Vatican commission trying to answer new reality

Pope Francis has set up a COVID-19 commission to identify what needs to be changed in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In his view, the human person is always impacted by crises. Being better or worse after each one, he’s often said, is “up to us.”

“The COVID-19 commission is trying to answer to the reality we’re living and preparing the future,” says Father Augusto Zampini, a commission leader and the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development adjunct secretary.

“Preparing the future is different from preparing for the future: That implies the future is already determined and we must buy lifesavers because it’s going to be terrible,” Zampini explained to an online panel preparing for “The Economy of Francis” summit, which will be held in Assisi this November.

Zampini said preparing the future involves acknowledging that while a situation may look grim, it needn’t be permanent.

It’s worth looking for economic models that will help humanity out of the ongoing crisis — not by going back to a world of inequalities led by an economy that kills, but by creating a fairer world, he explained.

“We need a new economic model, not because I say so or because Pope Francis is asking for one … [but because as a result of what the pandemic is doing] there’s no alternative.

“Seeing all this calamity, we acknowledge that every crisis is an opportunity to see what’s not working.”

Zampini said COVID-19 has exacerbated all the structural failings of the global system, particularly inequality.

While we’re all suffering, some people’s situations are very bad – especially those who have no access to proper food and clean water, or who cannot obtain healthcare.

Six months into 2020, nations around the world are already floundering to salvage their crippled economies. Even the Vatican is suffering, without its income from tourism and charitable donations.

On the economic level, there are countries that can afford to print money and “rescue” the economy or different companies, while there are others that cannot, and need to ask for high-interest loans, which leads them to “mortgage their future.”

This is why the Vatican COVID-19 commission is bringing together more than 100 institutions and thousands of people to think about a different economy.

If the pandemic is under control next year, the new economy will lead to a call for a “seven-year conversion,” Zampini says.

The seven-year conversion builds up on the “United Nations Decade of Action,” which will run until 2030. It is a call to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals to work to end poverty, rescue the planet and build a peaceful world.

“When the gap between the economic world and the life of people starts to close, society necessarily improved.”

The commission wants to listen to everyone, Zampini says, especially people like nurses, street cleaners and others that are usually unseen.

“People don’t change because you show them a chart of how things are going … that’s where religion comes in … we want to generate a better development and improve people’s quality of life.”


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