The Vatican will soon be requiring all staff to be vaccinated or to undergo regular COVID-19 testing, it announced on Tuesday.
Even the most senior members of the Catholic Church would not be exempt from the order, reports said, which come after the Pope previously declared that getting vaccinated was a ‘moral duty’.
Vatican employees without the proper certificates proving they are either vaccinated or have returned a negative COVID test would be considered ‘unjustly absent’ and would be paid no salary, according to The Washington Post.
Pope Francis was vaccinated in January and has advocated for Roman Catholics to get the jab, with the firm stance from the Holy See being seen as a message to Catholics across the word.
Vaccine mandates have become a contentious issue around the world, with some debating whether they can be refused on the grounds of religious exemptions.
In the case of the Vatican, no exemptions have been announced so far, although it noted that the issue would be discussed with the Secretary of State in consultation with the city-state’s health department.
The new rules are set to go into force from October 1.
The Vatican has said that it considers it acceptable for Catholics to use vaccines, even those that use stem cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research.
Earlier this month, the pope said he didn’t understand why some senior Catholics did no want to get the vaccine themselves.
‘It’s a bit strange because humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines,’ he said after a visit to Slovakia, according to BBC News.
‘Even in the College of Cardinals there are some vaccine negationists but one of them, poor thing, has been hospitalized with the virus. These are the ironies of life,’ he added, in an apparent reference to U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is a vaccine skeptic.
Cardinal Burke is now out of hospital recovering from his Covid infection.
The new mandate comes after Pope Francis on Monday said that the attention being given to coronavirus since it first spread across the globe in 2020 has meant efforts to fight other diseases have been neglected.
Health and illness ‘are determined not only by the processes of nature but also by social life,’ he told members of the Pontifical Academy for Life in the Vatican.
‘It is not enough for a problem to be serious for it to attract attention and be addressed appropriately,’ the pope continued. ‘Many very serious problems are ignored due to a lack of adequate commitment.’
‘Let us think of the devastating impact of certain diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis,’ he added, saying that ‘the precariousness of sanitary conditions causes millions of avoidable deaths in the world every year.
‘If we compare this reality with the worry that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, we see how the perception of the seriousness of the problem and the corresponding mobilization of energy and resources is very different.’
Francis insisted that he was not criticising the measures that had been used to stem the spread of the global pandemic, but that he wanted to draw attention to other serious health threats that are still of concern.
Source: Chris Jewers – DAILY MAIL