The prolonged coronavirus pandemic brings with it the “threat of individualism” among peoples, warned Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples.
“Human beings try to secure themselves when there is a threat and they do the same for their families and close friends,” he said, adding that the “threat of individualism is always there.”
He said there is a danger that people will focus on their own personal concerns faced with the difficulties of the pandemic.
“While it is legitimate to think of one’s security and the safety of family members, we hope [the pandemic] will challenge all of us to contribute to the solution or at least the slowing down of this,” said Cardinal Tagle.
“That means a social type of love. We hope it can help us to a better humanity and a better human family,” he said in an interview with online magazine The Tablet.
“It is embedded in their culture that they should protect themselves and others. There is a regard for safety and for the common good in these countries,” he said.
“They have strict rules on travel and sophisticated systems so they can trace the virus straight away. People say it is a restriction on freedom, but it is for the common good,” said the cardinal.
Cardinal Tagle tested positive for the new coronavirus disease in September when he travelled from Rome to the Philippines.
In the same interview, the cardinal reminded the faithful that the Church should “stand alongside the most vulnerable and help build their resilience” during the pandemic.
Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 162 Caritas organisations around the world, has been working at the grassroots with the most vulnerable during the global health crisis.
“We have been asked to expand our social services at this time, especially accompanying the most vulnerable,” said Cardinal Tagle.
“We are focused on equipping communities to be resilient,” he added.
The prelate said the Church should also stand in solidarity with refugees and forced migrants and listen to stories of people who had fled war and poverty.
He urged people to be more concerned about the plight of refugees, especially children living in camps who are at risk of becoming victims of slavery.
“Unless society works together, this forced migration will become one of the biggest businesses in the world,” he said.