Q1: My daughter attends [a Catholic university whose president is a Catholic priest] and he announced that all students are required to get vaccinated against covid. We are stunned. Does a Catholic school, which I assume is governed by canon law like all Catholic institutions, have the authority to effectively force my daughter to put chemicals in her body if she wants to continue to study there? –Michelle
Q2: Can you answer whether it is permissible for seminaries to force candidates to receive the EUA Covid vaccines? Thanks! –Alex
Q3: I am writing because a nun asked me for help. In her monastery they are forcing her to take a covid vaccine against her will. The pressure has been building for months in a very hostile fashion, and now they asked for her documents, so they can give them to the medical staff…
She believes she cannot take this injection in good conscience and she feels that her well being is being seriously endangered in the monastery. Is there any article of canon law that can defend her? –Ivan
A: The answers to some questions should be obvious, whether you’re a canon lawyer or not. But since the whole world has gone completely mad—and apparently many members of the Catholic hierarchy with it—it’s becoming understandable that quite a few Catholics are starting to question their own sanity, and wonder whether their instincts and common sense have somehow gone off-target.
We’re now seeing some dioceses (like this one) require all employees and volunteers to be vaccinated, “to act responsibly to protect others during the coronavirus pandemic,” and quite a few Catholic universities (like this one) mandating that all students must be vaccinated or else they cannot attend the school. Superiors of some convents and monasteries are demanding that members be vaccinated, citing “obedience.” And here’s a diocesan bishop declaring solemnly to the faithful of his diocese, “It is vitally important that all of us receive the covid vaccine. The Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are safe and effective.” This diocese even urges parents to have young children vaccinated: “The Pfizer vaccine is now available to all children age 12 and older at most pharmacies and the Church encourages parents to vaccinate all eligible family members”—otherwise, restrictions are placed on the faithful who wish to attend Mass. Perhaps most amazing was this parish priest, who announced that parishioners could not receive the sacrament of Penance unless they were vaccinated! Fortunately, once diocesan officials found out about this outrage, the ban was lifted; but the parish priest is still there, urging his parishioners “to treat everyone, including ourselves, as a possibly contagious person.”
As was the case with the issue of mask-requirements (“Can We Be Required to Wear Masks at Mass?”), there’s certainly nothing explicitly written in the Code of Canon Law about vaccines. But once again, it’s not all that difficult to apply the Catholic teachings and laws that we do have to this latest installment in the never-ending virus drama, and reach a reliable conclusion. We’ll start by looking at the nature of and limits on clerical authority (both priests and bishops).
When a man is ordained a priest, what happens to him? What special gifts is he given at the reception of the sacrament of Holy Orders? The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides a concise summary:
This sacrament configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ’s instrument for his Church. By ordination one is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church, in his triple office of priest, prophet, and king. (CCC 1581)
This general statement is essentially reiterated in canon 1008. And that’s no surprise: as we have seen so many times before in this space, canon law follows theology, and thus the two cannot contradict each other. The Church can’t have laws that conflict with Catholic theological teaching. Once again, this should be obvious, but in this era of world-madness it bears repeating (and we’ll come back to this point later).
As we Catholics are well aware, once a man is ordained a priest, he has the power to administer those sacraments which require the minister to have received the sacrament of Holy Orders (see “What Can (And Can’t) a Deacon Do?” for a more detailed discussion of each sacrament, as well as “Can All Priests Always Hear Confessions?” and “Can a Priest Administer the Sacrament of Confirmation?”). Most importantly of all, a priest has the ability to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, consecrating the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ (c. 900.1).
Thus we can say that once a man has been ordained a priest, he is a new man! He can do things that nobody else on the planet can do. But let’s note for the record that there are limits to the kinds of graces and powers which he has been given. The sacrament of Holy Orders doesn’t increase a man’s IQ, or improve his social skills. It doesn’t instantly give him greater knowledge of biblical Greek or canon law—still less of financial management, or school administration, or church-roof repair. This may seem so evident as to be not worth mentioning; yet one definitely does encounter priests who think that their ordination has ipso facto made them experts in everything! Incredibly, it has happened more than once right here in Rome that a college professor has been lecturing students outside an ancient basilica or in front of a saint’s tomb, only to be interrupted and “corrected” by an unknown man who justifies his (unwarranted) intrusion by saying simply, “I’m a priest.” And it’s amazing that professors who specialize in fields like medieval architecture, ancient Roman history, or hagiography are deemed to be lacking in knowledge by men who might have once taken a course or read a book on the topic in question—but who believe that their priestly ordination has magically rendered them more knowledgeable than the professors who teach those courses and write those books for a living. When those professors are non-Catholics, you can only imagine the damage this can do to their opinion of Catholicism.
