Archdiocese of Chicago requires priests and all staff to be vaccinated

Chicago Archdiocese staff vaccinated

The Archdiocese of Chicago announced all staff and clergy (including Catholic Charities and Misericordia) would be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the delta variant surges.

The archdiocese’s vaccination policy will take effect on 4 Oct, giving unvaccinated employees six weeks from FDA approval to get their vaccination. This is an additional week to the original five weeks proposed.

“We are providing an extra week to allow more time for individuals to plan and schedule their vaccinations,” an archdiocese said in a memo yesterday.

While people will have an opportunity to request a medical exemption, religious objections will not be considered.

“We have made this decision convinced that this is the best way to stop the spread of this deadly illness,” Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, said in a Thursday email to clergy and staff.

“Following the lead of Pope Francis, we encourage everyone to be vaccinated as an act of charity. … Religious exemptions to vaccination cannot be supported by Catholic teaching. I have instructed our pastors not to grant them.”

The policy comes from the Archdiocese of Chicago’s COVID-19 Task Force, which has been praised by Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr Allison Arwady for implementing measures last year that enabled schools to reopen safely.

More than 90% of the archdiocese 15,000 employees have already been vaccinated. The policy does not apply to volunteers.

In a separate email to clergy and staff, the Chicago archdiocese outlined a new, temporary policy to address paid time off for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers.

Vaccinated employees who test positive for COVID-19 will get 10 additional sick days to cover quarantine requirements. However, unvaccinated people who cannot work remotely must use their accrued sick, personal or vacation time.

Unvaccinated people will be required to get tested weekly and wear masks in archdiocese facilities, according to the policy.

“The Diocese of Joliet echoes the message of Pope Francis’ recent public service advertisement in encouraging all who are able to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” Mary Massingale, the diocese’s director of communications, said in the statement. But it does not plan on requiring its 2,700 employees or students to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

“The Rockford Diocese, like Pope Francis, believes that getting vaccinated against serious illness is an act of love and Christian charity to all the world,” spokeswoman Penny Wiegert said in the statement. It is also not requiring that employees be vaccinated, but highly encouraging its 2,500 employees, volunteers, and members, to get a vaccine.


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