Friday, February 26, 2021

Reflection for the First Week of Lent from His Holiness and Eminence the Archfather

FIRENZE-NUOVA ROMA 26 February 2021 (NRom)

Reflection for the First Week of Lent
from His Holiness and Eminence the Archfather

Dear brethren, now in this first week of Lent, Americans lower their flags to half-staff for those who have died from COVID-19, and in our beloved Italy, the civil government continues to restrict the free movement of people. It is said in the United States that the death toll is above 500,000. Let us pause, then, to place all of this in perspective as Christian people. 

Consider that approximately 9 million people die each year around the world from starvation. Pause and reflect upon that – 9 million people dead from lack of food. That is worldwide, but it is a number on the order of 20 times more than the number of stated coronavirus deaths in the United States. Very few of those hunger deaths are in the United States, it seems, and thus the problem is so often ignored by Americans. Yet, starvation deaths are only part of the global food problem. Countless more people suffer from health problems stemming from hunger. These numbers were expected to increase dramatically as a result of the pandemic measures, even potentially doubling.

In the United States, currently the wealthiest nation in the world, 35 million people suffer from hunger. That is on the order of 10% of the population. That is inconceivable. 

Now, it is easy, it seems, for Americans to ignore the deaths from starvation since they are almost exclusively outside of American borders. Yet, as Christians we cannot ignore the plight of other people outside our borders, no matter the nationality. Keeping in mind the magnitude of such deaths around the world, which happened every year, not simply during a pandemic, helps to keep in perspective the mortality rate in the United States, Europe, and around the world by the novel coronavirus pandemic. That those pandemic deaths may not be in vain, We counsel that those advanced countries now reflect upon their own mortality and place themselves in solidarity with those in countries that suffer high death rates from starvation, disease, and other causes on an annual basis around the world. 

Also, bearing in mind, again, that starvation, malnutrition, and hunger are ongoing problems, why does the government of the United States and of the various states therein not attack it with the same degree of apparent enthusiasm, rigour, and seriousness with which it employs measures related to COVID-19? There is simply no excuse for a failure to address such a serious, ongoing, and both national and global problem. That is particularly true considering that the various coronavirus measures enacted around the world have disproportionately impacted the poor and vulnerable, i.e., those most at risk for death from starvation, hunger, and malnutrition, as well as other problems. There appears to be no comprehensive plan by the governments of the Western world to address that issue. Financial payments from the public treasury have been entirely insufficient. Meanwhile, certain companies are making massive windfall gains as a result of the measures. 

It is immoral and against the laws of God for any government to impose such measures that ask some to make massive sacrifices for others, particularly while a small subset of the population is reaping massive benefits. Governments that have claimed absolute authority and forced such sacrifices likewise have an absolute responsibility to make their victims completely and entirely whole. That can be done either out of the public treasury, spreading the cost thereby proportionately across a wide number of people in the taxpayer base, as well as by taxing the dramatic windfall gains made by some of the individuals and companies that are wealthy in the extreme. That is not socialist redistribution of wealth, but simple ethics and acceptance of responsibility on the part of the government. 

As we progress through Lent, therefore, let us all offer our own sacrifices and Lenten denials to the benefit not only of the poor souls in purgatory, but to those who are suffering on earth now – especially those who are in danger of death from starvation or mallet he from hunger. Let us work in peace to establish justice on earth.