CNN's New Day examined the situation with Timothy Broglio, the Catholic archbishop of the U.S. military, who says Catholic troops can refuse the covid vaccine if it violates their conscience -- even though Pope Francis has made clear it is morally acceptable to take the vaccine.
"Okay, walk me through how you're interpreting Broglio's statement here, because he's basically saying you can go with your conscience, Catholic troops, but he's also essentially saying you can go with your conscience, but that would be defying as we see the church's teachings about the vaccines, especially Pfizer and Moderna," Brianna Keilar said.
"The archbishop is correct that in Catholic teaching, there is a primacy to one's individual conscience," Father Edward Beck said.
"However, the teaching says that when you're making up that conscience and deliberating, you have to take into account church teaching, and you have to be informed about what you're deliberating. So, first of all, the person has to say, what is the church teaching about this? As you just said, Pope Francis is saying take the vaccine. The official stance of the church is that you should be vaccinated. The second part, are you informed?
"So, Brianna, if you talk to people as I have who are claiming religious exemption, the primary reason I have heard people say is because, well, the cells are from aborted fetuses and I don't want that injected into my body, I'm opposed to abortion, therefore I can't get the vaccine. Well, that is not informed. And that is incorrect."
He went on to explain that the vaccines were developed with cell lines that are cloned copies of cells from decades ago.
"So over decades, you're talking about thousands of generations removed from that fetal tissue, cell lines were developed that were used in research for the vaccines. So they contain no tissue from fetuses. And yet you hear people saying, well, I'm not going to have that, I want religious exemption because fetal tissue is being used. That's not correct. That's to say then you shouldn't take chicken pox vaccine."
"Or Ex-Lax. I mean, the list goes on and on about other vaccines people have taken. I also want to understand this, he said those who refuse the covid-19 vaccine must continue to act in charity for their neighbors and for the common good by undertaking means to mitigate the spread of covid-19. The fact is, Father, you cannot do that in a submarine, you cannot do that in a tank, you can't do that in a small office, you know, where so many service members also work. How do you square that?" Keilar asked.
"I don't think you can," Beck said.
"If you're saying this, that you have to protect neighbor, love of God and love of neighbor go together, you're basically saying you can't serve normally anymore. You can't live with others. You can't work with others. You have to isolate, you have to basically become a hermit to ensure that you're not going to transmit this virus to your fellow men and women. So I don't think you can say, well, I'm going to be careful with this. We're told that's not enough with this virus. And so I really don't think religious exemption works for troops here, because your very situation puts you in close contact with others and you have the risk therefore of infecting them."
"Yeah, I think this will come down to, you can reject the vaccine using your conscience, but not reject the vaccine and serve in the American armed forces," Keilar concluded.