“Indifference is the great evil that leads to a self-centred world, turned in on itself”, Pope Francis has warned in a new interview.

– Indifference “a quarantine that I choose for myself to protect myself from the virus of reality”

“Indifference today is a way of defending oneself. It is a quarantine that I choose for myself to protect myself from the virus of reality”, the pontiff told Studia Moralia, the journal of the Alphonsian Academy, in an interview published September 29.

To overcome that modern plague of apathy, the Pope returned to one of the guiding themes of his pontificate: the decentralisation of the Church and world from the centre to the “peripheries”, from where he told Studia Moralia that “you can see reality better”.

“From the centre you have a sweetened, distorted vision, while from the periphery you can see the raw, real reality, without any mask”, Francis explained.

The Pope reiterated his conviction that “going out to the peripheries… in a practical and real sense” is an indispensable prerequisite for the conversion of the Church in the 21st century.

“We need to open up to a concrete encounter with existential peripheries without falling into the trap of making theoretical reflections that have never really encountered the drama and beauty of reality”, Francis stressed in that sense.

The pontiff returned to an image he used in a speech prior to the 2013 conclave that elected him Pope: “In Revelation we read that Jesus is at the door and knocks (Rev 3:20). It is clear that he knocks to enter and dine with us”.

“Even today Jesus is at the door and knocks but he knocks from inside the Church because we do not let him out. The closure of ideas, of preconceptions: these are the roots where lax or rigorous ideologies are born”, the Pope warned.

– On the post-COVID social and economic reconstruction: “People are always worth much more than mere profit”

On the coronavirus situation, Francis lamented to Studia Moralia that “the pandemic is a universal crisis”.

“We all know that one does not come out of a crisis by remaining the same as before. We come out of it better or worse, both on an individual and social level”, he continued.

“Everything will depend on how States program post-COVID: whether in a human way, or only in a technical way; that is, whether they look primarily at economic and financial development, or whether they choose to start again from the people, which of course are always worth much more than mere profit or financial data”.

“What awaits us is certainly a difficult time, with an increase in poverty and hunger”, the Pope alerted, adding that the aim of the post-COVID social and economic reconstruction must be “to educate consciences to think differently, in discontinuity with the past”.

“We must all act responsibly, whether or not we want a more human humanity, without slaves, without exploited men and women”, Francis insisted.

“We must ask ourselves whether we still want nations that exploit other nations, depriving them – for example – of their natural wealth, especially at this time when there is a growing need for specific resources to be used for the new technologies that are becoming the new oil, the new gold.

“It makes no sense for a nation to commit itself on the one hand to giving a democratic political system to a poorer nation, and then to retain the use of its subsoil for itself. It is unacceptable that this way of thinking and living should remain the same after the great pandemic crisis”.

“It is necessary to make courageous choices that require change. But no change is possible unless the vision and perception of reality around us changes”, the Pope concluded.

He added that the task of theology after the COVID crisis must be to point up “those ‘sins’ that the world has now incorporated into its normality and no longer perceives them as such”.

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