Vaccines, Conscience and Mandates

09-03-2021NewsFr. Hans Ruygt

Our bishop wrote to his flock, August 27, 2021. Here is a portion of his letter.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We continue to experience the impact of the COVID-19 virus in many ways in our local community. As the number of cases and deaths are increasing with the most recent variant, we must rely on our faith in Jesus and the guidance of the Church to help us navigate these challenging times that have brought pain, confusion, and division. Let us remember always that it is Christ who heals and unites. We rely on His merciful and infinite love. (…)

In December of 2020 after the release of the first vaccinations, I shared the following guidance: “Due to the serious nature of the pandemic, Catholics should prayerfully consider getting vaccinated and consult their physicians or health care providers for personalized medical information.”

This guidance is given in concurrence with moral and scientific guidance of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and the Charlotte Lozier Institute which indicate that it is morally acceptable for a Catholic to receive certain vaccines. This message is consistent with guidance given by the Holy See and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

As Bishop of a diverse flock with the care of many souls, I continue to encourage the prayerful consideration that each individual must make in regard to receiving the vaccine. For those who have discerned to receive one, they can be assured that they can do so in good conscience. For those who have discerned not to receive one, they too can do so in good conscience. What is primary for us as individuals is to form our conscience through the teachings of the Church. (…)

There have been many who have asked their pastors to grant them exemptions; however, it is employers who grant exemptions, not pastors. What we as the Church do is assist in forming the conscience and supporting the decision made by a conscience well formed. Employers and other institutions may require vaccination, but we support them reviewing and extending exemptions for personal religious reasons of conscience.

I encourage our priests, deacons and lay leaders to offer pastoral guidance to our people in the formation of conscience (…)

READ the full statement