A Madrid auxiliary bishop has backed the Pope’s call for a universal basic wage, and said that workers must be the “cornerstone” for the Church exit strategy from the coronavirus.

– The Pope’s letter, “encouragement to look to the horizon”

“The Pope offers the Church workers as the first reality to focus on for the way out of this great crisis”, José Cobo, one of the Spanish capital’s auxiliary bishops, told Vatican News in an April 14 interview.

In a letter to the world’s popular movements published on Easter Day, Francis called for an unconditional basic income universal basic wage as a way not only to “acknowledge and dignify” unprotected workers during COVID-19, but also to “concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights”.

Reflecting on that papal message, Cobo said “this letter is an encouragement to look to the horizon [and] to prepare the way out of this crisis situation”.

“Many will want to exit [the pandemic] as if nothing had happened or with the ‘autopilot’ on”, the prelate warned.

In contrast, “Francis presents us with realistic keys to move forward and which we are grateful to him for underlining: the fight for the common good and integral human development”, the Madrid auxiliary said.

– The urgency of “rethinking our way of consuming, operating and situating ourselves in the world”

If our exit strategy from the coronavirus “is human, that is, not only economic, we will have the opportunity to put people in the centre and their dignity as the horizon”, Bishop Cobo explained.

He added that the coronavirus has placed in high relief the urgency “of rethinking our way of consuming, operating and situating ourselves in the world”.

“For that reason, [the Pope] sets his sights on workers, and especially on the poorest”, he continued.

Cobo lamented that workers “have been excluded from the benefits of the system in which we live, but they now bear all the disadvantages”.

“If they are supportive of the burdens and afflictions of this crisis, is it not time to think that they must be part of the global solution? Is it not necessary, from social justice, to put them in the centre of attention to exit this as human beings who work together for the common good?”, he asked.

– “The Pope takes the lead so that we can articulate ways to lend workers a hand”

Insisting on the need for the Church to focus on people’s “real-life problems” and “to agree on mechanisms to consolidate a universal wage that dignifies people and guarantees the survival of so many families”, Bishop Cobo encouraged priests and bishops “to review our actions as a Church” in the light of the pandemic.

COVID-19 represents “a challenge in terms of reviewing how we are favouring human development in each space of ecclesial life, to ask ourselves how we can heal, care and live solidarity in the liturgy, in catechesis, in the way we organise ourselves, preach and launch awareness campaigns”, the Madrid auxiliary bishop insisted.

At the same time, he continued, the coronavirus outbreak represents a chance for the Church “to make clear to everyone not only how we accompany the unemployed and those excluded from the world of work, but also how we accompany workers in general, and in particular the poor and precarious workers in our environments”.

“The Pope takes the lead so that we can articulate ways to lend them a hand”, Cobo affirmed.

“Not just to offer them once-off help and assistance, but to be their voice and to reclaim with them their visibility and their place in the way out of this critical situation”, the Madrid auxiliary explained.

More on Novena on the Church and the universal basic wage:

Prophetic: Pope rages against “economic power”, “idolatry” of money; proposes universal basic wage

Austrian Catholics argue from Church teaching for universal basic wage during coronavirus, beyond

From our friends at Pressenza International Press Agency: “Time to support the people”: 127,000 Europeans ask Brussels for urgent coronavirus relief in form of universal basic wage


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