That said, there certainly are lots of situations where it’s entirely appropriate for a Catholic cleric to instruct the people on non-theological, everyday aspects of life—but these situations invariably come up in the context of teaching the faithful to live a virtuous life. An excellent example of this is St. Jean-Marie Vianney (1786-1859), a.k.a. the Curé of Ars, who is the patron of parish priests. The saintly Curé’s biography is replete with instances of him ordering his parishioners not to work on Sundays, to stop cheating their customers, and to pay their employees for work performed. But let’s note a critical distinction: the Curé wasn’t making their business decisions for them. Rather, he was trying to get them to live honest, Christian lives. He didn’t tell them, “Charge X for hay, and pay your employees Y per hour.” Instead, his message was, “Charge a just price for your goods, and pay your workers a fair wage. Do this, because justice is a cardinal virtue, and depriving the laborer of his wages is a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance!” There’s a big difference between micromanaging the faithful’s lives, and exhorting them to avoid sin and embrace virtue—and we’ll return to this point later.
Let’s look now at what happens to a priest who is consecrated a bishop. The Catechism quotes from Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium (LG), the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church; and also from Christus Dominus (CD), the Decree Concerning the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church, when it addresses this subject:
“Episcopal consecration confers, together with the office of sanctifying, also the offices of teaching and ruling…. In fact … by the imposition of hands and through the words of the consecration, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, and a sacred character is impressed in such wise that bishops, in an eminent and visible manner, take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as his representative.” (LG 21) “By virtue, therefore, of the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, bishops have been constituted true and authentic teachers of the faith and have been made pontiffs and pastors.” (CD 2, #2)
“One is constituted a member of the episcopal body in virtue of the sacramental consecration and by the hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college.” (LG 22) (CCC 1558-1559)
The substance of this teaching is found in the code in canon 375 (and see “Bishops, Archbishops, and Cardinals” for more on this).
Beyond a doubt, the graces and sacramental power conferred on a bishop are even greater than those of an ordained priest. But just as we saw with priestly ordination, episcopal consecration does not magically infuse a man with knowledge of every conceivable subject. Yes, a bishop is expected to teach, as he now holds (among so many other things) the office of teaching; but as any experienced educator can tell you, if you intend to teach others, you first had better be sure you know what you’re talking about.
This brings us directly to the subject of the virus and the “vaccines” (which technically are not, in fact, vaccines under the traditional definition of the term, as any medic should be able to tell you). Since very few of us are trained in the field of medicine in general, and in virology/immunology in particular, it’s safe to say that we probably are not competent to teach anybody about this subject—whether we’ve been ordained or not. Thus before teaching others about something outside our own area of expertise, we have the responsibility to do some serious homework first. This also happens to be totally consistent with moral theology, which has always taught that before making a decision, we need to inform our consciences first, so that we can make the decision that is right (to the best of our ability).
So in order to inform ourselves, so as to become knowledgeable about this particular topic, what do we logically do? Why, we consult the real experts of course, and listen to what they are saying about this issue! True, if experts disagree among themselves, we non-experts will quickly be confused, perhaps hopelessly so; but when it comes to learning what experts have to say about the covid vaccines, our task is much easier because these experts are all conveying fundamentally the same message—even when they approach the topic from different vantage-points and argue their points in different ways.
1.) Let’s start with Dr. Michael Yeadon, a British pharmacologist and a retired Vice President of Pfizer, whose own area of specialization involves allergy and respiratory research. He has been warning for many months that the vaccine is not only unnecessary to prevent spread of covid, but also that the way that it functions seems deliberately designed to kill people:
That’s what I would do if I wanted to get rid of 90 or 95% of the world’s population. And I think that’s what they’re doing.
