As our world has tried to eradicate a brand new infectious disease and our country has been fighting over civil liberties, social restrictions, and mask mandates, it has become quite clear that we are fighting more than a battle against disease—we are fighting a battle against misinformation and for science. As Catholics, we believe in objective truth. To that end, our Montana Catholic schools are eliminating the religious exemption for vaccinations.
It’s not hard to see the connection between anti-vaccination advocates and anti-maskers. Relying on pseudo-science and information gathered from friends and the Internet, people have come to believe in the value of independent choice and their own version of truth. See this CNN article linking the two phenomena. Or this article from Current Affairs exploring how paywalls prevent people from accessing good research and good journalism.
Ultimately, these opponents of science advocate solely for their own personal freedom. If they choose to not vaccinate their own children and they never encounter a child with measles, for example, then all is well. In the same way, if a person chooses not to wear a mask and never encounters a COVID-infected person, then there is no harm. If your own self-interest is the basis for your decisions, no one is harmed as long as everyone else puts the common good first.
The Catholic Church puts the common good above self-interest. If vaccinating prevents an outbreak, then that is best. If wearing a mask slows the spread of COVID, then that is the right choice. Science has proven that there is a very minimal risk of harm from vaccinations or wearing a mask. It’s time to put the common good first.
Often, faithful Catholics will argue that it is morally unacceptable to use certain vaccines because they were created from cells from aborted fetuses. The National Catholic Bioethics Center has examined this claim and supports the Vatican statement supporting the use of all vaccines.
Some have argued that it is poor timing to stir up controversy. However, we have given all current students a year to comply with the regulations. As we face the controversy over another vaccine on the horizon—namely, the COVID vaccine—this is exactly the right time for our schools to align with science and the common good.
See the new policy spelled out (Policy 2022 on page 10).