In a commentary for NCR, Jason T. Eberl and Tobias Winwright, both professors of health care ethics at St. Louis University, say that there is no sufficient moral reason for Catholics to request an exemption from mandatory vaccination policies for COVID-19. In fact, as Pope Francis has affirmed, there may be a moral obligation to be vaccinated unless one has a medical contraindication, they write.
"Such an obligation is fundamentally grounded in the Gospel's call for each of us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31)," Eberl and Winwright write. "Insofar as loving oneself entails a moral obligation to use proportionate means to safeguard one's own life and health, Christians are called to love others by taking proportionate means to safeguard their lives and health."
Epidemiological data clearly shows that the best way to fulfill this moral duty is through vaccination and, further, that the currently available vaccines are proportionately safe and effective even if they have not yet (but will likely soon be) fully approved by the FDA.
"COVID-19 vaccination is thus an appropriate means of fulfilling our moral obligation to promote the common good," they say.
San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy has sent a letter instructing priests in his diocese that there is no basis in Catholic teaching to offer a religious exemption for COVID-19 vaccinations as more employers and schools enact vaccine mandates. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan also urged New York priests not to give religious exemptions.
NCR's editorial staff says that everyone has a moral obligation to get vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have a legitimate medical condition prohibiting them from doing so.
The Supreme Court announced that it will not hear an appeal from a group of students at Indiana University who are opposed to the university's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Relief workers in Haiti said the Aug. 14 earthquake might not be as catastrophic as the 2010 quake that was closer to the capital, but recovery will be complicated because the quake came on the heels of July's presidential assassination, of an economic and ongoing political crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and an active storm season now underway.
Fonie Pierre, a public health professional who heads operations in the region for the U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services, lives in Les Cayes, Haiti's third-largest city and one of the hardest hit by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake. She said she and her daughter fled their home during the earthquake and have joined neighbors in living outdoors for the foreseeable future.
CRS staffers are reporting widespread damage to buildings and homes as area hospitals have been overwhelmed by the disaster, pushing them to capacity and forcing them to turn away people in need. The major road connecting Les Cayes to Jérémie is impassable due to landslides and cracks on the road.
The magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Haiti collapsed the bishop's residence in Les Cayes, killing one priest, leaving one missing and injuring Cardinal Chibly Langlois.
ICYMI: A message from the Twitter account of Cardinal Raymond Burke, a conservative prelate and outspoken skeptic of the COVID-19 vaccine, confirmed Aug. 14 that he had been placed on a ventilator after testing positive for the virus.