Timothy P. Broglio, the Archbishop for the Military Services, spoke out on Tuesday to say that Catholic troops should be allowed to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine based on conscientious objection. He said that they should be allowed to do this regardless of whether abortion-related tissue was used to create or test the vaccine.
“No one should be forced to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if it would violate the sanctity of his or her conscience,” Broglio said in a statement.
Broglio went on to say that while he encourages people to get vaccinated, he is aware that some troops have questioned if the church’s permission to get vaccinated outweighed their own conscious objections to it.
“It does not,” the archbishop stated emphatically.
The Catholic News Agency reported that back in August, Broglio said that the church, including Pope Francis, “had recognized the morality of the vaccine.” He added at the time that while a person could object from the mandatory vaccine due to their personal conscience, “even that should be formed by the teaching of the Church.”
Broglio doubled down on that exemption on Tuesday when he said that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines that were tested using an “abortion-derived cell line” are still not considered sinful by the Catholic church because it is “remote material cooperation with evil.”
“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith examined these moral concerns and judged that receiving these vaccines ‘does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion,’ and is therefore not sinful,” he continued.
However, Archbishop Broglio added that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “was developed, tested, and is produced, with abortion-derived cell lines.” Though the pope has claimed that vaccines are not sinful, Broglio feels that the “sanctity of conscience” is still important. This is a marked change from what the archbishop said back in March when he encouraged all troops to get whatever vaccine was available.
“In the case of vaccines to protect against the Coronavirus pandemic, the highest doctrinal authority of the Church, speaking on behalf of the Bishop of Rome, has made its clear position on the vaccines available,” he said at the time.
These days, however, Broglio has changed his mind.
“The denial of religious accommodations, or punitive or adverse personnel actions taken against those who raise earnest, conscience-based objections, would be contrary to federal law and morally reprehensible,” the archbishop said this week.
Broglio ended his letter by saying that troops who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine must “continue to act in charity for their neighbors and the common good” by wearing masks, social distancing, and testing routinely. He also said that troops should be open to receiving treatment once it is “not derived from, or tested with abortion-derived cell lines.”