Pope Francis on Easter: We Need Solidarity Not Indifference, Self-centeredness, Division, and Forgetfulness

via the Vatican:

Like a new flame this Good News springs up in the night: the night of a world already faced with epochal challenges and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family. In this night, the Church’s voice rings out: “Christ, my hope, has arisen!” (Easter Sequence).

This is a different “contagion”, a message transmitted from heart to heart – for every human heart awaits this Good News. It is the contagion of hope: “Christ, my hope, is risen!”. This is no magic formula that makes problems vanish. No, the resurrection of Christ is not that. Instead, it is the victory of love over the root of evil, a victory that does not “by-pass” suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good: this is the unique hallmark of the power of God….

Today my thoughts turn in the first place to the many who have been directly affected by the coronavirus: the sick, those who have died and family members who mourn the loss of their loved ones, to whom, in some cases, they were unable even to bid a final farewell. May the Lord of life welcome the departed into his kingdom and grant comfort and hope to those still suffering, especially the elderly and those who are alone. May he never withdraw his consolation and help from those who are especially vulnerable, such as persons who work in nursing homes, or live in barracks and prisons. For many, this is an Easter of solitude lived amid the sorrow and hardship that the pandemic is causing, from physical suffering to economic difficulties….

In these weeks, the lives of millions of people have suddenly changed. For many, remaining at home has been an opportunity to reflect, to withdraw from the frenetic pace of life, stay with loved ones and enjoy their company. For many, though, this is also a time of worry about an uncertain future, about jobs that are at risk and about other consequences of the current crisis. I encourage political leaders to work actively for the common good, to provide the means and resources needed to enable everyone to lead a dignified life and, when circumstances allow, to assist them in resuming their normal daily activities.

This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic. May the risen Jesus grant hope to all the poor, to those living on the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless. May these, the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters living in the cities and peripheries of every part of the world, not be abandoned. Let us ensure that they do not lack basic necessities (all the more difficult to find now that many businesses are closed) such as medicine and especially the possibility of adequate health care….

This is not a time for self-centredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons. Among the many areas of the world affected by the coronavirus, I think in a special way of Europe. After the Second World War, this continent was able to rise again, thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity that enabled it to overcome the rivalries of the past. It is more urgent than ever, especially in the present circumstances, that these rivalries do not regain force, but that all recognize themselves as part of a single family and support one another….

Indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time. We want to ban these words for ever! They seem to prevail when fear and death overwhelm us, that is, when we do not let the Lord Jesus triumph in our hearts and lives. May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of his glorious day, a day that knows no end.


Global Solidarity in an “America First” Nation

On March 15, Millennial co-sponsored an event with the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University on the Catholic commitment to global solidarity at a time of rising ‘America First’ nationalism. The event was moderated by Initiative director John Carr and featured Millennial writer and Washington Post editor Elizabeth Bruenig; Shaun Casey, a senior fellow at Georgetown’s Berkley Center, who previously served as US special representative for religion and global affairs and director of the US Department of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs; and Robert Costa, national political reporter for the Washington Post and a political analyst for NBC and MSNBC.

Here are some highlights of the panelists’ remarks:

Robert Costa

  • Steve Bannon was talking about the importance of populism in 2010 and 2011, citing the impact of globalization on American workers
  • Trump’s America First views are grounded in a hostile view towards immigration and globalization
  • Trump’s dad thought the US was ‘losing’ because of trade and immigration. This is a foundation of Donald Trump’s America First approach
  • Donald Trump’s worldview is a blend of Fred Trump and Steve Bannon
  • Trump is not a real religious person. I’ve seen him sign autographs at church, he’s always moving around
  • Evangelicals supported Trump because they see someone who will fight a culture they don’t like
  • Religious voters see Trump as blunt instrument to protect religious freedom, even if he doesn’t share their values
  • David Brooks has said Trump is the wrong answer to the right question. Lots of communities are isolated.
  • Democrats only know how to run against Paul Ryan-type Republicans; they haven’t figured out strategy vs. Trump yet
  • Someone on the Romney campaign likely told Paul Ryan he needed to talk about Aquinas to remake is image as an Ayn Rand devotee
  • If the healthcare plan fizzles, where is Paul Ryan’s political capital? Where does he stand with Trump?
  • Take Trump and Bannon seriously when they talk about deconstructing the administrative state
  • Trump wants to fight with educated do-gooder types, he enjoys it

