The Philadelphia Archdiocese joins a growing list of Catholic districts that reject religious exemptions as a reason to refuse COVID-19 vaccines. Church leaders from Philadelphia are urging priests to get parishioners vaccinated. They don’t want Americans using the church as their reason for refusing vaccines.
Use Your Own Reason of Conscience, Not Religious Exemptions
Kenneth Gavin, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Archdiocese, issued a statement. He said that individuals can still make their own judgments. “Individuals may wish to pursue an exemption from vaccination based on their own reasons of conscience. In such cases, the burden to support such a request is not one for the local Church or its clergy to validate,” he said.
Philadelphia is the latest diocese to reject religious exemptions for the vaccine. It joins the San Diego, New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Camden, N.J dioceses. Their collective stance contrasts with other Catholic organizations that support religious exemptions.
If nothing else, the issue shows a divided church when it comes to the issue of vaccinations. Most beliefs emphasize the dignity of human life. However, many religions are still trying to grasp how they deal with the COVID vaccine.
Over 4.3 million people worldwide already died from the condition. However, many people still refuse to take in vaccines for many reasons. This includes religious objections.
In a vaccine promotion, Pope Francis himself declared that getting a vaccine is an act of love. “Vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable,” he wrote. He also added that he hoped “everyone may contribute their own small grain of sand, their own small gesture of love.”
Immunization is Not a Moral Obligation
However, even the Pope’s words mean little to dioceses and groups on the ground. For example, bishops in Colorado and South Dakota object to vaccine requirements. They insisted that immunization is not a moral obligation, which makes it voluntary.
The National Catholic Bioethics Center uses many materials to test the vaccines. In the case of COVID vaccines, scientists use fetal cell lines.
“A Catholic may judge it wrong to receive certain vaccines for a variety of reasons consistent with these teachings, and there is no authoritative Church teaching universally obliging Catholics to receive any vaccine,” the center wrote. They use this wording when replying to questions on requesting a religious exemption.
Religious Exemptions As an Out
Even as the government has yet to mandate vaccines among the general population, they allow refusal due to religious exemptions as part of an exception. Meanwhile, each Catholic bishop develops the policy for his own jurisdiction. Some, like dioceses in El Paso and Lexington, Ky., require vaccines for all employees.
Bishop John Stowe of Lexington said vaccination was urgent.“The health care system is now overwhelmed by a crisis caused primarily by those who refuse to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated. This is unacceptable, and our diocese now joins those employers who have already made this basic commitment to the common good a requirement,” he said in a statement.
Many Catholics Already Have the Vaccine
However, even as mandates continue to evoke debate, many Catholics report getting vaccinated. Hispanic Catholics with coronavirus vaccines are at 80%, while white Catholics already reached 79%. This is according to a survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute.
Watch the EWTN video discussing the controversy over religious exemptions from COVID vaccinations:
Do you agree that Americans can refuse the vaccine, but they should not bring up religion as the reason? Did you cite religious exceptions when you refused a vaccine offer?
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