Now I don’t know [for certain] that they’re going to use that [system] to kill you, but I can’t think of a benign reason … The eugenicists have got hold of the levers of power and this is a really artful way of getting you to line-up and receive some unspecified thing that will damage you. (Source, and see also here)
2.) American virologist and immunologist Dr. Robert Malone is the inventor of the mRNA technology that is being used in the covid vaccines. One would expect him, of all people, to be delighted that the vaccines are being used—and yet he has been warning publicly that far too much evidence already exists to indicate that they are dangerous and can be deadly. Even when Malone explains himself clearly, the technicalities of the discussion are so complex as to be headache-inducing; but his main point is that BigPharma has done insufficient testing and is ignoring the evidence that we do have, which points to serious risks associated with the vaccines:
When there’s smoke, you know, it’s kinda looking like we’ve got a fire maybe, and we sure ought to take it seriously…
My position is, I can’t say whether the risk-benefit ratio [of the vaccines] makes sense or not, because I don’t think they’re following protocol and actually calculating the risk-benefit ratio!
…This kind of hand-waving, you know, “Move on, there’s nothing here to see,” and I call it “fake it till you make it,” is kind of how things are going here. And that’s not okay. We’ve got human lives at stake. (Source, starting at 58 minutes)
3.) Irish immunologist Dr. Dolores Cahill, professor at the School of Medicine at University College, Dublin, has a list of qualifications and publications in this precise area of science that’s longer than your arm (see here for a partial list). She has been explaining to the world for at least a year now that the “vaccines,” which are actually delivery systems for messenger RNA, permanently alter a person’s genes, making him a genetically modified organism (GMO). Cahill has been warning about the vaccines creating a “cytokine storm” in the body which will lead to death, a phenomenon she has summarized briefly thus: When the GMO-person is later exposed to covid, the antibodies that his body naturally produces will recognize that the viral protein is present in every cell of the body (thanks to the vaccine)—and the antibodies will start attacking every cell and every organ of the body, leading to “septic shock and organ failure.” In short, “people will die.” (Source, and see also here)
4.) Meanwhile, French Dr. Luc Montagnier, the 2008 Nobel Laureate for Medicine who discovered the HIV virus, approaches the issue from a different angle. Montagnier focuses on the concept of “antibody-dependent enhancement,” which basically means that when you mass-vaccinate people during a pandemic, the vaccination itself creates variant viruses which are stronger than the original. “Deaths follow vaccination,” he says. (Source)
5.) American Dr. Judy Mikovits is a internationally known microbiologist (and best-selling author on the subject), who may have been the first well known medical expert to come out publicly in early 2020 and warn that what was happening was not natural. Over a year ago, she already attacked the notion that natural immunity to the virus was insufficient and that a vaccine was necessary, and warned what would happen from that vaccine:
So now you’re going to inject an agent, into every cell in the body. I just can’t even imagine a recipe for anything other than what I would consider mass murder on a scale where 50 million people will die in America from the vaccine. (Source here, and also here)
6.) Another world-renowned microbiologist is Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, the chair of
Medical Microbiology at Germany’s University of Mainz (a fuller bio can be found here). He has been patiently explaining for months now, in both German and English, how “these damned vaccines” will destroy human health by causing the “immune-enhancement of disease,” and warning that if you take them,
You are part of the largest scientific experiment ever performed, in the history of mankind…. You are going to contribute to the decimation of the world’s population…. You are heading for living hell, and you are taking your children to living hell. (Source here, starting at about 18 minutes; see also this free chapter in English from Bhakdi’s book on the subject)
Bhakdi predicted months ago that after getting the vaccine, a patient’s blood would clot in the veins of the brain, and “every clot formation is potentially lethal,” even if the clotting occurs elsewhere in the body.
7.) Subsequently cardiologists have stepped into the fray, proving Bhakdi’s prediction about blood-clotting to be correct. Dr. Peter McCullough is a cardiologist and professor at Texas Christian University and University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Medicine, and the president of the Cardio Renal Society of America. Dr. McCullough has drawn attention to the large numbers of people who got the vaccine and later developed blood clots—“a very different type of blood clotting” than ordinarily occurs in stroke and heart-attack victims.
