Gaudium et spes entails the aspects of joy and hope and is among the four constitutions outlined by the second Vatican council. The constitution teaches about the relationship of man to society in relation to economics, social justice, ecumenism, culture, poverty and science& technology in the modern era. The teachings are according to the four themes, the dignity of the human person, work and human activity the community of Mankind and the role of the church. Currently, the world is struggling to fight threatening pandemic, coronavirus (COVID-19). Coronavirus (COVID-19) is classified as an infectious disease that affects the respiratory system in this modern era. The virus is prevalent among older people and people with underlying medical issues. The virus is believed to have originated in Wuhan China in late 2019 and has rapidly spread throughout other nations due to international movement. A total of 212 countries have reported cases of coronavirus with a total of 3,330,772 infection cases, 234,768 deaths, and 1,053,250 recoveries globally (Worldometers.info). According to medics and researchers, COVID -19 is spread through droplets of saliva together with nose discharges when an infected person sneezes or coughs (GUO 3). Currently, there are no specific treatments and vaccines for the virus. Therefore, people have been advised to take precautions and protective measures towards the spread and possible infection of coronavirus. Among the outlined measures include respiratory etiquette by covering one’s mouth while coughing or using a flexed elbow. People have been advised to wash their hands regularly, use hand sanitizers, and avoid touching their faces (Guo 9). Many nations have come together under the Gaudium et spes them of the community of mankind where many countries have put in place directives that minimize exposure by reducing the physical contacts among citizens. International movement has been restricted with governments restricting international flights. The governments have directed that people should stay at home and work from home as a critical measure. The directive to stay at home has been received with mixed reactions from citizens. Staying at home has reduced crowding, and gatherings have been banned. Positively, the directive has helped in reducing the number of new cases being reported but is consequently affecting the economy of many countries. In an economy, different industries operate in different ways. Working from home is only favorable for various industries as others require physical presence in the workplace. The pandemic has various impacts on lower income individuals and their economic situations in diverse approaches which is against the Gaudium et spes teachings.
Inequality and Disproportionate on The Poor
The global spread of the coronavirus is setting an intense force, which is economic inequality. The economic inequality is against the work and human activity theme in the Gaudium et spes. Low income earners are being viewed and treated in relation to what they have which is adversely affecting the poor in the COVID-19 situation. Most of the low-income individuals undertake informal jobs, where work is guaranteed when an employer only needs particular tasks carried out. With the directive that people should stay at home, most employers have closed operations that require physical presence and who activities cannot be executed remotely. Some countries have imposed total lockdown, thus restricting movement and operations, rendering many poor people jobless and major layoffs being witnessed leading to no income amongst casual workers. The poverty levels have increased in many areas as the low-income earners can no longer feed their families (Fisher). In some countries where not all operations have closed, low income earners have taken upon themselves to risk their lives by working and feeding their families. The affected individuals have raised their concerns that they fear contracting the virus and spreading it to their families but have no other options for feeding their families. They have also complained that protective gears such as masks and hand sanitizers are expensive, and they cannot afford to purchase them.
Coronavirus has led to an increased cost of living in countries where there are lockdowns. The increased cost of living is because many industries, such as manufacturers and producers, have closed down operations. Closure of production has lowered the level of output; therefore, the scarce products available in the market are being sold for high prices, which poor people cannot afford. Also, the high-income earners are being given priority in service delivery, causing the low-income earners to lack. The scarcity and high prices of products are increasing the suffering among poor people, with hunger being a major problem. Closing down of schools has affected the poor population because their children heavily rely on the free lunch and breakfast offered by the schools. There has also been an increase in home expenses because the children are at home all day, increasing the food, water, and electricity bill. Most of the essential services are being delivered through e-commerce, where residents can order things like groceries online and have them delivered to their doorsteps. The low-income earners cannot afford the internet, thus, requiring them to visit the physical store to get the products (North). Movement from their houses to the stores increases their exposure to COVID-19 because most people use public transport. Many learning institutions have resulted in virtual learning because children have been away from school for long. The institutions have not considered the poor people who lack access to the internet, hence, their children are missing out on the continuing virtual learning.
The poor population is at a higher risk of being exposed to the coronavirus as they are exposed to poor living standards. The large population resides in areas that are highly congested, such as slums, making social distancing impossible limiting the community of mankind. Living conditions in the slums are characterized as being unsanitary, with the residents having to share most of the amenities while other amenities are lacking. Per the medics’ precaution measures, people are advised to wash their hands regularly. People residing in the slums lack necessities such as water, hence, cannot wash their hands regularly, resulting in the spread of COVID-19. Health care among the poor population is also a major issue (Huang 501). There are no proper health care facilities in poor people’s residences, which contributes to the poor and deteriorating health conditions of the residence. Most poor people have underlying diseases such as heart diseases and diabetes, which increases their chances of contracting coronavirus.
