The chief chaplain of the archdiocese of military services has stated that Catholic troops may refuse to be vaccinated due to conscientious objection and return to their previous position.
Archbishop Timothy Broglio said in a statement this week that although he initially supported the Biden administration’s vaccination mandate on August 24 for all troops, he changed his mind when “some servants” asked for religious exemptions.
“This circumstance raises the question of whether the moral permission of the vaccine prevents a person from establishing a sincere believing belief that receiving the vaccine would violate his conscience. It does not, ”the archbishop said in a statement released Tuesday.
Although the bishops of the Vatican and the United States have declared it morally permissible to get shot, many Catholics have refused because of the drug companies’ use of fetal stem cell tissue, representing a potential violation of the church’s teaching of abortion.
Archbishop Broglio’s statement reiterated the guidance of many bishops that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, tested using an abortion-derived cell line, remain morally preferable to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which he said was “developed, tested and produced, with abortion-derived cell lines. ”
However, the archbishop said Catholic teaching allows soldiers to refuse vaccination because of conscientious objection for any reason they decide, without having to explain themselves.
“Therefore, no one should be forced to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if it would violate the sanctity of his or her conscience,” he said.
The archbishop also condemned the efforts of the Biden Defense Department to pressure or force conscientious objectors to be vaccinated.
“Denial of religious accommodation or criminal or unfavorable personnel actions against those who raise serious, conscience-based objections would be contrary to federal law and morally reprehensible,” Archbishop Broglio wrote.
The Military Archdiocese was established by the Vatican and the American Catholic Bishops in 1985 and assumes pastoral responsibility for 1.8 million service members and their families at 220 bases. Pope Benedict XVI appointed Broglio, 69, archbishop in 2007.
Both the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have called on Catholics to be vaccinated as “an act of love,” but have said there is no moral obligation to get the shots fired.
“At the same time, practical reason shows that vaccination is not a moral obligation in principle and should therefore be voluntary,” the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in a December 2020 instruction approved by Pope Francis.