Pope creates coronavirus commission to respond to pandemic

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis created a new commission that will confront the challenges the world is facing in battling the coronavirus pandemic and what it will inevitably face in its aftermath, the Vatican announced.

In a statement published April 15, the Vatican said the goal of the commission, which will be led by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, is “to express the church’s concern and love for the entire human family in the face of the of COVID-19 pandemic.”

The dicastery will work with other Vatican offices to coordinate the work, which includes “an analysis and a reflection on the socioeconomic and culture challenges of the future and proposed guidelines to address them,” the Vatican said.

The commission is divided into five working groups focused on a specific aspect of the pandemic and has met twice with the pope to discuss ways it can help local churches, especially in poor areas, Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the dicastery, said in an interview with Vatican News published shortly after the announcement.

“The pope is convinced that we are living through an epochal change and he is reflecting on what will follow the crisis, on the economic and social consequences of the pandemic, on what we will have to face and, above all, on how the church can offer itself as a safe point of reference to the world lost in the face of an unexpected event,” Cardinal Turkson said.

The commission’s first working group, which is dedicated to “listening and supporting local churches,” will work in cooperation with Caritas Internationalis, as well as the office of the papal almoner, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Vatican pharmacy.

Cardinal Turkson told Vatican News that the first group already has “set up mechanisms to listen to the local churches to identify real needs and assist in the development of effective and adequate responses,” including coordinating with apostolic nuncios and bishops’ conferences.

“A broad outlook is needed. Nobody must be forgotten — prisoners, vulnerable groups. We need to share good practices,” the cardinal said.

The second group will dedicate itself to research and the study of the pandemic and to reflecting on society and the world post-coronavirus in coordination with the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

This group, Cardinal Turkson said, “has the task of night watch, like the sentry, to perceive the dawn. To do this it is necessary to connect the best minds in the areas of ecology, economy, health and public security. We need the concreteness of science, and we need prophecy and creativity.”

Other working groups will focus on communication, relations with other countries to assist and share valuable research information and financing the commission’s relief efforts.

Cardinal Turkson highlighted the need for the commission and the importance of looking to the future “so as not to be unprepared.”

“The health crisis has already triggered an economic one,” he said. “The risk is that a social crisis will be provoked if this economic crisis is not dealt with immediately. One crisis risks being followed by others, in a cycle in which we will be forced to learn slowly and painfully to take care of our common home.”

Unity, he added, is essential in confronting the pandemic, so the current crisis “is not the time for indifference, selfishness or division.”

He also called for the loosening of international sanctions, the reduction or forgiveness of the foreign debts of poor countries, and the end of conflict and arms trafficking. Instead, countries should use their wealth “to heal people and save lives.”

“We are rediscovering how much the destiny of each of us is linked to that of others,” Cardinal Turkson said. “We are rediscovering the value of the things that matter and the worthlessness of so many things that we once considered important.”

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.


Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


How Benedictine monks inspired the graduation gown

Monday, June 1, 2020
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion Well, not many commencement exercises will occur this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past, almost... Read More

Opening the Word: Without you, nothing

Friday, May 29, 2020
By: Timothy P. O'Malley A persistent temptation in the Christian life is to see God as nothing more than an aid to our own righteous efforts.... Read More

Dozens gather virtually to sing psalms, hymns and inspired songs

Wednesday, May 27, 2020
By: Dan Meloy PONTIAC, Mich. (CNS) — Notre Dame Preparatory High School’s choir and alumni are bringing the world a little closer... Read More

Navigating the uncharted territory of returning to Mass

Monday, May 25, 2020
By: Scott Warden Over the past month or so, once dinner has been made and eaten, the kitchen cleaned and the littlest children have been put to... Read More

Opening the Word: Distance and desire

Friday, May 22, 2020
By:  Timothy P. O'Malley As Catholics, we are used to thinking about God’s presence in our churches. Christ is present in the... Read More

Pope joins interreligious prayer, begging God to end pandemic

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
By: Cindy Wooden VATICAN CITY (CNS) — At a time of global “tragedy and suffering” because of the coronavirus, and in view of the... Read More

The pandemic has caused many to focus on what matters most: God

Monday, May 18, 2020
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, a respected analyst of popular opinion, recently discovered that a quarter... Read More

Opening the Word:Obedience and creativity, fidelity and charism, are closely linked to one another

Friday, May 15, 2020
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Art should be creative. This means the artist must break away from all received norms, obedient only to the creativity that... Read More

What Pope St. John Paul II might tell us during this time of pandemic

Wednesday, May 13, 2020
By: Gretchen R. Crowe On May 18, we mark the 100th birthday of St. John Paul II. Though he passed away 15 years ago this past April, the... Read More

Photographs, memories and appreciating the time of our lives

Monday, May 11, 2020
By:  Scott Warden On a narrow wall that defines our kitchen from our dining room — it might be 2 feet wide — hang three photos of... Read More

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!