Pope Francis said Wednesday he does not know why some people resist the COVID-19 vaccines and finds it ironic that a cardinal who refused the shots needed treatment for the disease.
“It’s a bit strange because humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines,” the pope told reporters on his plane.
The BBC reported that the pontiff didn’t single out anyone by name, but 73-year-old Cardinal Raymond Burke, who previously had been critical of the vaccine, had to go on a ventilator during treatment in the U.S.
“Even in the College of Cardinals there are some vaccine negationists,” Francis told reporters. “But one of them, poor thing, has been hospitalized with the virus. These are the ironies of life.”
He said most of the Vatican was vaccinated, but they are trying to “help” those who remain leery.
The pope said it is important to speak calmly about the issue and pointed to a long history of childhood vaccination for diseases such as measles and polio.
“All the children were vaccinated, and no one said anything,” he said.
Francis has endorsed vaccination as a common good, but some Catholics oppose the use of fetal cell lines in the testing and development of available vaccines.
The pope said people who accept the shots aren’t complicit in evil because the cell lines are derived from abortions decades ago, do not contain fetal material and don’t require recurring abortions.
Boston College, a Jesuit school, decided to mandate the vaccines and boasts a vaccination rate of 99.3%, according to spokesman Jack Dunn.
“A limited number of exemptions were granted for legitimate medical and religious reasons,” Mr. Dunn said. “Boston College was not swayed by the argument that religious exemptions should be issued for Catholics, as Pope Francis and his Cardinal Archbishops have voiced their clear support for vaccinations.”