AFRICA - "Receiving the available COVID-19 vaccine is an act of charity towards the weakest"
Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - Support from various African Bishops' Conferences for the vaccination campaigns is underway in their respective countries.
"In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the COVID-19 pandemic, the common good calls for vaccination, primarily to protect the weakest and most exposed", say the Bishops of Kenya in a statement whereby they describe it as "licit and ethically acceptable to receive all COVID-19 vaccines that the Ministry of Health recognizes as clinically genuine, safe, and effective".
"Receiving the available COVID-19 vaccine must be understood as an act of charity towards other community members and considered as an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good", insist the Bishops who however specify that "vaccination is not, as a rule, an obligation and therefore it can only be done on a voluntary basis and at the discretion of an individual after giving informed consent". The Catholic Church in Kenya has offered to make its health facilities available for the national vaccination campaign.
The Bishops of Malawi also called the anti-covid-19 vaccine as "an act of love of our neighbor" and "strongly encourage all Catholics and people of goodwill to receive the vaccine" an act defined as "morally appropriate".
The Bishops of Malawi also call on the national authorities to "take all the necessary steps required to affirm to the public that the vaccines are genuine, safe and effective in order to encourage people to be vaccinated" and to launch "a massive awareness campaign because most of the fears and myths among the people especially in the rural areas have come about due to lack of correct information".
The Bishops of Ghana also encourage "priests, men and women religious and all the faithful of Christ, as well as all Ghanaians" to be vaccinated. "When you accept the vaccine, you not only protect yourself from the disease, you also protect others by stopping its transmission". In Senegal, even if the local Episcopal Conference has not expressed itself in this regard, some Bishops have asked the faithful to get vaccinated.
The International Cooperation for Development Solidarity (CIDSE), an organization that brings together 17 Catholic-inspired development agencies, has appealed for universal access to anti-covid-19 vaccines. "CIDSE joins other development and medical NGOs and the voices of the Vatican in an urgent call for equal global access to vaccines", says a note which stresses that "Currently-expected delay and scarcity of vaccines available for the Global South countries and their poorest populations is no less than an international scandal, which will likely worsen poverty and inequality, perpetuate global vulnerability and ultimately delay the surpassing of the pandemic". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 17/3/2021)