Pope Francis sent a letter to South Korea’s bishops thanking them for a donation of US$1 million to be used to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for the poor.
“I would like to thank you for your gesture of Christian charity, which really touched me,” Pope Francis said in a July 21 letter published on the bishops’ conference website on Friday.
At their spring general meeting in March, the Korean bishops agreed to join a Vaccine Sharing Campaign which had been launched by the Archdiocese of Seoul, the Dioceses of Suwon, Daejeon, and Chuncheon, and the Korean Catholic Lay Apostolic Organizations Association.
The bishops launched the nationwide campaign on Easter Sunday. It will run until Nov. 27.
According to the bishops, the collection of funds to help pay for COVID-19 vaccines in poor countries is part of the Church in South Korea’s activities for the 2021 jubilee year, which is being held to mark the 200th anniversary of the births of St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Venerable Choe Yang-Eop Thomas.
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul noted in his Easter Sunday homily that Pope Francis had called for universal access to the COVID-19 vaccine more than once in his public speeches and prayers.
“We are living through difficult times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cardinal Yeom said, according to Vatican News.
Yeom said that “the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for those who live in poverty,” adding that the Catholic Church in South Korea would like to “turn this crisis into an opportunity.”
The campaign encouraged both Catholics and non-Catholics in South Korea to consider donating around 60,000 South Korean won, about $52, which would cover two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
“Your generosity and fraternity will allow the people suffering the most from the pandemic COVID-19 to receive the necessary aid,” Pope Francis said in his letter thanking the bishops for the donation of $1 million.
He added that the Office of Papal Charities would be responsible for using the money to help poor countries.
“I embrace you all and I kindly ask you to thank the priests, religious and faithful of your local Churches, granting them my sincere affection and my spiritual closeness,” the pope wrote.
Francis closed his letter by invoking the intercession of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and St. Andrew Kim. He also imparted his apostolic blessing on the bishops and those entrusted to their pastoral care.
“Please, continue to pray for me,” he said.