With children ages 5 to 11 eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin, the Catholic Diocese of Madison is letting its 102 parishes know that they are not allowed to host COVID-19 vaccine clinics in schools and churches of the diocese.
Diocese spokesman Brent King said the diocese wants to maintain its “neutrality” about whether or not to approve one of the three vaccines for use by children or adults, or both, in the United States. All vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in preventing illness and death from a virus that has killed more than 750,000 Americans.
“The diocese has not and will not wade into the polarizing and political environment surrounding this issue, especially as it could put pressure on individuals to act against their conscience,” King said in an emailed statement.
At the same time, the diocese has “repeatedly” advised “it is morally permissible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in good conscience,” he said, “but there are also valid reasons, including reasons of conscience, why people might decide not to vaccinated or to have their children vaccinated.”
King said the diocese also banned his churches and schools as vaccination sites for people over 12 years old earlier this year. Although at least three diocese sites — Edgewood High School and Our Lady Queen of Peace and Good Shepherd parishes — have hosted clinics for staff, parishioners or the public, according to Kim Sveum, a spokesperson for SSM Health, which owns St. Mary’s Hospital. in Madison and manned the clinics.