2020 was a sad and wonderful year. The sadness is evident in the suffering and fears raised by the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide – anyone at any time might become infected – but balanced by the wonderful care shown at home, in caring and nursing homes, in refuges and, especially, in our hospitals, for the weaker and weakest amongst us.
There has been much goodness to admire, sadness to share, much to bewilder us, but we came together as a world learning to co-operate, painfully and selfishly, but learning. The voices of the World Health Organisation and the United Nations were heard more clearly and the strident voices of nationalism and populism had to shout louder because they saw their narrowness and hatefulness more openly braved by good people who wanted to hear about the goodness and quiet heroism in every walk of life.
We have shared the love and anxieties of families, the fears of unemployment, new levels of poverty, the old and new homeless and many needs. People came to inspire us like Captain Tom Moore who planned to celebrate his 100th birthday by raising £1,000 for the NHS in doing laps of his garden each day – and he has raised £40 million! We have seen a new generosity in world business in the co-operation between Cambridge AstraZeneca and Oxford University which is providing its vaccine at cost prices, seeking no profit! It is an extraordinary gesture, probably the best pandemic news the world could have been given, and AZ has promised to continue supplying the poorer countries at cost price for as long as is necessary. Inspiring. A wonderful business model in a world crisis.
Peace is slowly coming in the Middle East, there is growing co-operation between the Arab states, though much still to be done. The increasingly despotic rulers of China and Russia and their allies cannot still the voices calling for democracy and freedom. The former colonial territories of Africa and Asia are struggling to lessen or end tribalism and its corruption to give voice to their peoples longing for peace and justice.
We know more about world governments, and accept we can’t begin to act until we do know. Some see sooner and better and the courageous and wise are working to bring about necessary changes and challenge injustices. There is dreadful suffering still – people trafficking, refugees, civil war in Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Ethiopia, for example – but the cruelty is manifest, hateful, and we know about it. The world is becoming more open and the rights of people and peoples everywhere are becoming our common concern.
The moral and financial corruption in our Church has become our shame before the world but God will guide us to become what we should be. The cries of abused children and women have been heard and we must help heal and protect them. The scorn and derision of those who despise the Church are justified, and we must accept the Church’s voice is hardly heeded and that many have left us, disappointed and disgusted at what they have seen. But Pope Francis is daring to dream in his new book and invites us to dream with him into a new age where women are being given their true place, unworthy authorities replaced by a true and inspiring leadership, and hope will take us from an uninspiring clerical Church to become the Mystical Body of Christ and the light and leaven on the world that Jesus asked us to be.
So much to be done, but all within vision. The goodness of 2020 can take us into 2021 and it is worth reflecting on that goodness (see over the page).
God bless us with a healthier 2021.
(3rd January 2021)