Vatican bodies have denounced the “selfishness and shortsightedness” of “uncoordinated” national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

– “Great appreciation” for healthcare professionals

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences issued the condemnation in a March 20 statement setting out “lessons for future actions and changing priorities” in the wake of the coronavirus spread.

The respiratory disease had as of this Friday infected 552,024 people around the world and killed 25,980.

The two Vatican academies expressed their “great appreciation” for the “tremendous services currently [being] provided by health workers and medical professionals”.

But they warned that “COVID-19 is a challenge for societies, their health systems, and economies, and especially for directly and indirectly affected people and their families”.

“In the history of humanity, pandemics have always been tragic and have often been deadlier than wars”, the two Catholic Church bodies alerted.

– More science to combat “cacophony of unproven assumptions” in media

“Health systems need to be strengthened in all countries”, the two Pontifical Academies continued, explaining that “the need for early warning and early response is a lesson learned so far from the COVID-19 crisis”.

Insisting on the “vital” importance of getting “ahead of the curve” much earlier than the world has succeeded on coronavirus – and warning of the need, in pandemics to come, for testing at scale and immediate quarantines – the Vatican bodies said that “in the future we need to better coordinate efforts on both the political and health care fronts to prepare and protect the population”.

With COVID-19, “governments, public institutions, science communities, and the media (including social media) failed to ensure responsible, transparent, and timely communication, which is crucial for appropriate action”, the Pontifical Academies deplored.

They said that international groups such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF “need to be supported in their communication efforts so that their scientific evidence-based information can rise above the cacophony of unproven assumptions spreading all over the world”.

– The true face of a “vulnerable and dysfunctional” globalism revealed

“COVID-19 is a common threat that may harm one country sooner than another but will eventually harm us all”, the Pontifical Academies went on in their March 20 statement.

They continued by saying that the ongoing coronavirus emergency is precisely the moment to prove that the “Family of Nations” – to use Pope Paul VI and John Paul II’s turn of phrase – or the “Family of Peoples” – to use Pope Francis’ – “are communities of values with a common origin and shared destiny”.

Decrying the threat of the virus to the world’s millions of poor and vulnerable, as well as its refugees, migrants and forcibly displaced people, the Vatican Academies called for greater “global interdependencies and help across and within nations”.

“The sheer scale and scope of the current globalism has made the world unprecedentedly interdependent – and thus vulnerable and dysfunctional during crises”, the Church bodies deplored.

They also warned against the “misguided and counterproductive” move already palpable in some countries towards a greater isolationism to counter the virus threat.

“Unless governments reduce their nationalistic interests, there is reason to expect a worsening of the health crisis and consequently a deep global recession, with profound and tragic implications especially for poor countries”, the Pontifical Academies insisted.

– Once the pandemic is over, “we cannot go back to business as usual”

The Church bodies concluded their statement by cautioning that “once COVID-19 is under control, we cannot go back to business as usual”.

“A thorough review of worldviews, lifestyles, and short-term economic valuations must be carried out to cope with the challenges of the Anthropocene”, the Pontifical Academies said, warning that just “to survive” we need “a more responsible, more sharing, more equalitarian, more caring and fairer society”.

Urging policy makers to make the most of the coronavirus crisis “to bring about a new – in the sense of different – globalization model aimed at inclusive protection of all”, the Vatican Acadamies closed their statement by repeating that “freedom divorced from solidarity breeds pure and destructive egoism”.

“Nobody can succeed alone”, they siad.

Echoing words of Pope Francis, the Vatican Academies said that the overall lesson the pandemic teaches us “is that, without solidarity, freedom and equality are just empty words”.

More on Novena on the COVID-19 threat:

Doctors, nurses, parents, teachers… Pope says “generous self-denial” of “forgotten” COVID-19 heroes hope for future

Francis – to celebrate Easter without physical presence of faithful – donates respirators to COVID-19-hit hospitals in Italy, Spain

Swiss Church urges solidarity with poorest in COVID-19 crisis, suspends public Masses until May

Maltese Catholic groups sound COVID-19 alarm for poor: “Although illness doesn’t discriminate, the economic fall‑out will”

Theologian warns on COVID-19: “This pandemic demands a different relationship with nature and the Earth”

French bishop warns on COVID-19: “Serious questions must be asked about the relationship between humans and nature”


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