Chicago Cardinal Pushes for Mandatory Coronavirus Vaccines

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)
AP Photo/Matt Marton

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich has been applying “tremendous pressure” on the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) to withdraw its support for conscientious objection to receiving a coronavirus vaccine, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported Wednesday.

On condition of anonymity, one NCBC board member said Cupich has been “leaning hard” on board members, both bishops and laypersons, to throw their support behind a vaccine mandate.

In early July, the NCBC declared it “does not endorse mandated COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] immunization,” referencing 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.

“The short answer is we don’t have a moral obligation” to get the vaccine, Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann told Catholic News Service (CNS) in an interview last February, but it is “permissible to use these vaccines.”

In order for a particular vaccine to be morally mandatory, a number of conditions must exist, including the irrefutable lethality of the disease, proven effectiveness of the vaccine as well as its guaranteed safety for recipients, and an absence of moral objections to the vaccine itself and its provenance.

None of these conditions have been definitively met in the case of the coronavirus and the various vaccines created to defend against it.

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