In his Christmas message on Friday, Pope Francis called on nations to share Covid-19 vaccines and said that the walls of nationalism could not be built to stop a pandemic that knows no borders.
In a time sign, Francis delivered his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) the message practically from a pulpit inside the Vatican instead of from the central balcony of St. Peter’s before tens of thousands.
The pandemic and its social and economic effects dominated the message, with Francis calling for global unity and aid for countries suffering from conflict and humanitarian crises.
“At this moment in history, marked by the ecological crisis and severe economic and social imbalances only exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more important for us to recognize each other as brothers and sisters,” he said.
When he emphasized that health is an international issue, he seemed to criticize so-called vaccinationalism, which UN officials fear will exacerbate the pandemic if poor countries get the vaccine last.
“May the Son of God renew in political and governmental leaders a spirit of international cooperation, beginning with health care, so that everyone will be guaranteed access to vaccines and treatment. In the face of a challenge that knows no bounds, we cannot build walls. We are all in the same boat, he said.
Every other person is my brother or my sister. In all I see the face of God reflected, and in those who suffer I see the Lord begging for my help. I see him in the sick, the poor, the unemployed, the marginalized, the migrants and the refugee.
– Pope Francis (@Pontifex) December 25, 2020
Italians are under a nationwide lockdown during much of the Christmas and New Year holidays. The restrictions mean that people cannot go to St. Peter’s Square or the Basilica for papal events, all of which have been moved indoors.
Christmas is above all a time to help others because Jesus himself was born a poor outcast, Francis said on Thursday night at his Christmas Eve Mass, which began two hours early so that the few participants could get home in time before 22.00.
May the children of Bethlehem help us to be generous, supportive and helpful, especially to those who are vulnerable, sick, unemployed or experiencing difficulties due to the economic effects of the pandemic and women who have suffered domestic violence during these months of lockdown, he said in his Friday address.
Francis called for peace and reconciliation in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Sudan, Nigeria and Cameroon and Iraq, which he will visit in early March.
He also sought to comfort those suffering from humanitarian crises or natural disasters in Burkina Fasso, Mali, Niger, the Philippines and Vietnam.