via the Vatican:
I also want to refer to a silent pandemic that has been afflicting children, teenagers and young people of every social class for years; and which I believe, in this time of isolation, has spread further still. It is the stress of chronic anxiety, linked to various factors such as hyperconnectivity, disorientation and lack of future prospects, which is aggravated by the lack of real contact with others — families, schools, sports centres, parishes, centres for young people — and ultimately the lack of real contact with friends, because friendship is the form in which love always revives….
This year twenty million more people have been dragged down to extreme levels of food insecurity; severe destitution has increased; and the price of food has risen sharply. The numbers relating to hunger are horrific, and I think, for example, of countries like Syria, Haiti, Congo, Senegal, Yemen, South Sudan. But hunger is also felt in many other poor countries of the world, and not infrequently in the rich world as well. Annual deaths from hunger may exceed those of Covid. But this does not make the news. It does not generate empathy….
Personal change is necessary, but it is also indispensable to adjust our socio-economic models so that they have a human face, because many models have lost it….
I ask all the great pharmaceutical laboratories to release the patents. Make a gesture of humanity and allow every country, every people, every human being, to have access to the vaccines. There are countries where only three or four per cent of the inhabitants have been vaccinated.
In the name of God, I ask financial groups and international credit institutions to allow poor countries to assure “the basic needs of their people” and to cancel those debts that so often are contracted against the interests of those same peoples.
In the name of God, I ask the great extractive industries — mining, oil, forestry, real estate, agribusiness — to stop destroying forests, wetlands and mountains, to stop polluting rivers and seas, to stop poisoning food and people….
In the name of God, I ask the technology giants to stop exploiting human weakness, people’s vulnerability, for the sake of profits without caring about the spread of hate speech, grooming, fake news, conspiracy theories, and political manipulation.
In the name of God, I ask the telecommunications giants to ease access to educational material and connectivity for teachers via the internet so that poor children can be educated even under quarantine.
In the name of God, I ask the media to stop the logic of post-truth, disinformation, defamation, slander and the unhealthy attraction to dirt and scandal, and to contribute to human fraternity and empathy with those who are most deeply damaged….
Together with the poor of the earth, I wish to ask governments in general, politicians of all parties, to represent their people and to work for the common good….
Let us build bridges of love so that the voices of the periphery with their weeping, but also with their singing and joy, provoke not fear but empathy in the rest of society….
Solidarity not only as a moral virtue but also as a social principle: a principle that seeks to confront unjust systems with the aim of building a culture of solidarity that expresses, the Compendium literally says, “a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good”.
Another principle is to stimulate and promote participation and subsidiarity between movements and between peoples, capable of thwarting any authoritarian mindset, any forced collectivism or any state-centric mindset. The common good cannot be used as an excuse to quash private initiative, local identity or community projects….
Shortening the workday is another possibility: the minimum income is one, the reduction of the working day is another possibility, and one that needs seriously to be explored. In the 19th century, workers laboured twelve, fourteen, sixteen hours a day. When they achieved the eight-hour day, nothing collapsed, contrary to what some sectors had predicted. So, I insist, “working fewer hours so that more people can have access to the labour market is something we need to explore with some urgency”. There must not be so many people overwhelmed by overwork and so many others overwhelmed by lack of work.