Catholic Bioethicists Urge Conscience Exemptions from Vaccine Mandates

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The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) published a statement Tuesday urging “accommodations” for people who do not wish to receive a coronavirus vaccine for reasons of conscience.

In its statement, the NCBC acknowledged “the complex and challenging decisions in conscience that institutions — including Catholic health care organizations — need to make not only for the sake of the persons they serve but also for the good of their employees.”

“Respecting the conscientious judgments and religious beliefs of these employees is an indispensable dimension of this,” it added, noting that mandatory vaccination policies need “appropriate accommodations for medical or religious reasons.”

Some people are legitimately cautious about being injected with a new vaccine that has no medical history or proven effectiveness, while others are morally wary of the various vaccines’ dubious ties to past abortions.

The NCBC press release comes just days after Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich reportedly sought to pressure the Center into reversing its position on mandatory vaccinations.

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich speaks during the city council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, in Chicago. He was elevated to the rank of Cardinal in November. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich speaks during the city council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, in Chicago. He was elevated to the rank of Cardinal in November. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

On Wednesday, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported that Cardinal Cupich has been applying “tremendous pressure” on the NCBC to retract its support for conscientious objection to receiving a coronavirus vaccine.

According to one NCBC board member, the progressive cardinal has been “leaning hard” on board members, both bishops and laypersons, urging them to support a vaccine mandate.

In a statement in early July, the NCBC stated it “does not endorse mandated COVID-19 immunization,” citing a 2020 instruction from the Vatican’s doctrinal office (CDF) that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”

“The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) does not endorse mandated COVID-19 immunization with any of the three vaccines that have received Emergency Use Authorization as of July 1, 2021,” the statement read.

“The most authoritative guidance from the Catholic Church issued on this topic comes from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and emphasizes that individuals must discern whether to be vaccinated or not in conscience and without coercion,” it added.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 09: A woman receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from a health care worker at a clinic targeting minority community members at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on April 9, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. St. John’s Well Child and Family Center is administering COVID-19 vaccines in churches across South L.A. in a broad effort to bring vaccines to minority communities. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In its press release Tuesday, the NCBC noted the Church “has long supported science, medicine, and biomedical research that serves the good of human persons,” including the use of vaccines, and in the present health situation, “the Church encourages people to receive vaccination for COVID-19,” but also adds that “the currently available vaccines in the U.S. have a remote connection to abortion through the use of certain cell lines.”

For this reason, “the U.S. bishops have continued to advocate for vaccines that lack even a remote connection to the evil of abortion,” it declares.

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