Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock warns his priests they should not endorse a parishioner’s request for a religious exemption from Covid vaccination requirements, because “signing off on such a ‘religious exemption’ would indicate your support for the proposition that the Catholic Church teaches that receiving the vaccine is fundamentally immoral and impermissible.”
But isn’t there an obvious way out of that problem? The priest could write:
“The Catholic Church does not teach that receiving the vaccine is fundamentally immoral and impermissible.”
That would seem to satisfy the bishop’s concern, wouldn’t it? But the priest might then go on to say:
“However, the Church does teach that one must not violate one’s own conscience, and my parishioner, X, believes that he cannot in good conscience take the vaccine.”
In fact, in his full statement on the matter, Bishop Taylor makes that point himself, acknowledging of those who seek a religious exemption, “It may be that their conscience (well-formed or not) is telling them not to get vaccinated, and their consciences are obviously inviolable.” Exactly!
Nevertheless, in the very next sentence, Bishop Taylor continues: “But their religion is not telling them not to get vaccinated.”
Excuse me, but I’m lost. My religion — as represented here by the authority of my bishop, if I live in the Little Rock diocese — tells me that I cannot violate my conscience. If my conscience tells me that I cannot take the vaccine, then, doesn’t my religion tell me that I cannot take the vaccine? No one is suggesting that the Catholic Church bars everyone from vaccination; I am only saying (if I am seeking an exemption) that the Church tells me not to be vaccinated.
Bishop Taylor distinguishes between a “religious exemption” and a “conscientious objection.” The former is not available to Catholics, he concludes, but the latter option is still open. Not so in Chicago, where Cardinal Blase Cupich requires vaccination for all priests and employees, and threatens disciplinary action against those who resist, saying that they are guilty of “a rejection of the Church’s authentic moral teaching regarding Covid vaccines.”
Just a moment, please. For an authoritative expression of “the Church’s authentic moral teaching regarding Covid vaccines,” Cardinal Cupich points to the statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—which says:
“At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”
Thus Cardinal Cupich makes vaccination mandatory — citing the authority of a document that says vaccination must be voluntary.
And there is yet another important point in the CDF statement, which has been almost completely ignored by the prelates who promote vaccination. The note from the Vatican stresses that the use of abortion-tainted vaccines is morally objectionable. The use of such vaccines may be morally justifiable “if there is a grave danger,” the CDF teaches, but such use “does not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion, and necessarily assumes the opposition to this practice by those who make use of these vaccines.”
The above comes from an Aug. 25 posting by Phil Lawler on CatholicCulture.org.