Just under 30 Catholic colleges and universities are now requiring COVID vaccines for students returning to campus in the fall, with many citing concern for community health and safety.
Other schools, like Belmont Abbey College near Charlotte, North Carolina, and The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., have refrained from such requirements and emphasized the need for individuals to make their own prudential judgment in accordance with their conscience.
Bill Thierfelder, president of Belmont Abbey, recently told the Register about how the school reached its decision not to require COVID vaccines for students returning in the fall.
“We have an obligation to have an informed conscience” as Catholics, he said, and to “do our best to seek the objective truth, to try to understand that to the best of our ability, and then to make a prudential decision with our conscience. … I’m not going to stop anybody from getting vaccinated that has reached that decision — from a conscience standpoint — that it’s in their best interests to get vaccinated, but I’m also not going to force somebody to get vaccinated that has come to the opposite conclusion.”
He said that among the objections or reservations regarding vaccinations are the “connection to aborted fetus cell lines,” adding that while “the Vatican and National Catholic Bioethics Center have come out with statements on it and left it to prudential judgment,” someone could “have a very strong sense of the horrid act of killing a baby in the womb through abortion, and even though it may be very remote in terms of material cooperation with this evil, someone could just take a stand and say, ‘I personally in my conscience can’t take this vaccination.’”
Read more from The National Catholic Register.