Around 25 homeless persons were given the COVID-19 vaccine in Paul VI Hall on January 20; they are part of a group of people who are regularly assisted by the Office of Papal Charities. Other people without resources will receive the vaccine in the coming days.
Vatican Press Office Director Matteo Bruni announced the initiative with a statement the same day. Pope Francis wished that a part of the vaccinations available for the vaccination campaign in the Vatican be offered to those most in need.
One of those who received the first dose of the vaccine was Mario, who told Vatican News’ Michele Raviart that he feels that now he has “extra security”.
“We thank the Pope for this gift,” said Mario, also on behalf of the other 24 people present that Wednesday morning.
This first group are people who receive shelter and assistance in various Church-run facilities close to the Vatican. They are men and women aged 60 and over, both Italian citizens and foreigners, many of whom struggle with serious health difficulties.
No-one is saved alone
Coordinating the initiative, Carlo Santoro of the Catholic lay Sant’Egidio Community said it is in line with Pope Francis’ belief that “No one is saved alone.”
The Holy Father has repeated several times that the vaccine should be made available to everyone, including those in poor countries.
He was especially assertive in his call on Christmas Day. During the traditional greeting that accompanies the Christmas urbi et orbi blessing, he warned against the “virus of radical individualism” that can make us “indifferent to the suffering of other brothers and sisters”.
He continued, “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. I ask everyone—government leaders, businesses, international organisations—to foster cooperation and not competition, and to seek a solution for everyone: vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet. Before all others: the most vulnerable and needy!….
“In the face of a challenge that knows no borders, we cannot erect walls. All of us are in the same boat. Every other person is my brother or my sister. In everyone, I see reflected the face of God, and in those who suffer, I see the Lord pleading for my help. I see him in the sick, the poor, the unemployed, the marginalised, the migrant and the refugee: brothers and sisters all!”
“May the Child of Bethlehem help us, then, to be generous, supportive and helpful,” he prayed.
(Adapted from Aleteia.org)