by Matt Hadro
Washington DC, August 2, 2021 / 1:30 p.m.
The Archdiocese of New York has asked priests not to grant religious exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, saying it would contradict the Pope.
“There is no reason for a priest to issue a religious exemption to the vaccine,” a July 30 note from Archdiocesan Chancellor John P. Cahill said to all pastors, administrators and parish vicars of the archdiocese.
“Pope Francis has made it very clear that it is morally acceptable to take any of the vaccines and has said that we have a moral responsibility to get vaccinated. Cardinal Dolan said the same, ”the memo reads.
By issuing a religious exemption from the vaccine, a priest “would act in contradiction to the pope’s directives and participate in an act that could have serious consequences for others,” the memo said.
A screenshot of the note was posted on social media over the weekend. CNA confirmed the accuracy of the note with the archdiocese and with a priest in the archdiocese on Monday.
In a television interview in January, Pope Francis said: “I believe that, ethically, everyone should be vaccinated. In a December 2020 memo, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that “vaccination is not, as a general rule, a moral obligation” and “therefore, it must be voluntary.” The Vatican congregation has recognized “reasons of conscience” for those who refuse a vaccine.
Vaccination warrants began to be advertised at workplaces in the United States. The Ascension Catholic healthcare network will make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for employees, doctors, volunteers and salespeople, although it has promised some exemptions related to health and religion.
Some Catholic institutions have declared their support for conscientious exemptions from vaccination warrants, or have provided materials for people with religious objections to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The National Catholic Bioethics Center lists a sample letter on its website for individual Catholics seeking religious exemptions from vaccination warrants.
“The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a person may be required to refuse medical intervention, including vaccination, if their informed conscience comes to that sound judgment,” the letter said, adding that the Church “does not prohibit not the use of any vaccine, and generally encourages the use of safe and effective vaccines as a means of protecting personal and public health.
The Catholic Medical Association, a national network of Catholic doctors and healthcare workers, said on July 28 that it “opposes mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of employment without conscience or religious exemption.” .
The Archdiocese of New York memo began by acknowledging the “sincere moral objection” of some people to receiving COVID-19 vaccines, “because of their connection to abortion.”
“This concern is particularly acute among people who are strongly pro-life and very loyal to the teaching of the faith,” the memo reads.
The Archdiocese further stated, “Anyone is free to exercise their discretion to be vaccinated according to their own beliefs without seeking the misrepresentation of Church instructions.”
Priests, however, “should not be active participants in such actions” by granting religious exemptions, the memo said.
“Imagine a student receiving a [vaccine] exemption, contract the virus and spread it throughout campus. Obviously, that would be an embarrassment for the Archdiocese. Some even claim that this could impose personal responsibility on the priest, ”the memo reads.
Currently, three vaccines have received emergency use approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration – those produced by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. While all three vaccines were tested on cell lines derived from elective abortions decades ago, only one of the vaccines – Johnson & Johnson – was directly produced using the controversial cell lines.
The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has stated that the use of vaccines with links to questionable cell lines is “morally acceptable”, but that Catholics should seek “ethically flawless anti-Covid-19 vaccines” when ‘they are available.
In its December 2020 memo, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith further stated that vaccination should not be mandatory.
“Those who, however, for reasons of conscience refuse vaccines produced with cell lines of aborted fetuses, should do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles of transmission of the disease. ‘infectious agent,’ the congregation said. .
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has declared that the three vaccines approved for use in the United States are “morally acceptable” for use.
“[I]If one can choose from equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen, ”the USCCB said in March. “Therefore, if one has the option of choosing a vaccine, the vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna should be chosen over those from Johnson & Johnson.”