Pope Francis has used his annual Christmas Day message to plead for equitable access to vaccines.
Delivering his message on the St Peter’s Basilica’s balcony to a crowd of several hundred people, the Pope encouraged ‘open hearts to ensure necessary medical care is given to those who need it the most’.
Francis used the occasion to urge world leaders to avoid isolation and not to take ‘shortcuts’ by avoiding dialogue.
He also prayed for the ongoing dispute in the Middle East and the whole world.
Francis evoked attention to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, which he says is experiencing economic hardship from the pandemic.