‘Every man for himself’ is not a solution to pandemic, pope says
Closed restaurants are seen in a mall after the government shut down all the shopping centers in the country due to the coronavirus disease outbreak in Bangkok, Thailand, March 23, 2020. As more and more countries start to feel the economic pinch due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis urged business leaders to seek solutions that will not hurt employees and their families. (Credit: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters via CNS)
ROME — As more and more countries start to feel the economic pinch due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis urged business leaders to seek solutions that will not hurt employees and their families.
“Each (country) must find concrete solutions depending on their situation, but of course, ‘every man for himself,’ is not a solution,” the pope said in an interview via Skype that aired in Spain March 22. “A business that lays off employees to save itself is not a solution. In this moment, instead of laying off, we must welcome and make everyone feel that there is a society of solidarity.”
He was also asked if he was an “optimist” when it came to how the world would be after the current crisis is over.
“I don’t like that word because optimism sounds to me like makeup,” something false and superficial, he said. “I have hope in humanity, in men and women, and I have hope in the people. I have a lot of hope (in) the people who will take lessons from this crisis to rethink their lives. We are going to come out better, although there will be fewer of us, of course. Many will remain on the path and it is hard. But I have faith we will come out of this better.”
When asked what he would tell men, women and families who live in fear due to the pandemic, the pope said that “the last thing I would do is tell them something.”
“What I try to do is make them feel that I am close to them. Today, the language of gestures is more important than words. Of course, something should be said, but it is the gesture of sending them a greeting” that is most important, he said.
The current pandemic, Pope Francis added, has also revealed the plight of the less fortunate, which is a tragedy “that is concealed from societies.”
“A couple of days ago, a police officer — with good intentions — told a man, ‘Sir, please go home, you can’t be out here in the street.’ And this man told him, ‘I don’t have a home. I live on the street,’” the pope recalled.
“We must start to be close to those people who we only know as a concept: The homeless, those who are taken advantage of, the sad world of exploited women which is all a business. And this brings us close to those people who, in a way, have very little hope because they don’t have anywhere to lean on. It’s very sad but at the same time, we start to realize that these people exist,” he said.