Existing for Others in Times of COVID-19

Jeroen Jans is a PhD student at Radboud University (the Netherlands) and is a teacher of Catholicism in secondary education in Belgium

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us have been confronted with all sorts of inconveniences and limitations in our normal lives, and the effects of our efforts are often unsure. Some of us are obligated to wear face masks in public spaces, some live in countries where our social contacts have been reduced by the state, and some are faced with restrictions on religious services and rituals. This poses the question of how much we should allow a state to intervene in our lives—how far can it go? I address this question from a Roman Catholic perspective, based on three key principles in Catholic Social Thought: interdependence, the common good, and subsidiarity.


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Religion and a COVID-19 Vaccine—a Complex Question with Complex Answers

Dr. Renae Barker is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts, Business, Lawand Education at the University of Western Australia

An earlier version of this blogpost appeared at The G20 Interfaith Forum Blog.

As the world edges closer to viable vaccines against COVID-19, attention is turning to how that vaccine will be rolled out. Central to this question is the extent to which states may make the vaccine mandatory. Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has indicated he would like to see a 95% vaccination rate once a vaccine is available. In Australia, debate has recently turned to the ethics of the vaccine being developed at Oxford University and the implications for freedom of religion should this vaccine prove to be the most viable candidate.

The vaccine being developed at Oxford University uses cell lines originally taken from an aborted foetus from the 1970s. While the practice of using cell-lines taken from a foetus is generally accepted by the scientific community as ethical, this does not allay religious concerns with the practice.


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Religion and Civil Disobedience: The Orthodox Church and Political Protests in Belarus

© Annette Riedl

Regina Elsner is a Researcher at the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS).

The 2020 Belarus Presidential Elections

After the massive falsification of its presidential election results, enormous protests have raged for over two weeks in the Republic of Belarus. Described for many years as the “last dictatorship of Europe,” Belarus has been ruled by Alexander Lukashenka for 26 years. During this time, opposition movements and politicians have been systematically oppressed and every contradiction nipped in the bud. Belarus is the only European country that does not participate in the Council of Europe and does not recognize the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights—a powerful regional instrument of human rights protection on the continent.

As in past elections, the current protests have been brutally suppressed by police, and thousands of men and women have been arrested and tortured in prisons. However, unlike previous protests, protesters have not stopped despite police violence; they continue to protest peacefully and often creatively with unprecedented support from state-owned businesses, hospitals, and the IT industry. It is difficult, however, to foresee how the confrontation between police and peaceful protesters will develop and even more difficult to predict how the political situation and election results will be dealt with.


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