Pope Francis made a Christmas Day plea for authorities to make COVID-19 vaccines available to all, insisting that the first in line should be the most vulnerable and needy, regardless of who holds the patents for the shots.
The pandemic’s repercussions on life dominated Francis’ reflections on the past year.
“At this moment in history, marked by the ecological crisis and grave economic and social imbalances only worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more important for us to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters,” Francis said.
Fraternity and compassion applies to people “even though they do not belong to my family, my ethnic group or my religion,” he said.
Francis prayed that the birth of Jesus would inspire people to be “generous, supportive and helpful″ to those in need, including those struggling with ”the economic effects of the pandemic and women who have suffered domestic violence during these months of lockdown.”
Noting that the “American continent” was particularly hard-hit by COVID-19, he said that the pandemic compounded suffering, “often aggravated by the consequences of corruption and drug trafficking.” In particular he cited the suffering of the Venezuelan people.
On a day when Christians recall Jesus as a baby, Francis drew attention to the “too many children in all the world, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, who still pay the high price of war.”
Among others he said sorely needed comfort at Christmas time were the Iraqi people, and “in particular the Yazidi, hard hit by the last years of war.” And, he said, “I cannot forgot the Rohingya people,” adding that he hoped that Jesus, “born poor among the poor, will bring hope in their suffering.”