To the Bishops, Priests, other clergy and Friends of the Archdiocese of St. Michael
Greetings in the Name of the Lord.
Be it known to the world that by these presents, the College of Bishops of the Archdiocese of Saint Michael have resolved and stand in solidarity against the use of the various Covid-19 Vaccines for the following reasons;
Our Deeply Held Religious Belief About Our Bodies and Conscience
Because we are believers in Jesus Christ, His Holy Spirit, God Himself, dwells within us. Our Bodies are His Temple. (1 Corinthians 6)
Scripture makes it clear that God’s temples are places of great importance in the relationship between God and man. God dwells in the Temple, and there a man communes with Him. God speaks harshly of, and deals harshly with, those who defile his temple. (Jeremiah 7:1-15)
The Temple is defiled when it is used in ways that distract from its purpose, that deny the glory of God, that invite sin, that lower God from His place of dominance in the life of the believer, that reduce his trust in God’s plan and ultimate control over his life, or that by these means or others corrupt his relationship with God.
We must use our bodies to glorify God. We must do this to the best of our ability, employing our God-given reason and attempting at all times, in good faith and under varying circumstances, to do what pleases Him.
For the sake of relationship, God has shared with us His image and likeness. We look like Him in some respects, and we are like Him in others. He has given us many of His own attributes in small doses. Our innate sense of what is right, and our freedom to act upon it, are two of those attributes. They impose upon me a duty to act in accord with my conscience.
Our conscience tells us we cannot take any of the available Covid vaccines. There are several reasons for this:
1. We find that Abortion is a grave evil. We absolutely cannot participate in it or benefit from it, even remotely. Where there is any question about whether the covid vaccines have made use of fetal tissue, in their manufacture or even in their testing, We cannot morally involve ourselves. But it is unquestionable that all three available COVID-19 vaccines have been manufactured or tested using fetal cell lines from aborted human children.
- Johnson & Johnson/Janssen: Fetal cell cultures are used to produce and manufacture the J&J COVID-19 vaccine and the final formulation of this vaccine includes residual amounts of the fetal host cell proteins (≤0.15 mcg) and/or host cell DNA (≤3 ng).
- Pfizer/BioNTech: The HEK-293 abortion-related cell line was used in research related to the development of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
- Moderna/NIAID: Aborted fetal cell lines were used in both the development and testing of Moderna’s  COVID-19 vaccine.
2. Unlike other measures that can be reasonably taken to avoid illness, willingly receiving the vaccines into my body defiles God’s temple in the following ways:
a. The vaccines act at a genetic level that invades the province of God. Our genetic physiology is His design, extraordinarily complex as only He could make it, and understood only as He can understand it. Our understanding is shallow.
we cannot morally participate in tinkering with a powerful and dangerous thing, within this temple, that we poorly understand.
b. The acceptance into our bodies of any of the available covid vaccines would place my trust in Man over my trust in God. This defiles His temple.
c. Our duty to God is to reasonably preserve our health, not endanger it. There is evidence available, and worthy of consideration, that the vaccines are dangerous to our bodies.
3. Our faith teaches us that our conscience must be informed. The vaccines have been quickly configured. Many fair and important questions remain unresolved. A sufficiently informed decision cannot yet be made. Taking the vaccine at this point is a morally careless act.
4. Although we are not in communion with the Roman Catholic church we agree with their teachings that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.” Thus, the Archdiocese of Saint Michael’s teaches that We must not be forced to take a COVID-19 vaccine. We agree with and follow the teaching of Catholic prelates who, on this issue of conscience, have come down against any use of the available abortion-derived vaccines because it would be sinful to cooperate, even indirectly, in the crime of abortion. In particular:
Bishop Joseph E. Strickland:
I urge you to reject any vaccine that uses the remains of aborted children in research, testing, development, or production. Testify to the truth that abortion must be rejected and make a choice that is consistent with the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death and is rooted in a mature faith and trust in eternal life, not fear of suffering in this life.
Cardinal Janis Pujats, Archbishop Tomash Peta, Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider:
The crime of abortion is so monstrous that any kind of concatenation with this crime, even a very remote one, is immoral and cannot be accepted under any circumstances by a Catholic once he has become fully aware of it. One who uses these vaccines must realize that his body is benefitting from the “fruits” (although steps removed through a series of chemical processes) of one of mankind’s greatest crimes. Any link to the abortion process, even the most remote and implicit, will cast a shadow over the Church’s duty to bear unwavering witness to the truth that abortion must be utterly rejected. The ends cannot justify the means.
5. The Bishops of the Archdiocese of Saint Michael’s agree with the teaching of other Roman Catholic bishops, including those of Colorado and South Dakota, also corresponds to my sincerely held personal religious belief that I cannot partake of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines specified above:
We are pleased to see that in the case of the most recent Denver vaccine mandate there is accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs. This is appropriate under the laws protecting freedom of religion…. The vaccination question is a deeply personal issue, and we continue to support religious exemptions from any and all vaccine mandates.
The Bishops of the Archdiocese of Saint Michael’s must stress, however, that even though we are not Roman Catholic, our personal religious belief are the same. We cannot have anything to do with vaccines that are connected in any way to the act of abortion. We could not live with ourselves if we were forced to be injected with any such vaccine.
6. As the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Guidance on the protection of sincere religious beliefs states, it does not matter whether one’s sincere religious belief happens to correspond to that of any denomination or that it might even contradict the teaching of one’s denomination. What matters is that one has a sincere religious belief, which I do, concerning the immorality of recourse to abortion-derived vaccines. To quote the EEOC’s Guidance document in the Code of Federal Regulations:
The fact that no religious group espouses such beliefs or the fact that the religious group to which the individual professes to belong may not accept such belief will not determine whether the belief is a religious belief of the employee or prospective employee…
7. Also, we are aware that the United States Supreme Court has held that “[W]e reject the notion that to claim the protection of the Free Exercise Clause, one must be responding to the commands of a particular religious organization.” Frazee v. Illinois Dep’t of Emp. Sec., 489 U.S. 829, 834, 109 S. Ct. 1514, 1517–18, 103 L. Ed. 2d 914 (1989)(emphasis added).
In conclusion, in my capacity as Presiding Bishop and speaking for the College of Bishops of the Archdiocese of Saint Michael’s, I set my hand to this document on this the Fifth day of October in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty-one.
29 CFR 1605.1 (“Religious” nature of a practice or belief).