Pope Francis on Christmas Day called on leaders around the world, international organizations, and businesses to ensure that the coronavirus vaccines get to everyone, especially the poor and needy, NY Times reports.
Pope Francis, who addressed Catholic faithful and the entire Christian community from the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, instead of the St. Peter’s Square, as had been the norm for years now, said that the widespread sufferings undergone by all and sundry should persuade people to reflect on their humanity and ensure that the vaccines get to all.
The pope argued that the world cannot allow individuality and nationalism to take the center-stage at this point, preventing the world from coming together as a family to fight the scourge of the pandemic. He said nations cannot act indifferent to the sufferings of other nations. He noted that the world cannot afford to allow pecuniary needs to cloud our sense of humanity.
A recent study by the British Medical Journal asserted that almost a quarter of the world’s population, representing about 2 billion people, may not have access to the coronavirus vaccine until at least 2022. Many leaders from poor countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America have said they are concerned that the vaccines may not reach much of their population if at all they are able to access any.
The world over, Christmas celebrations appeared somber, with many celebrating under lockdown restrictions. There were no audiences to grace the annual choral concert usually held at the Notre-Dame in Paris. The service at Westminster Cathedral, usually accompanied by pomp and graceful ambiance was instead streamed online, NBC News writes.
Cardinal Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, reacting to this year’s scaled-back celebrations, said the darkness of the pandemic had shaken the many beliefs of the Christian community, heralding celebrations devoid of the usual hugs, greetings, and get-togethers. He decried the adverse impact of the pandemic in severing family bonds and allowing families to suffer from loneliness.
The usual pilgrimage of thousands of Christians to Israel couldn’t take place either. Every year, these pilgrims from all over the world, congregate in Bethlehem, at the Church of Nativity to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. International travel restrictions and bans placed on flights meant only a few people could eventually make it.
Back in the US, the Christmas Eve Mass at the St. Patrick’s Cathedral was held with just 25% of the regular church population in attendance. The Christmas Eve Mass at the St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican, was held two hours ahead of time to beat the 10 pm curfew in place by the government. Italy, which has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, is under a nationwide lockdown.
The pope used his Christmas message to bring to attention the suffering of victimized minorities around the world, from the Yazidis in Iraq to the Rohingya in Myanmar.