Some two dozen Catholic colleges and universities have joined the growing list of institutions requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for students returning to campus this fall.
As among their secular counterparts, Catholic colleges requiring the inoculations are still a small minority, and the potential requirements have sparked debate about what Catholic colleges can and should require of their students.
According to a tracker maintained by the Chronicle of Higher Education, 21 Catholic colleges, of about 191 nationwide, had announced fall semester vaccine requirements as of May 4 — including large schools like DePaul University, Georgetown University, Loyola University Chicago, Fordham University and Boston College. Each of the school's policies include religious and medical exemptions.
At Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts, Deborah Cady Melzer, dean of students, said that their commitments as a Catholic institution to the dignity of the person and to the common good pushed the administration to announce the decision in mid-April before many other colleges did.
But the decision has not been so easy at the Catholic University of America, where faculty pressed President John Garvey to adopt a vaccination requirement at an April 22 meeting of the faculty senate.
Garvey said at the meeting that while such a measure is being reviewed and most of the comments he had received in-person were favorable, his office has also received emails opposing a requirement.
In a commentary for NCR, Marianne Duddy-Burke, the executive director of DignityUSA, says that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has "hit a stomach-churning new low."
Duddy-Burke referenced a March 24 article in which National Catholic Reporter national correspondent Christopher White broke the news that the bishops' conference had "quietly lobbied behind the scenes" to scuttle legislation passed by Congress last fall that established a national toll-free hotline to prevent suicide. Their objection? The legislation contained funding targeted at addressing the staggering epidemic of suicide and suicide attempts by LGBTQ people, especially youth.
"In case you think that cannot be true, let me restate it," Duddy-Burke writes. "The leaders of the Catholic Church were willing to prevent help being made available to about 12 million Americans who seriously consider suicide each year because that help extended to LGBTQ people."
- Read White's story reporting on how the bishops, in an effort to reject any legislation that acknowledges the category of LGBTQ persons, refused to support not only the Equality Act, but also the compromise Fairness for All Act.
- At Global Sisters Report,
Holy Family of Nazareth Sr. Lourenca Marques helps children of sex
workers and HIV-positive women train for a new life and future near
Vasco, the port town of India's Goa state.
- ICYMI: Church leaders uncomfortable with Pope Francis' emphasis on
mercy and an attentiveness to the voices of those on the peripheries should reexamine their skepticism, according to Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey.
- ICYMI: Pope Francis will be creating a new official ministry in the Catholic Church for those who teach children and others the fundamentals of the faith.