Global religious groups say COVID-19 presents 'prophetic moment' for governments on healthcare

(Photo: Albin Hillert/LWF, 2019)

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new urgency to adopting an "Economy of Life," and global religious groups that represent millions of people are saying now is the time for governments to bolster support for healthcare and social protection.

The World Council of Churches, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, and Council of World Mission urged governments on May 15 to bolster support for healthcare and social protection.

They further called for debt cancelation and the implementation of the Zacchaeus Tax proposals, including the initiation of progressive wealth taxes at national and global levels to resource the critical response to the pandemic.

The Zacchaeus Tax proposal is an ecumenical campaign advocating for tax justice that was launched on July 11, 2019 at the United Nations in New York City.

"The public health emergency is symptomatic of a deeper economic crisis that undergirds it," the message reads.

"Moreover, ineffective and corrupt governance at national levels has exacerbated the inability of governments to support those who are most vulnerable to the pandemic."

Johns Hopkins University and Medicine website on May 16 said there were 4.61 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world with 310,180 deaths and 250,747 recoveries. The United States with 1.46 million cases 88,230 deaths was the world's epicenter of the virus.

The message notes the ecological crisis facing the world today that is closely related to COVID-19.

The panel of experts who produced the report said that the crises of the COVID-19 pandemic are rooted in human and systemic sickness.

They stem from oppressive and exploitative economic systems that are based on the logic of profit-making, socio-economic inequalities, ecological indifference, political self-interest, and colonial legacies.

"The joint message aims not only to voice our deep concern, but also to call upon the Christian community, governments, and international financial institutions to responsible action that addresses the root causes of the crises that are now exposed before the world," said the WCC in a statement.

"Measures to address the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic have been merely palliative and have been mainly directed to bailing out corporations rather than people," the message reads.

"In some places, economies are already being restarted at risk of mounting deaths, problematizing the perceived trade-off between rescuing the economy and saving lives."

People who are already vulnerable are bearing the brunt in terms of loss of lives and livelihoods, says the message.

"The lockdown has also meant many are unable to escape from domestic violence," the message reads.


"This crisis highlights the immense value of healthcare, the care economy, and women's intensified care work burden."

The world is in an apocalyptic time and the message offers a reminder that the term 'apocalypse' means to unveil or uncover.

"In its light we see anew and afresh the distorted realities and inequalities powerful interests have passed off as 'normal' and unquestionable...

"The human causes and systemic roots of this pandemic point to the exigency of systemic change if we are to be converted by the revelation COVID-19 is offering us," the text reads.

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