Vatican cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has backed the call for an immediate coronavirus ceasefire around the world, saying that the idea of a truce, advanced by the UN Secretary General and by Pope Francis, among others, reminds us that “we must be protecting each other, not killing each other”.

– “Our common foe is the infection, not other human beings”

“The appeal of the Secretary General of the United Nations for a global ceasefire is needed and opportune”, Cardinal Tagle, the Filipino prelate who serves as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the President of Caritas Internationalis, told the Fides news agency.

UN Secretary General António Guterres called March 23 “for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world”, adding, with respect to the battle against the coronavirus, that “it is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives”.

Pope Francis supported Guterres’ call in the Angelus March 29, pleading “may our joint fight against the pandemic bring everyone to recognise the great need to reinforce brotherly and sisterly bonds as members of one human family”.

“That Pope Francis supported and repeated [the ceasefire call] makes the appeal truly prophetic”, said Tagle

“The COVID-19 emergency is called a ‘pandemic’, meaning, it affects all peoples and all nations.

“It therefore demands that all peoples and nations respond together to protect our common human family and ‘common home’.

“The COVID-19 emergency urges all of us to help save lives. Our common foe is the infection, not other human beings.

“The proposed ceasefire reminds us that we must be protecting each other, not killing each other.

“And we hope that when the pandemic is over (and we hope soon), that the ceasefire would continue as a way of life”.

– “Scandalous that a big portion of national budgets goes to arms but very little to dialogue and reconciliation”

“Every crisis situation can become a kairòs [Greek for the ‘right, critical, or opportune moment’ – ed.], depending on the meaning that we see, the calling that we hear, and the action that we take”, continued Cardinal Tagle.

“The present crisis has revealed many disturbing things to us.

“It is shameful that some countries have large reserves of weapons but lack medicines, masks and protective equipment.

“It is scandalous that a big portion of national budgets goes to arms but very little to efforts towards dialogue and reconciliation.

“It is unbelievable that some people in authority use the emergency for political and ethnic bashing, when the virus does not choose races and political persuasions”, Cardinal Tagle deplored.

– Swap “folly of domination and violence” for “humility to choose service and peace”

The head of the Vatican’s missionary dicastery concluded his remarks to Fides insisting that “this crisis could become an occasion for peace and reconciliation if we, as one human family, have the humility to accept the folly of discrimination, prejudice, domination and violence and also the humility to choose acceptance, respect, compassion, service and peace”.

The cardinal also extended a special thought to the populations who today in Asia, Africa and Latin America live in situations of violence, conflict, war:

“It is not easy to say anything to people who suffer”, Tagle admitted.

“Sometimes, silent presence speaks more to them. But I still want to say that the Church invites the victims of conflicts and wars especially in the poorer parts of the world to continue longing for and dreaming of peace.

“We Christians believe Jesus’ promise to be with us always as God’s peace, love and life. He is our hope.

“The Church invites all Christians and people of good will to promote peace through little and simple acts of caring or by a compassionate presence.

“To the tired and weary victims of wars I would like to say that their tears, pains and hopes will not be wasted. In God´s hands, the poor will re-educate consciences and re-direct human history”.

(With reporting by Fides)

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.