Pope Francis Says More Voices Must Be Heard to Beat Coronavirus

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ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — Pope Francis declared Wednesday that everyone’s voice is important to beat the coronavirus, not just those of experts, the wealthy, and the powerful.

Rejecting a strictly “top-down” approach to dealing with the health crisis, the pope told those gathered in the Vatican for his weekly General Audience that “society’s leaders must respect and promote the intermediate or lower levels.”

“In fact, the contribution of individuals, of families, of associations, of businesses, or every intermediary body, and even of the Church, is decisive,” he said. “All of these, with their own cultural, religious, economic resources, or civil participation, revitalize and reinforce society.”

“Let everyone speak!” the pontiff said. “And this is how the principle of subsidiarity works. We cannot leave out the participation of the people; their wisdom; the wisdom of the humbler groups cannot be set aside.”

“Today, this lack of respect of the principle of subsidiarity has spread like a virus,” the pope continued. “Let’s think of the grand financial assistance measures enacted by States. The largest financial companies are listened to rather than the people or the ones who really move the economy.”

“Putting it in everyday language, they listen more to the powerful than to the weak and this is not the way, it is not the human way, it is not the way that Jesus taught us, it is not how the principle of subsidiarity is implemented,” he said.

The pope went on to criticize a top-down model that fails to listen to “the wisdom of the people, without activating the wisdom of the people in resolving problems, in this case to emerge from the crisis.”

“Or let’s think about the cure for the virus: the large pharmaceutical companies are listened to more than the healthcare workers employed on the front lines in hospitals or in refugee camps,” he said. “This is not a good path.”

“Everyone should be listened to, those who are at the top and those who are at the bottom, everyone,” he said.

“That is, there is a collaboration from the top and the bottom from the State to the people, and from the bottom to the top, from the institutions of people to the top. And this is exactly how the principle of subsidiarity is exercised,” Francis insisted.

“Everyone needs to have the possibility of assuming their own responsibility in the process of healing the society of which they are a part,” he said.

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