Update: December 31, 2021
The Mask mandate referred to in the December 10, 2021 Update is now extended to February 1, 2022.
Please note: The mandate requires that masks are to be worn inside all public places by those vaccinated and unvaccinated. Choirs should also be masked. Cantors can sing unmasked if they are spaced away from the congregation and are alone at a cantor stand.
Update: December 10, 2021
Update: August 25, 2021 - Religious Exemption
Bishop Lucia has stated in his August 21st column: A reminder that although the leadership of the Catholic Church has voiced its concern over the potential use of cells from aborted fetuses, both Pope Francis and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with other Bishops’ Conferences, have maintained that it is, “morally permissible” to be vaccinated due to the severe public health risk and as a means to protect the vulnerable, i.e, children and adults with pre-existing health conditions. With this in mind, as Diocesan Bishop, I will not give a religious exemption to vaccination. However, I do hold the personal freedom of the individual to determine whether they receive or do not receive the immunization.
Update: May 2021
Statement Regarding Vaccinations for Covid 19 - March 2021
On December 21, 2020, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), issued a statement noting it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to take vaccines against COVID-19. Among other things, the CDF stated:
"All vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive” … “the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good."
"In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed."
This statement remains true with the recent release of the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. In a statement issued by the Chair of Pro-Life Activities for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and the Chair of the Committee on Doctrine, Bishop Kevin Rhoades, further guidance was offered stating that:
“If one can choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen. Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s.”
All individuals may not have the ability to do so and again, what is most important is the duty to protect one’s own health and that of their neighbor by being vaccinated.*