“I live on the street” – Pope on poor during coronavirus

Pope Francis
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis speaks during his general audience as it is streamed via video over the internet from a library inside the Vatican, March 18, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

“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.’”

Pope Francis recounted this anecdote while speaking via Skype with Spanish media during an interview that aired in Spain on 22 March.

Society of solidarity

In the light of realities such as these together with the prospect of economic downturn, if not disaster, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis, once more, pitched his argument for a society of solidarity.

“Each (country) must find concrete solutions depending on their situation, but of course, ‘every man for himself,’ is not a solution,” the Pope said. “A business that lays off employees to save itself is not a solution. At this moment, instead of laying off, we must welcome and make everyone feel that there is a society of solidarity.”

The obvious retort by Spanish journalist Jordi Evole was that business leaders could argue that he has no expertise of how business is run and how difficult it is to keep a business running in these situations.

The Pope conceded that this was true but immediately added: “I do know the hardships that will face the employee, the workers and their families. And there are certain realities appearing, and we are being asked to take care of those realities.”

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I have hope in humanity – Pope

Asked about how his timetable was affected by coronavirus the Pope said that he stopped meeting groups. However he still meets people individually “every hour or every half-hour, and I continue to work normally”.

Asked about the future. Pope Francis 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.”

Message for people living in fear

And what about people living in fear because of the pandemic? What would you tell them?, the Pope was asked.

“The last thing I would do is tell them something.”

Quite naturally the Pope was not saying that he would do nothing. On the contrary, he said that he would like to help people feel that he was 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.

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