Christianity in a time of sickness

By Fr Tomás Halík, 30 April 2020
Pope Francis delivers a special Urbi et Orbi blessing at St Peter's Basilica, Rome, with the miraculous crucifix kept in the church of San Marcello on the Via del Corso in the foreground. Image: Vatican News.


Our world is sick.

I am not just referring to the coronavirus pandemic, but to the state of our civilization, as revealed in this global phenomenon. In biblical terms, this all-pervasive sickness is a sign of the times.

At the beginning of this unusual period of Lent, many of us thought that this epidemic would cause a sort of short-term blackout, a breakdown in the usual operation of society, one that we would ride out somehow, and then soon things would all return to the way they were. But as time passes, the reality has become clearer: They will not. And it would not turn out well if we tried to make it so. After this global experience, the world will not be the same as it was before, and it probably should not be.

It is natural at times of major calamities that we first concern ourselves with the material necessities for survival, but “one does not live by bread alone.” The time has come to examine the deeper implications of this blow to the security of our world. The unavoidable process of globalization would seem to have peaked. The global vulnerability of a global world is now plain to see.

What kind of challenge does this situation represent for Christianity and the church—one of the first “global players”—and for theology?

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Tomáš Halík is a professor of sociology at Charles University, Prague, president of the Czech Christian Academy and a university chaplain. During the Communist regime he was active in the underground church. He is a Templeton Prize laureate and holds an honorary doctorate from Oxford University.

With thanks to America Magazine, where this article originally appeared.


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