San Diego Roman Catholic Bishop Robert McElroy has sent a letter instructing priests in his diocese that there is no basis in Catholic teaching to offer a religious exemption for Covid-19 vaccinations as more employers and schools enact vaccine mandates.

In his Aug. 11 letter, McElroy reiterated the Catholic Church’s support for Covid-19 vaccinations and asked pastors to “caringly decline” requests from parishioners seeking a religious exemption endorsement to justify their decision against being inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine.

The directive comes after McElroy said several pastors wrote him saying they had received requests from parishioners to sign a form written by the Colorado Catholic Conference suggesting that there is basis in Catholic teaching that justifies a religious exemption to receiving any or all forms of the Covid-19 vaccine….

The Colorado Catholic Conference released its letter Aug. 6, affirming that, while “the use of some Covid-19 vaccines is morally acceptable under certain circumstances,” they objected to vaccination mandates. Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver; Bishop Stephen J. Berg of Pueblo; Bishop James R. Golka of Colorado Springs; and Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez of Denver signed the letter.

“This is appropriate under the laws protecting freedom of religion,” the bishops said.


“In the case of the Covid-19 vaccine, we are convicted that the government should not impose medical interventions on an individual or group of persons. We urge respect for each person’s convictions and personal choices,” the Colorado bishops said….

McElroy called the Colorado bishops’ declaration problematic “because the Holy See has made it clear that receiving the (COVID-19) vaccine is perfectly consistent with Catholic faith, and indeed laudatory in light of the common good in this time of pandemic….”

McElroy urged priests to “not venture down this pathway that merges personal choice with doctrinal authenticity.”

The above comes from an Aug. 13 story on Religion News Service.

Cardinal Cupich behind the scenes
Amid disagreement among Catholic leaders over whether there is a moral obligation to receive a coronavirus vaccine, board members at the National Catholic Bioethics Center have told Catholic News Agency (CNA) that Blase Cardinal Cupich has urged that the center retract its guidance against mandated immunization.

One board member told CNA that Cardinal Cupich has been “leaning hard” on the bishops and some prominent lay board members, but did not elaborate on specific names.The NCBC board members spoke with CNA on the condition they not be identified by name.

The Archdiocese of Chicago did not respond to CNA’s request for comment.

The board members who spoke with CNA said that they would oppose the change they say the cardinal is seeking.

One of the board members told CNA, “I think everyone should be vaccinated, and Catholics should be the first to give a good example. There are legal precedents in which the state has mandated vaccines in extreme circumstances, but the conscience of religious people should be respected.”

One of the board members said that Cardinal Cupich has been applying “a tremendous pressure” on the NCBC to retract its support for conscience or religious exemptions from coronavirus vaccine mandates, and to argue in favor of such mandates…..

Located in Philadelphia, the NCBC is a bioethics think tank, the mission of which is “to provide education, guidance, and resources to the Church and society to uphold the dignity of the human person in health care and biomedical research.” Its board of directors, chaired by Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, includes bishops, a deacon, and lay persons.

The above comes from an Aug. 11 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.