The Vatican is mobilising the Church’s “whole network of charity and solidarity” to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, its Development ‘Minister’ Cardinal Peter Turkson has said.
– “We must act now. And we must immediately think about what will happen next”
Turkson, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, was speaking April 15 about the news that the Vatican department he heads up has established a commission on the instructions of Pope Francis to, in its words, “embrace hope” and “embrace the human family” during the COVID-19 outbreak and its aftermath.
“The Pope expressed his concern for the present time, for the world crisis generated by COVID-19 and for the dramatic scenarios on the horizon”, Cardinal Turkson explained to Vatican News.
“He told us not to waste time, to get down to work immediately, because we are the Dicastery that is his point of reference”, the prelate warned.
“We must act now. And we must immediately think about what will happen next”.
– “If we don’t think about tomorrow, we’ll find ourselves unprepared again”
Explaining the two tasks the Pope has given the new Vatican COVID-19 commission – both “to save lives [and] to help the poorest” in the short term, and also to reflect, in the medium and long term “on the economic and social consequences” of the pandemic – Turkson said five working groups have already been set up in the Vatican along with a central “command centre”.
Those five working groups have as their priorities “acting now for the future”, “looking to the future with creativity”, “communicating hope”, “seeking common dialogue and reflections” and “supporting to care”.
Each of the five teams will count on the collaboration of Church bodies including the Vatican Secretariat of State and Dicastery for Communications or the global Church aid agency Caritas Internationalis.
“We need concrete action now, and we are doing it”, Turkson explained.
“We need to look beyond today, to chart the course for the difficult journey that awaits us. If we do not think about tomorrow, we will find ourselves unprepared once again”, the cardinal warned.
– “One crisis risks being followed by others”
As for the necessity of preparing for the ‘day after’ the wave of COVID-19 infections dies down, Turkson insisted that “it is important to begin to reason immediately about what lies around the corner so as not to be unprepared”.
The cardinal lamented that “the health crisis has already triggered an economic one”.
“The risk is that a social crisis will be provoked if this economic crisis is not dealt with immediately”, he continued.
“One crisis risks being followed by others, in a cycle in which we will be forced to learn slowly and painfully to take care of our common home, as Pope Francis so prophetically teaches in the Encyclical Laudato si’“.
– Solidarity “to make our ‘Home’ healthier and more liveable for all”
Echoing the Pope’s words at his Easter blessing April 12, Turkson concluded by warning the world that “this is not the time for indifference, selfishness or divisions, because the whole world is suffering and must find itself united in confronting the pandemic”.
The cardinal reflected on the fact that in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak “we are rediscovering that inhabiting the Earth as a common home requires much more” that what we as a human race have been used to.
“It requires solidarity in accessing the goods of creation as a ‘common good’, and solidarity in applying the fruits of research and technology to make our “Home” healthier and more liveable for all”, the Integral Development Prefect said.
“In this, we rediscover God, who has entrusted us with such a vocation of being in solidarity with others.
“We are rediscovering how much the destiny of each of us is linked to that of others.
“We are rediscovering the value of the things that matter and the worthlessness of so many things that we once considered important”, he finalised.