Pope Francis in his Christmas message on Christmas day warned that political and business leaders must not allow market forces and patent laws to determine the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. He urged that the vaccines be made available to everyone in rich or poor countries of the world.
Pope Francis, according to Reuters, delivered his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message virtually from a lectern inside the Vatican instead of from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
In the words of the Pope, “At this moment in history, marked by the ecological crisis and grave economic and social imbalances only worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more important for us to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters”.
Stressing that health is an international issue, he appeared to criticise so-called ‘vaccine nationalism’, which U.N. officials fear will worsen the pandemic if poor nations receive the vaccine last.
“I beg everyone, heads of state, companies and international organisations to promote cooperation and not competition, to find a solution for everyone – vaccines for all – especially for the most vulnerable and needy in all areas of the planet,” he said.
“The most vulnerable and needy must be first,” he said, in the Vatican’s Hall of the Benedictions, with only about 50 Vatican staff wearing masks sitting along the long walls.
Francis also appeared to criticise people who have refused to wear masks because it violates their freedom, an attitude that has become widespread in nations such as the United States.
“And neither can we allow the virus of radical individualism to triumph over us and make us indifferent to the suffering of other brothers and sisters,” he said.
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“May the Child of Bethlehem help us, then, to be generous, supportive and helpful, especially towards those who are vulnerable, the sick, those unemployed or experiencing hardship due to the economic effects of the pandemic, and women who have suffered domestic violence during these months of lockdown,” he said in his Friday address.
He then called for peace and reconciliation in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Sudan, Nigeria and Cameroon and Iraq, which he is due to visit in early March.
He also asked to comfort those suffering from humanitarian crises or natural disasters in Burkina Fasso, Mali, Niger, the Philippines and Vietnam.