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World News

'We must forgive pandemic politicians' says Christian care leader

by Will Hobbs

A Christian leader in the church's care of elderly people says believers who feel aggrieved by the government's handling of COVID-19 will heal emotionally if they can remember God's forgiveness, and apply it to politicians.

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been giving evidence to the Covid inquiry this week.  He was challenged by Hugo Keith KCon some of his recollections, but admitted on Thursday that many lives would have been saved if the government had decided to lock down weeks earlier.

Hancock has also accepted 'transgressions' in his personal life may have impacted upon public trust in the rules around coronavirus.

He resigned in June 2021, after footage emerged of him kissing his aide when strict social distancing guidelines were in place.

But Alex Drew, who leads the organization Faith In Later Life, says those hurting and feeling angry must seek the heart of God.

"We can't change what happened; we can only choose the response that we now have to that, and God calls us to forgive as He forgives us.

"So our response needs to be forgiveness. It's a long journey... some people can forgive instantly.  And for some it's a much longer road, but actually, it will do us good if we can be obedient to God's call and live in forgiveness."

While Drew admits Hancock had an extremely unenviable task during the pandemic, she insists it's important that the decisions which led to great pain for thousands of elderly people face proper scrutiny.

"None of us would have wanted to take Matt Hancock's place during that time. But we have to live with some of the realities, some of the facts of what's happened.

"Many people were catastrophically isolated for months - years for some people.

"Some of those people died during that time, not accompanied by their loved ones; other people lived through it. But they've come out of the pandemic feeling less confident, less mobile, and less able to embrace the years they have left."

But Drew does suggest that on a societal level, the pandemic did encourage a greater awareness of elderly neighbours, something she says has long been neglected in our culture, and still has a "long way to go".

"Ageism is rife. Older people are still marginalized. It still seems to be acceptable to treat older people differently on the basis of age, in a way that wouldn't be acceptable in any other demographic.

"But actually getting to know older people helps us with that. And I think that's what's happening again, for the first time."

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