Pope Francis questions COVID-19 vaccine skeptics, including cardinals

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Pope Francis said Wednesday he didn’t understand why people refuse to take COVID-19 vaccines, saying “humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines” and that serene discussion about the shots was necessary to help them.

“Even in the College of Cardinals, there are some negationists,” Francis said Wednesday en route home from Slovakia.


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He noted that one of them, “poor guy,” had been hospitalized with the virus. That was an apparent reference to US Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was hospitalized in the US and placed on a ventilator last month after contracting the virus.

Francis was asked about vaccine skeptics and those who oppose vaccine mandates by a Slovakian reporter given that some events during his four-day pilgrimage to the country were restricted to people who had gotten COVID-19 jabs. The issue is broader, however, as more and more governments adopt vaccine mandates for certain categories of workers, sparking opposition.

“It’s a bit strange, because humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines,” Francis said, noting that children for decades have been vaccinated against measles, mumps and polio “and no one said anything.”

He hypothesized that the “virulence of uncertainty” was due to the diversity of COVID-19 vaccines, the quick approval time and the plethora of “arguments that created this division” and fear. Medical experts say vaccines have been tested and used on billions of people and have been proven to be effective in reducing serious hospitalizations and deaths.

The pope noted that the Vatican had vaccinated its residents, staff and their families “with the exception of a very small group.” The Vatican gave Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shots to its residents, as well as to some homeless people and refugees.

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