Pope Francis urged world leaders to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to “rethink the relationship between individuals and the economy,” in his annual foreign policy address to the Holy See diplomatic corps on Monday.
The Pope called for the economy to be reoriented, so as to be put “at the service of men and women, not vice versa,” and likened the change to a “kind of ‘new Copernican revolution.'”
The economic ramifications of global lockdowns instated by governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic provided a “helpful opportunity” for a fairer market economy to emerge, he said in his speech to 183 ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, which was supposed to take place on Jan. 25 but had to be postponed due to his recent bout of sciatica. (REPORT: Vatican: Pope Francis And Pope Emeritus Benedict Have Received Coronavirus Vaccine)
The 84-year-old Pope expressed how the pandemic has highlighted the ills of the current economic model, which he sees is fundamentally based on the exploitation of the poor and natural resources.
“The pandemic shed light on the risks and consequences inherent in a way of new life dominated by selfishness and a culture of waste, and it set before us a choice: either to continue on the road we have followed until now, or to set out on a new path.”
“It must be recognized, however, that religion is a fundamental aspect of the human person and of society, and cannot be eliminated,” says pontiff.
— Joshua McElwee (@joshjmac) February 8, 2021
He said the unequal economic consequences of the pandemic, where “those working informally” were “the first to see their livelihood vanish.” He also stressed the importance of “economic stability” for all.
The pontiff outlined several facets of what that new path should look like, including universal access to basic healthcare, equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, and the implementation of “structural reforms” to the multilateral system, which he views as essential.
In addition to the demonstrable need for economic reforms, Pope Francis pointed to other ways in which he sees the world as being “seriously ill.”
He renewed concerns for the present environmental conditions, stating his desire for an “effective agreement” to be reached through global cooperation at the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow this November.
The Holy Father also lamented the onset of a social crisis as a result of the pandemic, which has led to “greater isolation.”
“People pass longer hours before computers and other media, with serious consequences for the more vulnerable, particularly the poor and the unemployed.”
During the course of the 55-minute address, Francis also spoke of the military coup in Myanmar, the extension of the New START nuclear weapons treaty between the United States and Russia and the plight of migrants.