Pope Francis Decries ‘Partisan’ Coopting of Coronavirus for Political Gain

Pope Francis looks on as he holds a limited public audience at the San Damaso courtyard in The Vatican on September 9, 2020 during the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP) (Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)
VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty

ROME — Pope Francis called out those who would exploit the Wuhan coronavirus for partisan purposes, insisting Wednesday that people must seek the common good above all.

“The crisis we are experiencing due to the pandemic affects everyone; we can come out better if we all seek the common good,” the pope told those gathered for his General Audience in the Vatican Wednesday.

Pope Francis holds his face mask as he leaves at the end of a limited public audience at the San Damaso courtyard in The Vatican on September 9, 2020. (VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)

“Unfortunately, we are seeing the emergence of partisan interests,” the pontiff warned. “For example, some would like to appropriate possible solutions for themselves, as in the case of vaccines. Some are taking advantage of the situation to instigate divisions, seeking economic or political gain, generating or stoking conflicts.”

As he has done on many other occasions, the pope warned against a modern “throw-away culture” where people become dispensable.

“The coronavirus is showing us that each person’s true good is a common good and, vice versa, the common good is a true good for the person,” he said. “Health, in addition to being an individual good, is also a public good. A healthy society is one that takes care of everyone’s health.”

The pope went on to urge the building of social structures “that encourage us to share rather than to compete, that allow us to include the most vulnerable and not to cast them aside, that help us to express the best in our human nature and not the worst.”

“Unfortunately, politics often does not have a good reputation, and we know why,” he said. “But we must not resign ourselves to this negative vision, but react by demonstrating with facts that it is possible, indeed, a duty to have good politics, which places the human person and the common good at the center.”

Last week, Pope Francis also warned against placing blind trust in science, arguing that the coronavirus pandemic has revealed both the greatness and the limits of science.

This time of trial has “shown us the greatness of science, but also its limits,” the pontiff said Friday.

“In this tragedy, that humanity as a whole continues to experience, science and technology have, of themselves, proved insufficient,” Francis said. “What has proved decisive instead is the outpouring of generosity and courage shown by so many persons.”

Despite frequent appeals to follow the “science” during the months of lockdown, battles have raged over exactly how to interpret the data that was becoming available and rifts have frequently appeared among the scientists themselves regarding issues such as the efficacy and importance of face masks, the usefulness of drugs such as hydroxychloroquine, and the lethality of COVID-19.

The original study produced in March by King’s College, London, was off by orders of magnitude, predicting 2.2 million coronavirus deaths in the United States alone and led to panicked responses around the globe.

Pope Francis takes off his face mask as he arrives by car to hold a limited public audience at the San Damaso courtyard in The Vatican on September 9, 2020. (VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)

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