Pope Francis urged people to put others before themselves as the world struggles to come out of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a lengthy op-ed for the New York Times, the pope wrote of his own personal health battles when he was young and called on people to come together in the midst of the global pandemic. He criticized those who have been vocal in opposing government decisions related to lockdowns to help corral the virus.
“Governments have made great efforts to put the well-being of their people first, acting decisively to protect health and to save lives,” the pope wrote. “Yet some groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions — as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom! Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals.”
The pope went on to say that people need to do what’s best for the common good and follow public health precautions, adding that people were taking the idea of personal liberties out of context.
“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,” the pope said.
The coronavirus has infected over 60 million people worldwide, including more than 12 million people in the United States. In the U.S., the virus has killed more than 260,000 people.
States and local governments across the country have taken extra measures and instituted new rules to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Public health officials have also encouraged people not to travel for the holiday season.
The pope wrote that God’s intention is to create a new world after the pandemic, not allowing society to go back to the “false securities of the political and economic systems we had before the crisis.”
“If we are to come out of this crisis less selfish than when we went in, we have to let ourselves be touched by others’ pain,” he said.