The “selfish” attitude of rich countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is having a “frightening” effect on the poor worldwide, a German archbishop has denounced.

– The crisis, a breeding ground for good and evil

Archbishop of Bamberg Ludwig Schick devoted a homily Sunday May 17 to the continuing fall-out from the coronavirus, which he said has shown that crises are a breeding ground for both good and evil in people.

On the one hand, “we have been noticing for weeks that attentiveness, understanding for each other, helpfulness and care are growing”, the prelate said in his sermon in the cathedral, according to a summary provided by the archdiocese.

On the other hand, though, the archbishop rued that “selfishness, a dog-eat-dog mentality and resentment” have also been made manifest during the pandemic.

– “Hunger is increasing again in many parts of the world”

As examples of the “evil” the coronavirus has brought out in some people, Schick offered the hoarding that some citizens engaged in during the early weeks of the crisis, as well as the increase in cases of domestic violence that have sprung up around the world during the weeks of lockdown.

But the archbishop – who is also the head of the commission of the German Bishops’ Conference on the universal Church – also pointed to a loss of solidarity in international politics and the egoism of rich states as other examples of a COVID-19-induced ruthlessness.

“The shutdown means that no food, seeds or other relief supplies reach the poor. As a result, hunger is increasing again in many parts of the world”, Schick deplored.

Not only are rich countries limiting their aid to the two-thirds world during the outbreak, but they are also hoarding medicines, the prelate denounced.

“As a result, the number of malaria, typhoid fever and cholera cases is increasing”, Schick lamented, explaining that the cuts to aid and the lack of drugs is having a “frightening” effect on poor states.

– Putting prophetic words on solidarity into action

Beyond that prophetic sermon Sunday in the cathedral, Archbishop Schick has also put into action the Church’s concern for poor countries during COVID-19, donating towards relief efforts an extra 80,000 euros of the archdiocesan ‘Bread for all people’ initiative that he personally founded in 2009, on top of the 100,000 euros he already gave from the local Church’s disaster fund.

Of the new money, 50,000 euros will go to an agricultural school in Cameroon, 10,000 to workers in India retrenched because of the pandemic, 5,000 to poor in the Ukraine and 7,500 to hungry people in Mauritania and Guatemala apiece.

– Praise for Chinese Catholics

Last week, too, Schick also praised the COVID-19 solidarity of Chinese Catholics ahead of the world day of prayer for the Church in China on May 24.

With their “generous” donations in the early weeks of the pandemic, “the Catholics in China not only supported their compatriots, but also sent aid worldwide”, Schick recalled, calling that generosity “a great testimony” of the “deeply-rooted faith” of the Chinese faithful.

In its press release accompanying Schick’s remarks on the solidarity of Chinese Catholics, the Bamberg archdiocese recalled that Chinese Catholic relief organisation Jinde Charities gave to disaster relief efforts within China almost two million euros in donations from the faithful.

The Chinese Church group later provided relief supplies to the value of over 1.5 million euros to Korea and northern Italy.

More on Novena on the Church’s plea for solidarity during the pandemic:

Vatican pleads with governments to divert weapons spending to ensure food security for world’s 800 million hungry

Pope, in message for Day of Migrants: “God did not want the resources of our planet to benefit only a few. This was not the Lord’s will!”

Vatican cardinal urges world to seize pandemic opportunity “to lay a new foundation for defeating all injustice and inequality”

Caritas warns number of starving in world could double as a result of pandemic, reach 230 million

Italian cardinal: “This economy that creates or accepts so much poverty must change”


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