via the Vatican:
The pandemic has exposed the plight of the poor and the great inequality that reigns in the world. And the virus, while it does not distinguish between people, has found, in its devastating path, great inequalities and discrimination. And it has exacerbated them!
The response to the pandemic is therefore dual. On the one hand, it is essential to find a cure for this small but terrible virus, which has brought the whole world to its knees. On the other, we must also cure a larger virus, that of social injustice, inequality of opportunity, marginalisation, and the lack of protection for the weakest. In this dual response for healing there is a choice that, according to the Gospel, cannot be lacking: the preferential option for the poor (see Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium [EG], 195). And this is not a political option; nor is it an ideological option, a party option… no. The preferential option for the poor is at the centre of the Gospel….
At the beginning of His preaching, He announced that in the Kingdom of God the poor are blessed (cf. Mt 5:3; Lk 6:20; EG, 197). He stood among the sick, the poor, the excluded, showing them God’s merciful love (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2444). And many times He was judged an impure man because He went to the sick, to lepers… and this made people impure, according to the law of the age. And He took risks to be near to the poor.
Therefore, Jesus’ followers recognise themselves by their closeness to the poor, the little ones, the sick and the imprisoned, the excluded and the forgotten, those without food and clothing (cf. Mt 25:31-36; CCC, 2443). We can read that famous protocol by which we will all be judged, we will all be judged. It is Matthew, chapter 25. This is a key criterion of Christian authenticity (cf. Gal 2:10; EG, 195). Some mistakenly think that this preferential love for the poor is a task for the few, but in reality it is the mission of the Church as a whole, as Saint John Paul II said. (cf. St. John Paul II, Sollicitudo rei socialis, 42). “Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor society” (EG, 187).
Faith, hope and love necessarily push us towards this preference for those most in need, which goes beyond necessary assistance (cf. EG, 198). Indeed it implies walking together, letting ourselves be evangelised by them, who know the suffering Christ well, letting ourselves be “infected” by their experience of salvation, by their wisdom and by their creativity (see ibid). Sharing with the poor means mutual enrichment. And, if there are unhealthy social structures that prevent them from dreaming of the future, we must work together to heal them, to change them (see ibid, 195). And we are led to this by the love of Christ, Who loved us to the extreme (see Jn 13:1), and reaches the boundaries, the margins, the existential frontiers. Bringing the peripheries to the centre means focusing our life on Christ, Who “made Himself poor” for us, to enrich us “by His poverty” (2 Cor 8:9), as we have heard….
Many people want to return to normality and resume economic activities. Certainly, but this “normality” should not include social injustices and the degradation of the environment. The pandemic is a crisis, and we do not emerge from a crisis the same as before: either we come out of it better, or we come out of it worse. We must come out of it better, to counter social injustice and environmental damage. Today we have an opportunity to build something different….
The preferential option for the poor, this ethical-social need that comes from God’s love (cf. LS, 158), inspires us to conceive of and design an economy where people, and especially the poorest, are at the centre. And it also encourages us to plan the treatment of viruses by prioritising those who are most in need. It would be sad if, for the vaccine for Covid-19, priority were to be given to the richest! It would be sad if this vaccine were to become the property of this nation or another, rather than universal and for all. And what a scandal it would be if all the economic assistance we are observing – most of it with public money – were to focus on rescuing those industries that do not contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, the promotion of the least, the common good or the care of creation (ibid.). There are criteria for choosing which industries should be helped: those which contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, to the promotion of the last, to the common good and the care of creation.