Catholic Social Teaching in unprecedented times?

Ashley Beck, a priest of the Southwark archdiocese and Associate Professor at St Mary’s University, discusses the ethical and political challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic in the light of Catholic Social Teaching.

‘Politically, the current situation urges us to take a broad view. In international relations (and in the relations among the Members of the European Union) it is a short-sighted and illusory logic that seeks to give answers in terms of “national interests.” Without effective cooperation and effective coordination, which addresses the inevitable political, commercial, ideological and relational resistances firmly, viruses do not stop. Of course, these are very serious and burdensome decisions: we need an open vision and choices that do not always satisfy the immediate desires of individual populations. But given the markedly global current dynamic, our responses, to be effective, cannot be limited to what happens within one’s own borders’.1

‘Prospect magazine commissioned a linguistic analysis of the angry Brexit debate in the House of Commons on 25 September 2019, during which Prime Minister Boris Johnson used terms like ‘traitors’, ‘betrayal’ and ‘surrender’ of his opponents. The analysis noted that, on average, the Prime Minister used a word from Harvard University’s list of semantically hostile terms every twenty-eight words, roughly every one and a half sentences – an unusual level of aggression. More relevant here is that he used the word ‘I’ 340 times – far more frequently than normal.’2

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