PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — All priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were advised Wednesday not to assist any parishioner seeking a religious exemption from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The archdiocese said the vaccines have been deemed “morally acceptable” by the Catholic Church.
“In unison with the Holy See and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Archdiocese of Philadelphia strongly recommends that all members of the Catholic community should receive the COVID-19 vaccine unless a medical reason prevents them from doing so,” Kenneth A. Gavin, chief communications officer with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said. “That recommendation is based on the facts that the COVID-19 vaccines and their development have been determined morally acceptable and that we all share a common ethical responsibility to the well-being of our fellow human beings.”
Citing Cardinal Luis Ladaria’s letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from last December, Gavin said the archdiocese or its parishes are not “able to provide support, written or otherwise, for individuals seeking an exemption from the vaccine on religious grounds.”
Gavin said some priests in the archdiocese have recently received requests for religious exemptions from being vaccinated against COVID-19, which led to Wednesday’s advisement to the archdiocese’s clergy.
The archdiocese says anyone who seeks an exemption from being vaccinated will do so 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,” Gavin said.