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Pope Francis and the Pope emeritus receive Covid-19 vaccine

The vaccination campaign against Covid-19 in the Vatican which began on Wednesday continues with both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI receiving their first doses of the vaccine.

“I can confirm that as part of the vaccination program of the Vatican City State, as of today, the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and to the Pope Emeritus,” said Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office in response to journalists’ questions.

Pope Francis had announced during an interview with Italian television station Tg5 on Sunday that he planned to receive the vaccine this week.

The Pope referred to the vaccination as “an ethical action, because you are gambling with your health, you are gambling with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.”

Private Secretary to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, Bishop Georg Gaenswein, had also confirmed that the Pope emeritus would be vaccinated.

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Pope Francis: Ministries of lector and acolyte to be open to women

With a Motu proprio released on Monday, Pope Francis established that from now on the ministries of Lector and Acolyte are to be open to women, in a stable and institutionalized form through a specific mandate.

There is nothing new about women proclaiming the Word of God during liturgical celebrations or carrying out a service at the altar as altar servers or as Eucharistic ministers. In many communities throughout the world these practices are already authorized by local bishops.

However, up to this point, this has occurred without a true and proper institutional mandate, as an exception to what Pope St Paul VI had established when, in 1972, even while abolishing the so-called “minor orders”, he decided to maintain that access to these ministries be granted only to men because both were considered to be preparatory to the eventual admission to holy orders.

Now, in the wake of the discernment which has emerged from the last Synods of Bishops, Pope Francis wanted to formalize and institutionalize the presence of women at the altar.

With the Motu proprio Spiritus Domini, which modifies the first paragraph of Canon 230 of the Code of Canon Law, Pope Francis, therefore, establishes that women can have access to these ministries and that this be recognized through a liturgical act formally instituting them as such.

Pope Francis specifies that he wanted to welcome recommendations which have emerged from various synodal assemblies, writing that “a doctrinal development has been arrived at in these last years that has brought to light how certain ministries instituted by the Church have as their basis the common condition of being baptized and the royal priesthood received in the Sacrament of Baptism.”

The Pope, therefore, invites us to recognize that what is under discussion are lay ministries “fundamentally distinct from the ordained ministry that is received through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.”

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World Day of the Sick: Pope urges “trust-based relationship” in care for the sick

“A society is all the more human to the degree that it cares effectively for its most frail and suffering members, in a spirit of fraternal love.” Pope Francis makes the point in his message for this year's World Day of the Sick.

In order to fight hypocrisy and self-idolatry, he says, Jesus asks us to “stop and listen, to establish a direct and personal relationship with others, to feel empathy and compassion, and to let their suffering become our own as we seek to serve them,” the Pope says in the message, released by the Vatican on Tuesday.

The Catholic Church marks the annual day on 11 February, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Instituted by Pope Saint John Paul II on 13 May 1992, the first World Day of the Sick was marked the following year. The theme of this year’s observance is, “You have but one teacher and you are all brothers” (Mt 23:8), which calls for “a trust-based relationship to guide care for the sick”.

Pope Francis says that the annual day “is an opportunity to devote special attention to the sick and to those who provide them with assistance and care both in healthcare institutions and within families and communities.” He expresses his spiritual closeness and the Church’s loving concern for those suffering the coronavirus pandemic, especially the poor and the marginalized.

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