(Source: Novena/Vatican News)

Addressing participants at the 2020 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mediterranean Conference on Tuesday, Monsignor Janusz Urbańczyk stressed the importance of an integral approach to tackling the challenges of security, economy and development amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

The Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the OSCE said that security issues should always be addressed in a comprehensive manner, taking into consideration items such as “energy security, climate change, migration and the current economic and financial crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Often, Urbańczyk continued, “the level of economic growth of a country is the only factor considered in development”.

However, he said, “the development we speak of cannot be restricted merely to economic growth”. For it to be authentic, “it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each person and of the whole person”. 

The OSCE Conference was themed: “Promoting Security in the OSCE Mediterranean Region through Sustainable Development and Economic Growth”.

Integral development 

Echoing Pope Francis’ observation in the 2020 Encyclical letter Fratelli tutti, Urbańczyk highlighted some economic rules that have proved effective for growth but not for integral human development.

He noted that “wealth has increased, but together with inequality; with the result that new forms of poverty are emerging”.

“Particularly in these times, we cannot omit the new forms of poverty created by the Covid-19 pandemic, which have not only exacerbated already existing poverties but added new ones.

“These include not only the limits of our health care systems that are overwhelmed by the crisis or the serious and long-lasting consequences of the economic crisis, but also the lack of access to correct information and to education, as well as the suffering caused by social isolation, increased violence and distress”.

“We cannot allow economics to be separated from human realities, nor development from the civilization in which it takes place”, said Urbańczyk. “What counts for us is the person – each individual, each community, and humanity as a whole”.

Women particularly affected

The pandemic has had a “disproportionate” effect on women, Urbańczyk noted. Many are impacted by a heavier workload, including telework, care, and domestic work; or by unpaid leaves and job losses, especially in the informal sector.

Highlighting the crucial role women play in the economy and society, the Vatican diplomat stressed that “women must be recognized as dignified protagonists of their integral development”, adding that governments have the responsibility of protecting their dignity and providing them with a system of social safeguards and adequate compensation.

Inclusion of all

In light of the strong societal inequalities highlighted by the pandemic, Urbańczyk recommended that the policies and tools put in place to respond to those in need be guided by two principles: the inclusion of all and the protection of the sacredness of human life.

Although the pandemic is a test for individuals and society as a whole, Urbańczyk concluded, “it also provides a real opportunity to seek new and innovative consensus-based solutions that are not divisive, politicized or partial, but that truly seek the common good and the integral human development of all”.

On Novena, more Church proposals on building the economy back better after Covid-19:

Pope, on Covid-19 challenges: “We need change” to fix economic models in “crisis”, right “social and health failures”

Cardinal Hollerich warns of “great danger” for European Union: reducing integration “to mere economics” and citizens to consumers

EU Churches stress ecological, social and contributive justice as keys to COVID-19 economic recovery

‘Economy of Francesco’ organisers insist pre-COVID economy now obsolete, push for more than just ‘green’ recovery to focus on poor