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    The political response to COVID-19 has cre- ated an economic downturn unprecedented since the Great Depression. However, the Church’s “anemic response” has deprived the poor of spiritual solace and the Church of its vocation and vitality, said Rev. Robert Sirico in a nationally syndicated radio interview.

    “If we sit back and look at the big message of the Church, it’s ‘We’re closed. We’ll let you know when we open again.’ And I think that’s very dangerous,” Rev. Sirico said on the June 26 episode of “The Catholic Current with Fr. Robert McTeigue, S.J.”

    Rev. Sirico addressed the role the Church should play during a time of economic devastation – and how shirking this responsibility hurts both the poor and Christians themselves.

    The proper role of Christian charity is to be close enough to people in need that we see Jesus Christ. If we bureaucratize this or al-low others to take on that role, it’s not just the poor who suffer from it, no matter what ma- terial things they may be provided with. The poor will suffer because of the lack of spiritual depth, but we will suffer because of the lack of encountering in them the suffering Christ, who comes to us in distressing disguises.

    “By not having that,” Rev. Sirico said, “we lose our vitality.”

    During the 30-minute interview, Rev. Sirico also addressed whether the universal basic income is a prescription or a placebo, and why “the ‘stimulus’ is going to be the greatest single burden on us economically.”

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