ROME — Pope Francis said Sunday those who protest coronavirus lockdowns and loss of personal freedoms are thinking only of themselves.
In an exclusive interview with the Serbian daily newspaper Politika, the pontiff compared two attitudes he has observed in reacting to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing social and economic lockdowns.
Those who have peacefully accepted the loss of jobs, travel, mental health, family unity, education, rule of law, public worship, human contact, and personal initiative are selfless heroes — the pope seemed to suggest — while others who have complained of government overreach and the breakdown of society, urging more sensible solutions and respect for the democratic process, are motivated by egotism.Kurt Zindulka
“On the one hand, we have authentic ‘urban heroes’ armed with solidarity and quiet, concrete, and everyday commitment, the ones who takes responsibility towards their neighbor and seek concrete solutions so that no one will be neglected,” Francis said.
“On the other hand, we have an increase in the number of those who have relentlessly profited from someone else’s misfortune,” he went on, “or those who have thought only of themselves, protesting or complaining about certain restrictive measures, unable to accept that not everyone has the same opportunities and resources to face a pandemic.”
As a result of lockdowns and curfews, Italy’s unemployment rate stands at nearly ten percent, and many Italians have eaten through years of savings to keep food on the table. Millions of day workers who are paid under the table have lost their livelihood while remaining ineligible for unemployment compensation.
Recent reports suggest that Italy’s restaurant industry alone will suffer total losses of over 23 billion euros in 2020, resulting in massive layoffs, and tens of thousands of catering businesses risk closing permanently, especially if a second lockdown is mandated.
Another report highlighted four unintended life-threatening consequences of the coronavirus lockdowns, including “massive spikes in suicide rates and mental health crises,” an increase in “drug overdoses and substance abuse,” economic “devastation” with a significant increase in hunger, and a “surge in domestic violence.”Kurt Zindulka
In late August, the Vatican itself announced that coronavirus lockdowns have created “100 million new poor” around the world, but apparently, in the pope’s eyes, protesting this rampant increase in world poverty can only come from selfishness.
“In our pandemic context, we are tempted to think of ‘normality’ as a return to the past; we want to ‘fix the house’ again based on what we have already experienced,” Francis said in the interview. “It is a temptation to ‘mourn the onions of Egypt,’ to regret what has passed, which prevents us from seeing one of the basic characteristics of the situation we are going through.”