Pope lashes out at COVID-19 vaccine skeptics

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) – Pope Francis said Wednesday that he does not understand why people refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19, noting that “humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines.”

“Even in the College of Cardinals, there are some deniers,” Francis said on the papal plane on his way to Rome from Slovakia.

He pointed out that one of them, “the poor man”, had to be hospitalized due to the virus. That was an apparent reference to American Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator after contracting the coronavirus last month.

He hypothesized that the “virulence of uncertainty” was due to the diversity of COVID-19 vaccines, the speed of their approval, fear, and the plethora of “arguments that created this divide.” Medical experts say the vaccines have been tested and used in millions of people and shown to be effective in reducing serious hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus.

Significantly, Francis did not cite the religious argument used by some who reject vaccines. Some conservatives do not want to be vaccinated, arguing the remote and indirect connection with cell lines derived from aborted fetuses.

The Vatican’s office of doctrine has said it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive COVID-19 vaccines based on research that used cells derived from aborted fetuses. Francis has said that it would be “suicide” not to receive the vaccine and both he and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have already been vaccinated with the two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech.

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