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BOSTON, Massachusetts, March 30, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The Archdiocese of Boston, headed by Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, has made the reception of a COVID vaccine a necessary prerequisite to laity participating in certain ministries at parishes, such as serving at the altar.

The Archdiocese’s March 17 updated COVID protocols include allowing an adult to serve at the altar, but only if the adult has been vaccinated.

“Parishes can use a vaccinated adult altar server at all Masses,” the protocol states.

“The server should wear a mask, and the priest (and deacon) should wear a mask at the times when they are not speaking. When the priest is speaking and therefore not wearing a mask, the server should maintain the greatest distance possible. The server should not hold the missal for the priest,” states the guidelines about the server.

The protocols also allow parishes to resume “a normal frequency” of Communion calls if the minister is “fully vaccinated.” According to the guidelines, such calls should be brief, “just long enough to bring the Sacrament,” adding that “extraordinary ministers of Communion can continue to bring the Blessed Sacrament to their families regardless of vaccination status.”

The new protocols come amid the “steady rollout of vaccines and declining numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations,” reported the Boston Pilot, the Archdiocese’s newspaper.

Many pew-sitting Catholics are beginning to worry about how access to the sacraments may soon depend on their vaccination status.

Just this week, a parish in New Jersey announced that it would only allow those who had been vaccinated to receive the sacrament of Confession. Pushback from Catholics resulted in the local bishop stepping in and successfully asking the parish priest to change his policy.

Last month, a New Mexico parish priest stated that those age 60 and older who wanted to assist in distribution of Holy Communion and in ushering must first receive a COVID vaccine.

Guidance from the Catholic Church on the morality of using COVID-19 vaccines allows the faithful the option of seeking a religious exemption from vaccines, especially those tainted by abortion.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated in December 2020 that “practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”

“In any case, from the ethical point of view, the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed. Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent.”