The Madison Catholic Diocese’s warning to its 102 parishes not to host Covid-19 vaccine clinics for children in diocese schools or churches is not only appalling — it is also supremely immoral.
More than 750,000 Americans (many of them Catholic) have already lost their lives to Covid-19. Yet, according to a spokesperson, the diocese wants to maintain its “neutrality” as to whether anyone, adult or child, should get inoculated against the virus. Instead of celebrating the federal directive making children ages 5 to 11 eligible for a pediatric vaccine, the diocese has put the kibosh on utilizing its many tax-free schools and churches for a public health good.
The diocese’s “reasoning” is incomprehensible. Says spokesperson Brent King: “The diocese has not and will not wade into the polarizing and political environment surrounding this issue, especially as it could potentially pressure individuals to act against their consciences.” That’s a bizarre posture, given that the diocese had previously (and unnecessarily) announced that “it is morally permissible” to get vaccinated.
The diocese had already forbidden churches and schools to host vaccination sites earlier this year for the 12- to 17- year-old crowd, according to Associated Press, although at least three diocese sites had hosted clinics staffed by St. Mary’s Hospital, a prominent Catholic hospital in town. It speaks well of Queen of Peace school in Madison that its principal had sought to hold a children’s vaccination clinic. He called the draconian ban “deeply disappointing.”
School sites, including auditoriums, are not just convenient spaces for mass inoculation programs, but provide a familiar and reassuring setting for small children needing to be vaccinated. The diocese covers not only Dane County, but 10 other southwestern Wisconsin counties. By contrast, the Milwaukee diocese has allowed its institutions to host clinics run by the Milwaukee Health Department.
You’d think the diocese would have learned a public relations lesson from what happened to other anti-vax Catholics. The Covid-19 case involving a Wisconsin cardinal, Raymond Burke, who had ranted against vaccination was an international black eye on the church. The archconservative, who once called out Catholics who voted for Barack Obama for “collaborat[ing] with evil,” nearly died from the novel coronavirus. Burke had linked the vaccines to abortion, and passed on QAnon-esque disinformation, such as claiming the vaccines implanted a “microchip” so the inoculated could “be controlled by the state.” He had irresponsibly ranted against the vaccination being imposed “in a totalitarian manner.” To the Church’s credit, Burke was removed from a Vatican position in 2014 after comparing the church to a rudderless ship.
Needless to say, as Burke is slowly recovering, thanks to the ventilator he was put on and medical science, all the credit goes to “those who have prayed for my recovery.” He had the nerve to claim that God saved him for “some work” he’s expected to do in his deity’s name — such a narcissistic and insensitive remark that implies his deity wanted 750,000-plus Covid victims to die.
Just like Burke, the Madison diocese is acting counter to the Vatican. Pope Francis has appealed to believers to be vaccinated, even calling it “an act of love,” and has imposed a vaccination mandate conforming to Italy’s green pass. As of Oct. 1, the Vatican has stopped paying noncomplying employees. Earlier this fall, the pope, in reference to Cardinal Burke, admitted to reporters there are some anti-vax cardinals, adding: “But one of them, poor thing, has been hospitalized with the virus. These are the ironies of life.”
Even the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is far more conservative than Pope Francis, through its Committees on Doctrine and Pro-Life Activities, has deemed it morally permissible to receive the three U.S. Covid-19 vaccinations.
Yet many who are part of the hardline mainstream U.S. Catholic hierarchy are busily fighting governmental vaccination mandates, such as the requirement that all members of the U.S. military be vaccinated. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio claims service members should be able to opt out of the vaccine based on religious objections, which in turn are invariably based on anti-abortion ideology to do with stem-cell research.
The Madison diocese and numerous Catholic critics of the vaccinations are not only defying science and public health requirements necessary to overcome the pandemic, they’re defying their own Church’s position.
“Let’s hope some Catholic parents in the Madison diocese who end up utilizing public school clinics to get their children vaccinated, will rethink sending their children to schools run by an anti-science diocese that cares so little about their children’s — and society’s — health,” concludes Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president.
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