He also warned the European Union that it risked collapse if it did not agree on how to help the region recover.
Saying the message of this year’s “Easter of solitude” should be a “contagion of hope,” he heaped praise on doctors, nurses and others risking their lives to save others and hailed those working to keep essential services running.
“This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic,” he said in the message, almost entirely dedicated to the pandemic’s effects on personal and international relations.
“Indifference, self-centredness, division, and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time. We want to ban these words forever!” he said.
Francis expressed sympathy for those not able to bid farewell to their loved ones because of restrictions, for Catholics who have not been able to receive the sacraments and for all those worried about an uncertain future.
“In these weeks, the lives of millions of people have suddenly changed,” he said.
The pope said now was the time for politicians and governments to avoid “self-centredness” and take decisive, concerted action to help each others’ populations live through the crisis and eventually resume a normal life.
“May international sanctions be relaxed since these make it difficult for countries on which they have been imposed to provide adequate support to their citizens,” Francis said.
He also called for debt reductions or forgiveness for the poorest nations, without naming any countries.