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By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, Aug 19, 2021
Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org.
Let’s get something straight. A Catholic priest cannot “give” anyone an exemption from a vaccine mandate. Except in those very rare cases (at least I hope they are very rare) when the priest himself imposes the mandate, he has no authority to issue exemptions.
What a priest can do is support a request for an exemption, by testifying that the request comes from a faithful Catholic, who is spurred by the demands of a conscience formed by principles of Catholic moral teaching. When he offers that support, the priest is not claiming that the Catholic Church bans vaccination. He is not even necessarily saying that he himself opposes vaccination. He is only saying that this individual—his parishioner, presumably—cannot take the vaccine in good conscience. And if vaccination would violate his conscience, then—here the teaching of the Church is crystal-clear—he must not take the vaccine. …
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