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Pope Francis renews calls for universal access to vaccines.

todayDecember 17, 2021

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ROME — Pope Francis on Friday welcomed seven new ambassadors to the Holy See, calling again on the international community to “intensify its efforts of cooperation so that all people will have ready access to vaccines.”

“This is not a matter of convenience or courtesy,” he added, “but of justice” as the pandemic continues to cause pain, suffering and loss of life around the world.

Francis has spoken out repeatedly about the importance of vaccination, calling it a lifesaving obligation. In August, he even appeared in a public service ad to emphasize that vaccination was a moral responsibility.

In his Christmas message last year, Francis singled out world leaders and international organizations and called on them to ensure that the neediest had access to the vaccines, which were being introduced at the time.

Nearly a year later, Francis told the ambassadors on Friday that the continuing pandemic was “yet another reminder that we are ‘a global community where one person’s problems are the problems of all,’” he said, citing his 2020 encyclical “Brothers All.” In the encyclical, Francis criticized the failures of global cooperation in response to the pandemic.

“As I had occasion to remark at the beginning of the pandemic, there is an urgent need to learn from this experience and open our eyes in order to see what is most important: one another,” Francis said. “It is my sincere hope that through this experience, the international community will come to a greater realization of the fact that we are one human family. Each of us is responsible for our brothers and sisters, none excluded.”

Francis turned 85 on Friday, and received birthday wishes from Italian authorities, cardinals and Roman school children.

Francis told the ambassadors that the world faces many other problems aside from the health crisis, including poverty, migration, terrorism and climate change. He said that these, too, should be confronted “in a united way, and not in isolation.”

The pandemic had brought out “individual and collective acts of generosity, service and sacrifice” worldwide, Francis said, but more needed to “be done on an institutional and intergovernmental level in furthering a ‘culture of encounter’ in service of the common good of our human family.”

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todayDecember 17, 2021