Military archdiocese reiterates Church teaching on Covid vaccines

Archbishop Broglio Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. | EWTN News In Depth

The Pentagon is reportedly set to require that all troops receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a memo that was first obtained Monday by the Associated Press. 

The memo from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated that he would be seeking “the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September,” or when the vaccine is fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, if that occurs first.

The FDA is expected to approve the Pfizer vaccine early next month. Presently, all three coronavirus vaccines currently being distributed in the United States--Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson--are under an emergency use authorization.  

The move to mandate the vaccinations is supported by Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. Broglio told Catholic News Agency on Monday that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, along with Pope Francis, “had recognized the morality of the vaccine.” 

The CDF’s advice “is the best guidance that we, as Catholics, have,” he said. 

Broglio added that this vaccine mandate would “be very similar to other mandates already in force,” and that “several chaplains have mentioned that before a deployment you are given several inoculations and no one asks for your consent.” 

“Certainly, no vaccine is an absolute, but the military is bound to live, work, and recreate together,” he said. “It seems prudent to ensure they do not infect each other.” 

The archbishop said that while a person could object from the mandatory vaccine due to their personal conscience, “even that should be formed by the teaching of the Church.” 

In March, following the beginning of vaccine distribution in the United States, Archbishop Broglio encouraged people to get vaccinated with whatever vaccine is offered. 

“In the case of vaccines to protect against the Coronavirus pandemic, the highest doctrinal authority of the Church, speaking on behalf of the Bishop of Rome, has made its clear position on the vaccines available,” said Archbishop Broglio in March. 

“The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, clearly endorses and encourages the faithful entrusted to her care to follow that guidance,” he said. “The vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna are preferred to the others, because of their very remote link human cells derived from abortion,” said Archbishop Broglio, adding that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is “more problematic.”  

“However, if that is the only vaccine available, Catholic men and women in uniform and their families, should avail themselves of this preventative measure as an act of charity.” 

“Being vaccinated is also an act of charity to our sisters and brothers,” said the archbishop. 

In an Aug. 9 statement, US President Joe Biden said that he supported adding the COVID-19 vaccine to a list of vaccines that service members must receive. 

“Secretary Austin and I share an unshakable commitment to making sure our troops have every tool they need to do their jobs as safely as possible,” said Biden. “These vaccines will save lives. Period. They are safe. They are effective. Over 350 million shots have been given in the United States alone.”

Biden said that vaccinations “will enable our service members to stay healthy, to better protect their families, and to ensure that our force is ready to operate anywhere in the world.”

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