Pope Francis waves during his weekly general audience at Paul VI. Room in the Vatican on October 14, 2020.
Alberto Pizzoli | AFP | Getty Images
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis said in his Christmas message on Friday that political and economic leaders must not allow market forces and patent laws to take precedence over the provision of Covid 19 vaccines to everyone, condemning nationalism and the “virus of radical individualism” .
In the sign of the times, Francis delivered his traditional message “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) virtually from a lectern in the Vatican instead of from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in front of tens of thousands.
The pandemic and its social and economic ramifications dominated the message in which Francis called for global unity and aid to nations suffering from conflict and humanitarian crises.
“At this moment in history marked by the ecological crisis and serious economic and social imbalances only exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more important for us to recognize one another as brothers and sisters,” he said .
He stressed that health is an international problem and appears to have criticized so-called “vaccine nationalism” which US officials fear will worsen the pandemic if poor nations get the vaccine last.
“I ask everyone, heads of state, companies and international organizations to work together, not competition, to find a solution for everyone – vaccines for everyone – especially the most vulnerable and neediest in every region of the world,” he said.
“The most vulnerable and needy must be the first,” he said in the Vatican Hall of Blessings. Only about 50 employees of the Vatican wore masks on the long walls.
“We cannot put ourselves before others, put market forces and patent laws before the laws of love and human health,” he said. “We must not allow closed nationalisms to prevent us from living like the true human family that we are.”
Francis also appeared to criticize people who refused to wear masks because it violated their freedom, an attitude that is widespread in countries like the United States.
“Nor can we allow the virus of radical individualism to triumph over us and make us indifferent to the suffering of other brothers and sisters,” he said.
Italians are locked nationwide during much of the Christmas and New Year holidays. Due to the restrictions, people cannot go to the papal square or basilica to attend 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, said Francis on Thursday evening at his Christmas Eve Mass, which began two hours earlier so that the few participants could get home in time before 10 p.m. Curfew.
“May the Child of Bethlehem help us be generous, supportive and helpful, particularly to those who are vulnerable, sick, unemployed or in distress due to the economic impact of the pandemic and women who have suffered domestic violence during these months of lockdown” he said in his Friday address.
He then called for peace and reconciliation in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Sudan, Nigeria, Cameroon and Iraq, which he should visit in early March.
He also asked to comfort those suffering from humanitarian crises or natural disasters in Burkina Fasso, Mali, Niger, the Philippines and Vietnam.