The Archdiocese of Chicago, overseen by Cardinal Blase Cupich, is mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all clerics and archdiocesan employees.
In an email sent out last Thursday, Cardinal Cupich said he was “following the lead” of Pope Francis, who has called the decision to get vaccinated an “act of love.”
“We have made this decision convinced that this is the best way to stop the spread of this deadly illness,” Cupich wrote.
According to National Catholic Register’s report on the email, all clerics and employees in the archdiocese must receive both doses of the vaccine by October 4. Medical reasons will be the only legitimate exemption to this directive.
Contrary to what Alpha News has reported, Cardinal Cupich claimed in his email that Church teaching does not allow for religious exemptions. It is unclear what specific Church teachings the cardinal had in mind when he made this claim. Consequently, he has instructed the priests serving in his archdiocese not to grant religious exemptions to any parishioners who seek them.
Although the Church does not prohibit any vaccines and is encouraging vaccination against COVID-19, it has also maintained that no one is morally obligated to get vaccinated. The decision to receive a COVID vaccine must be voluntary, and exemptions ought to be made for those who object on grounds of conscience.
The Archdiocese of Chicago will not fire anyone for refusing to get vaccinated, though it will implement certain policies for the unvaccinated that the vaccinated are not subject to.
National Catholic Register says that unvaccinated clergy and employees will undergo weekly testing and must wear masks until fully vaccinated. Furthermore, unvaccinated employees who become infected “will have to use their sick or personal time to cover a 10-day quarantine” while “vaccinated employees will instead be given 10 additional sick days.”