Date: August 24, 2021
To: Pastors, Parochial Administrators, Parochial Vicars, Deacons.
From: Bishop Peter Christensen
R.E.: Religious Exemption for COVID-19 Vaccine
The increase of mandatory vaccination for COVID-19 has raised a lot of questions and concerns. Let us remember that the Church has made it clear that it is morally permissible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and recently, Pope Francis has been encouraging people to seek the vaccination. That being said, the Church also recognizes the freedom of conscience.
We know that there are people who are hesitant to receive the vaccination due to underlying medical issues, poor health or a sincere moral objection to the vaccine. As Bishop Daly of Spokane has recently stated, “It is important to remember that in Catholic moral theology, a person’s conscience may not be violated. We who are bishops and priests are called to assist with informing a person’s conscience. We do not replace one’s conscience. If a person has health concerns or moral objections about vaccines, he or she should not be forced into being vaccinated. Moreover, priests should not be involved in signing any document concerning the conscience of another.”