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Pope Francis pleas for Covid-19 vaccines for all in Christmas Day message

The pontiff also called for fraternity and compassion to be shared among all peoples this Christmas.

Image: Vatican Media AP/PA Images

POPE FRANCIS HAS 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.

“Vaccines for everybody, especially for the most vulnerable and needy,” Francis said in off-the-cuff remarks away from his prepared text, calling the development of such vaccines “light of hope” for the world.

“We can’t let closed nationalisms impede us from living as the true human family that we are,” he said.

He called on the leaders of nations, businesses and international organisations to “promote co-operation and not competition, and to search for a solution for all”.

Amid a surge of coronavirus infections this autumn in Italy, Francis broke with tradition for Christmas.

Instead of delivering his Urbi et Orbi speech — Latin for “to the city and to the world” — from the central loggia of St Peter’s Square, he read it from inside a cavernous hall at the Apostolic Palace, flanked by two Christmas trees with blinking lights.

Normally, tens of thousands of people would have crowded into St Peter’s Square to receive the Christmas blessing and speech, but Italian measures to rein in holiday infections only allow people to leave their homes on Christmas for urgent reasons like work, health, visits to nearby loved ones or exercise close to home.

The pandemic’s impact on life dominated Francis’s reflections on the past year.

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“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,” he said.

Fraternity and compassion apply 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 people struggling with “the economic effects of the pandemic and women who have suffered domestic violence during these months of lockdown”.

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