Catholic dioceses will not be exempt from the employer vaccine mandates announced last week by the Biden administration – and responses to the mandate could bring into the spotlight already-existing divisions among Catholics over vaccine mandates.
The new federal regulations, announced September 9, will be implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They will require organizations that employ at least 100 people to mandate that their employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or take weekly COVID tests.
“The OSHA vaccine mandate applies to dioceses that employ more than 100 people,” Roger Severino, Senior Fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center, told The Pillar.
He added that the religious exemptions included in the mandate “are so narrow that I question their legality.”
The federal mandate enjoys the support of about 60% of Americans, but has also prompted legal questions, with the state of Arizona filing a lawsuit challenging it, and other states threatening to do so as well.
But even before the Biden administration had announced the new rules, a clear split on the topic of vaccine mandates was beginning to develop among Catholic dioceses.
In recent months, dioceses have offered differing answers to Catholics on whether they will assist those seeking a religious exemption to a vaccine requirement from a school or employer.
But dioceses have also had to decide how they will act as employers – and what requirements they will place on the people who work for them. Some dioceses have released statements critical of COVID vaccine mandates, while others have issued these mandates for their own employees.
Read more at The Pillar