A health care worker prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Montreal. CNS photo/Andrej Ivanov, Reuters

Moncton archdiocese won’t require proof of vaccination

By 
  • September 24, 2021

The Archbishop of Moncton has backtracked on his vaccination policy, eliminating the need to for parishioners to provided proof of vaccination for Masses, baptisms and prayer groups.

Proof of vaccinations will be required for weddings and funerals, said the statements posted on the archdiocesan website Sept. 24.

On Sept. 17, Moncton Archbishop Valéry Vienneau had released policy stating that anyone over the age of 12 must be doubly vaccinated to attend any gathering at a church, rectory or community centre under its supervision.

Vienneau said he was following the “wishes” of provincial Minister of Health Dorothy Shephard “to have gatherings of fully vaccinated people to keep people safe and to act as an incentive for the unvaccinated.”

“We would not want one of our places of worship to be the location of a COVID exposure due to our negligence. The Minister of Health is counting on our co-operation,” Vienneau said.

However, in his Sept. 24 statement, Vienneau said New Brunswick’s four had “received new directives from the Minister of Health concerning the sanitary measures to be implemented in our churches.

Accordingly, the new rules include everyone being masked at all times during church services, with capacity at 50 per cent and physically distancing protocols.

“It is highly desirable for parish employees to be fully vaccinated,” the statement said. “If this is not the case, they will have to wear a mask at all times and undergo a COVID test periodically according to government policy. 

Like many Canadian businesses, Catholic dioceses across the country are grappling with COVID-19 vaccination policies. The challenge for churches is striking a balance on several fronts: safety for staff and parishioners, dealing with those who remain unvaccinated, and working toward a full re-opening of churches.

The Archdiocese of Toronto released its vaccination policy Sept. 24, urging Catholics to be vaccinated and asking archdiocesen clergy, staff and volunteers to be fully vaccinated or be subject to regular COVID testing.

"I very strongly urge every Catholic to become fully vaccinated, though we will make every effort to ensure places of worship remain open and accessible to all, regardless of vaccination status," Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, said in a statement. "The church should serve as a respite, a sanctuary of peace, prayer and welcome. We are heartened to see that the provincial government has not required proof of vaccination to enter a place of worship."

The cardinal also made a direct appeal to clergy who have not yet been vaccinated. "Due to requirements from the provincial government and organizational policies in many institutions, your ability to serve the faithful will be significantly impeded should you choose not to be vaccinated," he wrote. "This will restrict your ministry in schools, hospitals, long-term care homes and other settings requiring full vaccination. We know that these visits and your ongoing pastoral care in these settings are important aspects of your ministry.

In Vancouver, parish meetings and youth events can go ahead without checking participants’ vaccine status at the door, but masks are still the order of the day.

“In simplest terms, masks are required for all indoor events, meetings, and programs (archdiocesan requirement) and proof of vaccination is generally not,” said a Sept. 9 notice from the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

Exceptions to this rule are the same as those outlined by B.C. health authorities: masks are not required for people with health conditions or a physical, cognitive or mental impairment that prevents them from wearing a mask, people who cannot remove a mask on their own, children under age 12 and people who need to remove their masks to communicate due to someone’s hearing impairment.

Proof of vaccination is not required to attend any worship service.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in August that proof of vaccination will not be required to access religious services, health care, retail or grocery settings.

She asked faith leaders to encourage “only immunized people” to attend services, although she hasn’t said the government has enforcement in mind.

“Those are decisions that faith leaders, communities, church groups, choirs, make for themselves; they don’t need an order from me to do that.”

Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller has voiced his support of getting the vaccine, calling it the “best protection” against the virus.

In Hamilton, Ont., Bishop Douglas Crosby has joined other faith leaders in the city in an ad campaign titled Faith in Vaccine to encourage people to be vaccinated.

In London, Ont., the diocese told CTV News: “Our priority is balancing the safety of our parishioners and ensuring access to the sacraments for the faithful.”

(With files from The B.C. Catholic)

Last modified on September 24, 2021

Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Archbishop Vienneau backtracked. But not because of parishioners, but because he "received new directives" from on high. Should they change, what then?

Cardinal Collins, Toronto: "the church [sic]* should serve as a respite, a sanctuary of...

Archbishop Vienneau backtracked. But not because of parishioners, but because he "received new directives" from on high. Should they change, what then?

Cardinal Collins, Toronto: "the church [sic]* should serve as a respite, a sanctuary of peace, prayer and welcome. We are heartened to see that the provincial government has not required proof of vaccination to enter a place of worship". Should they change, what then?

Bishop Crosby urges "Faith in Vaccine".** Is this not the abrogation of the new and everlasting covenant? What then?

*the Church should be capitalized, note mine.
**the capitalization not mine

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Michael
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