Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich has said that the COVID-19 pandemic is the right time to settle the debt Europe has accrued with Africa after having exploited its resources.

– “We cannot forget the poorest”

“We must take advantage of this crisis to perform a gesture of solidarity”, Cardinal Hollerich, the Archbishop of Luxembourg, told Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano in a September 2 interview.

“We in Europe are rich, and we are rich also because we have profited from the wealth of Africa, so it is simply right that as brothers and sisters we help these people to find a new economic balance, to be able to make a living without having to send refugees to Europe”, said Hollerich, who is also the President of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union.

“Our solidarity must have no borders”, continued the cardinal, insisting that “we cannot forget the poorest. The Gospel and Christ do not let us forget them”.

– An African Marshall Plan

Explaining his vision for Africa, Hollerich said that in his opinion Europe “must do something for Africa as America did for Europe” after the Second World War, in a reference to the European Recovery or Marshall Plan through which the US sent the equivalent at 2020 rates of $129 billion for the reconstruction of Western Europe.

“It is not enough to organise small aid programs. We must truly have a great development plan” for Africa the cardinal insisted.

Calling for a Western alliance for development in Africa with China, with the Catholic and other Churches and with the other religions present on the continent, Hollerich called on Christians to remember that “God loves the people of Africa and Europe in the same way”.

“God does not have a preference for Europe, that is clear. To think the opposite is an expression of latent Eurocentrism. And it is not right, from the Christian perspective”, the cardinal warned.

– A call to abandon Eurocentrism

Also on the effects of the coronavirus crisis, Cardinal Hollerich predicted that “the West, the United States and Europe, will be weaker than before, because that acceleration phenomenon brought by the virus will make other countries, other economies grow”.

But the prelate said that in the West “we must see this with realism,” he said, as he urged his fellow Europeans to “abandon the Eurocentrism present in our thoughts” and “with great humility… work with other countries for the future of humanity, to bring about greater justice”.

On the future of the Church after the COVID-19 crisis, Hollerich warned that “Christianity is becoming weaker in Europe”, for which reason the Church must redouble its evangelisation efforts first with gestures of charity and only then with words.

“Because people tell us: ‘We have always heard these words but they tell us nothing, because you do not live what you proclaim'”, the cardinal pointed out.

“As Church we are called by God, also through the voice of our Pope, to become more Christian, truly simpler, even economically poorer. Because we have a consumerism in Europe that no longer allows us to live. We are suffocating our life in Europe.

“We need an evangelisation that goes deep. We need to change, we need to hear the voice of Christ calling us to profound change”, Hollerich concluded.

More on Novena on Church contributions to social and economic reconstruction after the COVID-19 pandemic:

2/9: In General Audience, Pope insists solidarity the antidote to systems of injustice, oppression

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin urges focus on person over economy in COVID-19 reconstruction

Cardinal Turkson invites humanity to “recraft and relaunch” economy, society post-COVID-19

Vatican, World Council of Churches urge humanity to “daring and caring” to heal post-COVID-19 world


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.