Update: Words of Pope Francis on COVID-19 Vaccines

Photo by Nacho Arteaga on Unsplash

Since COVID-19 vaccines started being distributed in late 2020, Pope Francis has frequently expressed his support for the injections in a multitude of ways. In line with certain central pillars of his pontificate, Pope Francis has been concerned with those who are most vulnerable and who have suffered greatly at the hands of the pandemic. He has increasingly called for world leaders to provide for a universal vaccine access and encouraged people to get vaccinated. Here are his words on the COVID-19 vaccines. We will update this post constantly.

Prayer of the Rosary to Invoke an End to the Pandemic

“At the beginning of the month dedicated to Our Lady, we unite in prayer with all the shrines across the world, with the faithful and all people of good will, to entrust into the hands of our Holy Mother all of humanity, sorely tried by this period of pandemic.” Prayer of the Rosary to Invoke an End to the Pandemic (St. Pete’s Basilica) May 1st 2021

Video message of Pope Francis to the participants in “Vax Live: the Concert to reunite the World”

“In the face of so much darkness and uncertainty, we need light and hope. We need paths of healing and salvation. And I mean healing at the root, healing the cause of the evil and not just the symptoms. In these sick roots we find the virus of individualism, which does not make us freer or more equal or more brotherly or sisterly, but rather makes us indifferent to the suffering of others. And a variant of this virus is closed nationalism, which prevents, for example, an internationalism of vaccines. Another variant is when we put the laws of the market or intellectual property above the laws of love and the health of humanity.”

“God the Creator instils in our hearts a new and generous spirit to abandon our individualism and promote the common good: a spirit of justice that mobilises us to ensure universal access to vaccines and the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights; a spirit of communion that allows us to generate a different, more inclusive, just and sustainable economic model.” Message at Vax Live event – 8 May 2021

Letter of the Pope for the 27th Ibero-American summit

“In recognizing the efforts made in the search for an effective COVID-19 vaccine in such a short time frame, I would like to reiterate that extensive immunization should be considered as a “universal common good,” a notion that requires concrete actions to inspire the entire process of vaccine research, production, and distribution.
In this context, initiatives that seek to create new forms of solidarity at the international level are particularly welcome, with mechanisms to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, not based on purely economic criteria, but taking into account the needs of all, especially the most vulnerable and needy.” Letter of the Pope for the 27th Ibero-American summit – 20-21 April 2021

Cf. Pope addresses Covid crisis in message to Ibero-American Summit – Vatican News

Urbi et Orbi Message, Easter, April 4, 2021 (Saint Peter’s Basilica)

“The risen Christ is hope for all who continue to suffer from the pandemic, both the sick and those who have lost a loved one. May the Lord give them comfort and sustain the valiant efforts of doctors and nurses. Everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us, requires assistance and has the right to have access to necessary care. This is even more evident in these times when all of us are called to combat the pandemic. Vaccines are an essential tool in this fight. I urge the entire international community, in a spirit of global responsibility, to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries.

Full text here: “Urbi et Orbi” – Easter 2021

Letter to the president of the Pan American Committee of Judges Roberto Andrés Gallardo (March 10, 2021)

“Even the countries that have vaccinated the most and best need vaccination in other countries to keep their borders open and regain normalcy in international relations. Those who hoard vaccines, those who put the accent on intellectual property, those who block the provision of medicines are wrong and will ultimately be victims of their myopia.”

Meeting with Authorities, Civil Society and the Diplomatic Corps in the hall of the Presidential Palace in Baghdad (March 5, 2021)

My visit is taking place at a time when the world as a whole is trying to emerge from the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected not only the health of countless individuals but has also contributed to a worsening of social and economic conditions already marked by fragility and instability. This crisis calls for concerted efforts by all to take necessary steps, including an equitable distribution of vaccines for everyone. But this is not enough: this crisis is above all a summons to “rethink our styles of life… and the meaning of our existence” (Fratelli Tutti, 33). It has to do with coming out of this time of trial better than we were before, and with shaping a future based more on what unites us than on what divides us.

