German Bishops: Coronavirus Vaccination Is a ‘Moral Duty’

In this Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020 file photo, a Catholic pastor receives the first of the two Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations at a hospital in Chicago. In a growing consensus, religious leaders at the forefront of the anti-abortion movement in the United States are telling their followers that the leading vaccines …
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

ROME — The German Bishops’ Conference has “emphatically” called on all Catholics to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, calling the measure a “moral duty.”

“These days we are witnessing the progression of the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic in almost unstoppable drama,” the bishops said this week. “The incidence figures, new infections and deaths are reaching alarming proportions.”

“We emphatically call on Catholics and all people in our country to be vaccinated as far as possible,” they stated. “In this pandemic, vaccination is an obligation of justice, solidarity, and charity.”

“From an ethical point of view, it is a moral duty,” they declared.

“We have to protect ourselves and others. Vaccination is the most effective way of doing this,” they added.

The U.S. bishops have been divided over the right to conscientious objection to the vaccines, as well as over vaccine mandates by government and business.

Among the sharpest responses to vaccine mandates was that of the Colorado bishops, who registered satisfaction that the Denver vaccine mandate expressly included “accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs,” insisting that this is “appropriate under the laws protecting freedom of religion.”

“We always remain vigilant when any bureaucracy seeks to impose uniform and sweeping requirements on a group of people in areas of personal conscience,” the bishops stated. “Throughout history, human rights violations and a loss of respect for each person’s God-given dignity often begin with government mandates that fail to respect the freedom of conscience.”

The bishops of South Dakota came to a similar conclusion, asserting the right of Catholics to refuse the coronavirus vaccine as a matter of “religious conscience.”

In their August 10 statement, the bishops said that if a Catholic “comes to the sure conviction in conscience that they should not receive it, we believe this is a sincere religious belief, as they are bound before God to follow their conscience.”

The German and Austrian bishops, on the other hand, many of whom rebelled against the Vatican’s prohibition of Church blessings for homosexual couples, have spoken in unison in insisting that the vaccines are a moral obligation.

For its part, the Vatican has encouraged the use of the vaccines but insisted that the choice of whether or not to receive the vaccination must be “voluntary.”

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