Get jabbed, or get suspended

Archbishop of Brisbane vaccination

The Archbishop of Brisbane has issued an ultimatum to clergy in the archdiocese – they must be double vaccinated within a month, or be suspended.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge sent a letter this week to all priests and deacons to comply with double-dose vaccination by December 15 or stand aside.

In the strongly worded letter on Monday, he warned that unvaccinated clergy “present a risk” to parishioners. He said that priests and deacons who failed to comply would have to show cause as to why they should not be immediately suspended.

Conscientious objection would not be accepted as grounds for exemption, he said.

“I will not consider conscientious objection to receiving the vaccination as a valid exception to the provisions set out here,” wrote Coleridge. “I fully respect the right of conscience, especially when properly formed in the Catholic understanding. But I too have a conscience; and it is not just legal obligation but consciences which has led to my decision.”

Leaders of other church communities have taken different approaches to vaccine mandates.

The Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli, heading Australia’s largest Catholic community, said about 5 percent of clergy there were not fully vaccinated. While “strongly encouraging” priests to get the Covid shots, he had stopped short of mandating it.

“I have strongly encouraged vaccination for our clergy so that they can fully minister to our people in all circumstances. Most particularly for the care of the most vulnerable in hospitals and aged care,” Archbishop Comensoli told The Australian. “To date, around 95 percent have achieved their double vaccination.”

A spokesman for Anglican Primate, Geoffrey Smith, said the archbishop had “made his position very clear” that everyone should be vaccinated. But it is understood no Anglican diocese in Australia had made this compulsory.

Dr Coleridge recognised that vaccination was a “matter of personal choice,” but, this was outweighed by legal obligations to civil law, state health directives, occupational health and safety requirements and the duty of care owed to parishioners.

“A pastor or assistant pastor in parish ministry is to know the faithful, visit families, care for the faithful, strengthening them in the Lord and refresh the faithful with the sacraments,” he wrote.

“Diligently, he is to seek out the poor, the afflicted, the lonely and the exiled. He is to support spouses and parents in fulfilling their proper duties and to foster growth of Christian life in the family.

“That means that clergy engaged in parish ministry must be close to people. In the circumstances of the pandemic, clergy engaged in pastoral ministry who are not doubly vaccinated put the faithful of the parish at risk. They present a risk to the faithful to whom they minister, as well as to their families.

“Clergy not doubly vaccinated are failing in their duty of care for the faithful.”


The Catholic Leader

The Australian

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