The local health care facilities among the poor do not have adequate services that can cater for patients who have been infected with the coronavirus. The lack of quality services is an insult to human dignity which is a fundamental of the Gaudium et Spes. Accessing quality medical services among the low-income earners has proven to be inadequate because they cannot afford medical costs in well advanced and equipped hospitals. Limited access to health care has contributed to more COVID-19 cases and deaths being observed among poor people. Also, there lacks testing activities and quick response measures towards coronavirus victims in poor areas leading to more coronavirus cases (Wang 1729). People in the poor residence are not being facilitated with adequate knowledge and education on the pandemic and how to prevent it, therefore, the spread is increasing in such regions.
The role of the church as per the Gaudium et Spes has been prevent by restrictions by the government because of coronavirus. Areas that have been shut down, Christians have been limited from fellowshipping together and obtaining church teachings. Lack of teachings has fueled discrimination of the poor by the rich because the rich view the poor as being the main carriers of COVID-19. The high-income earners have domestic workers who are classified among the poor population, various households have relieved their domestic workers such as nannies off their duties with the fear that the workers will infect the household with coronavirus. Relieving the workers of their duties is a clear indication of discrimination by the poor. The dignity of humankind among the poor is being tested as they are being treated as less humans than the rich. The pandemic is not selective; hence, anyone can contract the virus. The pandemic has increased the suffering of poor people, such as the homeless, refugees, displaced persons, and migrants (Thompson) thus causing doubts in their faith. The various groups of people heavily rely on aids from both international and local groups who enforce on Gaudium et Spes the community of mankind. The restriction on movement has limited access to relief groups to poor people. Also, the deterioration of the global economy has reduced donor funds to needy people contributing to their increased suffering.
The World Health Organization is reporting an increase in recovery cases, and slower death rates as research for the coronavirus vaccines and treatment is ongoing. The spread of COVID-19 has decreased, although the poor people are still feeling the effects of the virus. The governments should utilize the Gaudium et Spes teachings such as the dignity of the human person. The governments should treat all people fairly regardless of the social status, income and race by using government funds to offer relief food and necessities to the poor. Low income earners should be provided with quality medical care and quick response mechanisms as high-income earners. Additionally, there should be increased awareness where the public should be sensitized on coronavirus to avoid any form of discrimination and promote the community of mankind. The governments should also provide protective gear, ensure there are sufficient water and hand sanitizers which will ensure everyone is well protected and people can interactive safely to enhance relationships. Regulatory measures should be put in place to avoid producers and sellers from exploiting the poor by selling products at high prices. The regulations will ensure that the poor are not treated in relation to their work and human activity as that does not define humankind. According to Gaudium et spes, people should be measured according to how holy they are not living conditions or wealth. The government should initiate post-COVID-19 measures such a technical training for poor people to increase their expertise and levels of income earning. Also, restrictions on movement to places such as churches should be lifted to promote the role of the church where people are taught on living together to promote community of mankind. Different countries are in the process of outlining ways through which they intend to revive the economy post-COVID-19 as the pandemic impact decreases’ day by day.
Fisher, Max, and Emma Bubola. As Coronavirus Deepens Inequality, Inequality Worsens Its Spread. 15 Mar. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/03/15/world/europe/coronavirus-inequality.html.
Guo, Yan-Rong, et al. “The origin, transmission and clinical therapies on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak–an update on the status.” Military Medical Research 7.1 (2020): 1-10.
Huang, Chaolin, et al. “Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China.” The Lancet 395.10223 (2020): 497-506.
North, Anna. “Every Aspect of the Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes America’s Devastating Inequalities.” Vox, Vox, 10 Apr. 2020, www.vox.com/2020/4/10/21207520/coronavirus-deaths-economy-layoffs-inequality-covid-pandemic.
Thompson, Derek. “The Coronavirus Will Be a Catastrophe for the Poor.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 1 Apr. 2020, www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-will-supercharge-american-inequality/608419/.
Wang, Cuiyan, et al. “Immediate psychological responses and associated factors during the initial stage of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic among the general population in China.” International journal of environmental research and public health 17.5 (2020): 1729.
Worldometers.info. COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic 30 Apr. 2020., https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/