The issue of religious exemptions to the COVID vaccine mandate continues to evolve and, in all honesty, remains quite confusing.
The U of R has announced that they WILL now consider religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate (details below), though we have been unable to confirm that NY State has reinstated the possibility of such exemptions, which were recently removed.
We understand that the official online form for U of R employees will be available starting on September 7, 2021 and can be found here (url: https://tools.mc.rochester.edu/covid-vaccination-status/login).
We would like to reiterate, in accord with the recent CDF statement, our support for neighbors, friends, and colleagues who in good (and with a well-formed) conscience choose to accept OR decline COVID vaccinations in accordance with Church teaching.
All that being said, here are some details we hope will be helpful for U of R employees who are interested in obtaining a religious objection to COVID vaccination…
The U of R form directs:
In your own words, please provide a written statement in the space below that outlines your genuine and sincere religious belief contrary to the practice of immunization. The statement should specifically describe the religious principles that guide your objection to vaccination and must include the underlined words above. Documentation prepared by a third party to whose views you ascribe will not be acceptable. Please indicate whether you are opposed to all vaccinations and if not, the religious basis that prohibits a particular vaccination, such as the COVID-19 vaccine.
As the document requires each person to put their reasoning in their own words, we will not here provide any verbatim suggestions, rather we will provide general recommendations that you can use to compose your uniquely-worded argument (though if you would like personalized assistance, please contact us!).
Points to consider for inclusion:
- So long as it is true, be certain to include the exact phrase, “genuine and sincere religious belief” as it relates to your opposition to receiving any of the currently-available COVID vaccines.
- If there is a COVID vaccine in development that you WOULD accept, such as one developed without the use of cell lines form aborted children, indicating this may lend credibility to your thoughtful refusal of those that are currently available. You can find the vaccines currently underdevelopment that meet this criterion from the Charlotte Lozier Institute or on Fr. Tad’s site.
- We also recommend that you quote directly from the CDF document: Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines, including in particular the opening line of paragraph 5, “At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.” Note the use of “must be mandatory.” This is a strong statement and admits of no reasonable variation of interpretation. Please also note that this statement constitutes the official Teaching of the Magisterium and so provides solid ground for a Catholic to form his or her conscience.
We hope that this guidance is helpful. If you have questions, comments, suggestions, or criticisms, please know that we encourage you to share them with us!