The COVID-19 pandemic “is being used by some to consolidate their power or to grow their own private gain”, the Jesuit Superior General has denounced.

– Christians “called to shoulder sick world structures”

“This pandemic has highlighted the limits of health care systems that leave out billions of people who continue to die of curable diseases”, Father Arturo Sosa warned in an April 19 interview with SIC magazine, from his native Venezuela.

Sosa, the leader of the world’s largest religious community since 2016, said that amid the coronavirus outbreak Christians “are called to shoulder sick world structures so as to heal them, that is, we are called to commit ourselves effectively to the transformation of the current world order, which increasingly shows its limitations in terms of creating the conditions for a dignified human life for all peoples and their cultures”.

– Where is God in the pandemic?

On the question of where “God” is during COVID-19, and why God is allowing the pandemic to rage, Sosa warned first that “behind the word ‘god’ there are many idolatries and not a few ideologies that manipulate human beings using apparently religious language”.

“For that reason it is necessary to start by asking ourselves which ‘god’ we are talking about”, he clarified.

“If it is the God of Jesus, whom Jesus recognises as the merciful Father and reveals Him to us through dedicating his life to doing good and giving his life out of love on the Cross – condemned as he was by the representatives of other ‘gods’ – then it is easy to find God beside us in this pandemic, next to those who have been infected, beside those who take care of them in so many ways, beside those who make decisions seeking to contain the spread [of the disease]”, Sosa explained.

– Coronavirus “has helped us see more clearly worrying signs already there”

With regard to humanity’s system of civil rights and liberties – which some have said has also fallen victim to the coronavirus – Sosa clarified that “neither the crisis of democracy, the fragility of the commitment of citizens nor the outbreaks of anti-politics, short-sighed nationalisms and the multiplication of personalist leaderships that promote authoritarianism are products of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Rather, the coronavirus outbreak “has helped us to see more clearly these worrying signs already present in political regimes in various parts of the world”, the Jesuit reflected.

“The measures taken by most governments make sense in terms of combatting a threat that was heretofore unknown”, Sosa continued.

“Exercising authority to help preserve life does not contradict a system of freedoms if it is exercised by democratically legitimate governments”, he insisted.

The Jesuit Superior General affirmed that “citizens aware of the need to contribute to the common good, which means caring for the health and life of the population, can understand and abide by these types of measures without feeling their freedom threatened”.

“Quite another thing is, as unfortunately happens, that governments with little democratic legitimacy take advantage of the pandemic to further a tendency to personalism and authoritarianism, or seek to increase the influence of a certain State in the balance of forces in the world”, he warned.

– A chance to “propose significant changes to the dominant economic, political and social system”

Beyond these sinister political manipulations of COVID-19, Sosa urged Christians and other “citizens of the world” to see in the pandemic a chance to “propose significant changes to the dominant economic, political and social system” of today,

The coronavirus, he said, “is an opportunity to renew democratic consciousness [and] to devise a strategy to restart the production of goods and services in a way that includes ‘discarded’ members of the society and also accelerates the necessary measures to reverse the deterioration of the environment”.

COVID-19 “is an opportunity to promote freedom of thought and freedom of expression, to open the doors of comprehensive and high-quality education to the millions of young people who want it and also to renew educational systems to meet the demands of young people today and young people of future generations”, Sosa said.

More on Novena on the politicial ramifications of COVID-19:

European Bishops join warning against “new normal of eroded rights and liberties” after COVID-19

On coronavirus rescue, Vatican official tells governments “don’t repeat the mistakes” of 2008 GFC bailouts

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

Liberation theologian says pandemic new ‘1984’: “Our fragile democratic institutions are under threat”

Top cardinal warns lack of solidarity during coronavirus could be “fatal wound” to EU


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