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Leading Southern African bishop responds to Covid vaccine concerns, call on rich nations to ‘stop hoarding’

June 08, 2021

The president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference—which is composed of the bishops of Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), and South Africa (map)—sought to address “safety and ethical concerns around the Covid-19 vaccines” and encouraged “people and communities to take the opportunity and to get vaccinated.”

In his June 5 statement, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Umtata (South Africa) responded to six concerns. Some of them are international in scope; others, more regional:

  • “Vaccines usually take a long time to be produced as a lot of research and tests are required. Covid-19 has taken less than a year to produce, and the question is ‘is it really genuine and effective?’”
  • “Some sections of the Christian community have strongly argued that the vaccine is not from God but is part of the ‘new world order’ governed by the devil and has 666, the ‘mark of the beast’ (Rev. 13:16). Many fear, that by taking the vaccine, they will be forced to take ‘the mark of the beast.’”
  • “The COVID-19 vaccine is a ploy by the rich industrialized nations of the West to reduce the global population through the elimination of the black race.”
  • “The Covid-19 Vaccine will change our DNA.”
  • “The Covid-19 Vaccine is made from aborted foetuses.”
  • “The Vaccines have side-effects including clotting and sometimes death.”

In addressing the fifth concern, Bishop Sipuka cited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-Covid-19 Vaccines, issued last December.

“In the light of these facts, and as Pope Francis has led by example when he got vaccinated, we should be encouraged to take the vaccine,” Bishop Sipuka added. “Pope Emeritus [B]enedict XVI and a large number of religious leaders across the world and here in South Africa have been vaccinated.”

“Let us join the efforts for equitable distribution of the vaccine and call those rich countries hoarding Covid-19 vaccine to task so that this common good may be accessible to all,” he concluded. “We must all continue to pray for our health care workers and for all those who are assisting those in need at this time.”


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