Pope’s visit to Mosul is ‘symbolic’ says reporter
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The pontiff’s visit to the makeshift centre came on Good Friday, shocking doctors and patients. About 800 people have been vaccinated at the clinic so far, with a further 400 doses still to be administered.
The Pope has urged people to maintain hope despite the “dark months” of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a scaled back Easter vigil service in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis said: “In these dark months of the pandemic, let us listen to the risen Lord as he invites us to begin anew and never lose hope.
“It is always possible to begin anew, because there is a new life that God can awaken in us in spite of all our failures.”
Onlookers noted the Pope limped through the service, suggesting he might be in pain with a bout of sciatica, a nerve condition he suffers with.
The next day, the Vatican’s makeshift vaccine centre administered coronavirus jabs to a group of refugees.
Father Camillo Ripamonti, the president of Centro Astalli, the Jesuit Refugee Service in Rome, said vaccinating refugees was at the Pope’s request.
He said: “It is an important sign for the lives of the refugees that we host, among whom many are vulnerable, victims of torture and intentional violence.
“It is a sign of closeness to the last ones, to those who the pandemic has made invisible and therefore more fragile and more exposed to the risk of becoming sick.
“Pope Francis’s gesture is one that recognises in the poor, in the marginalised, in the migrant, the sense of acting in a way that puts the most fragile as the focus, because only in this way can the entire community become stronger, more solid, safer.
“It is a gift that is filled with meaning on the eve of the second Easter of the pandemic.”
Last year, the Pope received his dose of coronavirus vaccine and said it was “moral” to accept one.
In an interview with Italy’s TG5 news programme, he said: “I believe that morally everyone must take the vaccine.
“It is the moral choice because it is about your life but also the lives of others.”
He also attacked vaccine-sceptics, and said: “I do not understand why some say that this could be a dangerous vaccine.
“If the doctors are presenting this to you as a thing that will go well and doesn’t have any special dangers, why not take it?
“Today people must take the vaccine.”
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