A note on COVID-19 from the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome

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Italy has been particularly badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. On Tuesday morning (31 March) the death toll stood at 11,591 and is continuing to rise. The Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop Ian Ernest, offers a brief reflection on the current situation.


The whole world is scarred at its core. Our pride and impulses of false modesty have suddenly waned. Our social status, our competence, our purchasing powers, and our possessions can no longer help us.

There’s something stronger than us.

Millions of people are confined: confusion, panic, fear, hopelessness, and despair are trying to overtake us. To resist them, we urgently need to learn to develop new attitudes, new behaviours.

The citizens of planet Earth are afflicted by uncertainty and experience times of great suffering.

We are broken at the depths of ourselves.

However, at the heart of this human tragedy a rainbow appears bringing colors of hope that allows us to believe in a better future. The air polluted by economic interests bordering on immorality slowly becomes cleaner. Families often suffering from lack of love, absence and inability to listen find themselves living together and being together.

The political interests overtaken by the disregard for the promises made must change course in order to put the people entrusted to them at the centre of their priority concerns. Conferences and symposia are put off so that human-based initiatives can lead to concrete actions, because the very survival of all humanity is at stake.

Therefore, it is our duty to examine our own attitudes and behaviours. The failure of many citizens to follow the directives given by the several governments around the world to contain the Covid-19 is simply a symptom of our desire to be free in our movements and choices. It is a clear indication that we – who are build to live as a community – have neglected the essence of what makes the human race great. Over time, we have become people who have withdrawn into ourselves to protect our personal interests.

It is therefore important to contemplate this rainbow that appears above the thick clouds that darken our lives. The suffering we are experiencing today can last forever if our contemplation does not awake in us the need to take action. Freeing ourselves from confinement has a high cost: we must act with a sense of responsibility and respect for the well-being of the collective.

The hope I carry in my heart at this time grows stronger when I see those who provide essential services sacrifice themselves and risking their own lives so that we can continue to live.

Confidence is reborn in me when I see all humanity in prayer. Prayer has become an act of solidarity that will allow us to rediscover the Love of a merciful and compassionate God. A new life emerges on the horizon.

The Most Rev. Ian Ernest