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Bishop dismantles Notre Dame’s ‘immoral’ policy mandating COVID vaccination

Moral norms dictate that injections must be voluntary, and students can ‘reasonably judge that they risk more from the vaccine than they do from the coronavirus.’
Tue May 4, 2021 - 10:56 am EST
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SOUTH BEND, Indiana, May 4, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Thomas Paprocki and Notre Dame Law School professor Gerard Bradley have criticized last month’s announcement by the University of Notre Dame that the school would require “all students” to subject themselves to injections of experimental COVID-19 gene-therapy vaccines “as a condition of enrollment for the 2021–22 academic year.”

Paprocki, who serves as both the bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, and as an adjunct professor of law at Notre Dame Law School, affirmed with Bradley the university’s moral “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.”

Their editorial, titled “COVID vaccines at Notre Dame,” appeared in The Observer, a student-run daily newspaper, and framed the argument largely according to a Vatican doctrinal “Note” released by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) last December. The Note addressed moral objections to using these “vaccines,” which are tainted in their production or testing with the cells derived from children directly killed by abortion several decades ago.

In contrast to Notre Dame’s policy, the “CDF concluded that persons may — not must — get vaccinated,” Bishop Paprocki and Bradley emphasized. Their choice in this regard “must be truly consensual.” This principle of self-determination “is the moral norm governing all medical treatment” and is “especially salient in the present circumstance” for several reasons.

The CDF’s Note had concluded, “In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic … when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available, it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”

In addition, the Note stated that “practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”

Paprocki and Bradley argue “that all of the vaccines on offer have been approved only for ‘emergency use’” by the FDA. This means “they are still experimental,” and participants in a medical trial “should be volunteers” (more here). This is especially the case, according to the authors, due to the fact that we are apparently “in a public health crisis” when “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.”

In addition, the op-ed reads, “several thousand Notre Dame students have already tested positive for the coronavirus. They are naturally immune to the disease and have no need for the vaccine.”

In the words of eminent physician Dr. Peter McCullough, MD, “People who develop COVID have complete and durable immunity. And [that’s] a very important principle: complete and durable. You can’t beat natural immunity. You can’t vaccinate on top of it and make it better. There’s no scientific, clinical or safety rationale for ever vaccinating a COVID-recovered patient. There’s no rationale for ever testing a COVID-recovered patient.” McCullough also estimated a very high level of herd immunity already — at least in Texas, where the level is at 80% — negating any logical basis for broad vaccination.

The experience of Notre Dame, Paprocki and Bradley observe, confirms the broader data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to which the COVID-19 survival rates for those under 20 years of age are 99.997%, and for those between 20 and 50 years old, 99.98%.

In other words, COVID-19 is essentially an “irrelevant” threat to virtually all of the students at Notre Dame who are subject to this mandate. Indeed, as the statistics show, for those under 70 years of age, influenza is a more dangerous infection.

Thus, Paprocki and Bradly affirm, “college-age students who test positive rarely experience severe symptoms. Many are entirely asymptomatic,” and “the Notre Dashboard, for example, reports no hospitalizations so far for COVID-19 pneumonia.”

As a result, many Notre Dame students, according to Paprocki and Bradley, will “reasonably judge that they risk more from the vaccine than they do from the coronavirus, especially since the vaccines would protect them only from the severe symptoms (or death) that are scarcely real risks for them. In fact, for a low-risk person like the typical Notre Dame student, the chance of a severe reaction to the vaccine is several times higher than the chance of having one after contracting COVID. Notre Dame should respect these students’ voluntary choices.” (additional sources here, here, here, here, here, here, and here)

As McCullough affirmed, “[For] people under 50 who fundamentally have no health risks, there’s no scientific rationale for them to ever become vaccinated.”

Furthermore, the bishop and the law professor continue by clarifying that declining reception of an experimental COVID-19 gene-therapy vaccine injection “would not be unfair to others in the campus community. The vaccines work principally by preventing anyone vaccinated from incurring serious illness, and death. The unvaccinated thus pose no appreciable risk to those students who do choose to get vaccinated, for they (the vaccinated) would be protected by dint of their own choices.”

The university’s policy also states it will “accommodate documented medical and religious exemptions” from receiving these injections. Bishop Paprocki and Bradley encourage the university to interpret these exemptions in accord with reason, that is, broadly. For example, the medical exemption should simply include “persons who conscientiously judge that it would better serve their health to refuse the vaccine.”

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Moral and religious exemptions could involve students who “judge that, although they would not be formally complicit in abortion if they were vaccinated, they nevertheless are called to give perspicuous witness to the truth about the horrors of abortion by avoiding even this sort of remote cooperation with it. These students’ choices to give such profound moral witness should be respected, and encouraged, at our Catholic university,” the authors wrote.

“Notre Dame should expand its understanding of ‘religious’ objectors to include those whose refusal to be vaccinated are rooted in moral considerations or other objections of conscience,” they said.

“Most important,” Bishop Paprocki and Bradley conclude, “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.”

Expressing their trust in the Notre Dame leadership, the authors encourage them to “act for the genuine common good of our community, in light of the relevant scientific truths and in light of all the relevant moral norms.”

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  coronavirus vaccine, gerard bradley, mandatory vaccination, notre dame university, thomas paprocki

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