Sept. 16, 2021 -- Pope Francis on Wednesday encouraged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, saying that he was confused about why so many people refused to do so.
He has urged people to get vaccinated many times throughout the pandemic, both for their own health and for the common good, according to Reuters.
“[Vaccine hesitancy] is a bit strange because humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines,” he told reporters aboard the papal plane, returning to Rome from a trip to Slovakia.
Francis has gotten vaccinated and said Wednesday that everyone in the Vatican, “except for a small group,” has been inoculated. Some cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy haven’t, he noted, though he didn’t name any of them.
“Even in the College of Cardinals there are some vaccine negationists,” he said. “But one of them, poor thing, has been hospitalized with the virus. These are the ironies of life.”
Cardinal Raymond Burke, a conservative who has voiced vaccine skepticism and spread vaccine misinformation, was hospitalized in the U.S. last month after contracting COVID-19, Reuters reported.
Some conservative bishops who have expressed anti-vaccine views -- particularly those in the U.S. -- have said that Catholics should have the ability to claim a religious exemption for the vaccine, according to Reuters.
But Francis has disagreed and called for everyone to get vaccinated. Last month, he said that getting the vaccine can “end the pandemic” and serve as an “act of love.”
“Love for oneself, love for our families and friends, and love for all peoples,” he said in a video alongside several bishops. “Love is also social and political.”