Pope weighs in on morality of Covid vaccination

The head of the Catholic Church reiterated his support for the Covid jab during an annual speech to ambassadors at the Vatican

The Pope has given his strongest backing yet to the Covid vaccine, siding with the Vatican’s coronavirus advisory board and calling it a “moral obligation,” urging people to show “respect for the health” of others.

Speaking on Monday, Pope Francis used his yearly speech to representatives from 183 countries accredited to the Holy See to address what he sees as important international issues and outline the Vatican’s stance.

The 85-year-old head of the Catholic Church has previously used softer language, describing getting the vaccine as “an act of love,” and insisting they are safe and effective. However, he used the event to take a firmer line, siding with the position held by the Vatican’s Covid advisory body.

Discussing the Covid vaccine, the Pope claimed that everyone has a duty to care for their wellbeing and the safety of individuals around them, stating that “this translates into respect for the health of those around us. Health care is a moral obligation.”

“Vaccines are not a magical means of healing, yet surely they represent, in addition to other treatments that need to be developed, the most reasonable solution for the prevention of the disease,” Pope Francis said.

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Pope Francis holds his homily during a Mass on the Solemnity of the Epiphany at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican,  January 6, 2022 © Getty Images
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This backs up a previous statement from the Vatican’s Covid advisory board that claimed Catholics have a “moral responsibility” to get the jab. It said it was “morally acceptable” for people to get jabs which were originally developed using cells from aborted fetuses.

In his call to individuals to get vaccinated, the Papal leader chastised anti-vaxxers who spread “baseless information or poorly documented facts,” expressing concern that people could be “influenced” by misleading claims.

Acknowledging that “ideological divides” have emerged in today’s world, Pope Francis raised concerns that misinformation risks severing “the bond of human reason with the objective reality of things.”

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