(Source: CD/Vatican News)

The Vatican Pontifical Academy for Life recently released a document entitled “Pandemic and Universal Fraternity”. This document was at the centre of an online meeting held on Monday afternoon between the Pontifical Academy, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and representatives of Latin American Bishops’ Conferences (CELAM), which comprises Colombia, Central America, Cuba, and Mexico.

CELAM representatives expressed their desire to encourage “a dialogue” on health problems and on the common good, describing it as “a first step to save lives.”

Released at the end of March, the document, calls for “an alliance between science and humanism” that should guide our response to the crisis.

Healthcare “should not be reserved only for a lucky few”

According to Archbishop Paglia, “the document released on 30 March underlines two decisive conclusions”.

The first concerns universal access to the best opportunities for prevention, diagnosis and treatment – which, he stressed, “should not be reserved only for a lucky few.”

He added that the distribution of a vaccine as soon as it is available in the future will be an important test case.

Pontifical Academy for Life to publish new document on human community in COVID-19

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, discussed some of the Academy’s most important contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted the Academy published the “Pandemic and Universal Fraternity” document on March 30, adding that in the coming days a second document will be released.

The upcoming document will be dedicated to the theme of public health: “Humana communitas in the era of a pandemic: Reflections on the Rebirth of Life.”

Archbishop Paglia also anticipated that the Academy is working on a text on the elderly, “who have been and continue to be the most numerous victims of the pandemic.”

He explained that these texts are given to everyone for reflection, in order to help us understand “the meaning of what is happening in the world today”.

Archbishop Paglia reiterated Pope Francis’s words of warning that we are living through an era of “epochal change”.

We realise how “timely” this statement is, said Archbishop Paglia, as there is no doubt that that “the whole horizon of healthcare must be rethought, both at a regional and at an international level.”

Responsible scientific research

The second conclusion regards the definition of responsible scientific research.

Archbishop Paglia explained that much is at stake, ranging from “the integrity of scientific research, to its freedom in terms of economic profit.”

In this context, Archbishop Paglia explained that there is a call incumbent on international institutions “to rethink aspects relating to the health of all members of the human family living in the common home: the planet.”

Amid growing fragmentation

During the forum, sociologist Gianni Tognoni, denounced the “fragmentation” of governments’ and scientists’ responses to the crisis.

Msgr. Hector Fabio Henao, from Caritas Colombia, made note of the gravity of the current environmental crisis and its impact on health. Archbishop Carlos Garcias from Mexico insisted on the solidarity and responses that the Church can provide to populations in difficulty.

Bishop Alfonso Miranda, also from Mexico, discussed the importance of generating hope and giving concrete answers in the face of the social crisis caused by the pandemic.

Bishop Elkin Alvarez spoke of the serious “disarticulation of institutions” and the lack of responses to the needs of the people in Colombia.

Alvarez was asked to accompany the reflection of the Church in Latin America to ensure that the Church itself is capable of generating hope and solidarity.

Archbishop Paglia concluded the forum reiterating that “we need to reform the health system.” But, he said, the world above all needs “a decisive change towards a civilization of love, solidarity, fraternity.”

More on Novena on challenges to healthcare systems during and after COVID-19:

Pope expresses “esteem and sincere thanks” to healthcare workers for “professionalism and self-sacrifice” in COVID-19

Vatican pleads for universal access to COVID vaccine: “There can’t be a area that is privileged and another that suffers because it is poor”

EU Bishops denounce hospitals were “forced” to prioritise younger patients over elderly during peak of COVID-19

Pope tells governments to invest more in health care to right “deficiencies” exposed by COVID-19


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