ROME (AP) — Pope Francis is urging the faithful to use the coronavirus pandemic’s “time of trial” to prepare for a future where inequalities are abolished and the poorest are no longer left behind.
“This is not some ideology,” Francis said. “It is Christianity.”
Francis traveled a few blocks outside the Vatican walls on Sunday to celebrate Mass at a nearby church to mark a special feast day dedicated to mercy. Only a few priests were in the pews given Italy’s strict virus lockdown.
In his homily, Francis said the grave, global toll of the pandemic has reminded the world that there are no borders between those who suffer, no differences in nationalities among those who are struck or spared.
“We are all frail, all equal, all precious,” he said.
“May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us,” he said from the altar of the Santo Spirito church. “The time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family!”
While people infected with the coronavirus often experience mild or moderate symptoms, possible complications like pneumonia can put their lives at risk.
Francis has been using his daily livestreamed Masses in the Vatican hotel where he lives to single out a particular group of people for prayers during the pandemic: the elderly, doctors and nurses, prisoners and those with disabilities.
On Sunday, he delivered a broader message about inequality and the need for a post-virus world to rethink its priorities. It’s a theme that echoes the pre-pandemic preaching of the world’s first Latin American pope, who has constantly demanded greater solidarity among rich and poor.
In recent days, Francis has proposed the creation of a universal basic wage to help those who have lost their jobs as a result of the virus economic shutdown to survive. On Sunday, he said there is a grave risk that while COVID-19 might eventually be tamed, the virus of “selfishness indifference” could take its place.
To combat that risk, he said: “Let us welcome this time of trial as an opportunity to prepare for our collective future. Because without an all-embracing vision, there will be no future for anyone.”
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