“The virus of individualism and loneliness radically weakened society before COVID-19”, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life has denounced.

– “We cannot continue as we have been going”

“When Pope Francis said in his March 27 prayer that we were all going at breakneck speed, thinking that we were healthy in a sick world, he reminded us that we were not actually healthy”, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia told Vatican News in an April 30 interview.

In that situation of sickness out of our “feeling powerful and able to do anything”, as the Pope put it – “greedy for profit”, too, and “lured away by haste” – Paglia said that COVID-19 has “brought out, exploded, that fragility inherent in our nature that we don’t want to see”.

But we must look, and “there is an intelligence that must be used at this time”, said the archbishop, who has just published an essay on the crisis: “Pandemic and fraternity: The strength of human bonds reopens the future”.

If our fragility is not recognised, “in the end we suffer the consequences”, the Vatican prelate warned.

“If our omnipotent pride continues to guide our choices, to guide the very meaning of life, in the end it is obvious that the fruits are what we have seen”, he cautioned.

Paglia alerted that “this pandemic shows us the truth of who we are”.

“And in that sense, the need to ask for help, the need to support each other [and]to say enough to all individualism, authority, all self-reliance, is finally before everyone’s eyes. We cannot continue as we have been going”.

– “If our choices don’t take the common good into account, they run the risk of causing only harm”

In his new book, Archbishop Paglia calls for a global bioethical vision on COVID-19, which he explained means, in the first place, remembering our unavoidable relatedness.

“When we look at our life, our world, the meaning of our days, we must keep in mind that we are connected with each other”, the prelate urged.

“Each of our actions is never ours alone, but always belongs to others, for better or for worse”, he continued.

“Therefore, if our choices – political, economic, social and individual – don’t take into account a universal vision of the common good, or rather of fraternity, they run the risk of causing only harm”, he said.

Archbishop Paglia offered as an example of humanity’s “neglect” of the common good our man-made “devastation” of the environment, which as he recalled has been one of the factors experts have suggested could be behind the emergence of COVID-19.

He also spoke about the “devastation” of integenerational solidarity, as evidenced by the mass deaths in nursing homes throughout the duration of the pandemic to date.

“We have prolonged life, which is excellent, but then we have dumped those to whom we have given this gift in ‘end of life’ places, in a way duplicating the cruelty”, Paglia denounced.

But in the face of our neglect of the common good to date, the archbishop proposed that humanity recover an idea of “fraternity” that should “radically” inform its choices in the future.

The President of the Pontifical Academy for Life called for a vision of “brotherhood among peoples, […] brotherhood between man and creation, brotherhood as a rediscovery of the common destiny of all”.

“Implementing global bioethics is like recovering the dream of God at the beginning of creation”, Paglia explained.

“All creation is the common home of humanity. The alliance of men and women must be responsible for all generations and must be responsible for the care of this home”, he insisted.

More from the Vatican on COVID-19:

COVID-19: Vatican archbishop Paglia warns of humanity’s “frustrated delirium of omnipotence”

Archbishop Paglia issues call to fight coronavirus with “antibodies of solidarity”

COVID-19: Pontifical Academy for Life reminds governments healthcare rationing must only be “last resort”


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