De Sociale Leer van de Kerk als perspectief op de coronacrisis

3. Paus Franciscus over de coronacrisis

3.1 Wat is een sociale  encycliek?

Een encycliek is een belangrijke pauselijke brief, waarin de paus zijn leergezag inzake geloof en zeden uitoefent.

Het woord encycliek is afgeleid van het Latijnse encyclica en het Griekse enkuklios, dat ‘rondgaand’ betekent (kuklios is ‘kring’). Net als de apostelen communiceerden de bisschoppen in de oudheid met hun kerken of collega-bisschoppen door middel van litterae enclycicae, ‘rondzendbrieven’. Deze brieven waren van doctrinaire of pastorale aard.

Brief van paus
In 1477 schreef paus Sixtus IV de rondzendbrief Romani Pontificis provida. Dit document, dat over aflaten ging, werd een encycliek genoemd, maar had niet dezelfde betekenis die het nu heeft. Het was een brief die Sixtus naar eigen zeggen motu proprio, ‘uit eigener beweging’, had geschreven. Later werd motu-proprio de aanduiding voor een minder gezaghebbende pauselijke brief


Vanaf de 18e eeuw is een encycliek een gewichtige rondzendbrief die een paus aan alle bisschoppen van de wereld of aan een grote groep bisschoppen schrijft. De eerste ‘moderne’ encycliek was Ubi primum uit 1740 van Benedictus XIV en gaat over het bisschopsambt. Encyclieken verschijnen vanaf de 19e eeuw met grote regelmaat. Sommige pausen schreven zelfs meerdere encyclieken per jaar. Zo schreef Pius XII er in 1954 maar liefst vier. In totaal schreef deze paus gedurende een pontificaat van bijna 20 jaar, 41 encyclieken. Ter vergelijking: Johannes Paulus II schreef er in de 26 jaar dat hij paus was, ‘slechts’ 14.

3.2. Paus Franciscus publiceerde recentelijk, op 3 oktober 2020,  zijn sociale encycliek Fratelli Tutti. Hierin is ook een tekst  over de pandemie opgenomen.

Ik citeer bij gebrek aan geautoriseerde Nederlandse versie de Engelse:  


32. True, a worldwide tragedy like the Covid-19 pandemic momentarily revived the sense that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all. Once more we realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together. As I said in those days, “the storm has exposed our vulnerability and uncovered those false and superfluous certainties around which we constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities… Amid this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about appearances, has fallen away, revealing once more the ineluctable and blessed awareness that we are part of one another, that we are brothers and sisters of one another”.[31]

33. The world was relentlessly moving towards an economy that, thanks to technological progress, sought to reduce “human costs”; there were those who would have had us believe that freedom of the market was sufficient to keep everything secure. Yet the brutal and unforeseen blow of this uncontrolled pandemic forced us to recover our concern for human beings, for everyone, rather than for the benefit of a few. Today we can recognize that “we fed ourselves on dreams of splendour and grandeur, and ended up consuming distraction, insularity and solitude. We gorged ourselves on networking, and lost the taste of fraternity. We looked for quick and safe results, only to find ourselves overwhelmed by impatience and anxiety. Prisoners of a virtual reality, we lost the taste and flavour of the truly real”.[32] The pain, uncertainty and fear, and the realization of our own limitations, brought on by the pandemic have only made it all the more urgent that we rethink our styles of life, our relationships, the organization of our societies and, above all, the meaning of our existence.

34. If everything is connected, it is hard to imagine that this global disaster is unrelated to our way of approaching reality, our claim to be absolute masters of our own lives and of all that exists. I do not want to speak of divine retribution, nor would it be sufficient to say that the harm we do to nature is itself the punishment for our offences. The world is itself crying out in rebellion. We are reminded of the well-known verse of the poet Virgil that evokes the “tears of things”, the misfortunes of life and history.[33]

35. All too quickly, however, we forget the lessons of history, “the teacher of life”.[34] Once this health crisis passes, our worst response would be to plunge even more deeply into feverish consumerism and new forms of egotistic self-preservation. God willing, after all this, we will think no longer in terms of “them” and “those”, but only “us”. If only this may prove not to be just another tragedy of history from which we learned nothing. If only we might keep in mind all those elderly persons who died for lack of respirators, partly as a result of the dismantling, year after year, of healthcare systems. If only this immense sorrow may not prove useless, but enable us to take a step forward towards a new style of life. If only we might rediscover once for all that we need one another, and that in this way our human family can experience a rebirth, with all its faces, all its hands and all its voices, beyond the walls that we have erected.

36. Unless we recover the shared passion to create a community of belonging and solidarity worthy of our time, our energy and our resources, the global illusion that misled us will collapse and leave many in the grip of anguish and emptiness. Nor should we naively refuse to recognize that “obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction”.[35] The notion of “every man for himself” will rapidly degenerate into a free-for-all that would prove worse than any pandemic.”

3.3. Opmerkingen bij het Health Care Charter van 2017

Ik citeer uit de presentatie van het Health Care Charter door  Bonifacio Honings OCD:  

  • This is why profession, vocation and mission meet each other in the figure of each and every health care worker, “
 “none of the complicated and intricate problems and questions raised by the inseparable existing relationship between medicine and morality can, at the present time, be considered a sort of neutral ground in relation to Hippocratic ethics and Christian morality. For this reason, the Charter for Health Care Workers has given rigorous respect to the need to offer an organic and complete synthesis by the Church, beginning with Pius XII, on all matters concerning the upholding, in the field of health policy and care, of the primary and fundamental value of the life of each and every human being from the moment of conception to natural death. [38]”