ROME — Pope Francis reflected back on two years of coronavirus pandemic Friday, underscoring the deaths as well as the loss of jobs and essential freedoms.
“In the last two years, not a single country has been unaffected by the sudden outbreak of an epidemic that made us experience first-hand not only the tragedy of dying alone, but also the uncertainty and fleetingness of existence, and in doing so, has changed our very way of life,” the pontiff wrote in a letter announcing the upcoming Jubilee Year 2025.
The pope noted that Christians endured the imposed hardships and limitations along with everyone else. “Our churches remained closed, as did our schools, factories, offices, shops, and venues for recreation,” he said.
“All of us saw certain freedoms curtailed, while the pandemic generated feelings not only of grief, but also, at times, of doubt, fear and disorientation,” he added.
“The scientific community quickly developed an initial remedy that is gradually permitting us to resume our daily lives,” Francis asserted. “We are fully confident that the epidemic will be overcome and that the world will return to its usual pattern of personal relationships and social life.”
The best way to move forward is by demonstrating “effective solidarity,” he said, “so that our neighbors most in need will not be neglected, and that everyone can have access to scientific breakthroughs and the necessary medicines.”
“We must fan the flame of hope that has been given us, and help everyone to gain new strength and certainty by looking to the future with an open spirit, a trusting heart and far-sighted vision,” he urged.
The pope’s words on the pandemic coincided with Friday’s lifting of the outdoor mask mandate in Italy, a measure that never enjoyed the backing of serious epidemiologists. The country has also begun its third year under a declared “state of emergency” giving the executive branch of government exceptional powers.