LA Archbishop Urges Catholics To Get Vaccinated: ‘It's Our Community That's At Stake Here’
Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez appeared in a recent public service message with Pope Francis, urging Catholics around the world to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Church officials in L.A. say most of their parishioners have gotten their shots.
“We've been hearing a tremendous amount of support for the guidance and the protocols that we've been able to follow in the Catholic Church here in Los Angeles,” said Isaac Cuevas, the director of public affairs for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “Most people are getting the vaccine.”
Nevertheless, many in the church want to see vaccination rates higher, and believe that inoculation against the coronavirus is a critical part of taking care of other members of the community — a key tenet of the religion.
“We're there to care for one another,” said Cuevas. “That's our calling as Catholics, and anyone who can get the vaccine, should get the vaccine … It's our community that's at stake here. We want to make sure that we do our best to protect everyone. It's our responsibility.”
People can have their own conscientious objection to the vaccine, but that's not rooted in our religion, so a religious exemption would not apply.
Campaigns have been established by the local Catholic community in neighborhoods that have been hard hit by the virus in order to ensure that they have access to the vaccine. Some have taken place on parish property, Cuevas said.
The Vatican has concluded there's nothing in the Bible that would prohibit someone from getting vaccinated, or allow them to skirt any vaccine mandates.
“People can have their own conscientious objection to the vaccine, but that's not rooted in our religion, so a religious exemption would not apply,” said Cuevas.
According to the L.A. County Department of Public Health, 64% of eligible Angelenos are now fully vaccinated.
Pope Francis and Archbishop Gomez are both vaccinated. Cuevas hopes that the church’s efforts to spread the message about the importance of vaccination will keep members of the community healthy and safe.
“There's an opportunity here to do what's right, and to help other people get informed on the benefits of being vaccinated,” he said, “and we encourage them to do so.”