Monday, March 30, 2020

Patriarchal Encyclical on the Humanitarian, Social, and Economic Implications of the Worldwide Government Reponses to the COVID-19 Pandemic

PATRIARCHAL SEE 30 March 2020 (ORCNS) - The following Patriarchal Encyclical was issued by HHE the Archfather to Her Excellency the President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. 



Orbis Est

Patriarchal Encyclical on the Humanitarian, Social, and Economic Implications
of the Worldwide Government Reponses to the COVID-19 Pandemic

To Her Excellency Mona Juul
President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council

Your Excellency,

The world is in a state of confusion and turmoil over the situation pertaining to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. Although there is an obvious health concern, as there is in any pandemic, the global response to the situation leaves Us with great and grave pastoral concern. The shutdowns and effective house arrest of millions upon millions of people in many countries around the world have created a serious situation of concern with both current and future implications. All can hardly help but be impacted in some way, but some people are clearly more impacted than others. For example, the innumerable poor and vulnerable around the world are in serious danger of starvation, particularly in countries such as India, where a large number of people depend on daily wages to eat. However, there are plenty of vulnerable people even in comparatively wealthy countries such as the United States, and food banks in the United States have warned that they may only have as much as two weeks’ worth of supplies. This is not a question of lives versus money, but of lives versus lives. The actions of governments around the world are quite simply putting many people at risk – likely more people than are at risk from the virus.

In addition to the direct physical threat to many, the government-imposed quarantine that is, in some countries, no different than home imprisonment has the significant potential to lead to both short-term and long-term psychological damage to many millions of people. That is an issue that must be considered and weighed heavily when weighing options in determining public health policy. Indeed, the very principle of government imprisoning or otherwise restricting the freedom of entire populations should be brought under the microscope, for it sets a tremendously dangerous precedent for the future. That is particularly concerning considering the specific nature of the threat relative to other threats to public health in the past, such as the swine flu, which killed approximately 200,000 people worldwide, yet there were no mass quarantine or economic shutdown. The threat to personal freedom and the potential for exploitation for tyranny are not points that should be taken lightly.

Also, the unprecedented forced shutdown of business and commerce, in which the economy of the world virtually was ground to a halt by order of government, cannot be ignored. It is not unreasonable to consider that the world will be dealing with the economic and social fallout from this for years to come. The poor countries will naturally reasonably be expected to suffer more. Sadly, in the face of this, it is also quite possible that some countries and corporations will actually profit from this chaos. The shutdown is placing people around the world in many socio-economic levels in grave danger through financial hardship – a state linked with increased health problems and lower life expectancy. Businesses are in serious jeopardy of bankruptcy, even with some degree of government help. Many of the most vulnerable employees, such as waitstaff at restaurants and other hourly employees in specific businesses that are not able to be open during this time, are simply out of work with no paycheck through no fault of their own. No reasonable attention seems to be paid to them, and no practicable solution seems at hand.

We would also be remiss in Our duty if We did not mention the restrictions some civil governments have widely placed on the clergy fulfilling their duties during this chaotic time. It is during times of trial and turmoil that pastoral duties become even more essential, and to deprive the people of spiritual sustenance is cruel, and We assert that it is a violation of their religious freedom. Restrictions placed upon clergy not by the Church but instead by the civil government furthermore represent, We strenuously assert, a severe threat to religious liberty and the historic sovereignty of the Church.

It is Our sincere pastoral position that this situation, seemingly unprecedented in history, is the result of a cacophony of competing individualist agendas. Such agendas exist on the national level, corporate level, organisational level, and individual level. It is Our belief that a critical mass of entities in the world are acting in their own self interests without concern for the consequences to others, while simultaneously preaching that others should act selflessly and proclaiming that their actions are indeed selfless. That is coupled with an intense amount of social media at which information flies at lightning pace, and which information is often incorrect, conflicting, or confusing. That further is coupled with a ratings-driven media and agenda-driven politicians. Altogether this has created mass panic and paranoia, and the entire situation has become a snowball that grows and grows and is difficult at this point to resist.

It is incumbent upon the United Nations and especially the Economic and Social Council thereof to consider and strongly promote the serious humanitarian, economic, and social considerations of the worldwide government responses to this current pandemic. Many of those who currently suffer and will suffer the most are the poor and vulnerable around the world, both in comparatively wealthy countries and especially in less affluent countries. Yet, the severe and wide-reaching impact is not limited to the poor and vulnerable alone. This same obligation falls upon the leaders of extant territorial governments of the world. The responsibility for the suffering and damage is entirely upon their hands.

Ego Archipater R.