Vatican COVID-19 Commission speaks of threats to world peace

The Vatican COVID-19 Commission says a “tsunami” of humanitarian crises is threatening world peace.

These crises have been caused by the coronavirus emergency, conflict and decreased security around the globe, Vatican cardinal , Peter Turkson says.

Echoing Pope Francis, Turkson is calling for a global ceasefire during the pandemic. This way, assistance can safely be provided to those in need. especially in countries with ongoing conflict like Yemen and Venezuela.

Turkson, who is the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, also says there is a critical need for disarmament.

The money used to finance arms should be redirected toward supporting healthcare systems instead, he suggests.

The various global crises plus the climate crisis mean “diminishing access to water, diminishing access to food, increasing social unrest, violence, breakdown of law and order, and unfortunately, the normalization of insecurity, distrust, and uncertainty,” Turkson says.

“The confluence of all of these crises has engendered a veritable tsunami of humanitarian crises which has spread and spared no human life [or] institution from its disruptive consequences especially its impact on harmony and peace.”

The Vatican COVID-19 Commission, which Turkson leads, includes two working groups, one of which is focusing on security, he says.

The strategies the Commission is using to appeal for a ceasefire include advocating for local peace and justice commissions, calling for reconciliation and global solidarity, and creating a “redefinition of peace.”

Following the example of St. Pope John XXIII in the 1963 encyclical Pacem in terris, the Commission is framing peace in terms such as “food security,” “solidarity,” and an “inclusive public health system.”

The Commission is also working with on-the-ground groups such as Caritas Internationalis and Sant’Egidio to help find peaceful resolutions to conflicts, Turkson says.

Sister Alessandra Smerilli, a member of the COVID-19 commission and an economics professor, spoke of the pope’s request “to prepare the future and not only be prepared for the future.”

Smerilli says the global economic recession is expected to displace billions of jobs. As “the pandemic knows no borders … we need solutions without borders,” she says.

The Commission’s economic taskforce has been meeting each week to think about and discuss different economic issues connected to the pandemic.

Alessio Pecorario, another Commission member, says the security taskforce, which he coordinates, is the “network of the network.”

He says taskforce members were working to bring together different experts and Catholic non-violence groups, to coordinate concrete proposals on the issue of peace and security.


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