Pope Francis has joined six other senior Catholic Church figures in a video calling for people to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Both Pope Francis and his predecessor, retired pontiff Benedict XVI, have been vaccinated against the virus.
“Being vaccinated with vaccines authorised by the competent authorities is an act of love. And contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love – love for oneself, love for one’s family and friends, love for all people,” Pope Francis said in the video, released in Rome this week.
“Thanks to God and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from Covid-19. They grant us the hope of ending the pandemic, but only if they are available to all and if we work together,” he said.
“Vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable,” he said. “I pray to God that everyone may contribute their own small grain of sand, their own small gesture of love; no matter how small.”
The video is part of the "It's Up to You" Covid-19 vaccination campaign by the US non-profit the Ad Council. Others who have taken part in the campaign include former US presidents Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and Barack Obama, their first ladies, leading American athletes, musicians, actors, and Elmo from Sesame Street.
In its 78 years the Ad Council has persuaded many well-known people to help it encourage the American public to get vaccinated. In 1956 it persuaded Elvis Presley to be photographed receiving the polio vaccine.
The push involving Pope Francis is the first to be extended beyond the US to include Central and South America particularly, where vaccine uptake remains comparatively low.
Made in partnership with the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the three-minute video is in Spanish, with English, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
It includes Archbishop of Los Angeles José H Gomez, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Also taking part are Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes of Mexico, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa in Honduras, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, retired archbishop of São Paulo in Brazil, Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez, auxiliary bishop of San Salvador in El Salvador, and Archbishop Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo in Peru.
Meanwhile Covid vaccine sceptic, and outspoken conservative critic of Pope Francis, Cardinal Raymond Burke (73) remains on a ventilator at a US hospital in Wisconsin after testing positive for Covid-19 last week.
His condition is described as “serious but stable” but he “remains sedated and on a medical ventilator”, his spokesman said. “The cardinal has received the sacraments from priests nearby to him,” the spokesman said.