A first group of about 25 vaccinated, while more are expected in coming days.
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 on 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.”
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 organizations – 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!
“May the Child of Bethlehem help us, then, to be generous, supportive and helpful,” he prayed.
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 marginalized, the migrant and the refugee: brothers and sisters all!
Francis and Benedict both receive first dose of Covid vaccine
The Rome-based Sant’Egidio Community, which is dedicated to the service of the poor, has been a first-hand witness of the many extra difficulties experienced by the poor since the pandemic began.
Santoro highlighted how Covid has affected even the simplest things like “receiving charity or a simple sandwich from shops that have closed.”
The Office of Papal Charities, led by the papal almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, is on the ground accompanying the people being vaccinated in the Vatican. Cardinal Krajewski was himself hospitalized with the virus just before Christmas.
The Office has been bringing the pope’s help to the neediest and the most vulnerable people since the beginning of the pandemic. At Christmas, 4,000 Covid-19 swab tests were provided for the homeless in Rome, while medicines, masks and respirators have been donated worldwide.