A horrendous bio-weapon that has been thrust onto the public and is going to cause great personal harm, which it already has…
It’s absolutely extraordinary what is being thrust upon us now…. that has never been done before. We have never just thrown a vaccine at somebody without having any data, none.
Something is very wrong, what’s going on in the world…. People are being harmed in an extraordinary fashion. (Source here, and see also here)
These doctors are world-renowned experts in their specialized fields. Even more importantly, they’re not being paid by any government to promote its policy—on the contrary, in most cases their careers and reputations are being professionally destroyed by those who are. (Take a look at how these true experts are being described by Wikipedia today, as some sort of kook-fringe conspiracy-theorists. Dr. Malone’s Wikipedia entry was actually rewritten and now he is no longer credited there with developing mRNA technology. Dr. Yeadon was attacked by UK politicians as “irresponsible and dangerous”; and Dr. Mikovits was actually arrested on trumped-up charges, and her research was stolen by her former boss, Dr. Anthony Fauci, as she recounted in this interview.) It should be evident that these science professionals aren’t acting out of any self-interest; they are laying their reputations on the line in the service of truth. As Dr. Bhakdi put it,
We are completely neutral. We are scientists, not left, not right, not up, not down. We just are trying to serve you, and your children. (Source, at 28 minutes)
If we want to inform ourselves about this issue, it’s people like these that we should be listening to! And note that if a canon lawyer with a laptop and critical-thinking skills can unearth all this information, Catholic bishops, priests and other church officials can do the same.
Now let’s imagine for a moment that these same medical experts began lecturing the world on Catholic theology—without first consulting any expert Catholic theologians. Let’s say they declared openly that the Church’s current understanding of the sacrament of Penance is erroneous, and that it flies in the face of the teachings of the 13th-century scholastics. Or let’s pretend that they publicly urged all Catholics to disregard the Church’s teaching on the doctrine of free will—arguing that this centuries-old teaching is actually based on a misunderstanding of Scripture. When pressed, these scientists claim that they’re following “theological experts,” who turn out to be people who work for government agencies with their own socio-political agendas.
The immediate reaction of Catholic bishops around the world would be both predictable and entirely justified: an expertise in the field of science/medicine does not magically render anyone qualified to opine on Catholic theological issues, and the political hacks whom they claim to have consulted aren’t “experts” in Catholic theology at all. If they want to be blunt, Catholic bishops might tell these scientists, “Stick to your own area of expertise, and stay out of those fields which you know nothing about!”
And yet what many Catholic bishops and priests are doing/saying right now with regard to covid vaccines is the precise mirror-image of this imaginary scenario. Men with academic training in theology and philosophy, who have been ordained to the priesthood/consecrated to the episcopate, are making authoritative statements about virology and immunology, apparently without consulting the world’s foremost authorities on these issues.
Even more incredibly, they are imposing obligations on the Catholics entrusted to their care without any regard for the Church’s teaching on this subject! Note that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) recently issued a “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines,” which specifically states that
…practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary. In any case, from the ethical point of view, 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. (5, emphasis in original)
There are two phrases in this paragraph which are especially pertinent to the issue of mandatory vaccination:
1.) “It must be voluntary.” This caveat is in perfect accord with the Catholic Church’s timeless teaching on the dignity of the human person—which is grounded in the story of creation as found in the Book of Genesis:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen. 1:27-28)
The human person, simply by virtue of being human, has an innate dignity that stems from his being made in the image and likeness of God. Unlike all other created beings, man was made by God in His own image. The human person has such stupendous value in God’s eyes that God Himself came to earth and died on the cross in order to redeem him! As such he is not a guinea pig, or a cog in a machine, that can be tinkered with against his will by someone else. Just as the Church has taught that one man should not be the property of another, so one man should not be involuntarily subjected to medical (mis)treatments by another.
2.) “In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination….” Before anyone can even begin to suggest that vaccinations “may” be for the common good, it must first be clear that there are no other treatments “to stop or even prevent the epidemic.” It’s fascinating to note that this important condition is being completely overlooked by those Catholic clergy who are ordering people to get these injections—because once again, if you consult the true medical experts, you quickly find that there are plenty of proven ways to cure people of covid without injecting anything into anybody.
