The Vatican

The Vatican says it's morally acceptable to take the vaccines for COVID-19. The vaccines were developed "from cell lines derived from tissues obtained from two fetuses that were not spontaneously aborted." 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.

U.S. bishops

Two leading U.S. bishops, who lead committees on doctrine and pro-life, say it's morally acceptable to take the vaccines available to prevent COVID-19. They said: "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. Here is a list of frequently asked ethical questions about vaccines.

Iowa bishops

The Catholic bishops of Iowa say 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.

Mask Requirement

Due to the rising COVID-19 cases throughout the Diocese of Des Moines, the increased hospitalizations and the anticipated difficulties that the winter season will bring, Bishop William Joensen is requiring that a mask be worn for all worship, sacrament celebration and other activities in Catholic churches throughout the Diocese of Des Moines from now through Feb. 2, 2021 (The Feast of the Presentation), when it will be reviewed. Bishop Joensen said: "I have taken this critical step so we may responsibly continue to gather around the Eucharistic altar – the source and summit of our faith – and worship together." Read more here.

In-person social gatherings suspended

The Diocese of Des Moines is suspending all parish and diocesan sponsored or hosted social events, beginning on Nov. 23 through Feb 2. Our diocese remains in Phase III of regathering, which allows for public worship and additional parish functions, but we are adjusting the policy to temporarily prohibit parish and diocesan sponsored or hosted social events. While we hope for the ability to resume social gatherings on Feb 3, we do recognize that the suspension may need to be extended at that time.  Read more here.

Public worship

In the spring, public worship was suspended, though churches remained open for private prayer. The faithful have regathered in stages, each one structured with specific safety measures based on community spread of COVID-19. The Diocese of Des Moines is in stage 3 of regathering. Here is a description of each phase of regathering. , with guidelines in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Watching the numbers

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.

  •  Here are some helpful posters to help returning parishioners learn about the changes at their church.


Parishes have been asked to continue streaming Masses online. Here is a list of parishes that are streaming. You may need to check with the parish about the times, as some of those changed when public celebration of the Mass resumed.

Sacraments and COVID-19

The National Association of Catholic Chaplains and the Catholic Health Association of the United States have put together a wonderful Q&A regarding sacramental practice when you have a loved one in the hospital. We hope you find it helpful and comforting during these difficult days. Here is how to do a  sacramental confession when a priest is not available.


Our school administrators have worked tirelessly to devise a Return to Learn plan for the upcoming school year. Get the latest information here .

Prayer Resources

Use this time to grow closer to the Lord. There are many resources to feed our spirituality. Take a look at the prayers and multitude of websites that offer prayer, tips and guidance.

Resources for ministry leaders

Parish ministry leaders are encouraged to follow this link to a list of resources they may find useful.

Resources for families

We have compiled podcasts, articles, and prayer resources to foster our faith during this time.

Social Services

Here is a list of social services available in our communities. Catholic Charities can be contacted if you need help with food, counseling or other social services.

Hospitals/Care Facilities

Contact the hospital or care facility you want to visit prior to going to see what restrictions may be in place.

HR for parishes and schools

Here is a link to a memo and resource information sent to parishes and schools on March 13.


If your parish or school is part of the unemployment program with the Iowa Catholic Conference, and you have staff whose hours are reduced, or staff are temporarily furloughed, they should file a claim here with Iowa Workforce Development. If your parish or school is not part of the ICC’s unemployment program, your staff may still be eligible for some financial aid if their hours are reduced or they are furloughed. The new CARES Act covers employees of nonprofit organizations. They should contact Iowa Workforce Development for information on how to apply.

Accessing funds

Parishes can access their funds at the Catholic Foundation of Southwest Iowa here.