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Augusto Zampini explains how pope's coronavirus task force works

During his visit to Gemelli hospital in Rome in early April, Cardinal Peter Turkson made an unexpected announcement. He said the pope was organizing a task force to ameliorate the social consequences resulting from the coronavirus.

Prefect, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
“On behalf of Pope Francis and the recently-created 'Vatican COVID-19 Response Team,' formed at the pope's request, I cordially greet you.”

The cardinal is coordinating five groups, whose tasks range from immediate responses to the emergency and longer-term reconstruction, to collaboration with other countries. The team's board includes Bruno-Marie Duffé and Augusto Zampini.

Adjunct Secretary, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
“The pope made a request, using a very poetic, but vivid, image. 'Remember that the future has a memory. So try to bring the future, to memorize the future, to anticipate the future, with science, of course. Use social sciences, ecology, economy, health, politics, security, projections, but also use your imagination.'”

Pope Francis likens the crisis to a maze. He says getting out requires agility, adaptability and a bird's-eye view of the situation. That's why the commission is working with health, economic and environmental experts, to come up with proposals that can be applied.

Adjunct Secretary, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
“It doesn't mean we have to re-invent the wheel. It's a matter of understanding how our tradition—as Church, religion, faith, Catholic social doctrine, of dialogue with others—can help us. We have to understand how this very valuable tradition we have can help us respond to this crisis.”

The team is already addressing issues like debt in poor countries and the plight of those who have lost their jobs. The pope's idea is to transform the crisis into a drawing board for a more human society.

Adjunct Secretary, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
“He also says this has to be an opportunity for something, for the common good, for what we call the common good.” “We can't go back to repeating mistakes of the past, when crises were exploited to reaffirm the superiority of some at the expense of others. That's what happened in the 2008 crisis, when we saved the banks instead of the investors.”

The pope is convinced this crisis calls for new strategies. As the saying goes, insanity is doing the same things, over and over again, but expecting different results.

That's what makes this task force a novelty in the Vatican. It relies heavily on collaboration between different fields, and it requires speed, in order to give the pope the proposals he wants, as soon as possible.