Throughout His ministry, Jesus emphasized the importance of unity and good will among disciples. His last major teaching to them, the night before He was crucified, He prayed to the Father that “they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you”.
Our enemy, Satan, the Father of Lies, looks for any opportunity to sow dissension and disunity among the followers of the Lord, thus hoping to divide us from one another. Playing into the enemy’s strategy is the divisive issue regarding vaccination for Covid-19. Should we get vaccinated? Are we morally obliged to do so? Are the vaccines so morally compromised that, in good conscience, a faithful Catholic should refuse to be vaccinated? Is the vaccination the silver bullet that is going to finally bring this pandemic under control and allow us to return to life as normal (whatever that will look like?)?
You will find different answers to these and other questions, depending on your source of information. Our Church is not a scientific institution that is equipped to debate with the CDC or NIH on the issue of the efficacy of the vaccines or potential long-term benefit that comes from being vaccinated. Nor, on the other side of the coin, are we qualified to speak about the potential harmful side-effects of the vaccine.
Our area of expertise lies in the realm of morality, conscience, and religious freedom. Based on the best theological sources and our long-standing tradition of honoring the decisions of a well-formed conscience, Bishop Olmsted has issued a well-written, balanced letter to give guidance to our Diocese regarding the Church’s view on the vaccine. Here is a list of the major points he made in his letter:
This whole pandemic has created a host of unknowns that have left many confused, fearful and angry. But we must not allow this to cause division and ill will among our family members, friends and our brothers and sisters in Christ. I would also caution against taking in a large dosage of news coming from sources that are accustomed to inflaming people’s emotions for their own commercial reasons. I regularly look at the AZDH data dashboard that gives me the facts regarding the demographics of who are getting sick and who are dying. Seeing the numbers and percentages can be very helpful to gain some perspective.
In time, reliable data will emerge regarding many of the unknowns that this pandemic has created. In the meantime, we must make our decisions based on the best information available to us and assume the best intentions in others. This pandemic will pass, but our friendships and relationships to others will last for all eternity.
Praying for Peace and Unity among us all,
Fr Charlie Goraieb