For starters, scientists at Merck, a pharmaceutical giant which stood to earn billions in profits from developing a covid vaccine, concluded from their own research that any benefit from a vaccine was outweighed by the superior benefit gained by actually catching covid, and then producing the antibodies to overcome it. In other words, Merck researchers found that getting a shot to protect against covid isn’t as good as recovering from the virus naturally. That’s why Merck decided not to produce a covid vaccine of their own. In their view, it’s not necessary!
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of doctors all around the world, who were personally treating patients with covid from the first months of 2020, were reporting phenomenal success from the start with hydroxycloroquine, a drug that’s been used to treat malaria for over 70 years without side-effects. (See here, here, here, here, here, and here, among thousands of other sources.) Even better, this drug has been around for so long that it is out of patent, and so it costs just pennies per pill.
Similarly, ivermectin is a cheap drug used for decades to treat both humans and animals with intestinal parasites. (If your dog has ever had worms, the vet probably used this drug to eliminate them.) It too has been found by doctors who are treating covid patients to be extremely effective. See here and here, among countless other sources, and note this graph of recent statistics on deaths from the “Indian variant” in India: once ivermectin was included in treatment, the number of covid cases/deaths plummeted.
These aren’t the only options. Countless physicians have figured out their own “cocktails” of vitamins and medications which they’ve been using around the globe to cure patients of covid. Prominent among them is Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, who developed what’s now known as “the Zelenko Protocol.” You can read all about it here; but suffice to say that it involves no vaccines whatsoever, and has cured thousands of people suffering from the virus.
Dr. Zelenko, who is an Orthodox Jew, recently appeared before a rabbinical court in Israel to provide evidence on the subject of mass-vaccination, especially of children:
Regarding children, the only reason you would want to treat a child [with the covid shot] is if you believe in child sacrifice….
If I can reduce the death rate from 7.5% to less than half of 1% [using the Zelenko Protocol], why would I use a poison death-shot that doesn’t work, and has horrific side-effects?
…This is World War III. This is a level of malfeasance and malevolence that we have not seen, probably in the history of humanity.
There is zero justification, ZERO, for using this poison death-shot. (Source)
When one of the rabbi-judges mentioned that various doctors working in the government and in international health organizations claimed that Zelenko’s information was inaccurate, Zelenko responded simply,
Every single person you’ve just mentioned, if you subtotaled the number of patients they’ve treated for covid, it will equal zero; and I’ve treated over 6000 patients. So you have to know who you’re talking to. (Ibid.)
Now this is a doctor who knows from direct personal experience what he’s talking about.
Let’s now return to the CDF Note mentioned above, and the phrase stating that “in the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination.” As we’ve just seen, there are indeed “other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic.” Consequently, what the CDF says about vaccines does not apply, and the common good does not “recommend vaccination.” This is not to suggest that there’s anything theologically wrong with what the CDF is saying here! But in this particular case the entire paragraph is moot, because the hypothetical conditions upon which it is predicated do not exist in reality.
Note that even if the CDF had never issued this Note, the world still has solid legal/ethical guidance on its books, about forcing people to accept experimental medical treatment. It’s known as the Nuremberg Code, and it originated in 1947 after the trials of Nazi war-criminals in Nuremberg, Germany. Most of us have probably heard of Dr. Joseph Mengele, a.k.a. “the Angel of Death,” who performed medical experiments on prisoners at Birkenau during the war. Mengele managed to escape to South America after the war; but other medics were caught and tried at Nuremberg. During the “Doctors Trials,” which began in December 1946, victims testified that Nazi doctors had subjected them and thousands of other concentration-camp prisoners to horrific medical experiments against their will. Some of the experiments involved tinkering with victims’ genetic make-up, in order to advance the Nazis’ racial goals; others involved the testing of new drugs and medical treatments, which (if they proved safe and effective) would later be used to treat the German people. Sixteen doctors were convicted, and seven were sentenced to death. Their names and photos can be found here.
The Nuremberg Code consists of ten standards to be applied when conducting medical experiments. And the very first one says this:
1.) The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion, and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment. The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. It is a personal duty and responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity. (The full text of the code can be read here)
It should be clear that this paragraph of the Nuremberg Code is fully consistent with the Church’s teaching on the dignity of the human person in general, and with the CDF Note discussed above in particular.
