Programme – panels

Healing Patient Europe

Casina Pio IV, Vatican City, 7-8 October 2021

Panel I

From a culture of death to an imagination of mercy:
Human rights in the age of pandemics, migrations and climate breakdown

Chair: Jan J. Zygmuntowski, Europe, a Patient

At the beginning of the pandemic, Pope Francis warned against the “viral genocide” caused by a tendency to prioritise the supposed good of “the economy” over public health. The course of the events has proved that the countries that chose the good of the GDP over securing the lives of their citizens lost in terms of human costs, civil liberties, and even in GDP rates.

Lack of an “imagination of mercy” seems to be a serious political handicap. The idea that global pandemics can be brought under control while poorer nations are excluded from access to vaccines and decent public healthcare proves to be an illusion comparable to the belief that climate breakdown can be denied or its grave consequences simply outsourced to less favored regions – with safety ensured by building higher border walls. What can be done to reverse this trend? What steps should be taken to build a civilisation of life based on the acknowledgement of the fact that we really are – globally – “members of one another”?

Priority on economy over people may lead to ‘viral genocide’, Pope warns – link
Patrick Artus, Ilona Kickbusch, Jeffrey V Lazarus, Devi Sridhar, Samantha Vanderslott, SARS-CoV-2 elimination, not mitigation, creates best outcomes for health, the economy – link

Panel II

Rebuilding trust by helping citizens directly?
Healing the European legitimation crisis

Chair: Jan J. Zygmuntowski, Europe, a Patient

In many European countries, the pandemic has corroded not only the health of vast numbers of people, but also the citizens’ trust in institutions. Real sacrifices were demanded and were indeed made by the majority of European citizens. Essential liberties had to be suspended by a state of exception. Many lost their loved ones, their mental stability, their small businesses and jobs, or precious time in school. All lost essential sociability – the basis of all healthy social relations – which can be practiced fully when people meet face to
face in churches, theatres, cafes, town markets and neighborhoods.

At the same time, companies received financial support from the public purse and the already over-affluent minority and over-powerful monopolies increased their market shares and thus their power over the public sphere. Moreover, while certain countries in Asia or the Pacific can rely on the trust created by the implementation of successful COVID-eliminating strategies in case of future crises and the need for further restrictions, countries across Europe have mostly depleted their already scarce resources of public trust.

Is it not unrealistic to believe that large groups of European citizens will simply agree to further restrictions and disciplinary measures, having already been abandoned by their institutions without any direct, tangible
help? Shouldn’t this imbalance be corrected – not only for the sake of healthy populations and economies, as well as for public peace – but also for the sake of fair compensation?

Pope Francis recently called for serious consideration of an “unconditional lump-sum payment to all citizens”. Could a form of temporary direct income – similar to the stimulus checks used in the US – help support citizens, especially in the event of further disciplinary health and safety measures? Could it help generate a safety net for European citizens, a stimulus for the real economy by boosting family budgets as an alternative to the growing bank deposits of big business and most importantly, could it contribute to renewing the social contract between European institutions and European citizens?

We are going to discuss pros and cons of such instruments of direct help for citizens, as well as available ways of funding them and balancing the above-mentioned imbalance of power by means of a digital platform tax, the European wealth tax, the border carbon tax and a global minimum taxation of the profits of big companies.

Panel III

Dignity of work, participation in community, care for creation:
A real Green Deal

Chair: Chiara Martinelli, CAN Europe incoming Director

“There is a need, then, to confront the challenge of unemployment, […] labour constitutes a good for which society as a whole must feel responsible”. This need is felt as even more real in the time of a global pandemic which has hit many small businesses and workers hard. Moreover, Europe has rightly committed to an urgent task of transition to an economy which would create sustainable conditions for the future of human life on Earth, endangered by climate breakdown.

Is the European Green Deal transformative enough – both in its social and ecological aims – to build an economy which would really take care of people and their environment? Is it at risk of ending up as a mere cosmetic and technocratic corrective? What policies and measures should the European Green Deal implement to genuinely empower communities and workers, enhance their participation and hardwire it into an environmentally sustainable economy which would work for people and places? We shall discuss the emerging ideas addressing these questions – Job Guarantee, Social Taxonomy, Community Wealth Building and democratisation of work – with leading scholars in these topics.

John Paul II, Ecclesia in Europa, 87.

Panel IV

Why does the world need an accessible vaccine and accessible health care?
Europe, Zero COVID and global public health

Chair: Rocco Buttiglione, Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences

“Europe is really not a closed or isolated territory. A “universal” vision of the common good demands this: we need to broaden our gaze to embrace the needs of the entire human family”. The pandemic has demonstrated the truth of this showing that, “no one is safe, until everyone is safe”. However, this truth is rejected by short-sighted policies denying the vast majority of the inhabitants of Earth access to vaccines and to good public health care. How should we remodel the research funding patterns, patenting patterns, public health policies and patterns of caring to change this?

John Paul II, Ecclesia in Europa, 111, 101.

Panel V

What responsibility do political leaders have for healing “patient” Europe?

Chair: Stefano Zamagni, Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences


“Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good (…) I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor!” – Pope Francis called. What steps do we need to take in the coming months to heal a patient called Europe and to make her capable again of helping others? What responsibility do political leaders have for bringing about such a healing of the European body politic?

Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 205.