From August 5 to October 7 Pope Francis delivered a catechesis on Healing the World in the context of the pandemic at his general audiences delivered each Wednesday morning. Links to the full text of the audiences as well as the summaries of the catecheses are provided below.
General Audience of 5 August 2020, Catechesis: “To heal the world” – 1. Introduction
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In responding to the grave challenges caused by the present pandemic, we Christians are guided by the wisdom and strength born of the virtues of faith, hope and love. As God’s gifts, these virtues heal us and enable us in turn to bring Christ’s healing presence to our world. They can inspire in us a new and creative spirit to help us face today’s deeply rooted physical, social and spiritual infirmities and change the unjust and destructive behaviours that threaten the future of our human family. Today the Church seeks to continue the Lord’s healing ministry, not only to individuals but also to society as a whole. She does this by proposing a number of principles drawn from the Gospel, which include: the dignity of the human person, the common good, the preferential option for the poor, the universal destination of goods, solidarity, subsidiarity and the care for our common home. In coming weeks, I will reflect on these and other themes of the Church’s social doctrine, confident that they can shed light on today’s acute social problems and contribute to the building of a future of hope for coming generations.
General Audience of 12 August 2020 – Catechesis “To Heal the world”: 2. Faith and human dignity
Dear Brothers and Sisters, in our continuing catechesis on the effects of the current pandemic in the light of the Church’s social doctrine, we now consider the theme of human dignity. The pandemic has made us more aware of the spread within our societies of a false, individualistic way of thinking, one that rejects human dignity and relationships, views persons as consumer goods and creates a “throw away” culture (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 53). In contrast, faith teaches that we have been created in God’s image and likeness, made for love and for communion of life with him, with one another and with the whole of creation. Jesus tells us that true discipleship consists in following his example by spending ourselves in service of others. Our God-given dignity and the rights that arise from it are the ultimate foundation of all social life, and have serious social, economic and political implications. In responding to the pandemic we Christians are called to combat all violations of human dignity as contrary to the Gospel, and to work for the wellbeing of our whole human family and our common home.
General Audience of 19 August 2020 – Catechesis “To Heal the world”: 3. The preferential option for the poor and the virtue of charity
Dear Brothers and Sisters, in our reflection on the current global pandemic, we have seen that it has made us sensitive to an even graver virus affecting our world: that of social injustice, lack of equal opportunity and the marginalization of the poor and those in greatest need. Christ’s example and teaching show us that a preferential option for the poor is an essential criterion of our authenticity as his followers. Christian charity demands that, beyond social assistance, we listen to their voices and work to overcome all that hinders their material and spiritual development. Our desire for a return to normality should not mean a return to social injustices or to a delay of long overdue reforms. Today we have an opportunity to create something different: an ethically sound economy, centred on persons, especially the poor, in recognition of their innate human dignity. How sad it would be if, for example, access to a Covid-19 vaccine were made available only to the rich, and not to others in equal or greater need! May the Gospel inspire us to find ever more creative ways to exercise that charity, grounded in faith and anchored in hope, which can heal our wounded world and promote the true welfare of our entire human family.
General Audience of 26 August 2020 – Catechesis “To Heal the world”: 4. The universal destination of goods and the virtue of hope
In our continuing reflections on the effects of the current pandemic, we have seen how our world’s problems are becoming ever more evident and indeed more serious. Among these is social inequality, itself the fruit of an unjust global economy that creates boundless wealth for a relative few and greater impoverishment for the rest of our human family. In God’s plan, the earth was created as a garden, to be cultivated, not brutally exploited. As stewards of creation, we are called to ensure that its fruits, which are destined for all, are in fact shared by all. The Church reminds us that the principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods is the first principle of the whole ethical and social order. When millions of people lack access to primary goods, when inequality and lack of opportunity threaten the very fabric of society, and when greed endangers the very environment in which we live, none of us can stand by idly. Christian hope, which trusts in the transforming grace of the risen Christ, impels us to work for the healing of our world and the building of a more just and equitable social order.