So how does this apply to the current situation? As most of the medical experts cited above have mentioned, not a single one of the covid vaccines on the market today has been fully tested. That’s why, as Alex correctly notes, they have merely received “Emergency Use Authorization” (EUA) in the United States and elsewhere—in lieu of full approval. None of them has been established to be safe for use—as the scientists discussed above have repeatedly pointed out. They are all still considered to be “experimental”—and thus if anyone is forced to take them, this constitutes a violation of the Nuremberg Code under international law. Whether he realizes it or not, a person who takes a covid vaccine is part of an experiment.
(True, a few days ago the news media were all in a frenzy, declaring that in the US the Pfizer vaccine has been “approved.” In reality, however, this is completely false. The clinical safety trials for the Pfizer vaccine, required for approval of any drug, will not be completed until May 2, 2023! In fact the FDA has granted approval to a different vaccine, called Comirnaty, produced not by Pfizer, but by BioNTech, a different pharamaceutical company. Comirnaty is not even available yet in the US. Here’s an explanation of what really happened, from Dr. Robert Malone; and here’s a video on the same subject. The bottom line is that all the covid vaccines currently being used are still unapproved.)
And yet there are officials in the Catholic Church who are mandating that Catholics be vaccinated against their will, with these experimental vaccines! In the case of religious institutes, they even have the temerity to cite “obedience”— as if they have authority to demand that a religious physically harm himself against his will! Not only are these officials violating Catholic theology, not only are they violating the rights of the human person … they are also violating international law, for which the punishment has (in several cases in the past) been death.
No wonder Catholics like Michelle, Alex, and Ivan are rubbing their eyes and wondering whether they’re missing something. It’s hard to wrap your head around the notion that Catholic bishops, priests, religious superiors and others in the Church are taking fundamentally the same position that German Nazis were executed for 70 years ago.
At the same time, these bishops and other officials will invariably argue that they are simply “following the science.” One bishop defensively told the faithful of his diocese in recent months that he “always consults with experts”—yet wouldn’t/couldn’t identify a single one by name. It appears that if they are consulting with anybody, it must be with scientists (or fake “scientists” like these in the UK) who are being paid by governments and international bodies like the World Health Organization, which have consistently been telling people the exact opposite of what real scientific experts and experienced physicians are saying. As Dr. Zelenko noted above, “if you subtotaled the number of patients [these government ‘experts’] have treated for covid, it will equal zero.”
The grand irony is that for centuries, the Catholic Church has been loathe to opine authoritatively on purely scientific matters. Even on the topic of evolution—which, depending on how you define it, can directly contradict the account of God’s creation that is found in the Book of Genesis—the Church has refrained from outright condemnation. In his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII asserted that it is entirely permissible, within specific parameters, to discuss and perhaps even to embrace aspects of the theory of evolution: because
…the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. (36)
The broad term “evolution” admits of multiple possible meanings, maybe including some that we haven’t even thought of yet—and since the Church doesn’t know for certain exactly how God went about creating the world and humanity in it, prudence dictates that Catholic authorities take a step back and let scientists do their thing and investigate further, without condemning them in advance. Who knows, perhaps someday science will make new discoveries which show that God did indeed employ a type of “evolution” in creating us, and we might find that it’s possible to understand the term in a way that is consistent with Genesis 1. The point is, Pius XII was keenly aware that churchmen aren’t scientists—and thus have no business declaring authoritatively what the science really is, without first getting the input of true scientific experts themselves!
Maybe the Church is so cautious about speaking definitively about matters of science because it learned its lesson the hard way. Catholicism’s classic science-lesson took place in the 17th century, courtesy of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). Today, of course, Galileo is
heralded as the father of observational astronomy; and we all know that it was he who discovered that, contrary to the Christian world’s centuries-old assumption, the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way round. Non-Catholics who are hostile to the Church will never get tired of mocking those 17th-century Vatican officials who angrily condemned Galileo’s proposition as false and heretical.
