The personal secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI commented about the COVID-19 vaccines in the December edition of the German publication Vatican-magazin.

Archbishop Georg Ganswein said he doesn’t understand Catholic criticism of the vaccines.

“One cannot raise the question of vaccination to the level of faith. Nor can one speak of Pope Francis having launched a media campaign for vaccination. But he did call for it and also had himself vaccinated at an early stage. That is correct.”

Ganswein did however, acknowledge “every vaccination has advantages and disadvantages” but still warned “against any form of ideological crusade against vaccination.”

He specifically mentioned Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, who became seriously ill after getting COVID-19.

“One must not force anyone to vaccinate, that is quite clear. But one should appeal to the conscience.” 

Both he and Benedict XVI received their booster vaccines: “By the way, Pope Benedict and I have already been vaccinated for the third time. And we did so out of conviction.”

If the retired pope thought any differently, “he would not have had himself vaccinated three times.”

Ganswein did however, criticize the Church in Germany’s response to COVID-19.

“As far as Germany is concerned, I have never understood why Church authorities have sometimes even exceeded state guidelines and have been so excessively loyal to the state during the crisis. I understand the concern for safety and security. But when the welfare of the body is placed above the salvation of the soul, and that was not just my impression, then something is awry.”

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