Loving Thy Neighbor = Vaccinating
A coalition of 31 U.S. Catholic organizations is marking World Health Day by announcing unified support to encourage constituents and faith communities to accept vaccination as an act of charity and solidarity with others that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and build immunity against the virus.
The coalition is promoting vaccine equity in the U.S. and around the world, drawing on Catholic social teaching, for people who are underserved or marginalized. This includes communities of color, rural areas, and others with limited vaccine availability in the U.S., as well as access for developing countries and among refugees and other displaced people who may not be citizens in their current home.
Recognizing there has been differing information and understanding about the vaccines, the Catholic organizations are joining together to promote the common good and amplify the teachings of Pope Francis and U.S. Catholic Bishops on accepting the vaccine as they become available and promoting equitable distribution.
The coalition is also encouraging Catholics to recognize there are moral reasons for taking personal responsibility in an effort to end the pandemic so that society, particularly the most vulnerable, can attain physical, mental, and economic wellness.
Each organization in the coalition has committed to three major goals.
- Leverage their communication channels and resources to share consistent information about the importance and moral responsibility of individuals to accept a COVID-19 vaccine when available.
- Provide human, spiritual, and pastoral support for those struggling to understand, affirm, and act on Catholic social teaching, including the teachings of Pope Francis and the U.S. Catholic Bishops.
- Advocate for the equitable distribution of the vaccine in the U.S. and globally.
The coalition is providing information and resources on issues related to COVID-19 vaccines at www.catholiccares.com.
"As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available we encourage everyone to seek the facts about how the vaccine works and understand that other measures, such as wearing a mask in public, will still be necessary. Our health care workers have been heroically caring for COVID-19 patients and urgently need everyone to do their part to ensure we can finally overcome the virus," said Sr. Mary Haddad, president and CEO, Catholic Health Association of the United States.
“The pandemic and its shadow pandemics of hunger and poverty are ravishing many countries around the world. All those who live there, especially the most vulnerable, deserve the same access to life saving vaccines that we have. The common good too requires that we make vaccine access equitable globally since we can only defeat this virus here if we defeat it everywhere,” said Sean Callahan, president and CEO, Catholic Relief Services.
“In this Easter season we remember that the immediate effects of Jesus' resurrection on the first Christians included a profound sense of community and concern for those in need,” said Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO, Catholic Charities USA. “These are the very traits that continue to animate our encounters with each other and those in the wider community, especially during this challenging moment as we seek to emerge from the pandemic. Each of us plays a part by getting vaccinated and practicing safety measures for the good of all, and by doing everything we can to ensure that those who are most in need have access to the vaccine and protective equipment.”
"Many will get vaccinated for their families' or the public's good health. Catholics are the same; they just have the encouragement of Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, who cared for someone he didn't even know,” said Fr. Dennis H. Holtschneider, president, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
"Compassion compels us to encourage everyone to get the vaccine. Justice calls us to promote global vaccine equity. Charity moves us to give time and money to ensure the vaccine reaches vulnerable and marginalized communities," said Dr. Donald McCrabb, executive director, United States Catholic Mission Association.
The coalition will utilize their respective social media platforms to share facts and information about the vaccines. The campaign will also highlight the moral responsibility of doing good works for one another and encourage adoption of the Vatican’s COVID-19 resource kit for Church leaders, which provides content for the preparation of homilies, and tailored messages that be used for parish websites, bulletins and other media.
As Pope Francis recently expressed "At a time when everything seems to disintegrate and lose consistency, it is good for us to appeal to the solidity born of the consciousness that we are responsible for the fragility of others as we strive to build a common future. Solidarity finds concrete expression in service, which can take a variety of forms in an effort to care for others. And service in great part means caring for vulnerability, for the vulnerable members of our families, our society, our people.'"