RMG – "Pandemic brings out the best in many people": Interview with Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime

16 April 2020

(ANS - Rome) - Just over a month after the end of the 28th General Chapter and his re-election as Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime gave a long interview in the Catholic weekly Alfa y Omega. In the interview, the Successor of Don Bosco touched on numerous topics, from perspectives as regards his new six-year term to the state of the Congregation, without forgetting the missionary aspect and his desire to live in a frontier site, once his current assignment ends. In addition to all this, however, much of the interview was dedicated to what has affected the whole world in recent months and has forced all of us to a drastic and radical change in our lives: the Covid-19 pandemic.

Having visited numerous countries, what do you think when the Pope says we are in "a piecemeal World War III" or when he speaks of the "globalization of indifference"?

For my character and Salesian charismatic identity, I tend to look on with hope. But, certainly, I think we are going through very difficult years. Many of us, myself included, 20 years ago believed that the road to peace and to a growing extension of human rights in the world was slow, but visible. In the past 20 years, however, we have experienced an unimaginable setback, both because of international terrorism, and because of the exploitation and abuse of existing migratory movements around the world, but also due to wars. At this moment, then, we are affected by this terrible pandemic. We would never have imagined such a thing. And this same pandemic is bringing out the best of many people and social groups (for example doctors, nurses, social services), and the worst of the selfishness and individualism of nations. In my opinion, this is regrettable, and it will not be easy to forget it in the post-coronavirus era.

As Catholics, how can we deal with the pandemic?

First of all, I'd say that I hope we'll learn something from all this. For example, will we go back to a hectic lifestyle or will we be able to have a more humane pace and spaces? Do we want to make up for lost time in consumerism or will we learn that it is possible to live happily with the essentials? Will we continue unbridled in the race to contaminate the world or will we give the planet a respite? After this pandemic, an ecological indifference like the one we continue to see in the climatic summits is not possible. Furthermore, in the face of increasing poverty situations, as Catholics, we must continue to respond with generosity. In general, in extreme situations, we tend to give the best of ourselves. I have a lot of faith in this. I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to solidarity, fraternity, charity and prayer. We have faith in God, who is at our side in our journey, albeit difficult as it is today. This is why I want to remember the image of Pope Francis praying in St. Peter's Square, alone, but accompanied by many people all over the world.

Source: Alfa y Omega


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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