Pope Francis on COVID-19 vaccines.
Schools and masks
With the Sept. 13 temporary injunction on state law (HR 847 - which banned accredited schools from instituting mask mandates), we've received requests for Catholic schools to require masks. Here is a letter from Bishop William Joensen (available here in Spanish) explaining why the Catholic schools have not required masks at this time.
Heathcare experts say getting the COVID-19 vaccination is a pro-life issue.
On Aug. 6, the Diocese of Des Moines adjusted its COVID-19 mitigation strategy in response to an increase in virus cases, the new CDC guidance and the advice of local medical consultants. The Diocese is now recommending, not requiring, masks for parishioners over the age of five during all indoor liturgies and other indoor parish events.
We are #blessedtobeback as Bishop William Joensen lifted the dispensation July 24/25, 2021 and we are invited to return to the Sunday and holy day obligation to attend Mass. Bishop Joensen, in a letter to the faithful, said, "We have all experienced times when an unchosen period of absence has helped us to more deeply appreciate the many gifts in our lives, and my hope is that the same will be true in our experience of Sunday Eucharist and the obligation that points the way toward shared presence with Jesus and one another."
Read his letter in English, or Spanish. And here is a link to his column in the June, 2021 edition of The Catholic Mirror in which he invites us to come together as the Body of Christ, as a community of faith "at the wellspring of God's love."
Why should I go?
Bishop Joensen explains: "We are invited to worship God who has gratuitously given us everything we have, including life itself. Further, the Mass draws us ever more deeply into the communla Body of Christ, the People of God whom Jesus calls and redeems. Our participation in Mass is not a supplemental practice in the life of discipleship; it is the beating heart of faith, the source and summit of our entire Christian life."
What if I prefer watching Mass on TV or my computer?
We welcome you and are happy to see you in peson. We hope that you will join us to experience the joy of in-person worship once again. There is no substitute for experiencing the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist in person.
What if my health is not good?
There will always be cases where individuals are excused or dispensed for serious reasons. See the Catholic Catechism #2181. These reasons would include, but are not limited to personal illness, known or suspected exposure to COVID-19, or if you are a caretaker of a member of the vulnerable opulation and your participation in Mass would expose him or her to a significant risk of contracting COVID-19. If you are unsure of your situation, please consult with your pastor who can assist you in your discernment.
What if there is a spike in virus cases?
The diocese continues to monitor the public health situation in southwest Iowa by watching county specific COVID-19 data, and by frequently consulting with local medical experts and diocesan priests. If the diocese observes a significant local increase in COVID-19 cases over the course of two weeks it will consider resuming previous phase restrictions on gatherings and public Masses. These decisions will be made on a county specific basis, and in consultation with the diocesan regathering team, local pastors, and medical experts.
See the following resources to clear up any confusion about whether and which vaccines to take for COVID-19. The Catholic Church leaders say that -- given the public doesn't have a choice in which vaccine to get for the time being -- taking any of the three currently available serves the common good and is morally acceptable.
The Vatican says it's morally acceptable to take the vaccines for COVID-19. Several reasons are given for being able to use the vaccines including:
- those who use the vaccine had no choice in how it was developed;
- use does not constitute formal cooperation with abortion;
- we can continue to encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop ethically sound vaccines;
- we have a moral responsibility to protect the common good;
- there are no ethically irreproachable COVID-19 vaccines available.
Here is the statement from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. In the CDF's statement they urge everyone concerned for the sanctity of life to protest the use of abortion-derived cell lines and advocate for the development of vaccines with no connection to abortion. To make it easer to take this action the USCCB has provided sample letter to pharmaceutical companies here.
Two leading U.S. bishops, who lead committees on doctrine and pro-life, said last December it's morally acceptable to take the vaccines available to prevent COVID-19. "Given the urgency of this crisis, the lack of available alternative vaccines, and the fact that the connection between an abortion that occurred decades ago and receiving a vaccine produced today is remote, inoculation with the new COVID-19 vaccines in these circumstances can be morally justified." Here is their full statement.
On March 2, they addressed ethical questions about a third vaccine option, concluding: “While we should continue to insist that pharmaceutical companies stop using abortion-derived cell lines, given the world-wide suffering that this pandemic is causing, we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good.”
Here is a list of frequently asked ethical questions about vaccines.
Here is a side-by-side comparision of the vaccines available and in development from the Lozier Institute.
In this statement issued March 4, Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels says if people are given a choice among three vaccines currently available, they should choose the Moderna or Pfiser options. But people are not being given a choice and won't be given a choice for the foreseeable future the common good must be considered. "So, if Catholics have the opportunity to get vaccinated, and aren’t given a choice of vaccines, they should gratefully receive whatever is available; the sooner, the better. The common good of protecting the public health against a contagious and potentially deadly virus takes precedence over any reservations Catholics might have about being treated with any of the available vaccines."
The Catholic bishops of Iowa have said people may, in good conscience, use the vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna. "Morally speaking, the vaccine offered by these two companies is relatively remote from the evil of abortion," they said. Read their full statement here.
For a more detailed explanation of the moral issues related to COVID vaccines, and how the Catholic Church enters into discernment in these circumstances, you can read a recent statement by the National Catholic Bioethics Center here.