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Bishop Edward Weisenburger in a video informing the faithful he is again cancelling public MassesDiocese of Tucson / YouTube screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) – Three more U.S. bishops have publicly stated their opposition to religious exemption from encroaching COVID-19 vaccine mandates, distancing themselves and keeping the clergy under their jurisdiction from endorsing the conscientious objection of those who refuse take the abortion-tainted jabs.

Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson, Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, and Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio have all come out strongly against signing religious exemption letters for parishioners who have a conscientious objection to taking the shots against the novel coronavirus, even though refusing the jabs could mean losing their livelihoods and access to basic amenities.

Weisenburger released a statement August 24 instructing all priests of the diocese “not to cooperate with any individuals seeking our endorsement of an exemption from vaccine or facemask mandates based specifically upon our Catholic faith.”

The prelate claimed that “[a]ll current anti-Covid-19 vaccines may be received by the faithful without moral compromise,” based on his reading of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (CDF) 2020 “Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines.”

While noting that the letter clearly acknowledges the legitimacy of refusing to accept a COVID jabs based on the moral repugnance of the abortion-derived cell lines used in their development and testing, Weisenburger yet insisted that “there may well be a legitimate and compelling moral obligation for one to accept a vaccination … such as in a pandemic.”

The bishop added that the CDF’s emphasis on protecting the vulnerable shows that “we have a clear moral obligation to abide by mask mandates and social distancing” in addition to taking the shot for “the moral good of the community.”

Weisenburger sent a letter to priests within his diocese, relating the direction that they do not sponsor vaccine exemption letters. In the letter, obtained by KGUN 9, Weisenburger cites the “common good and our need to recognize how our decisions can gravely affect the well-being of the community.”

“While there may be individual conscience reasons that one chooses not to be vaccinated or follow a mask mandate, such reservations do not flow from adherence to the Roman Catholic faith,” the bishop claimed.

But Weisenburger’s assessment does not hold to scrutiny. The Roman Catholic faith provides strong and clear statements on the legitimacy of conscientious objection to accepting any medical interventions, including vaccines. One such statement is found in the 2020 CDF document itself, which states that “practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”

Furthermore, the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL) wrote in 2005 that those who oppose morally compromised vaccines “should take recourse, if necessary, to the use of conscientious objection with regard to the use of vaccines produced by means of cell lines of aborted human fetal origin.”

Despite affording no aid to Catholics who wish to stand on their consciences by refusing to take the shots, Weisenburger has previously thrown his full support behind homosexuality, signing a statement that insinuates God created same-sex attraction and that it is a healthy and normal lifestyle just months after the CDF ruled that blessings for homosexual unions could not be legitimate as the Church “does not and cannot bless sin.”

In like manner Bishop Taylor, who also signed the pro-homosexual statement, instructed priests within his diocese of Little Rock in an August 23 letter not to sign vaccine exemption letters for parishioners.

He distinguished between “religious” and “conscientious” exemptions in his letter, arguing that “the former indicates that receiving the vaccine goes against the sincerely held beliefs of that person’s religion.”

The Arkansas prelate then suggested that signing a religious exemption would become an indication that the Church believes that “receiving the vaccine is fundamentally immoral and impermissible.”

“However, that simply is not the case,” the bishop continued, citing the judgement of the CDF, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Pope Francis as supporting the moral permissibility of the jabs. In fact, Taylor emphasized Francis’ recent claim that vaccinating is “an act of charity” for the common good.

In a seemingly contradictory statement, Taylor recognized that an individual may have a conscientious objection to the shots, “and their consciences are obviously inviolable,” but immediately refused to recognize the Church’s emphasis on obedience to the conscience (per the 2005 PAL statement and CCC n.1790) by stating that “their religion is not telling them not to get vaccinated.”

“Therefore, if you receive requests to sign off on ‘religious exemptions’ for your parishioners, you are to politely decline to do so,” the bishop ordered. “You should also take that opportunity to encourage your parishioners to get vaccinated as an act of charity for the common good and the most vulnerable.”

Taylor made a final note to clergy, granting them permission to impose mask mandates in their parishes as they see fit, even suggesting that priests establish a “mask-only Mass.”

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People of goodwill can disagree about the safety, efficacy and religious implications of a new vaccine for the coronavirus.

But, everyone should agree on this point:

No government can force anyone who has reached legal adulthood to be vaccinated for the coronavirus. Equally, no government can vaccinate minors for the coronavirus against the will of their parents or guardians.

Please SIGN this urgent petition which urges policymakers at every level of government to reject calls for mandatory coronavirus vaccination.

Fear of a disease - which we know very little about, relative to other similar diseases - must not lead to knee-jerk reactions regarding public health, nor can it justify supporting the hidden agenda of governmental as well as non-governmental bodies that have apparent conflicts of interest in plans to restrict personal freedoms. 

The so-called "public health experts" have gotten it wrong many times during the current crisis. We should not, therefore, allow their opinions to rush decision-makers into policies regarding vaccination.

And, while some people, like Bill Gates, may have a lot of money, his opinion and that of his NGO (the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) - namely, that life will not return to normal till people are widely vaccinated - should not be permitted to influence policy decisions on a coronavirus vaccination program.

Finally, we must also not allow the rush by pharmaceutical companies to produce a new coronavirus vaccine to, itself, become an imperative for vaccination.

Unwitting citizens must not be used as guinea pigs for New World Order ideologues, or Big Pharma, in pursuit of a vaccine (and, profits) which may not even protect against future mutated strains of the coronavirus.

And it goes without saying that the production of vaccines using aborted babies for cell replication is a total non-starter, as the technique is gravely immoral.

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** While LifeSite opposes immorally-produced vaccines using aborted fetal cell lines, we do not have a position on any particular coronavirus vaccines produced without such moral problems. We realize many have general concerns about vaccines, but also recognize that millions of lives have been saved due to vaccines.

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Similarly, Archbishop García-Siller issued a statement August 27 through the diocesan Facebook page encouraging “all faithful” to receive one of the COVID jabs, despite the connection to abortion, while sharing that he “does not consider the COVID-19 vaccine to be morally objectionable.”

Unlike Taylor and Weisenburger, García-Siller promised to uphold “the right of all individuals to inform and follow their conscience regarding vaccination,” but that such a decision “should not be dependent upon documentation by a member of the clergy.” As such, “the clergy of the Archdiocese of San Antonio will not be providing nor signing religious exemption letters for COVID-19 vaccination,” he said.

Also like the other anti-exemption clergy, García-Siller declared in 2013 that the “Archdiocese of San Antonio does not oppose the spirit of” a local ordinance to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the City of San Antonio’s anti-discrimination policy, though he did call for additional language ensuring that “[p]eople of faith [would] not become a target for legal action for expressing deeply held beliefs on human sexuality, marriage and chastity.”

Meanwhile, Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan, co-founder of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Fatima, has undertaken to provide religious exemption documentation to all members of the confraternity, a community which all Catholics are free to join.

The Confraternity is opposed to abortion-tainted vaccines as a deeply religious held belief. The certificates are personalized with the name of each member, bearing his signature and attesting that “the crime of abortion is so monstrous that any kind of concatenation with this crime, even a very remote one, such as vaccines that use aborted fetal cells for the testing or production, is immoral and cannot be accepted under any circumstances by a Catholic.”

LifeSiteNews has produced an extensive COVID-19 vaccines resources page. View it here.