In 1992, the 350th anniversary of Galileo’s death, then-Pope John Paul II publicly acknowledged in a speech that the Church had erred in its criticism of Galileo’s heliocentric model of the solar system—and made a startlingly prophetic observation about similar scientific issues in the future:
… [T]he problems underlying that case [of Galileo] touch on the nature of science as well as the message of faith. It is therefore not to be excluded that one day we will be faced with a similar situation, which will require for each one [i.e., science and faith] a conscious awareness of the field and of the limits of their respective competences. (4)
Is anybody listening? Today we see Catholic bishops and other clerical officials declaring authoritatively that covid vaccines are the only way to protect against the spread of the virus, and are safe to use—directly contradicting the world’s top scientific experts on the subject! We can see all too clearly that the church officials of today have forgotten the lesson of the 17th century, and will presumably have to learn it all over again, the hard way. (But at least in the Galileo case, innocent people didn’t die as a result of Vatican overreach.) We can see that these Catholic officials who are requiring vaccination aren’t treating of scientific matters with caution, as Pius XII did with evolution; nor are they making broad but theologically sound statements (à la St. Jean-Marie Vianney), perhaps along the lines of “We have a responsibility to take care of our health,” or “Our bodies were created by God and are temples of the Holy Spirit,” etc. No, they are demanding (not exhorting!) that we do this specific medical procedure—a demand that they have no authority to make—and it’s an untested, experimental procedure which, as we’ve already seen above, the world’s finest scientific minds are warning will kill us.
Dr. Mengele would be proud.
It’s worth reiterating again that the Church can’t have laws that conflict with Catholic theological teaching. By requiring seminarians, priests and religious, Catholic university students, and anyone else connected to Catholic institutions to get injected against their will with an experimental vaccine, Catholic officials are violating human rights, Catholic theology, and international law simultaneously—a dubiously impressive feat, to be sure. They are willfully ignoring the repeated and often frantic warnings of the finest scientific minds out there, who have no political agenda and stand to gain nothing financially from the position they take. They are micromanaging the lives of individual persons, demanding that they inject something into their bodies whether they agree or not.
As we saw in “How Can You Tell a Real Law From an Illegal Decree?” the Church has taught for centuries that laws by definition must be reasonable. And yet it would be difficult to find a single aspect of this vaccine-requirement that is logical! Consider this mind-bending statement from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (see “Are Catholics Supposed to Abstain From Meat Every Friday?” for more on what a Conference of Bishops is):
Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community. In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good. (Source)
Apparently being forced to become a lab rat in a medical experiment has now become “an act of charity” toward others. How exactly does this help other people? Reasonable people can use logic, and conclude that if other people are anxious to protect themselves against covid, they can get the vaccine themselves if they choose—so how does it help them if I am forced to get it too?
To be fair, there are without a doubt thousands of rational Catholic clergy around the world who are using their reason and preaching precisely the opposite, and are acting in full accord with both church teaching and true science. True shepherds of souls, they are in many cases warning the faithful both to do their own research, and to avoid making decisions based on the emotion of fear. As one priest of the Diocese of Rome preached at a recent Sunday Mass, “The salvation of the soul is infinitely more important than the health of the body.” Until recently, this was what all Catholics bishops and priests would have told you as a matter of course.
There is another important point which shouldn’t be overlooked. If all/most of the students at a university, or seminarians at a seminary, refuse en masse to accept the experimental vaccine, this obviously leaves the institution in a bind, doesn’t it? Let’s not forget that schools cannot survive without tuition-paying students, nor can dioceses function for long if they have no men studying to be priests. If you’re a seminarian studying for a diocese which is now trying to force you to get the shot against your will, know that there are lots of other dioceses out there which won’t, and which will gladly welcome you. Similarly, university students, parish staff (and especially volunteers), and others connected to Catholic institutions may feel that they’re the ones who’ll lose out if they’re banned because they refuse the vaccine—and while in the short term that might be true, there’s no doubt that in the long term, it’s the institution which will suffer. Consider this story, recently posted anonymously on the internet by an exec at a large business firm:
Let’s pray for all those who, like Alex, like Ivan’s nun friend and like Michelle’s daughter, are being told to get vaccinated or else they will be banned from school or work. May God give them the moral courage to stand up for themselves and their children, never forgetting their dignity as creatures made in the image and likeness of God Himself.
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