Pope Francis said "humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines" during his return flight to the Vatican from Bratislava, Slovakia on Sept. 15.

The pope’s response came after he was asked about his recent public service announcement in August encouraging people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and whether his statement that "vaccinations are an act of love" would alienate Catholics who are skeptical about taking the vaccine.


He added that doubts about the vaccines may be a consequence of "the uncertainty of the pandemic, of the vaccine itself," or the notoriety of some vaccines in the past that were practically "distilled water."

"Even in the College of Cardinals there are some deniers. One of these, the poor guy, recently recovered from the virus," the pope said, alluding to American Cardinal Raymond L. Burke.

In Slovakia, recent legislation requiring vaccinations sparked protests in the country, causing divisions and tensions, including within the Catholic Church.

Although the government initially mandated all participants of papal events to be vaccinated, authorities relaxed their initial regulations and allowed participants who presented a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from coronavirus.