Pope urges rich nations to share vaccines with 3rd world countries

Pope Francis on Sunday called for vaccinations to be shared with the world’s poorest countries, saying they were “an essential tool” in the fight against COVID-19.

Pope Francis celebrates the Eucharist during Easter Mass on April 04, 2021 at St. Peter’s Basilica. AFP

“I urge the entire international community… to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries,” the head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics said in his Easter address.

In a separate video message to mark the 500-year anniversary of the first Mass on Philippine soil on Easter Sunday, the Pope told Filipinos not to lose faith even “in the midst of difficulties.”

“Dear friends, I remember my visit to your country with great affection. I have not forgotten that final meeting with nearly seven million people. You are generous. You are abundant. You know how to celebrate the faith. Don’t lose  that even in the midst of difficulties,” the pope said in the video sent on April 4.

“The pilgrim people of God in the Philippines” also know what it means to accompany Jesus along the way of the cross, the pope said.

He pointed to the many challenges that the people in the Philippines have faced in recent years with earthquakes,  typhoons, volcanic eruptions, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But, despite the pain and devastation, you were able to carry the cross and continue walking. You have suffered a lot, but you have also got up again, every time. Keep working, rebuilding, helping each other like good Cyrenians. Thank you also for the witness of strength and trust in God, who never abandons you,” Francis said.

“Thank you for your patience, for your always looking forward in the midst of difficulties and for walking continuously.”

The Pope told Filipinos that they are accompanied by “two great saints”—San Pedro Calungsod and San Lorenzo Ruiz.

Fr. Pedro de Valderrama offered the first Catholic Mass in the Philippines on Easter Sunday in 1521 on the island of Limasawa.

The Spanish priest had been a part of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition that first made contact with the Filipino natives on March 28, 1521.

Fr. Valderrama also celebrated the first baptism in the Philippines on the island of Cebu on April 14 of the same year.

Today, the Philippines has the third largest number of Catholics in the world. An estimated 86 percent of the 108 million population of the Philippines is Catholic.

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