Respect Equality

Pope Francis calls for widespread COVID-19 vaccination, says health care is a ‘moral obligation’

getty: Pope Francis

Story at a glance

  • Pope Francis used his strongest language ever regarding vaccination during a speech to diplomats on Monday.
  • Francis, who received the Pfizer vaccine in January of last year, said people had a responsibility to care for themselves and others.
  • Although some conservative bishops and cardinals have taken issue with the vaccine research using stem cells from aborted embryos, the Vatican Doctrine Office has said it is “morally acceptable” to get the vaccine.

Pope Francis on Monday called for widespread COVID-19 vaccination, stating that people had a responsibility to care for themselves and others, according to The Associated Press (AP) 

“And this translates into respect for the health of those around us. Health care is a moral obligation,” he said. 

The pontiff made the comment during a speech to diplomats at the Holy See, an annual event where the pope lays out the Vatican’s foreign policy goals for the year. The pontiff said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was still causing social isolation and taking lives, noting that vaccinations were lowering the risk of the disease. He said it’s important to vaccinate as much of the general population as possible, according to Voice of America.  


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Francis denounced the fact that ideological divides are dissuading people from getting vaccinated.  

“Frequently people let themselves be influenced by the ideology of the moment, often bolstered by baseless information or poorly documented facts,” he said, according to the AP 

“Vaccines are not a magical means of healing, yet surely they represent, in addition to other treatments that need to be developed, the most reasonable solution for the prevention of the disease,” he continued.  

Some Catholics, including some conservative U.S. bishops and cardinals, have called vaccines based on research that use stem cells derived from aborted embryos as “immoral,” but the Vatican’s Doctrine Office has said it’s “morally acceptable” for Catholics to get the jab.  

Pope Francis himself received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine early last year.  


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