Pontifical Academy for Life expresses concern over pandemic aggravating inequalities

An organization delivers food aid in Pakistan on Good Friday, during the global pandemic. (Photo by Rubina Bhatti)

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – The Pontifical Academy for Life recently released a document that expresses concern that the coronavirus pandemic is aggravating global inequalities.

“Though all, rich and poor, are vulnerable to the virus, the latter are bound to pay the highest price, and to bear the long-term consequences of lack of cooperation,” states the Vatican document published July 22, 2020.

“It is clear that the pandemic is worsening the inequalities that already are associated with processes of globalization, making more people vulnerable and marginalized without health care, employment, and social safety nets,” it states.

The nine-page document, “Humana Communitas in the Age of the Pandemic: Untimely Meditations on Life’s Rebirth,” is the second reflection released by the Pontifical Academy for Life on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pontifical academy stressed the importance of solidarity and international cooperation in the face of the pandemic, highlighting in particular the role of the World Health Organization.

“Solidarity extends also to any efforts in international cooperation. In this context, a privileged place belongs to the World Health Organization (WHO). Deeply rooted in its mission to lead international health work is the notion that only the commitment of governments in a global synergy can protect, foster, and make effective a universal right to the highest attainable standard of health,” the document states.

“The narrow-mindedness of national self-interests has led many countries to vindicate for themselves a policy of independence and isolation from the rest of the world, as if a pandemic could be faced without a coordinated global strategy. Such an attitude might pay lip service to the idea of subsidiarity, and the importance of a strategic intervention based on the claim of a lower authority taking precedence over any higher one, more distant from the local situation,” the document continues.

It goes on to say that isolation from the international community in the name of national self-interest “also results in the widening of inequalities and the exacerbation of resource imbalances among different countries.”

After the United States, Brazil and India have the next highest number of documented coronavirus cases. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Brazil has more than two million cases and India has 1.19 million cases of COVID-19.

“When compared to the predicament of poor countries, especially in the so-called Global South, the plight of the ‘developed’ world looks more like a luxury: only in rich countries people can afford the requirements of safety,” the document states.

The Vatican document also offers reflections on human fragility, environmental considerations, and personal responsibility for those in need.

“COVID-19 may affect everyone, it is especially harmful for particular populations, such as the elderly, or people with associated diseases and compromised immune systems. Policy measures are taken for all citizens equally … They ask for sacrifices from many people who depend on public interaction and economic activity for their living. In richer countries these sacrifices can be temporarily compensated, but in the majority of countries such protective policies are simply impossible.”