By Lisa Zengarini
Scottish bishops say there are reasons of hope as the world lives through these difficult times of pandemic and unrest, expressing solidarity with the most vulnerable.
In a Pastoral Letter titled “Light Shines in Darkness” (John 1:5), they remind, with Pope Francis, that every crisis presents opportunities and that God, through His Incarnated Son, “turns all things to good”. “We have well-founded reasons for hoping that the Pandemic has led society to a rediscovery of the dignity of every human person, especially the most vulnerable, along with a new appreciation of the goodness manifested by so many”, the Bishops say citing the recent Encyclical Letter “Fratelli tutti”.
An opportunity to rebuild society
According to the Prelates, the Covid-19 crisis offers “a unique opportunity to rebuild society” by fostering the values of solidarity with the most vulnerable, who prior to the Pandemic were more and more regarded “as less meriting of life”. “This crisis has retaught us the dignity of every human person and, on this rediscovered principle, our society can be rebuilt”, they note. “Like the Good Samaritan, we can create a better society by recognising even the most vulnerable as our neighbour”. The letter also points out the greater appreciation of faith’s unique contribution to modern Scotland: “The importance of bringing much needed love, hope and comfort and the social capital delivered by a vibrant faith commitment is now more widely recognised”, the Bishops write.
A new chapter in healthcare
The second part of the letter addresses medical care of the sick and vulnerable, the economy and vaccines. Here again, the Bishops say there are reasons for hope. Regarding the first point, they note that the crisis manifested “a determination to ensure adequate support for the elderly at home or in residential care”, expressing their hope that “parity of esteem for the Care Sector and the NHS would be a lasting positive legacy” of the Pandemic. The Prelates also remark the extraordinary efforts made by Governments to provide economic support for workers and employers whose livelihoods are being threatened and that the lockdown “forced a revaluation of some low paid and undervalued jobs, where care workers, shop assistants, delivery drivers and others were hailed as key workers”. Their hope is that these positive developments will “continue to underpin decision-making, especially for the poor, the unemployed and the marginalised”. According to the Scottish Bishops, the post-Pandemic recovery also offers hope “for a flourishing of more natural and humane lifestyles”, less centred on material wealth.
With regards to the Covid-19 vaccines, the Scottish Bishops welcome the news of their approval by the British Government and, in response to ethical concerns raised, they reassure Catholics that “in accordance with longstanding guidance from the Pontifical Academy for Life, it is ethical to take any of the Covid-19 vaccines purchased by the UK”. Similar arguments have been put forward by other Bishops in the world.
The hope of Christmas
Finally, the letter recalls the message of hope of Christmas, which “underpins and purifies, measures and sustains the many varied hopes that keep us going day by day” and “delivers us from the compulsion to be self-sufficient and the anguish that can follow when we fail”. “The Lord is with us and can calm every storm and bring light to the darkness”, the Scottish Bishops conclude.