The National Catholic Reporter featured Eric LeCompte's take on the future of the Catholic church's social mission. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.
The church after coronavirus: new understandings of social mission
A more resilient world
Eric LeCompte is the executive director of Jubilee USA, an alliance of U.S. organizations and faith communities that advocates for fair debt arbitration and debt relief.
Under a strict coronavirus quarantine and curfew across Puerto Rico, the 3.5 million residents of the Caribbean island continue to experience earthquakes and struggle to recover from 2017 hurricanes. A debt crisis had already shuttered schools and health services in the U.S. territory, where almost 60% of kids live in poverty.
Increasing services for the poor and sick as the coronavirus spreads is Caritas Catholic Charities Puerto Rico. Caritas' parish-based groups and their coordinator, Fr. Enrique "Kike" Camacho, and his team find people that need help. Then, Caritas parish-based groups across the island are deployed, risking their lives every day to bring food and medicine to those in need in barrios, under bridges and in public squares.
As the global coronavirus takes lives and wreaks havoc on our economy, the church and the faithful are on the front lines. Offering up their lives to save us across our planet are Catholic sisters and nuns and the incredible health institutions they founded. Catholic Charities, Caritas and Catholic Relief Services are expanding their services to the vulnerable at this moment. Diocesan soup kitchens and Catholic Worker Houses, while being more flexible in how they deliver food, are quickening their pace to get the food to the people who need it most.
The Holy Father proclaims that lives, in this tragic moment, must not be sacrificed for economic growth — that if we prioritize wealth for a few, we will witness a "viral genocide."
The sad truth about this crisis is that if the social teaching of the U.S. bishops' conference and the Holy See had been heeded by world leaders, both our economic and healthcare systems would have been better prepared for the pandemic.
When asked what this plague means for the social mission of our church, the response is that in times of crisis the social mission of our church becomes more vibrant, more vital and most true to the call of the Gospel.
As the International Monetary Fund said March 28, we are in a recession and we risk a financial crisis graver than the Great Depression. It will be the social mission of the church that illuminates a path towards a more resilient post-pandemic world.
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