Pope Francis hopes COVID-19 ‘reality therapy’ overcomes ideological opposition to vaccines

VATICAN CITY (RNS) – In his annual address to the Vatican Diplomatic Corps on Monday, January 10, Pope Francis once again expressed support for global vaccination efforts, while condemning “ideological divisions” fueled by disinformation.

In the speech, in which the Pope traditionally takes stock of the world’s most pressing problems, Francis called for “a multiple commitment at the personal, political and international levels” to seek immunity, but he stressed the responsibility of the individual “to take care of oneself and our health, and this translates into respect for the health of those around us.

Francis said that “baseless information” and “poorly documented facts” kept people from getting the vaccine, but he also blamed ideological divisions. “People often allow themselves to be swayed by the ideology of the moment,” he said. He hoped that the “reality therapy” of the pandemic’s toll would lead people to “face the problem head-on and adopt appropriate remedies to resolve it”.

But he also said that “a global commitment on the part of the international community is necessary, so that the whole of the world population can have equal access to medical care and essential vaccines”.

Francis has again advocated for waiving vaccine patents, which would allow more countries to manufacture vaccines and is currently under discussion at the World Trade Organization, or WTO. The Vatican has backed the waiver, which was also supported by the United States, but is currently stuck in negotiations.

“I urge all States” negotiating at the WTO “to adopt a policy of generous sharing as a key principle to guarantee access for all to diagnostic tools, vaccines and drugs”, declared the Pope, stressing the need for solidarity between states, especially towards the poorest. countries.

The Pope also called for international cooperation on the plight of immigrants and refugees, calling them victims of “indifference”, both in Europe and in the United States. “It is necessary to adopt a coherent and comprehensive system of coordination of migration and asylum policies, in order to share the responsibility for the reception of migrants, the examination of asylum requests, the redistribution and of the integration of those who can be accepted. , said the Pope.

He pointed to Europe and the United States, both facing significant migratory flows, urging them to adopt a “far-sighted approach”. While acknowledging the difficulties that migration poses for countries, the Pope said that “there is a clear difference between accepting, albeit in a limited way, and rejecting completely.”

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In his speech, the Pope deplored the state of diplomacy, saying that “multilateral diplomacy is experiencing a crisis of confidence, due to the reduced credibility of social, governmental and intergovernmental systems” at a time when it must respond to the challenges global challenges posed by the pandemic, climate change and migration.

From the “economic and political crisis” in Lebanon to the war-torn countries of Iraq, Syria and Yemen, or the divisions in Ukraine and Myanmar, or between Israel and Palestine, international cooperation is essential, said the Pope.

But even within countries, he added, there is a need to fight internal friction and injustice.

“Deep situations of inequality and injustice, endemic corruption and various forms of poverty which undermine the dignity of persons also continue to fuel social conflicts on the American continent”, declared the Pope, “where increasing polarization does not help solve real and pressing problems. problems of its inhabitants, especially those who are the poorest and most vulnerable.

The last part of the pope’s speech addressed the need to foster community and education for the younger generations, who, due to the pandemic, have found refuge in virtual realities and screens. “If we learn to isolate ourselves from an early age, it will later be more difficult to build bridges of brotherhood and peace,” the Pope said.

“In a world where there is only ‘me’ it is difficult to make room for ‘us’,” he added.

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