The norms do not apply to Catholics attending Masses at St. Peter’s Basilica, but extend to visitors to the Vatican Museums.
The decree was issued a day after the Vatican underlined its support for COVID-19 vaccines, recalling that Pope Francis described vaccination as an “act of love.”
The pope recorded a public service announcement supporting vaccinations that was released in August in collaboration with the Ad Council.
In the PSA, he said: “Getting the vaccines that are authorized by the respective authorities is an act of love. I pray to God that each one of us can make his or her own small gesture of love, no matter how small, love is always grand.”
During an in-flight press conference from Slovakia in September, the pope said that “in the Vatican, everyone is vaccinated except a small group which they are studying how to help.”
Three Swiss Guards quit this fall after refusing to comply with the Vatican’s vaccine requirement and three other guards were suspended until they were fully vaccinated.
The new Vatican decree comes as countries around the world impose new restrictions aimed at slowing the transmission of the omicron variant, which is believed to spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The measures have prompted protests in several European countries.
An estimated 44,000 people attended a rally against compulsory vaccines in Vienna on Dec. 11, after the government announced that Austria would become the first Western country to introduce mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 from February 2022.
The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in its “Note on the morality of using some anti-COVID-19 vaccines,” issued on Dec. 21, 2020, that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”
It added that Catholics who, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, “must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent.”
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