Cardinal Peter Turkson has invited humanity to “recraft and relaunch” the economy and society post-COVID-19.

– “Our systems have not been robust enough. Our systems are not sustainable”

The coronavirus pandemic is “a call to recognise that our systems have not been robust enough. Our systems, at the end of the day, are not really sustainable”, Turkson, the Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promotion Human Integral Development, explained in an interview published August 28.

Turkson is also the head of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission, a group the cardinal recalled was set up by Pope Francis “to present, and then to express, the Church’s presence and accompaniment of humanity going through this crisis, this tough moment in history”.

Another part of the work of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission is to anticipate the social and economic changes likely to come to pass in the post-coronavirus world.

“It’s not just to think about recovery, or going back to some form of normality, but… to generate a new future”, Turkson explained with respect to that aspect of the Commission’s work.

Asked whether that project of a “new future” post-COVID is not too radical and ambitious, Turkson replied that from the Vatican “we’re not going to rewrite the rules” on economy and society, “but for us as a Church… we’ve always got the lead of the Scriptures”.

“Radical change is [not] something that we as a Church or the Vatican are imposing”, Turkson insisted, adding that “we’re just inviting humanity to recognise the reality that we’re dealing with, and what the challenges of COVID show us as a human family”.

“We want to derive some inspiration from Scripture and try to suggest new trajectories or pathways where humanity can come out because… this pandemic is revealing certain values in society that are worth recalling, reliving, and returning to”, the cardinal explained.

– Criticism of “pretty limited and short-term” economic nationalism

In his latest interview, Cardinal Turkson lamented that just like the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the coronavirus pandemic has “led to the collapse of economic structures, [the] collapse of social values, [and the collapse of] social livelihood”.

The cardinal also decried that in the face of that “collapse” some countries including the UK and the US have turned to a “pretty limited and short-term” economic nationalism, “automatically transfer[ing] the burden of all of this ultimately to the developing world”.

Recalling that throughout the pandemic senior Vatican figuresincluding Pope Francis – have been pushing for the cancellation or the postponement of two-thirds countries’ sovereign debt, Cardinal Turkson urged the need “for solidarity among humanity”.

“The fraternity still needs to be real because if England or the US or all of Europe gets rid of COVID and there is somewhere in the world one single case of COVID, our world is still not safe. So it is in the interests of the human family… to ensure that we eradicate this and eradicate it completely”, Turkson implored.

The cardinal was speaking in the latest of the Dicastery for Human Development’s “Podcasts From The Future” (#PodcastsFromFuture) series, in which the Vatican department is featuring the points of view of a range of experts from both inside and outside the Catholic Church on the issues being discussed by the Vatican’s COVID-19 Commission.

More Vatican responses to the challenges of COVID-19, on Novena:

New encyclical on need for “human and ecological conversion”, “human fraternity” to drop in weeks: report

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

26/8: In General Audience, Pope deplores “sick” economy, “the fruit of unequal growth that disregards fundamental human values”

WHO director-general echoes Pope’s call to prevent COVID-19 vaccine nationalism, ensure universal access to treatment


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