CV NEWS FEED // Two University of Notre Dame faculty members, including a Roman Catholic bishop, have criticized President Rev. John Jenkins for imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on campus.
As CatholicVote reported, Jenkins announced earlier this month that “Notre Dame will require all students – undergraduate, graduate, and professional – to be fully vaccinated as a condition of enrollment for the 2021–22 academic year.”
“Please register your vaccination at this site,” Jenkins wrote, providing a link. The web page Jenkins linked to includes a message asking students to “upload a picture of your vaccine card.”
On Monday, the student-run newspaper The Observer published a response to Jenkins’ decision written by Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, IL, who serves as an adjunct professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School, and Dr. Gerard Bradley, a Notre Dame Law Professor.
The two authors first acknowledged the “laudable” goal of protecting people from COVID-19 infections, especially those who are vulnerable and weak. They went on, however, to sharply criticize the ethics of mandating vaccination, and reminded Jenkins of “the obligation to respect each person’s right to make their own healthcare decisions, to freely act upon their conscientious convictions and what is genuinely fair to everyone concerned.”
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith recently “concluded that persons may — not must — get vaccinated,” they explained:
This is the moral norm governing all medical treatment, as anyone eighteen or over who has been to the doctor well knows: it must be truly consensual. This principle of self-determination is especially salient in the present circumstance. One reason is that all of the vaccines on offer have been approved only for “emergency use” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); that is, they are still experimental. Participants in a medical experiment should be volunteers, even in a public health crisis such as that presented by the coronavirus. Indeed, especially then, because the pressures of the moment, shifting and almost always invariably incomplete data, and a certain panic could conspire to make even basic moral constraints seem dispensable.
The thorough essay went on to make a number of other arguments against mandating vaccination for students. Notably, the authors pointed out that “some and perhaps many Notre Dame students might judge that … [they] are called to give perspicuous witness to the truth about the horrors of abortion by avoiding even this sort of remote cooperation with it” by refusing to take vaccines which were developed with the use of past research on fetal cells.
“These students’ choices to give such profound moral witness should be respected, and encouraged, at our Catholic university,” the authors argued.
“Most important,” they concluded later in the essay, “any undertaking to exclude from campus every student who declines to be vaccinated — especially but not only those who already possess a natural immunity — would be immoral.”
Readers can find the full essay here.