Pope Francis Calls Coronavirus Vaccinations an Ethical Obligation
Pope Francis said he will be vaccinated against the coronavirus as early as next week, calling it a lifesaving, ethical obligation and a refusal to do so is suicidal, according to comments made on an Italian television news program.
He also said that the storming of the United States Capitol struck him and should be condemned.
In an interview with the news program TG5, which is expected to air Sunday night, Francis urged everyone to get a vaccine.
A transcript of the pope’s vaccination speech, which was not immediately confirmed by the Vatican, was provided by Fabio Luca Marchese Ragona, the Vatican TG5 reporter who conducted the interview.
“It’s an ethical choice because you’re playing with your health, your life, but you’re also playing with other people’s lives,” Francis told the radio station. “I signed up. One must do it.”
According to the transcript, Pope added: “I don’t understand why some people say, ‘No, vaccines are dangerous.’
If doctors present it as a thing that can go well, that’s not particularly dangerous, why not take it? There’s a suicidal denial that I don’t know how to explain.”
Francis was sometimes criticized for not wearing a mask during the pandemic, and some expressed concern that world leaders and others in the papal audience might put him or themselves in danger.
The Vatican insisted that social distancing and testing were used to maintain safety, although some prelates, including cardinals, tested positive for the virus within days of interacting with Francis.
The virus has forced Francis, energized by travel, to stay home for much of the past year, and the Vatican has had to cancel or severely limit even the most important celebrations.
Presiding over the ceremonies in front of the vast, empty St. Peter’s Square, the pope emphasized not only how the virus has changed people’s daily lives, but also the life of the church.
Footage of some of the pope’s remarks was released in a clip promoting the interview, including his reaction to Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol by a crowd supporting President Trump.
“I was amazed,” Francis said, “because this is a nation so disciplined in democracy, isn’t it?” But even in a mature society, he added, there is always “something that is wrong, something with people who are going the way of society, against democracy, against the common good.”
“This movement must be condemned, this movement, regardless of the people,” the pope said, explaining that he was referring to violence. “Violence always is, isn’t it?”
He said that all societies suffer violence over time and that people must learn from history to understand the seeds of discontent.
“We need to understand it well, not repeat it. Learn from history,” Francis said. “These groups that are not well integrated into society, sooner or later,” turn to violence.
In the interview transcript, Francis also reflected on his own experience with vaccines, recalling the polio crisis when he was a child, which led to desperation among mothers for the vaccine.
“We grew up in the shadow of vaccines, measles vaccines, vaccines we were given as children,” he added.
In his Urbi et Orbi Christmas message, Francis called for “vaccines for all,” especially for the world’s most vulnerable people.
“Today, in this time of darkness and uncertainty because of the pandemic, there are various lights of hope,” he said in his Christmas message, “such as the discovery of vaccines.