Monday, April 13, 2020

The Long-Term Lesson from This Crisis

In addition to the usual Urbi et Orbi Message (unusually delivered without the customary military and pontifical pomp in an empty Saint Peter's Basilica), Pope Francis sent an even more unusual special Easter Sunday message to members of social movements around the world, one which would easily pass unnoticed but most certainly ought not to. The Pope recognized "the rage and powerlessness" felt "at the sight of persistent inequalities" and accordingly turned his attention to the "change that can no longer be put off."

Notably, he expressed his "hope that this time of danger will free us from operating on automatic pilot, shake our sleepy consciences and allow a humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the center. Our civilization — so competitive, so individualistic, with its frenetic rhythms of production and consumption, its extravagant luxuries, its disproportionate profits for just a few — needs to downshift, take stock, and renew itself."

Of course, the moral failure of capitalism was - or certainly ought to have been - evident long ago. No virus was needed to teach that obvious lesson. The Pope, however, has recognized what many others are also recognizing that this crisis cannot conclude somehow in some Hardingesque return to normalcy, but rather requires a comprehensive re-examination of everything that has brought our supposedly so advanced society to this calamitous condition - in particular the four decades of destructive ideology that have underwritten the breakdown of social solidarity, the same social solidarity which is proving essential to any hope for our economic, cultural, moral, and political recovery. 

Let us pray that, in this sense, this crisis will not be wasted!

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