Pope Francis appealed to people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in what he called “an act of love,” in a video message published on his Twitter account on Wednesday.
In the message, recorded in Spanish, Francis said that “thanks to God’s grace and the work of many we now have vaccines to protect us from COVID-19.”
The religious leader, who wields significant political and moral authority among the 1.3 billion Catholics in the world, appealed that shots be made widely available amid stark disparities in vaccination rates between the developed and the developing world.
“They bring us hope that the pandemic may end, but only if they are available to all and if we collaborate with one another,” Francis said.
The message comes amid ongoing debate, especially in more conservative or religious communities, over the efficacy and safety of vaccines. In Poland, an overwhelmingly Catholic-majority country, local church authorities have sent mixed signals over vaccines and government public health efforts.
In North America, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops which represents the church in the country, said in March that Catholics should avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over concerns about the use of fetal tissues.
Francis, who already in previous occasions had come out in favor of making coronavirus vaccines more widely available, reiterated his support for the jabs.
“Getting the vaccines that are authorized by the respective authorities is an act of love… Love to oneself, and love for one’s family and friends,” he said.
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