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April 6, 2020

Life and Dignity, Justice and Solidarity

Moral Principles for Responding to the COVID-19 Economic Crisis

Pope Francis gives an Urbi et Orbi blessing  in front of an empty St. Peter's Square on March 27, 2020

This online Public Dialogue examined the human, moral, and policy dimensions of the economic crisis that has come with the COVID-19 pandemic.

How can moral principles of human dignity, solidarity, priority for the poor, and dignity of workers shape the continuing response to this global crisis? Competing claims have been made about who should be protected and who should not, who needs economic rescue and who does not. This online dialogue examined how faith and the principles of Catholic social thought can contribute to national and global debates and decision-making and guide our individual and community choices on these important economic questions.

Life and Dignity, Justice and Solidarity Video Player

Showing the Life and Dignity, Justice and Solidarity Video

John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, moderated this online dialogue.

This online Initiative dialogue explored how a society suffering from illness and loss caused by a pandemic and the human costs of the economic crisis it has created can find the values and strength to cope, heal, and recover. In the words of Pope Francis in an empty St. Peter’s Square:

“It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people...but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others…” (March 27, 2020).

The Initiative and the Coronavirus Crisis

This online dialogue was the second organized by the Initiative related to the current coronavirus crisis. The March 26 “Catholic Social Thought and the Coronavirus Crisis” dialogue featured Reyna Guardado, a Salvadoran immigrant and co-owner of a family restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland; Sr. Carol Keehan, D.C., a nurse and former president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association; Fr. Myles Sheehan, S.J., M.D., a Jesuit priest and physician; and John Monahan, J.D., the senior advisor for global health to the president of Georgetown University. Watch video of the dialogue and explore media coverage of the conversation.

(Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)


Maru Bautista

Maru Bautista

Maru Bautista of the Center for Family Life in Brooklyn, New York. She is the director of the Cooperative Development Program where she helps build and strengthen immigrant-led worker cooperatives in New York City.

David Brooks

David Brooks

David Brooks of the New York Times and PBS Newshour. He has written and spoken of the essential role of Catholic social teaching and solidarity at times like this and is helping build up a network of “Weavers” to reknit the social fabric in the United States.

E.J. Dionne

E.J. Dionne

E.J. Dionne of Georgetown University, the Brookings Institution, and the Washington Post. He has called “dignity and empathy” foundations of better politics and policies in his new book Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country (2020).

Michael Strain

Michael Strain

Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute and Bloomberg. He writes and speaks on work, subsidiarity, solidarity, and the common good and is author of the new book The American Dream Is Not Dead (2020).