By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
“Receive a cordial greeting from this old man, who does not dance or sing like you, but who believes as you do that injustice and evil are not invincible,” said Pope Francis in a video message to participants at “VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World.”
The event, which takes place on Saturday, aims to celebrate the hope that Covid-19 vaccines are offering families and communities around the world. It is also part of a growing chorus of voices seeking wider and more equitable distribution of the vaccines.
Need for healing from the roots
Amid the “darkness and uncertainty” brought about by the ongoing pandemic, “we need light and hope. We need paths of healing and salvation,” Pope Francis said.
Elaborating further, he specifies that he is referring to is a “healing from the roots, which cures the cause of evil and is not limited only to the symptoms.”
The Holy Father, therefore, encouraged everyone not to forget the most vulnerable in the face of the pandemic, which has “produced death and suffering, affecting the lives of all,” and also contributed to exacerbating already existing social and environmental crises.
Individualism makes us indifferent to sufferings of others
Illustrating some of the ills we need to heal from, the Pope noted that within “these diseased roots, we find the virus of individualism, which does not make us any freer or more equal, nor more brothers” but rather makes us indifferent to the sufferings of others.
Other variants of this cultural virus, he said, are closed nationalism which prevents sharing of vaccines, and putting the laws of the market or intellectual property above the laws of love and the health of others.
Likewise, another variant is “when we believe in and foment a sick economy that allows a very rich few to possess more than all the rest of humanity, and when models of production and consumption destroy the planet, our ‘common home’.”
Everything is interconnected
Pope Francis went on to highlight the interconnectedness of everything, pointing out that we are united in nature and person, and thus every social injustice and act of marginalization against poor people also affects the environment.
He added that God instills in our hearts a new and generous spirit that enables us to abandon individualism in order to promote the common good.
It is a “spirit of justice that mobilizes us to ensure universal access to vaccines and the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights; a spirit of communion that allows us to generate a different, more inclusive, just, sustainable economic model,” the Pope said.
A better, post-pandemic society
The Pope then reminded everyone that “we do not come out of a crisis the same, we either come out better or worse.”
However, he noted that “the problem lies in having the inventiveness to look for paths that are better” in our efforts to deal with the crisis we are experiencing due to the pandemic.
He thus prayed that God may comfort the suffering and welcome those who have died into His kingdom.
He also implored our Lord that for us, pilgrims on earth, He may grant “the gift of a new brotherhood, a universal solidarity, so that we may recognize the good and beauty he has sown in each of us, to strengthen bonds of unity, of common projects, of shared hopes.”
The Holy Father concluded his video message with an expression of gratitude to the participants for their efforts and a request for prayers for himself.