On the rescue packages being prepared around the world to cushion the coronavirus recession, a Vatican official has told governments not to repeat the “mistakes” of the 2008 global financial crisis bank bailouts.

– “Governments must also work to rescue the people”

In 2008, “the focus was on saving the big financial institutions. This time [governments] must also work to rescue the people”, Father Augusto Zampini Davies, the new adjunct secretary of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told America in an interview April 15.

Zampini told the Jesuit publication that the COVID-19 crisis is “an unprecedented opportunity for change, for a better, healthier and less unjust world”.

That said, the Argentinian priest added that “the future starts today, and we should be conscious that the decisions that are being taken by governments and world leaders in these months will shape the future of our world”.

– Head of the Vatican unit tackling the ecological and economic dimensions of COVID-19

Zampini has been the coordinator of the section for Development and Faith in the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development since the dicastery’s inception in 2016.

In that role, the priest – who was also one of the advisors to last October’s Synod on the Amazon – has been reflecting on economics and finance, labour and social movements, indigenous people and peace and new technologies.

But Pope Francis called him into his new position as adjunct secretary in the dicastery last April 8, when news of the Vatican’s new COVID-19 commission, headquartered in the Integral Human Development dicastery, was still under wraps.

That Vatican task force, finally announced April 15, consists of five working groups focused on different aspects of the coronavirus pandemic: “acting now for the future”, “looking to the future with creativity”, “communicating hope”, “seeking common dialogue and reflections” and “supporting to care”.

Zampini is leading the second of those working groups, which he told America is centered on analysis and reflection not only on on the ‘now’ of the COVID-19 crisis but also on the ‘day after’ the pandemic, and particularly in that new reality’s ecological and economic dimensions.

– Pope worried about coronavirus-related poverty, unemployment, hunger

Pope Francis has repeatedly stressed his concerns for the ‘day after’ COVID-19, telling biographer Austen Ivereigh April 8: “I’m thinking of my responsibilities now, and what will come afterwards. What will be my service as Bishop of Rome, as head of the Church, in the aftermath?”

“That aftermath has already begun to be revealed as tragic and painful, which is why we must be thinking about it now. The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development has been working on this, and meeting with me”, the Pope admitted.

In his daily morning Masses at his residence, the Casa Santa Marta, the pontiff has also prayed for politicians – “that they find the right path” out of the pandemic, “always in favor of the people” – and has warned of the increase of poverty, unemployment and hunger as a direct result of the outbreak.

New Integral Human Development adjunct secretary Zampini is well-qualified to tackle the economic and social aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a biography provided by Vatican News.

The fifty-year-old, ordained a priest in 2004, is a lawyer by training and worked in that field prior to entering the seminary, not only at the Central Bank of his native Argentina but also at international law firm Baker & McKenzie (1993-1997).

As a priest, he has served in different parishes and institutions in Argentina and England, and holds qualifications not only in moral theology but also in international development.

Novena’s full coverage of the coronavirus crisis:

20/4: Santa Marta Mass: On coronavirus, Francis asks politicians to set aside good of the party for good of the country

Pontifical Academies warn after COVID-19 “the world cannot return to business as usual”

In “plan for resurrection”, Francis urges world to combat COVID-19, “epidemics” of indifference with “civilisation of love” – full text

Cardinal Turkson, Integral Human Development Prefect: Vatican mobilising Church’s “whole network of charity and solidarity” to tackle COVID-19

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.