Priests should decline requests for exemption from vaccine mandates, bishop says


SAN DIEGO — The Diocese of San Diego is asking priests to decline any requests from parishioners seeking religious exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines.

San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy sent a letter to the diocese’s priests on Aug. 11 saying several pastors had written him about requests to sign a declaration on the issue of vaccinations and Catholic teaching.

“The purpose of this declaration seems to be to elicit from the pastor a public indication that a specific parishioner’s decision to refuse the COVID vaccine is rooted in and supported by authentic Catholic faith,” the letter says.

It goes on to say that such a declaration is problematic as the Holy See has “made it clear that receiving the COVID vaccine is perfectly consistent with Catholic faith, and indeed laudatory in the light of the common good in this time of the pandemic.”

McElroy asked priests to avoid venturing down a path that “merges personal choice with doctrinal authenticity” and decline requests from parishioners seeking exemptions from vaccine mandates on religious grounds.

See the full letter here.

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