Monday, July 5th, 2021 – CathNews N.Z.
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, July 1, confirmed about 50 transgender people were invited to have their COVID vaccinations at the Vatican. Their first shots were on 3 April and their second on 24 April.
The group came from a parish near Rome, where Fr Andrea Conocchia has been ministering to a transgender community for several years.
Last year Francis asked Krajewski to provide food and financial support to members of the transgender community who were struggling without work due to the pandemic.
“Life is life and you must take things as they come,” Francis says. Each situation is unique and must be welcomed, accompanied, studied, discerned and integrated.
“This is what Jesus would do today,” Francis said another time when asked about meeting a transgender man who said it would be a consolation to come and see him with his wife.
This Easter, the papal almoner invited Conocchia to bring the transgender people under his care to the Vatican to have their COVID vaccinations.
The group reacted with “surprise” and “emotion” to the experience of entering the Vatican for the vaccination, Conocchia says.
Many are undocumented and unable to access Italy’s free health care services, he says.
“They were moved to tears and felt remembered, having experienced once again and in a tangible way the closeness and tenderness of the pope’s charity.”
Pope Francis and others in the Vatican are working to encourage vaccinations of all people, especially those most vulnerable to missing out on the life-saving opportunity.
The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life along with French-based World Medical Association and the German Medical Association have released a joint statement about this issue.
They say disadvantaged communities’ reluctance to be vaccinated “is rooted in historical inequities, breaches of trust in medical research, negative experiences with healthcare and suspicion about pharmaceutical companies’ behavior focused on profit.”
More must be done to overcome such hurdles to save lives around the world, they say.
“Millions around the world are still suffering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination is widely seen as a fast and effective way to control the spread of the virus and save human lives,” their statement says.
They are blaming “vaccine nationalism” with wealthy countries quickly signing agreements for vaccine doses for their populations while poor and developing countries were left unable to protect their own populations.
The Vatican’s bioethics academy and the World Medical Association echoed these concerns last Friday, calling for an all-out effort to combat vaccine hesitancy and correct the “myths and disinformation” that are slowing the fight against the disease.
Some vaccine reluctance in poorer countries is rooted in historical inequalities and suspicions of Western pharmaceutical companies, they said.
But “a more pernicious form” of hesitancy is being driven by fake news, myths and disinformation about vaccine safety, including among religious groups and some in the medical community.
“All relevant stakeholders [should] exhaust all efforts to … confront vaccine hesitancy by sending a clear message about the safety and necessity of vaccines and counteracting vaccine myths and disinformation,” they said.
What would Jesus do? – with transgender people who are living on the margins?
Probably what Pope Francis has done here – offering hospitality to Trans-Gender Catholics by inviting them to the Vatican to receive their COVID injections. Despite some hierarchical opposition to Pope Francis’ openness to LGBT+ people, His Holiness is not deterred from spreading the Good News of Gospel Hospitality to people on the margins. Deo gratias!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand