Vaccine mandates and Covid-19


As the Covid-19 virus continues to be a threat to the health of many, there is increasing controversy over the question of whether various entities (governments, businesses, etc.) can mandate vaccination, and if so, if people should be allowed to seek exemption from such a requirement on medical grounds, general conscience objections, or on religious grounds.

Even within the Church, there is some confusion, as some bishops are insisting on religious conscience protections and others are insisting that there are no religious grounds for that.  The Church’s highest office on doctrine (official teaching according to the tradition of the Church) indicates that legitimate exemptions in conscience must always be available but Pope Francis has seemed to contradict that in some (non-official) statements.

One of the trickiest areas in this controversy is the question of the difference between something being morally acceptable vs. morally obligatory.  That is, an action may be determined to be not in itself sinful, but that is not equivalent to saying that it must be required.  This lack of proper distinctions is playing out especially in the case where many Catholics believe in conscience that they can not take the Covid vaccine because it is indirectly tainted by the terrible evil of abortion.  Some who are promoting mandated vaccines (with no exemptions) insist that others take it because high authorities in the Church have studied the question and found that the cooperation with abortion is indirect enough that it is not necessarily sinful to use the vaccine.   They reason from there that it should be mandated for all.  But that does not logically follow.  The conclusion that does follow is only that people who take the vaccine are not sinning by doing so.  It does not follow that those who don’t want to participate in abortion, no matter how indirectly, are required to do so. 

I will keep this post updated as things develop because it is quite a complicated issue.

In the meantime, here is a good article summarizing the issues from the National Catholic Register.

If you have questions about this, and especially if you have conscience objections that an employer or other agency is trying to override, I recommend talking this through with a trusted priest.

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