Stewardship and Solidarity in a Time of Pandemic

Part II of a Two-part series by Daniel Conway

Pope Francis has repeatedly connected the stewardship of creation (care for our common home) with the solidarity that must exist between all members of the human family, each created in the image and likeness of God.

Shortly after the pandemic caused the closure of public facilities including churches, schools, restaurants, sporting events and other social gatherings, Pope Francis stood alone in the vast emptiness of St. Peter’s Square, in the pouring rain, and prayed for that “blessed common belonging” which makes us all sisters and brothers.

Practicing global solidarity is essential if we are ever to achieve peace, justice and the common good of all. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions—especially in a “shrinking world.” As Pope Paul VI taught, if we want peace we must work for justice. And as Pope St. John Paul II added, there can be no peace without forgiveness—especially of ancient, deeply held hurts and grievances. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world saturated with violence and conflict. Global solidarity also challenges us to recognize that we are stewards of all God’s creation.

Care for the earth is not optional or incidental to our Catholic faith; it is a fundamental responsibility given to our first parents, and all of us, at the moment God breathed life into us and charged us with the mission of exercising responsible stewardship over all His gifts. As Pope Francis writes in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, “If every human being possesses an inalienable dignity, if all people are my brothers and sisters, and if the world truly belongs to everyone, then it matters little whether my neighbor was born in my country or elsewhere (#125). Solidarity and stewardship are important to Christian life at all times. But in this time of pandemic, they are essential to both the spiritual and physical well-being of all God’s people.