Shaun Casey

  • Trump and Pope Francis have a radically different moral vision of the “other”
  • Clearest contest between Pope Francis’ and Trump’s vision is on refugee resettlement
  • Muslim ban is “existential challenge” to religious agencies involved in refugee resettlement
  • Subsidiarity helps to navigate between (typically secular) statism and libertarianism
  • Trump’s protectionism is not going to rescue people, but hopefully his victory opens up room for new ideas
  • The alt-right is acidic on the bonds of solidarity.
  • Cuts to foreign aid (which was already underfunded) undermine our ability to carry out imperatives of solidarity
  • There is not a functioning Democratic Party in huge chunks of the country. It’s all base turnout.
  • Democrats need to develop compassion-driven policies and actually engage with small town voters.
  • Both parties are really confused about their identity and future

Elizabeth Bruenig

  • We people of faith need to care for refugees/immigrants precisely because we know how important family and place are
  • There are 3 political visions: secular liberal support for the current global order; America First populism; and the third is (often religious) personalist view that rejects rootlessness but also an exclusionary approach
  • In 2016, the Democratic Party was seen by many as having been taken over by a professional class
  • Some economically vulnerable voters who also feel like their culture is not respected felt recognized by Trump
  • Both Republicans and Democrats have been liberal parties (as in Enlightenment liberalism)
  • There is an illiberal reaction by a lot of young people who worry their lives will be worse than their parents’ lives
  • There is a lot of debt, hopelessness, isolation. Democrats have to figure out how to respond beyond more “liberty”
  • We’re at a high point in terms of inequality. Historically war or disease has reversed this. What will happen now?
  • The reactionary view ties sense of place to blood and soil. It’s counter-Enlightenment Romantic view. The liberal worldview struggles to explain how we are all connected to one another.

You can watch video of the event here:




Pope Encourages Integral Development, Solidarity, and Economic Redistribution by the State

Pope Francis met with a number of representatives from the United Nations today, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Here are some of the key points he made in his address to the UN delegation.

Pope Francis explained how future development goals should reflect a commitment to integral development:

Future Sustainable Development Goals must therefore be formulated and carried out with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labor for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development. Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the “economy of exclusion”, the “throwaway culture” and the “culture of death” which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.

He argues that it is the spirit of solidarity and sharing, along with recognition of the dignity of all, that should guide us:

The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off, left behind, ought to awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions with immediate results, like the decision of Zacchaeus. Does this spirit of solidarity and sharing guide all our thoughts and actions? Today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others…Equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level.

Finally, he explicitly highlighted the responsibility of the state to engage in economic redistribution, while also highlighting the responsibilities of the international community, private sector, and civil society:

A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.



Quote(s) of the Day

Three from Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga:

“The Church decidedly bets on living the globalization of mercy and solidarity.”

“In practice, the hyperventilation of the economy has produced great amounts of money, fruit of the erosion of governmental regulation and a symptom of the failure of materialism. But, as a result, there is always a particular category of victim: ‘the poor.’ Jesus of Nazareth made a warning that should be heeded by all the powers: civil and religious, democratic, monarchic, socialist, of any type: ‘You know that those who are considered the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave.’ (Mark 10: 41; Matthew 20: 25).”

“There is no doubt that doctrinal argument is important, but people will be attracted by the humanity of Christians, those who live by the faith, who live in a human way, who irradiate the joy of living, the consistency in their behavior.”