pope francis, vaccination, catholics and vaccines

Pope Francis in Prato, Italy.

One of the most powerful commandments attributed to Jesus Christ is to “love thy neighbor as thy would thyself.” These words are a lot easier to say than put into action. But the pandemic provides a perfect opportunity for people to do so.

The best way someone can show their love for themselves and their neighbors during the current crisis is to get a coronavirus vaccination. A vaccination helps people protect themselves by making them less likely to get the virus and face hospitalization. It also makes it less likely for them to spread the virus to others.

It also helps reduce the stress on our strained healthcare system and frontline workers.

Pope Francis stressed this point on Monday in a speech his advisors accredited to the Holy See, an event that lays out the Vatican’s foreign policy goals for the year.


Previously, the pope had called getting vaccinated an “act of love” and that it was “suicidal" to refuse a vaccine. In Catholicism, suicide is one of the worst acts a person can commit.

On Monday, he further pushed his followers to get vaccinated by referencing Christ’s call to “love thy neighbor” by saying that getting vaccinated shows “respect for the health of those around us. Health care is a moral obligation,” he asserted.

The pope also took dead aim at the politicians and opportunists who’ve spread misinformation about vaccines. “Frequently people let themselves be influenced by the ideology of the moment, often bolstered by baseless information or poorly documented facts,” he said, adding that people need a dose of “reality therapy.”

He made clear that vaccines are the most effective tools we have to combat the deadly virus.

“Vaccines are not a magical means of healing, yet surely they represent, in addition to other treatments that need to be developed, the most reasonable solution for the prevention of the disease,” he added.

The pope holds incredible sway over the 1.3 billion Catholics living around the world so it’s wonderful that he uses his pulpit to combat misinformation and to encourage people to look out for themselves and one another by getting vaccinated. That could be why Catholics have some of the highest percentages of vaccine acceptance among religious people.

A recent PRRI-IFYC survey found that 80% of U.S. Catholics support vaccination, with only 7% as "vaccine refusers."

That number runs counter to white evangelical Christians who are among the most vaccine-hesitant of all religious groups. Recent studies show that somewhere between 30 to 40% of them refuse to get vaccinated.

The discrepancy between two different groups of Christians shows the importance that religious leaders can have over their congregants. A study published by Deseret News found that “82% of religious attenders with pro-vaccine pastors are fully vaccinated, compared to 58% of religious attenders with faith leaders who are either anti-vax or avoid the topic of vaccines.”


Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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