Religious exemptions for Traditional Catholics explained to employers

October 27, 2021
Source: District of Canada

The District of Canada of the Society of Saint Pius X, following the magisterium of the Catholic Church, supports the faithful who seek religious exemptions from the COVID-19 Vaccines. There are two moral questions, which lead many Catholics, who adhere to the perennial magisterium of the Church to refuse: cooperation in the crime of abortion and the principle of “therapeutic proportionality”. This article explains how the Catholic Church’s teaching has led many Catholics to rejects certain medical interventions with religious conviction.

The Catholic Church teaches that a person may be required to refuse a medical intervention, including vaccination, if his or her informed conscience comes to this judgment.  The following principles reflect the authentic magisterium:

  • There is a general moral duty to refuse the use of medical products, including certain vaccines that are produced using human cell lines derived from direct abortions.  It is permitted to use such vaccines only under certain case specific conditions, based on a judgment of conscience.[1]
  • A person’s informed judgments about the therapeutic proportionality of medical interventions are to be respected unless they contradict authoritative Catholic moral teachings.[2]
  • A person is morally required to obey his or her sure conscience.[3]

Cooperation in the crime of abortion

Traditional Catholics are well known for strong opposition to abortion.  The Covid vaccines have used aborted fetal cell lines in their development and testing.[4]   Traditional Catholic belief as well as many other religious traditions, undergirded by basic science, believe that life starts at the moment of conception, and therefore, to these groups, the development of these particular vaccines represents a grave abuse of human life. 

The Congregation of the Faith on December 21, 2020, stated in paragraph 5 of “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines”:

“…. practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary. In any case, from the ethical point of view, the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed. Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent….”[5]

Therapeutic proportionality

In regards to “therapeutic proportionality,” it is an assessment of whether the benefits of a medical intervention outweigh the undesirable side-effects and burdens in light of the internal good of the person, including spiritual, psychological and bodily goods.[6] The judgment of therapeutic proportionality must be made by the person who is the potential recipient of the medical intervention[7] in the concrete circumstances, not by public health authorities or by other individuals who might judge differently in their own situations. 

Three particular medical concerns are: experimental use, lack of long-term data on health effects, and adverse reactions including death.  All the treatments being marketed as Covid-19 vaccines are still in Phase III clinical trials until 2023 and hence, qualify as a medical experiment.  People accepting these treatments are essentially test-subjects.  We do not know the mid to long term health consequences of these vaccines.  We do know, even now, from the warning labels and admissions of the pharmaceutical companies and Health Canada that vaccine risks include Myocarditis, Pericarditis and Bell’s palsy.  Normal vaccine testing takes 5-10 years or longer. There have been many serious reports of side effects, which statistics are sufficient to cause grave concern. Each should freely do a benefit risk analysis. If the risk outweighs the benefit, one is morally obliged to follow their conscience.[8]

Obeying one’s conscience

Though some religious leaders throughout Canada and the world are known to promote the various Covid-19 vaccines/injections, each person is bound to follow his or her dictate of conscience to refuse a medical treatment that he believes to be offensive to God, and contrary not only to the good of society but also to her or her spiritual, moral, and physical well-being.  Moreover, each recognizes that he or she must answer for his or her actions on the day of judgement.

Positive law supports such exemptions:

Nuremberg Code – The Covid-19 vaccines are experimental. Coercing Canadian citizens into accepting an injection contradicts the Nuremberg Code which requires voluntary and informed consent to any medical treatment: … before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment. (Nuremberg Code, 1)

There are other international agreements which coerced vaccination programs contravene including the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005) and the Helsinki Declaration(1964).

Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Coercing persons into accepting an injection contradicts the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees all Canadians the freedom of conscience and religion (Article 2) and the right to right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice (Article 7).

Canadian Case Law - In Canada, informed consent to medical interventions – including vaccines – is the law. (See Cuthbertson vs Rasouli 2013-10-18; 2013 SCC 53).

Non-Genetic Discrimination Act (2017) – This federal legislation explicitly prohibits any person from undergoing any genetic test as a condition of employment and other contracts. The PCR test would be considered a genetic test as defined by the Act.

At the core of the issue is that vaccination is not a universal obligation, and a person must obey the judgment of his or her own informed and certain conscience.  Therefore, if a person comes to the decision, as many have, that he or she must decline to receive a vaccine for religious reasons, he or she is morally obliged to do so.  To coerce a person into a direct violation of his or her conscience can never be tolerated by a free and just society.

[1] See Pontifical Academy for Life, “Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived from Aborted Human Foetuses,” June 9, 2005; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Dignitas personae, 2008, nn. 34-35; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines,” nn. 1-3. When there is a sufficiently serious reason to use the product and there is no reasonable alternative available, the Catholic Church teaches that it may be permissible to use the immorally sourced product under protest.  In any case, whether the product is used or not, the Catholic Church teaches that all must make their disagreement known and request the development of equal or better products using biological material that does not come from abortions.

[2] See United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, 6th ed. (Washington, DC: USCCB Publishing, 2018), n. 28. Hereafter “ERDs.”

[3] “A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.  If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself.  Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.” Catechism of the Catholic Church (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1993),, n. 1790 and Prummer Tomus I p. 203 Sola conscientia certa (sive directe sive indirecte est recta regula morum. 



[6] See ERDs, nn. 32-33; nn. 56-57; Part Three, Introduction, para. 2; Part Five, Introduction, para. 3.

[7] See ERDs, nn. 56-57.  Both of these directives state that the proportionality of medical interventions is established “in the patient’s judgment.

[8] In the United States as of August 13, 2021, there have been 13,627 deaths attributed to the Covid vaccines as well as over 623,341 in adverse reactions.  Of these reactions, 84,466 have been serious.  More than 2 million adverse events and 21,000 deaths have been reported to a European Union drug reaction database.  Source: