'small gesture of love'
Pope Francis has appeared in a new ad campaign encouraging viewers to "care for one another" by getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Francis spoke out to encourage COVID-19 vaccination in a public service ad released by the non-profit group Ad Council, which also includes messages in support of vaccination from a group of cardinals and archbishops, The New York Times reports.
"Getting the vaccines that are authorized by the respective authorities is an act of love," Pope Francis says. "And helping the majority of people to do so is an act of love. Love for oneself, love for our families and friends, and love for all peoples."
Francis adds that getting vaccinated is "a simple yet profound way to care for one another, especially the most vulnerable," and "I pray to God that each one of us can make his or her own small gesture of love." He also says that COVID-19 vaccines "bring hope to end the pandemic, but only if they are available to all and if we collaborate with one another."
The comments from Francis, who previously suggested getting vaccinated was a moral obligation, come amid a rise in COVID-19 cases globally due to the spread of the more contagious Delta variant. Ad Council said this is its first campaign to be "designed for and distributed to a global audience," and it hopes Francis' message can provide a boost of confidence in vaccination.
"To the world's billion-plus Catholics, the pope is one of the most trusted messengers and holds unparalleled influence," Ad Council President Lisa Sherman said. "We are extremely grateful to him and the Cardinals and Archbishops for lending their voices and platforms to help people across the globe feel more confident in the vaccines."