Pontiff supports UN call for immediate cease-fire
and calls governments to put people, not economies, first
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By Catholic News Service[/googlefont]
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis added his support to a U.N. appeal for a global cease-fire amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and the pontiff warned of “viral genocide” if governments focus on protecting their economies more than their own people.
“May our joint effort against the pandemic lead everyone to recognize our need to strengthen our brotherly and sisterly ties as members of one human family,” the pope said March 29, after praying the Angelus in the library of the Apostolic Palace. “Conflicts are not resolved through war. It is necessary to overcome antagonism and differences through dialogue and a constructive search for peace,” he said.
The pope said he was adding his voice to support U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for an immediate global cease-fire amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pope said he was inviting everyone to take part by “ceasing all forms of military hostilities, promoting the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, being open to diplomacy and offering attention to those who find themselves in situations of great vulnerability.”
In his appeal March 23, Guterres had said, “Our world faces a common enemy—COVID-19. The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly,” he said in a statement from New York. “It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives,” he said.
Pope Francis also said that countries fighting the coronavirus pandemic could face deadly consequences if they focus on protecting their economies more than their own people.
In a handwritten letter sent March 28 to Argentine Judge Roberto Andres Gallardo, president of the Pan-American Committee of Judges for Social Rights and Franciscan Doctrine, the pope said that some governments that have imposed lockdown measures “show the priority of their decisions: people first.”
“It would be sad if they opted for the opposite, which would lead to the death of many people, something like a viral genocide,” he said in the letter, which was published March 29 by the Argentine newspaper La Nacion.
In his letter, the pope said that while he was concerned about the global spread of the COVID-19 virus, he also was “edified by the reaction of so many people—doctors, nurses, volunteers, religious men and women and priests—who risk their lives to heal and defend healthy people from contagion.”
Although lockdown measures implemented in many countries may “annoy” those forced to comply, the pope said that in the long run “most people accept them and move forward with a positive attitude.”
Featured Image: Pope Francis delivers his Angelus address from the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican March 29, 2020. He has been livestreaming his Angelus, morning Mass and general audience talks as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)