ROME — Pope Francis called for universal access to coronavirus vaccines and “the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights” Saturday.
“God the Creator instills in our hearts a new and generous spirit to abandon our individualism and promote the common good,” the pope told participants in the VAX LIVE concert, “a spirit of justice that mobilizes us to ensure universal access to the vaccine and the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights.”
Solidarity and fraternity are needed to overcome the pandemic, the pope insisted in a Spanish language video message for the event, but these virtues are suffocated by individualism, nationalism, and an over-emphasis on property rights.
“We need paths of healing and salvation,” Francis said. “And I mean a root healing, which heals the cause of evil and does not remain only in the symptoms.”
“In these diseased roots we find the virus of individualism, which does not make us freer or more equal or more siblings, rather it makes us indifferent to the suffering of others,” he said. “And a variant of this virus is closed nationalism, which prevents, for example, an internationalism of vaccines.”
“Another variant is when we put the laws of the market or intellectual property over the laws of love and the health of humanity,” he continued.
Billed as “the Concert to Reunite the World,” VAX LIVE premiered May 8, hosted by Selena Gomez and chaired by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The event features performances by Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Vedder, and the Foo Fighters, as well as appearances by Ben Affleck, Chrissy Teigen, David Letterman, and Sean Penn.
“Receive a cordial greeting from this old man, who does not dance or sing as you do, but who believes with you that injustice and evil are not invincible,” the pope told participants in the concert. “The coronavirus has produced death and suffering, affecting the lives of everyone, especially the most vulnerable.”
In his message, the pontiff also asserted the coronavirus pandemic aggravated the climate crisis.
“The pandemic has contributed to worsening existing social and environmental crises, as you young people always remind us,” the pope said in his message. “And you do well to remember it.”
“These things are interconnected. All social injustice, all marginalization of some in poverty or misery also affects the environment,” he said. “Nature and person are united.”
“I beg you not to forget the most vulnerable,” he added.