Vaccine Mandates and the Rights of Conscience

Message from Fr. Erickson:

Holy Mother Church has of course declared that under the current circumstance, the reception of available COVID-19 vaccines is morally permissible, though the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines should be chosen over the Johnson vaccine when possible. But the reception of the vaccine is not morally obligatory, and the Church has also been clear that the rights of conscience must be honored. I have been disheartened by the messages of some well-intentioned shepherds who have indicated that getting one of the currently available vaccines is an unqualified act of mercy and Christian charity. This kind of statement can lead one to believe that the decision not to take the vaccine is an act of negligence, selfishness and perhaps even sinful. I refuse to accept this premise.

I also happen to believe that private organizations and entities have the right to make decisions that they feel are best for them and society, within reasonable limits. Employees have rights, but so do employers and business owners. The rights of conscience go both ways, not just when we agree with the decision. But some protections must be in place for those who choose to opt out of vaccination for legitimate reasons, in keeping with human dignity and the God-given rights of conscience. And so I hope and pray that those responsible for granting requested exemptions due to health and religious concerns will be steadfast and fair in granting them.

On September 14, the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, Mass will be offered at 7:00 p.m. for all health care workers and all those whose livelihoods are affected by vaccine mandates.

I want to be clear that my desire to offer this Mass is in no way a political statement, nor a sign of ignorance about how gravely many have suffered due to COVID, including the loss of cherished loved ones. This is not a simple issue. But many within our community are grappling with questions of conscience, and our Church needs to be a support to them.

In Christ, the Transfigured and Transfiguring One,

Fr. Erickson 


Below are a few web links to resources regarding vaccine madidates that may be of helpful for review.


The Catholic Bishops of South Dakota

The Catholic Bishops of Colorado

Catholic Medical Association

National Association of Catholic Nurses, USA

The National Catholic Bioethics Center

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