Military archbishop says Catholic troops can refuse Covid vaccines on religious grounds

“This circumstance raises the question of whether the vaccine’s moral permissibility precludes an individual from forming a sincerely held religious belief that receiving the vaccine would violate his conscience,” he wrote. “It does not.”

Broglio has expressed support for President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for the military in the past — citing guidance from Pope Francis, the Holy See and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that the Covid shots are morally acceptable. The archbishop has expressed preference for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines because of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s remote link to human cells derived from abortions.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed, tested, and is produced, with abortion-derived cell lines. That vaccine is, therefore, more problematic,” he said in the statement. “If it were the only vaccine available, it would be morally permissible, but the faithful Catholic is to make known his or her preference for a more morally acceptable treatment.”

The question of religious exemptions is being raised across the country as states and businesses institute Covid vaccine requirements, falling in line with Biden’s new requirements for millions of American workers. A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that New York couldn’t impose such mandates on health care workers without allowing employers to consider religious exemption requests — an early test case as challengers oppose vaccine mandates.