Pope Francis has offered his prayers to everyone who has fallen on hard times as a result of the new coronavirus epidemic.
“Let us pray today for people who are beginning to experience economic problems because they cannot work due to the pandemic, and all of this falls on the family,” the Catholic News Service cites the pope as saying during Mass on March 23.
The pope also called on Catholics to be steadfast and authentic in their prayers.
“Let us be careful during prayer to not fall into a habit without an awareness that the Lord is there, that I am speaking with the Lord and that he is able to solve the problem,” the pope said during the Mass, which was live-streamed from the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae at the Vatican.
The pope’s message to those facing tough economic times was delivered on the same day the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s managing director Kristalina Georgieva forecast negative growth for the year.
“For 2020, [the outlook for global growth] is negative. A recession at least as bad as the [2008-09] global financial crisis or worse,” Georgieva said.
She, however, said the IMF predicted a rebound in 2021.
“The human costs of the coronavirus pandemic are already immeasurable and all countries need to work together to protect people and limit the economic damage,” Georgieva said.
Meanwhile, the International Labor Organization, (ILO) the U.N.’s labor agency, predicts the new coronavirus could cost up to 24.7 million jobs globally. By contrast, the 2008-9 financial crisis is estimated to have shed 22 million jobs worldwide.
The ILO warned of an uptick in working poverty as a result of the pandemic, with an estimated 8.8 to 35 million people expected to join the rans of the working poor. The organization, by contrast, had earlier forecast the number of working poor to decline by 14 million people for 2020.