Pope Francis called on nations to share COVID-19 vaccines in his Christmas message on Friday, saying "all of us are in the same boat."
Francis delivered his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message virtually from a lectern inside the Vatican due to the coronavirus pandemic. The address is usually issued from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica before tens of thousands of people.
The pandemic dominated much of the pope's speech. He emphasized the importance of fraternity in these unusually troubled times.
"At this moment in history, marked by the ecological crisis and grave economic and social imbalances only worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more important for us to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters."
What did Pope Francis say about COVID-19?
In his Friday address, he appeared to criticize so-called "vaccine nationalism," stressing that health is an international issue.
"May the Son of God renew in political and government leaders a spirit of international cooperation, starting with health care, so that all will be ensured access to vaccines and treatment," he said.
"In the face of a challenge that knows no borders, we cannot erect walls. All of us are in the same boat."
Francis voiced support for those most affected by the outbreak, including women who were victims of domestic violence during lockdown.
"May the Child of Bethlehem help us, then, to be generous, supportive and helpful, especially towards those who are vulnerable, the sick, those unemployed or experiencing hardship due to the economic effects of the pandemic, and women who have suffered domestic violence during these months of lockdown," the pope said.
What else did the pope say?
Pope Francis called for peace and reconciliation in conflict areas like Syria, Yemen, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Sudan, Nigeria, Cameroon and Iraq. He specifically highlighted the plight of children caught up in war.
"On this day, when the word of God became a child, let us turn our gaze to the many, all too many, children worldwide, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, who still pay the high price of war," he said.
"May their faces touch the consciences of all men and women of goodwill, so that the causes of conflicts can be addressed and courageous efforts can be made to build a future of peace."
The pope also asked to comfort those suffering in humanitarian crises or natural disasters in Burkina Fasso, Mali, Niger, the Philippines and Vietnam.
dv/mm (AFP, Reuters)