Catholic Diocese of Spokane weighs in on religious vaccine exemptions 

Spokane, Wash. — Washington State University fired its head coach of the vaccine mandate. Former head coach Nick Rolovich plans to sue.

In a statement on Wednesday, his attorney, Brian Fahling, said “it is tragic and damning commentary on our culture, and more specifically, on [athletic director Pat] Chun, that Coach Rolovich has been derided, demonized and ultimately fired from his job, merely for being devout in his Catholic faith.”

Rolovich applied for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine as part of Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate; he was denied.

The university said it used an objective process in going through religious exemptions, but Rolovich and his attorney believe he was targeted.

READ: Former football coach Nick Rolovich planning to sue WSU over termination

READ: WSU fired its head coach over the vaccine mandate. This is the exemption process it used.

The Catholic Diocese of Spokane couldn’t comment specifically on Rolovich’s situation, but touched upon religious vaccine exemptions in general.

The diocese has publicly supported the vaccine before, too, as well as Pope Francis and other bishops. They said it contributes to the common good.

“Especially in a pandemic or health care crisis,” said Father Kyle Ratuiste, a Diocesan Bioethicist for the Catholic Diocese.

However, he says there’s a “balance of respecting people’s conscience,” too.

Ratuiste says Catholics are morally free to accept the vaccines, but they’re also not morally obligated to get them.

“There is no clear indication of, ‘Oh, you should not take vaccines, as a vaccine,'” he said. “I would say there are certain streams of thought or emphasis in the Catholic community, in which one, vaccines may be seen as an unnecessary kind of intervention.”

Some people have cited objections to the use of aborted fetal cells.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not use them in production. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine, however, has lab-replicated cells.

None of the vaccines contain aborted fetal cells. The Catholic Diocese says all vaccines can be used but recommends Pfizer and Moderna over Johnson and Johnson.

“Some parts of the Catholic church and some lay people, lay groups, even bishops, have been much more strong on saying we should reject these because of that association with abortion. Some say that association is so remote or so minuscule that it is justifiable for us to receive and ultimately leave it to people’s consciences,” Ratuiste said.

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