• John Thavis

COVID shows need for 'universal basic wage,' pope says

Pope Francis weighed in recently on the economic impact of COVID-19, saying the pandemic underscored the need for a “universal basic wage” to protect the world’s laborers and their families.


Addressing low wage-earners, the pope said they were facing a “time of danger.”


“The problems that afflict everyone hit you twice as hard. Many of you live day to day, without any type of legal safeguards,” he said. Without a guaranteed salary, “the quarantines are for you are unsustainable.”


“Perhaps the time has come to consider a universal basic wage that acknowledges and dignifies the essential work you perform, capable of guaranteeing the ideal of no worker without rights,” he said.


The suggestion came in a letter April 12 to the World Meeting of Popular Movements. It was a reminder that this pope views the global economy as problematic in the extreme – an system that he says is centered largely on “idolatry of money” and excessive consumerism.


“Our civilization, so competitive and individualistic, with its frenetic pace of production and consumption, its excessive luxuries and disproportionate profits for the few, needs to slow down, take stock and renew itself,” the pope said in his letter.


The economic disparities are being aggravated during the current pandemic, he said.


“If the struggle against COVID is a war, then you are the invisible army that is fighting in the most dangerous trenches,” he said.

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