Pope Francis has ripped governments for not putting “the well-being of their people first” during the pandemic — and called for a complete overhaul of the current “political and economic systems.”
In a section of his upcoming book shared by The New York Times, the pontiff praised nation’s that imposed “strict measures to contain the outbreak” and save lives.
“The exceptions have been some governments that shrugged off the painful evidence of mounting deaths, with inevitable, grievous consequences,” he wrote.
Francis did not name any specific countries in the section from “Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future,” his book with author Austen Ivereigh due for release next month.
But in an almost revolutionary call for change, the pope said the world should channel the pain of the coronavirus pandemic to “come out of this crisis less selfish than when we went in.”
“God asks us to dare to create something new. We cannot return to the false securities of the political and economic systems we had before the crisis,” he wrote.
“We need economies that give to all access to the fruits of creation … We need a politics that can integrate and dialogue with the poor, the excluded and the vulnerable, that gives people a say in the decisions that affect their lives,” he wrote.
“We need to slow down, take stock and design better ways of living together on this earth,” he said, calling it a “moment to dream big” and “to rethink our priorities.”
Francis also again attacked those who refuse to submit to coronavirus safety restrictions. “It is all too easy for some to take an idea — in this case, for example, personal freedom — and turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything,” he wrote.
Francis compared his own near-death battle with flu when he was 21 to those infected now, saying, “I have some sense of how people with Covid-19 feel as they struggle to breathe on a ventilator.”
“It changed the way I saw life,” he said of his sickness that included surgery to remove part of his lung and left him now knowing “who I was or whether I would live or die.”
“In every personal “Covid,” so to speak, in every “stoppage,” what is revealed is what needs to change: our lack of internal freedom, the idols we have been serving, the ideologies we have tried to live by, the relationships we have neglected,” he said of the time for change.
The pontiff also admitted that two nurses helped secretly save him with medications and painkillers against orders, reminding him of the doctors, nurses and priests who have died saving others during the pandemic.
“Whether or not they were conscious of it, their choice testified to a belief: that it is better to live a shorter life serving others than a longer one resisting that call,” he wrote.
“They are the saints next door, who have awakened something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching.
“They are the antibodies to the virus of indifference. They remind us that our lives are a gift and we grow by giving of ourselves, not preserving ourselves but losing ourselves in service,” he wrote.