September 2, 2020
In his catechesis at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis urges everyone to combine authentic solidarity with the virtue of faith in order to heal social ills in the post-pandemic world.
By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis continued his catechesis series on the topic “Healing the world”, at the weekly General Audience.
After expressing his joy for the possibility of once again meeting with the faithful face-to-face – instead of “screen-to-screen” – the Holy Father noted how the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted our interdependence, “for better or worse”.
Solidarity, therefore, is the key to emerging from the crisis better than before, he said.
Dependence vs interdependence
All humanity, said the Pope, has its common origin in God. We dwell together in our common home, “a garden-planet where God has placed us”, and we have a common destination in Christ.
“But when we forget all this, our interdependence becomes dependence of some on others,” he said, “increasing inequality and marginalization; it weakens the social fabric and the environment deteriorates.”
Solidarity is a mindset
Pope Francis admitted that the word “solidarity” may seem a little worn and poorly understood.
Solidarity is more than “a few sporadic acts of generosity.” Rather, he said, solidarity involves creating a mindset which thinks “in terms of community and the priority of life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few.”
More than that, said the Pope, solidarity “is a matter of justice.”
A healthy and fruitful interdependence “needs strong roots in the humanity and nature created by God; it needs respect for faces and for the land.”
Threats to community
The Pope went on to reflect on the Biblical account of the tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9).
When humanity tries to reach to heaven while ignoring our relationship with each other, creation, and the Creator, we wind up unifying languages and constructing skyscrapers – but we “destroy community” and “mortify cultural wealth”.
Another unfortunate result, said the Pope, is that we instrumentalize others as a workforce, rather than building up a community.
“When shares fall in the financial markets, all the agencies report the news,” he lamented. “Thousands of people fall due to hunger and no-one talks about it.”
Diversity and harmony
Pentecost, said Pope Francis, is the answer and antithesis of Babel.
Descending upon the community, “the Spirit creates unity in diversity; He creates harmony.”
“With Pentecost,” he said, “God makes Himself present and inspires the faith of the community united in diversity and in solidarity.”
Diversity ensures the community is imbued with “antibodies” which remind the community that each person is unique, and protects it from the danger of individualism and selfishness.
“Solidarity,” said the Pope, “is the road to take towards a post-pandemic world, towards the healing of our interpersonal and social sicknesses. There is no other path.”
Solidity and meaning in solidarity
Finally, Pope Francis encouraged everyone to let our solidarity be guided by faith, so that we might translate the love of God for our brother and sisters to build communities that promote healthy growth.
He also invited everyone to ask ourselves: “Do I think about others?”
“In the midst of crises and tempests, the Lord calls to us and invites us to reawaken and activate this solidarity capable of giving solidity, support and meaning to these hours in which everything seems to be wrecked.”