The post-Covid Church – a reflection by Damian Howard SJ

Our website has presented several reflections by Jesuits and lay people on how to live the coronavirus pandemic in the light of the Gospel. Some are articles, but most are in the video series “Coping with COVID-19” (click here to access it).

This time, we offer you a thirty-minute talk by the Provincial of the British Province, Fr. Damian Howard. His reflections led him first to take stock of what we have learned over the past few months, then to reflect on the metaphors currently used to speak of “security,” and finally to ask on what we can base our hope - an essential element for the continuation of meaningful human life - in the kind of “new normalcy” towards which we are moving. This future, he believes, opens up possibilities for our Church.


Among the elements that draw attention are his comments on the widely differing reactions in the West to the two measures imposed in a rather broadly way: mandatory face masks and social distancing. Resistance to the former has been strong since the face and its expressions are considered fundamental to communication between people. In contrast, social distancing was much more easily accepted because individualism and the value of personal freedom, stalwart values in the west, were in-line with an encouragement to distance ourselves from “others,”

Yet, Christianity is a religion of the Incarnation, of God who comes close to us. The Gospel invites us to be close to those in need. Jesus touches the people he heals and “converts.” The Church of tomorrow should help people to come closer, in a variety of ways. The values that inspire the Church will enable it to help people to slow down, to become more contemplative, to appreciate symbols. The Church could help people to enter into a lifestyle that makes room for proximity, for family, for the earth, rather than for “globalized” or “connected” relationships. It will also be invited to take risks, with courage, to venture where God will call it.


As for hope, it can no longer be based on the certainty of endless progress, on the omnipotence of science and on a permissive individual freedom that privileges the “me” over the “others”. Hope will grow when freedom is placed at the service of the common good, of commitment to the community.

Damian Howard’s presentation includes many other topics relevant to the present situation of our societies and the future of our Church. Click here to view it.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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