Pope Francis reminds world leaders not to use pandemic for political gain

Pope Francis reminded world leaders this week not to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic by attacking opponents for political gain.

“Discrediting the other only succeeds in destroying the possibility of finding agreements that help alleviate the effects of the pandemic in our communities,” said the pope.

In a video message during a virtual seminar on the pandemic in Latin America, the pope said political leaders should not “encourage or endorse or use mechanisms” that will make use of the crisis as an electoral tool.

He said elected officials and public servants are called to “be at the service of the common good and not place the common good at the service of their interests.”

“We all know the dynamics of the corruption that goes on in this area. And this is also true for the men and women of the Church,” added Pope Francis.

The pontiff said corruption within the Church is “a true leprosy that sickens and kills the Gospel.”

He expressed hope that seminars and other activities during the pandemic would “inspire paths, awaken processes, create alliances and promote all the mechanisms necessary to guarantee a dignified life for our people, especially the most excluded, through the experience of fraternity and the building up of social friendship.”

“When I say the most excluded, I do not mean it (in the same way) as saying to give alms to the most excluded, or as a gesture of charity, no, but as a key to hermeneutics,” the pope added.

Pope Francis told the gathering that because the effects of the pandemic will continue to be felt for many years, solidarity must be at the center of any proposals to alleviate people’s sufferings.

“Now, more than ever, it is necessary to regain consciousness of our common belonging,” he said.

“The virus reminds us that the best way to take care of ourselves is by learning to care for and protect those around us,” added the pontiff.

He noted that the pandemic amplified existing socioeconomic problems and injustices, but added that despite “this gloomy panorama,” there are “people with souls who know how to face crises with courage and know how to generate voices that shout in the desert to pave the way for the Lord.”

“Please, let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of hope!” he said, adding that from the crisis, “we can come out better.”

The Nov. 19-20 virtual seminar, titled “Latin America: Church, Pope Francis and scenarios of the pandemic,” was sponsored by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and Latin American bishops’ conference.

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