Many people who oppose vaccination for COVID-19 describe themselves as doing their own research on Covid-19. This research does not usually include formal Catholic documents on the response to the virus. Others assume that Catholic positions or practices are wrong because they are not in accord with the writer’s personal point of view.
This page contains links to some key documents and statements on Covid-19 from Catholic sources. Being a Catholic does not require unquestioning obedience to authority, but our tradition does expect that Catholics will engage thoughtfully and prayerfully with those who speak authoritatively through the teaching and wisdom of the Church.
Before writing to Catholic leaders or organisations, we encourage you to spend time studying formal Catholic statements in prayerful reflection. A suggested process:
- Spend some time quietly reminding yourself you are in the presence of God. Some quiet time before a candle or listening to a favourite hymn might be a way of entering a holy, prayerful frame of mind.
- Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom in considering the teaching of the Church on this matter.
- Read the statement slowly. Notice what stands out to you, what surprises you. Notice what you agree with and what you disagree with.
- Ask God for help in understanding why you might disagree with a position the church has taken. Some questions to consider:
- Do I start from a position that my thinking is right?
- Do I believe my religious leaders need to shift their thinking or is it possible that I need to shift my thinking?
- Is there a source that I regard as more authoritative than my religious leaders? Why do I trust them more than my religious leaders?
- What more do I need to know to understand why my religious leaders have taken this position?
- Read the statement again. Take a note again of what stands out to you.
- Spend time in quiet prayer bringing to prayer any confusion or conflict, or any clarification or enlightenment that this experience causes for you.
- Write your reflections in a journal. You may find you want to return to one document several times in prayerful reflection.
If after or during prayer you find yourself deeply conflicted about the gap between your preferred position and that of authoritative Catholic teaching, it may be helpful to discuss this crisis of conscience with a spiritual director.
Some key statements and resources:
- New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference pastoral letter: Living, Caring, Worshipping and Ministering in a Covid-19 World November 2021
- New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference media release: NZ Catholic Bishops urge everyone to have a Covid-19 vaccine January 2021
- The Nathaniel Report Issue 65 “COVID-19 Covid-19 Vaccinations and Mandates: Protective or Punitive? A Catholic Ethical Perspective”
- Pope Francis: Message to the people on the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 August 2021
- Pope Francis: Catechesis – Healing the World – a series of weekly General Audience addresses from 5 August to 23 September 2020. The first one is here: Catechesis – Healing the World and they follow each Wednesday until 23 September.
- Pope Francis: Urbi et Orbi Blessing/Extraordinary moment of prayer March 2020
- Cardinal John Dew: The Pandemic
- NZCBC and Nathaniel Bioethics Centre information sheet on the Covid-19 Vaccine and Immunisation programme
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines December 2020
- Vatican Covid-19 Commission and Pontifical Academy for Life: Vaccine for all: 20 points for a fairer and healthier world