The Vatican has expressed sympathy with the Iranian people and talked to the US over draconian sanctions on Tehran amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Vatican’s secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin talked to US officials following a letter by head of Iran’s Islamic Seminaries Alireza Arafi to leader of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis.
In his letter circulated last week, Arafi expressed Iran’s sympathy over the victims of COVID-19 from “all religions and nations” and urged the “cooperation of all religious centers” to counter the pandemic.
In the Vatican’s response to Arafi’s message, Cardinal Parolin wrote that “upon being informed of the details of the letter”, the Pope asked the cardinal to express “his spiritual sympathy with the Iranian people” and all victims of the disease on his behalf.
The Vatican’s letter added that Arifi had called on the Pope to act against the US sanctions targeting the Iranian people amid the pandemic.
Acting upon such details and such an understanding, the Papacy contacted the United States’ ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, and informed them of the concerns of Iranian officials, urging attention to the matter, the letter read.
The letter, however, stopped short of condemning Washington’s criminal sanctions against the Iranian people as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Various international leaders, figures and groups have denounced Washington’s sanctions for hampering Iran’s coronavirus fight.
The sanctions, imposed on the country after Washington withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018, target much-need humanitarian aid and related finances from reaching the country.
The bans come despite an International Court of Justice’s ruling banning Washington’s aid-related sanctions in 2018.