Pope Francis gave his traditional Christmas message on Saturday (Dec. 25), and the theme surrounding the pandemic and how it’s been difficult on relationships around the world.
During the message delivered from the balcony at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, Pope Francis said the pandemic has been trying on relationships and encouraged isolation.
“Our capacity for social relationships is sorely tired,” Francis stated in his message. He added, “There is a growing tendency to withdraw, to do it all by ourselves, to stop making an effort to encounter others and do things together.”
In 2020, people weren’t allowed to gather in the square to hear the Pope’s Christmas message due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, crowds were allowed, but limited to about one fifth of pre-pandemic levels. COVID-19 is currently spiking in Italy, with the country reporting 50,599 new cases on Friday. That’s the highest daily count since the start of the pandemic, according to health ministry data.
“Sisters and brothers, what would our world be like without the patient dialogue of the many generous persons who keep families and communities together?” Pope Francis added. “In this time of the pandemic, we have come to realize this more and more.”
He also made a plea for vaccines and other medical care to be given to vulnerable people around the world, asking the world to “open its hearts” to help needy countries.
“God-with-us, grant health to the infirm and inspire all men and women of good will to seek the best ways possible to overcome the current health crisis and its effects,” he said. “Open hearts to ensure that necessary medical care — and vaccines in particular — are provided to those peoples who need them most. Repay those who generously devote themselves to caring for family members, the sick and the most vulnerable in our midst.”
Other topics addressed during Pope Francis’ Christmas message included violence against women, which he said has gone up during the pandemic, and the difficulties of migrants and refugees.