Pope Francis has said that “rediscover[ing] the concreteness of little things, small gestures of attention,” is a key to weathering the coronavirus crisis.
More than 2,500 Italians have succumbed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. More than 26,000 people are currently infected in Italy. The entire country has been under severe restrictions on commerce and movement for more than a week. The government took the measures in order to slow the spread of the virus.
Medical professionals and public health authorities are working around the clock to catch up with the outbreak, which has put severe strain on the country’s healthcare infrastructure.
Responding to a question from Italian journalist Paolo Rodari for La Repubblica regarding ways to ensure we do not “waste” these days of disruption, Francis said: “These gestures of tenderness, affection, compassion, are minimal and tend to be lost in the anonymity of everyday life, but they are nonetheless decisive, important.”
Pope Francis offered examples: “[A] hot meal, a caress, a hug, a phone call,” some of which are more prudently practicable than others in this time of social distancing.
“They are,” Francis said, “familiar gestures of attention to the details of everyday life that make life meaningful and that create communion and communication [among] us.”
Pope Francis also praised an opinion piece by Italian television presenter Fabio Fazio in the pages of La Repubblica, in which the television talk show host said, among other things, “It has become evident that anyone who doesn’t pay his taxes commits not just a felony but one that robs people of life [The Italian is delitto, which is literally ‘delict’ but often a functional stand-in for ‘murder’]: if hospitable beds and respirators are wanting, it is his fault, as well.”
Of Fazio’s piece, Pope Francis said, “Various passages,” impressed him, “but in general the fact that our behaviour always affects the lives of others. He is right, for example, when he says: ‘It has become evident that those who do not pay taxes do not only commit a felony but also a crime: if there are not enough hospital beds and artificial respirators, it is also their fault’. I was very impressed by this.”
Pope Francis also had words of consolation for people suffering loss in these difficult days, as well as praise and encouragement for all those working to save lives, keep people safe, and maintain order and stability.
Asked how people without faith can find hope in these times, Pope Francis said they “can find strength in love for their children, for their family, for their brothers and sisters.”
Published on La Repubblica’s website in the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, the interview is available also in English.
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