General Audience of 2 September 2020 – Catechesis: “Healing the world” – 5. Solidarity and the virtue of faith
Dear Brothers and Sisters, in our continuing reflection on the current pandemic, we have seen how closely connected we are, dependent on one another precisely because we were created by God and share a common home. We can only emerge stronger from the present crisis if we do so together. The Church’s social doctrine thus speaks of the need for the virtue of solidarity. Authentic solidarity is not just about offering help to others; it is a matter of justice; it requires a radical change in our thinking that looks to the good of the community, defends the right to life for all, and promotes a just sharing of the earth’s goods. The Biblical story of the Tower of Babel shows what happens when a society seeks to build its own way to heaven, forsaking God, losing sight of solidarity with the most vulnerable, and valuing things over relationships. This destructive “Babel syndrome” is countered by the event of Pentecost, where the gift of the Holy Spirit creates a harmonious unity in diversity for the true building up of society. May the Spirit grant us the wisdom and creativity to find those forms of solidarity needed in our post-Covid world, for the healing of interpersonal and social ills, and the growth of the human family in fraternity, justice and peace.
General Audience of 9 September 2020 – Catechesis “Healing the World”: 6. Love and the common good
Dear Brothers and Sisters, in our reflections on the current pandemic in the light of the Church’s social doctrine, we have seen that the common good must be the goal of our individual and collective efforts to heal our wounded world. Our Christian commitment in this regard is inspired by God’s unconditional love, which calls us to set no limits on our love for others and our concern for their welfare. As members of the one human family, our wellbeing is a public not simply a private good. By placing every human person and the common good at the centre of our cultural, economic and political activity, we will create a genuinely healthy, just and peaceful world, and so contribute to the building of a true “civilization of love”. The coronavirus heeds no cultural or political barrier or distinction – nor must we impose any barrier or distinction on our love as we work for the common good in responding to the grave problems brought to the fore by the pandemic, in fidelity to our Christian vocation.
General Audience of 16 September 2020 – Catechesis “Healing the world”: 7. Care of the common home and contemplative dimension
Dear Brothers and Sisters, in our continuing reflections on the current pandemic in the light of the Church’s social doctrine, we have seen the vital role played by the many people who generously care for others, especially the sick, elderly and most vulnerable. We have also recognized our responsibility to care for the natural world, whose beauty is all too often ignored and its resources squandered. In order to regain a proper sense of our place within God’s creation, and of our call to respect and care for the earth and one another, we need to learn anew the art of contemplation. For when we enter into silence and contemplate our interconnected world, we come to appreciate the true meaning and value of all creatures, for each in its own way reflects something of God’s infinite wisdom, goodness and beauty. Contemplation teaches us how integral we all are to the whole of creation, our calling to be faithful stewards of its riches, and our need to preserve it for future generations.
General Audience of 23 September 2020 – Catechesis “Healing the world”: 8. Subsidiarity and virtue of hope
Dear Brothers and Sisters, in our continuing catecheses on the effects of the current pandemic in the light of the Church’s social doctrine, we have reflected on the need for solidarity with all our brothers and sisters, especially the poor, the vulnerable and the excluded. As individuals, as communities and as men and women of faith, we are called to work together in bringing healing and hope to our world. Solidarity, for its part, implies respect for the principle of subsidiarity, whereby every level of society, from the state to every intermediate and lesser group, including families and the Church, has a proper role to play in revitalizing the social fabric. As Saint Paul teaches, all the members of the body, even those apparently most insignificant, are essential to the good functioning of the whole. The lockdown has made us appreciate the quiet efforts of so many individuals and groups to serve the larger community. As we look to the future, may the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity guide our efforts to emerge from the crisis by working for a social order ever more just and respectful of the dignity and gifts of each of its members.
General Audience of 30 September 2020 – Catechesis “Healing the world”: 9. Preparing the future together with Jesus who saves and heals
Dear Brothers and Sisters, in the series of catecheses that concludes today, we have reflected on the effects of the current pandemic in the light of the Church’s social doctrine. Our world needs to be healed not only of the present virus, but also of the “social ills” of inequality, injustice and exclusion that afflict so many of our brothers and sisters in the human family. In the light of Christ’s teaching, we have seen the importance of solidarity, subsidiarity and respect for human dignity for the shaping of a society in accord with the values of God’s Kingdom, a society that gives priority to its poorest and most vulnerable members, and to the responsible stewardship of the goods of creation. Just as Jesus brought physical and spiritual healing to the sick, so we too are called to bring the Gospel’s healing power to the task of creating a more just, inclusive and participatory society at every level. In this way, by God’s grace, we will emerge from the present crisis with renewed hope for the building of a world ever more consistent with our human dignity and lofty vocation.