In new interview, pope says he was ‘shocked’ by Capitol chaos, plans to get vaccine

In new interview, pope says he was ‘shocked’ by Capitol chaos, plans to get vaccine

In this Nov. 22, 2020, file photo, Pope Francis incenses the altar as he celebrates Mass on the occasion of the Christ the King festivity, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. (Credit: Vincenzo Pinto/Pool Photo via AP.)

In an interview with an Italian TV station, Pope Francis said he was “shocked” by the infiltration of the US Capitol by pro-Trump protesters earlier this week.

ROME – In an interview set to air Sunday evening, Pope Francis said he was “shocked” by the infiltration of the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob earlier this week, and revealed that he plans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus when the Vatican begins administering the Pfizer vaccine next week, calling it an “ethical” choice.

Asked about the US Capitol mob scenes by Italian journalist Fabio Ragona for Italian television channel Tg5, Francis said, “I was shocked because this is a people so disciplined in democracy.”

Though he did not mention anything or anyone specific, he said in a trailer for the interview, “Even in the most mature realities there’s something that’s not right, something that causes people to take to the streets against the community, against democracy, against the common good,” and voiced gratitude that this “broke out” in the case of the US Capitol breach, “because in this way you can find a remedy.”

This type of behavior “must be condemned,” the pope said, noting that “violence is always like this, no?”

“It happens in history,” he said. “We must understand well in order not to repeat it and to learn from history; learn that para-regular groups that are not well inserted into society sooner or later will carry out these acts of violence.”

Francis’s comments come just days after pro-Trump protestors contesting the results of the US presidential election stormed the nation’s Capitol Building Jan. 6, an incident that left five people dead, including a police officer.

Protesters broke inside and infiltrated the Senate chamber as well as numerous offices, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, forcing the evacuation of US Vice President Mike Pence and other lawmakers, as well as the suspension of the certification process of November’s presidential election results.

The breach was condemned by international leaders and church officials throughout the world.

No one in the Vatican has made a formal statement about the incident, making Pope Francis’s interview with Tg5 the first public comments about it from a Vatican official.

In the interview, Francis is also said to address the coronavirus pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccines, abortion, politics, and how his own life has changed as a result of the coronavirus.

Referring to the Vatican’s rollout of the Pfizer vaccine expected to start next week, Pope Francis said he believes “that ethically everyone must get the vaccine, it’s an ethical option, because your health is at stake, your life, but you also play with the lives of others.”

He said he himself plans to get vaccinated, explaining that “next week we will start doing it here…and I have already signed up, it must be done.”

Francis recalled how when he was a child, there was a polio crisis that left many children paralyzed. At the time, “there was great desperation to get the vaccine,” he said, noting that when the vaccine came out, “they gave it to you with sugar and there were so many desperate mothers.”

“Then we grew up in the shadow of vaccines, for measles, for this or for that,” he said, recalling how these were often given to children.

Pope Francis then addressed concerns of those who are hesitant to receive the vaccine, saying he does not believe there is any danger.

“If the doctors present it to you as something that is okay, that has no special dangers, why not take it? He asked, adding, “there is a suicidal denial that I do not know how to explain, but today we have to get the vaccine.”

After the interview the channel will show a film called, “Call me Francis – the Pope of the People,” which recounts the Francis’s childhood and his time in Argentina, as well as his election to the papacy.

Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen

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