Pope Francis said on Wednesday that he did not understand why people refuse to take COVID-19 vaccines, saying that “humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines”, and that a calm discussion about the shots was necessary to help them.
“Even in the College of Cardinals, there are some negationists,” Francis said on Wednesday on his way home from Slovakia.
He noted that one of them, the “poor man”, had been hospitalized with the virus. It was an obvious reference to the American cardinal Raymond Burke, who was taken to a hospital in the United States and placed in a ventilator last month after being affected by the coronavirus.
Francis was asked by a Slovak reporter about vaccine skeptics and those who oppose vaccine mandates, given that certain events during his four-day pilgrimage to the country were limited to people who had received covid-19 jabs. However, the issue is broader, as more and more governments adopt vaccine mandates for certain categories of workers, which is provoking opposition.
‘The virulence of uncertainty’
“It’s a little weird, because humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines,” Francis said, noting that children have been vaccinated against measles, mumps and polio for decades “and no one said anything.”
He assumed that the “virulence of uncertainty” was due to the diversity of COVID-19 vaccines, the rapid approval period and the amount of “arguments that created this division” and fear. Medical experts say that vaccines have been tested and used on tens of millions of people and have been shown to be effective in reducing serious hospitalizations and deaths.
Significantly, Francis did not mention the religious objection used by some who refuse the vaccines. Some conservatives have refused to take the pictures, citing the distant and indirect connection to cell lines derived from aborted fetuses.
The Vatican’s doctor’s office has said it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive COVID-19 vaccines based on research using cells derived from aborted fetuses. Francis has said that it would be “suicide” not to get the sting and both Francis and Pope Benedict XVI have been vaccinated completely with Pfizer-BioNTech shots.
Francis noted that the Vatican had vaccinated its residents, staff and their families “with the exception of a very small group” and “they are studying how they can help them.”
To those who are still afraid, he said, “They must clarify it and speak calmly.”