Friday, June 25

Pope Francis Makes Christmas Appeal for Nations to Share Vaccines

ROME — Pope Francis on Friday called on world leaders, businesses and international organizations to help ensure that the most vulnerable and needy have access to newly developed coronavirus vaccines.

In a year in which the pandemic plunged the world into economic and social uncertainty, the pope used his annual Christmas address to argue that widespread suffering should compel reflection on common humanity, including with how vaccine rollouts are handled.

“We cannot allow the various forms of nationalism closed in on themselves to prevent us from living as the truly human family that we are,” the pope said.

“Nor can we allow the virus of radical individualism to get the better of us and make us indifferent to the suffering of other brothers and sisters,” he said. “I cannot place myself ahead of others, letting the law of the marketplace and patents take precedence over the law of love and the health of humanity.”

A choral concert was held at Notre-Dame in Paris, where a fire nearly destroyed the cathedral in 2019, but this season the annual French tradition took place without the usual audience.

Christmas Eve Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City was subdued, with attendance limited to 25 percent of capacity, or 500 people.

At the Vatican, Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica was moved ahead two hours to comply with the Italian government’s 10 p.m. curfew.

The pope traditionally uses his Christmas Day address to focus attention on the conflicts or natural disasters that have plagued the planet in the past year.

And he did so again on Friday, asking the world to recall the suffering of so many in 2020 — from the Yazidis in Iraq to the Rohingya in Myanmar. He said it was the duty of every citizen of the world to help end violence and ease suffering.

But it was the pandemic that largely shaped the world this year and the pandemic, he said, that would allow humanity to really consider what global cooperation can achieve.

At the end of his address, bells pealed and echoed in an empty St. Peter’s Square.

Elisabetta Povoledo reported from Rome, and Marc Santora from London.

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