Amid the frustrations and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life has issued two documents that take a broad view of the situation globally and place the human person at the center of the conversation.
The first document was issued in March when Italy was in lockdown and the throes of suffering. It begins by noting, “All humanity is being put to the test. The Covid-19 pandemic puts us in a situation of unprecedented, dramatic and global difficulty.”
The document, called “Global Pandemic and Universal Brotherhood” calls on people to care for one another.
“Reckless or foolish behavior, which seemingly affects only ourselves, becomes a threat to all who are exposed to the risk of contagion, perhaps without even affecting the actor. In this way we learn how everyone’s safety depends on everyone else’s.”
Our freedoms, it says, must be rendered “collaborative for the common good.”
The second document was issued July 22, when Italy was recovering and just before the United States reached a grim milestone — 150,000 deaths from the virus.
“Humana Communitas in the Age of Pandemic: Untimely Meditations on Life’s Rebirth” calls on Catholics — and society at large — to recognize our global interdependence. Whether we are addressing a health crisis, climate change, or an economic crisis, solutions require global cooperation, it explains.
The document notes, “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.”
“Everyone is called to do their part,” it says. “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.”
Each of us can help beat the virus, which is dragging on and on, by caring for one another. It will require self sacrifice and personal responsibility, values we’ve learned well as Catholics.
The academy’s March document concluded with a reminder to turn to prayer to help us cope. Following is a prayer from the U.S. bishops:
For all who have contracted coronavirus, we pray for care and healing.
For those who are particularly vulnerable, we pray for safety and protection.
For all who experience fear or anxiety, we pray for peace of mind and spirit.
For affected families who are facing difficult decisions between food on the table or public safety, we
pray for policies that recognize their plight.
For those who do not have adequate health insurance, we pray that no family will face financial burdens alone.
For those who are afraid to access care due to immigration status, we pray for recognition of the God-given dignity of all.
For our brothers and sisters around the world, we pray for shared solidarity.
For public officials and decision makers, we pray for wisdom and guidance.
Father, during this time may your Church be a sign of hope, comfort and love to all. Grant peace. Grant comfort. Grant healing. Be with us, Lord. Amen.