epidemic, the principle of precaution, one of the pillars of the Church’s social doctrine, tells us something extremely important. The principle of precaution is lived obsessively on the individual level (it’s enough to think of the insurance companies which seem to be taking over the world), but is completely absent on the collective level, and thus makes 21st century society extremely vulnerable. This is why those countries which have preserved a bit of a welfare state have demonstrated themselves a lot stronger than those governed entirely by the market And then the common good: since a common evil has revealed to us what the common good is, so has the pandemic forced us to see that the common good requires community, and not only the market. Health, safety, and education cannot be left to the game of profit.
Dennis – Through the Vatican COVID 19 Commission Pope Francis has offered inspirational leadership to our hurting world. His attention to the pandemic’s impact on the most vulnerable and marginalized in our societies has helped the world to see him as a pastor uniquely able to encourage and console. At the same time, the multidimensional work of the COVID19 Commission demonstrates the seriousness of his intention to probe the roots of the crisis we are now facing and to imagine a future that is more in harmony with the vision of Laudato Si’.
Pope Francis asked the COVID 19 Commission to prepare the future instead of prepare for it. What should be the role of the Catholic Church as an institution in this endeavor?
Bruni – The Catholic Church is one of the few (if not the only) institution that guarantees and safeguards the global common good. Having no private interests, it can pursue the good of all. It is because of this that she has a vast hearing. For the same reason, she has a responsibility to exercise it on a global scale.
Dennis – The Catholic Church has enormous convening power. The COVID19 Commission is one example among many in recent years of times when critically important global issues, including nuclear disarmament, mining, migrants and refugees, cyber security, nonviolence and just peace and more, have been the subject of Vatican conferences and events. Able to bring together deep experience from different contexts around the world with excellent scientific research, socio-economic and environmental analysis, and Catholic social teaching, the Catholic Church can help generate and evaluate ideas that can shape a more just and sustainable future…