Full text here: Apostolic Journey to the Republic of Iraq

From Pope Francis’ Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 8 February 2021
To the Diplomatic Corps, 8 February 2021

“I thus renew my appeal that every person receive the care and assistance he or she requires. […] It is likewise essential that the remarkable medical and scientific progress attained over the years – which made it possible to create so quickly vaccines that promise to be effective against the Coronavirus – benefit humanity as a whole. I encourage all states to contribute actively to the international efforts being made to ensure an equitable distribution of the vaccines, based not on purely economic criteria but on the needs of all, especially of peoples most in need. Even so, before so a devious and unpredictable an enemy as Covid-19, access to vaccines must be accompanied by responsible personal behaviour aimed at halting the spread of the virus, employing the necessary measures of prevention to which we have become accustomed in these months. It would be disastrous to put our trust in the vaccine alone, as if it were a panacea exempting every individual from constant concern for his or her own health and for the health of others. The pandemic has once more shown us that, in the celebrated expression of the English poet John Donne, “no man is an island,” and that “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

Full text here: To the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See (8 February 2021)

From Pope Francis’ Interview with Canale 5 (Italy), 10 January 2021

I believe that ethically everyone should take the vaccine. It is an ethical choice because you are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.

>>>Watch the video on YouTube

From Pope Francis Urbi et Orbi Blessing, 25 December 2020

“Today, in this time of darkness and uncertainty regarding the pandemic, various lights of hope appear, such as the discovery of vaccines. But for these lights to illuminate and bring hope to all, they need to be available to all. We cannot allow the various forms of nationalism closed in on themselves to prevent us from living as the truly human family that we are. Nor can we allow the virus of radical individualism to get the better of us and make us indifferent to the suffering of other brothers and sisters. I cannot place myself ahead of others, letting the law of the marketplace and patents take precedence over the law of love and the health of humanity.

Urbi et Orbi Blessing, 25 December 2020

I ask everyone – government leaders, businesses, international organizations – to foster cooperation and not competition, and to seek a solution for everyone: vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet. Before all others: the most vulnerable and needy”!

Full text here: “Urbi et Orbi” Blessing – Christmas 2020

Message of Pope Francis on the occasion of the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences [7-9 October 2020]

When vaccines become available, equitable access to them must be ensured regardless of income, always starting with the least. The global problems we face demand cooperative and multilateral responses. International organizations such as the UN, WHO, FAO and others, which were established to foster global cooperation and coordination, should be respected and supported so that they can achieve their goals for the sake of the universal common good.

Full text here: Message of His Holiness Pope Francis on the occasion of the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences [7-9 October 2020]

From Pope Francis General Audience, August 19, 2020

“It would be sad if, for the vaccine for Covid-19, priority were to be given to the richest! It would be sad if this vaccine were to become the property of this nation or another, rather than universal and for all. And what a scandal it would be if all the economic assistance we are observing – most of it with public money – were to focus on rescuing those industries that do not contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, the promotion of the least, the common good or the care of creation (ibid.). There are criteria for choosing which industries should be helped: those which contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, to the promotion of the last, to the common good and the care of creation. Four criteria.

General Audience – August 19, 2020

If the virus were to intensify again in a world that is unjust to the poor and vulnerable, then we must change this world. Following the example of Jesus, the doctor of integral divine love, that is, of physical, social and spiritual healing (cf. Jn 5:6-9) – like the healing worked by Jesus – we must act now, to heal the epidemics caused by small, invisible viruses, and to heal those caused by the great and visible social injustices. I propose that this be done by starting from the love of God, placing the peripheries at the centre and the last in first place. Do not forget that protocol by which we will be judged, Matthew, chapter 25. Let us put it into practice  in this recovery from the epidemic. And starting from this tangible love – as the Gospel says, there – anchored in hope and founded in faith, a healthier world will be possible. Otherwise, we will come out of the crisis worse. May the Lord help us, and give us the strength to come out of it better, responding to the needs of today’s world. Thank you.”

Full text here: General Audience – August 19, 2020

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