Pope Francis has issued an appeal to everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and help end the pandemic.
“Thanks to God’s grace and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from COVID-19,” said the pope in a video message.
The pontiff, however, said the vaccines, even as they offer hope to ending the pandemic, can only be effective “if they are available to all and if we work together.”
In many countries, COVID-19 vaccines continue to be inaccessible while mistrust and hesitancy are also prevalent in many parts of the world.
Medical experts have warned that more dangerous variants might develop if the virus is allowed to circulate in large pools of non-vaccinated people.
Pope Francis was himself vaccinated in March, saying at the time that it was an ethical obligation.
“Vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable,” said the pope in the video message.
“I pray to God that everyone may contribute their own small grain of sand, their own small gesture of love,” he added.
Pope Francis said getting vaccinated is an “act of love.” Helping others do the same is also an act of love, he said.
“Love for oneself, love for our families and friends, and love for all peoples. Love is also social and political,” said the pope.
“No matter how small, love is always grand,” he said. “Small gestures for a better future,” added the pope.
The Pope was joined in the video by several cardinals and archbishops from across the Americas.
Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, lamented the suffering and death the pandemic has wrought across the globe.
He prayed that God might “grant us the grace to face it with the strength of faith, ensuring that vaccines are available for all, so that we can all get immunized.”
Mexican Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes linked COVID-19 jabs to a better future for all. “From North to South America, we support vaccinations for all,” he said.
Honduran Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga said the world has much to learn from the coronavirus. “But one thing is certain: the authorized vaccines are effective, and are here to save lives,” he said.
“They are the key to a path of personal and universal healing,” added the cardinal.
Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes praised the “heroic efforts” of health professionals in developing “safe and effective” jabs.
He also repeated the pope’s affirmation that “getting vaccinated is an act of love”.
Salvadorian Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez said vaccination helps protect the most vulnerable.
“Our choice to get vaccinated affects others,” he said, adding that it is a moral responsibility.
Peruvian Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos rounded out the testimonies contained in the video with an appeal to unity “to promote and support vaccination for all.” – with reports from Reuters and Vatican News