Pope Francis said on Wednesday he was puzzled why so many people, including some cardinals in Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, have refused to get inoculated against COVID-19.
The Pope was responding to a question from a reporter about vaccine hesitancy aboard a plane returning from Slovakia.
"It is a bit strange because humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines. When we were children we had the vaccine for measles, and others, polio and nobody protested, then came all this…”
Francis, who has been vaccinated against COVID, has often urged others to get inoculated for the common good.
On the plane, he said perhaps some people were afraid at first because there were various vaccines available and some turned out to be, quote, "little more than distilled water." He did not name any vaccines.
He went on to say that even some within the high ranks of the Catholic church are experiencing vaccine hesitancy.
“Even in the College of Cardinals there are some deniers and one of these poor people is hospitalized with the virus… There is a need for clarity and talk calmly with these people. In the Vatican we are all vaccinated except for a small group and we are studying how to help them."
Cardinal Raymond Burke, a conservative and a vaccine skeptic, was hospitalized in the United States last month after contracting the virus.
Some conservative anti-vaccine bishops, particularly in the United States, have said Catholics should have the possibility of claiming conscientious objection to the vaccine on religious grounds.
But the pope has made clear in the past that he disagrees, never having mentioned the option.