In his Christmas Day address, Pope Francis called on political and business leaders to make coronavirus vaccines available to everyone – with the most vulnerable and needy at the head of the line.
“I beg everyone, heads of state, companies and international organizations 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,” Francis said.
“The most vulnerable and needy must be first,” he said in the Vatican’s Hall of the Benedictions, with some 50 masked staffers present for his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” – “to the city and the world” – message.
“We can’t put ourselves before others, putting market forces and patent laws before the laws of love and the health of humanity,” the pope added. “We cannot let closed nationalisms block us from living like the true human family that we are.”
He also appeared to criticize so-called “vaccine nationalism” — which UN officials fear will worsen the pandemic if poor nations get the vaccines last — and took an apparent swipe at people who have refused to wear masks.
“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,” Francis said as he was flanked by two Christmas trees with blinking lights.
In his call for global unity, he said that “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.”
Noting that the “American continent” was particularly hard-hit by COVID-19, he said the pandemic compounded suffering, “often aggravated by the consequences of corruption and drug trafficking.”
On a day when Christians recall Jesus as a baby, Francis drew attention to the “too many children in all the world, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, who still pay the high price of war.”
Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine lay empty at the Posta Central Hospital in Santiago, Chile, yesterday.Esteban Felix/AP
Normally, thousands would have crowded into St. Peter’s Square to listen to the pope’s address, but Italian authorities are allowing people to leave their homes on Christmas for only urgent reasons like work, health and visits to nearby loved ones.
With Post wires