ROME — Pope Francis said Friday that humanity needs a vaccine for the “heart” along with a vaccine for the coronavirus.
For the New Year’s Day Mass, when Catholics celebrate both the World Day for Peace and honor the Virgin Mary as “Mother of God,” the pope pointed to Mary’s example of keeping “all these things in her heart” (cf. Lk 2:19) as an important message for Christians.
Goodness “comes from the heart,” the pope said in his homily, which the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin read. “How important it is to keep our hearts pure, to cultivate our interior life and to persevere in our prayer!”
“How important it is to educate our hearts to care, to cherish the persons and things around us,” he continued. “Everything starts from this: from cherishing others, the world and creation.”
“This year, while we hope for new beginnings and new cures, let us not neglect care. Together with a vaccine for our bodies, we need a vaccine for our hearts. That vaccine is care,” he said.
“This will be a good year if we take care of others, as Our Lady does with us,” he added.
The pope has spoken often of the coronavirus and possible remedies, insisting that eventual vaccines be made available to all to avoid “vaccine nationalism.”
In his annual Christmas Day message at the Vatican, the pope once again urged world leaders to make vaccines available to all — especially the neediest.
“At Christmas, we celebrate the light of Christ that comes into the world, and he comes for all, not just for some,” Francis said.
“Today, at this time of darkness and uncertainty because of the pandemic, there appear different lights of hope, such as the discovery of vaccines,” he said. “But so these lights may illuminate and bring light to the whole world, they must be available to all.”
“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,” he 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.”
“I cannot put myself before others, placing the laws of the market and of patents above the law of love and the health of humanity,” the pope added.
Pope Francis urged world leaders, pharmaceutical companies, and international organizations “to foster cooperation and not competition” in guaranteeing widespread availability of coronavirus vaccines, “especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet.”
In December, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in January, which will also be made available to the 800 residents and nearly 3,000 workers of the small city-state.
The vaccination will allow the pope to travel safely to Iraq in March, noted the head of the Vatican’s health department, Andrea Arcangeli.