CV NEWS FEED // A Canadian archdiocese has barred Catholics from church unless they show proof of vaccination, while also requiring those who attend to wear masks. The archdiocese’s rules far exceed the demands of the local secular government, according to a report from Pillar.
“At any gathering inside our churches, rectories or building under our supervision, those present shall be doubly vaccinated,” Archbishop Valery Vienneau of Archdiocese of Moncton announced in a statement (emphasis in the original).
“Volunteers are expected to be at the doors of each church to ask worshippers for proof of full vaccination and place their names on a list as fully vaccinated people,” the archbishop continued. “This list will be used again on subsequent Sundays so our volunteers may avoid asking our parishioners for proof of vaccination each time.” Children under the age of 12 are exempted from the requirement, as they are legally not allowed to receive vaccinations for COVID-19.
The archbishop explicitly wrote that the purpose of keeping lists of Catholics and their vaccination statuses was to provide that information to the government on request. He also wrote that these lists shouldn’t only be made at Masses. “Inform the funeral home staff that family members and loved ones who come to church are to be doubly vaccinated,” he wrote in the statement:
For baptisms and weddings, this task will fall to the parish office staff or to the person meeting the family to prepare for the celebration. It will be necessary to keep a list of participants in funerals, weddings and baptisms after ensuring that they are doubly vaccinated.
The sharply-worded statement reiterated the new vaccination requirement in detail several times, and also repeatedly ordered masking at all gatherings, including funerals, first communions, confessions, baptisms, and weddings, as well as informal events such as prayer meetings and socials.
It is unclear from the statement what allowances if any Archbishop Vienneau is making for the ministry of last rites to the dying.
“We may NOT accept a person who is not vaccinated or has a single dose inside our facilities for a celebration or a meeting even with a mask and social distancing, unless they had proof of exemption, which is rare,” the archbishop wrote.
The new rules “exceed the requirements for houses of worship announced by the local government, and far exceed those put in place by other dioceses” in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada, the Pillar reported:
According to the government website, while the indoor mask mandate is required for all indoor public gatherings, and is explicitly applied to houses of worship, the proof of vaccination requirement is only placed on “certain” indoor gatherings, which do not include houses of worship.
While the government policy does include dining venues, sports events, casinos and similar venues, and although the policy does make explicit mention of weddings and funerals, it does not apply to churches. Furthermore, the government expressly rules out the need to compile lists of vaccinated individuals, or to provide such lists to the government….
“An FAQ sheet published by the government asks and answers the question ‘Will businesses be keeping records or collecting my personal information?’” the Pillar found:
“There will be no collection of information or keeping of records,” the government affirms, making clear that the archdiocesan policy exceeds the expectations of the province for institutions falling under its policies.
The archbishop’s new policies shocked many Catholic onlookers, especially in the United States. According to the Pillar, the archdiocese has also rankled local Catholics. In addition, the Pillar surveyed the COVID-19 policies of neighboring dioceses in the Province of New Brunswick and found that they are generally more lenient.
Readers can find the full report from the Pillar here.
The full statement by Archbishop Valery Vienneau can be found here.