Proof of vaccination is required at such venues as restaurants and movie theatres, but an accommodation was made for religious venues. Some members of the United Church of Canada, an ecclesial community, have requested that churches not be given an accommodation.
The CBC reported that the mandatory order will be lifted when there are 10 or fewer hospitalizations in the province, and that the province’s premier said there are now 31 persons in hospital.
Natasha Mazerolle, communications director for the Diocese of Saint John, told CNA Sept. 22 that “No person will be turned away from Mass, nor any other Sacrament.”
“The Diocese of Saint John continues to do its utmost to protect both the physical and spiritual needs of its faithful,” said Mazerolle. “It takes the directives of public health seriously and understands the need to make sacrifices to protect the common good, and to be prudent in slowing the spread of the virus. It also recognizes that the faithful are not to be excluded from the Sacraments for any reason, and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith (and indeed what is most needed to help us face these challenging times).”
Mazerolle said “worship services (including Catholic Mass) are not directly mentioned in the government regulation.” She added “an individual’s right to practice their religion is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
“The regulations published on the Government of New Brunswick’s website do not mention worship services or Mass,” Mazerolle said. “While there can be many interpretations, the diocese defers to what has been officially written in the regulation under the Public Health Act and posted on the Government of New Brunswick’s website.”
The provinces of Alberta and Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, are also mandating proof of vaccination to enter some venues. Nova Scotia will begin to mandate proof of vaccination Oct. 4, but that mandate does not apply to places of worship, the Canada-based site Global News reports.
In a December 2020 note, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation” and therefore “must be voluntary.” It said that the morality of vaccination depends on both the duty to pursue the common good and the duty to protect one’s own health, and that “in the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination.”
Carl Bunderson is managing editor of Catholic News Agency. He holds a BA in economics from the University of Colorado Boulder and a BPhil from the Pontifical Lateran University.