Madison diocese directs parishes not to hold vaccine clinics

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Madison Catholic Diocese has instructed its 102 parishes not to host coronavirus vaccination clinics in their schools and churches.

The diocese directive follows federal action which recently made children ages 5 to 11 eligible for the pediatric vaccine.

Diocese spokesperson Brent King said the Diocese wants to maintain its “neutrality” on whether to get one of the vaccines approved for children and adults. All of the vaccines have been proven safe and effective at preventing a virus that’s 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 potentially pressure individuals to act against their consciences,” King said in a statement.

While the diocese is directing its parishes not to set up vaccination clinics, it also says “it is morally permissible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in good conscience,” King said, “but there are also valid reasons, including reasons of conscience, why people might decide not to be vaccinated or have their children vaccinated.”

SSM Health, which owns St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, has recently staffed at least three diocese clinics for staff, parishioners and the public, the State Journal reported.

One parish which hosted a clinic, Queen of Peace, had hoped to hold another for children and said it was “deeply disappointed” by the diocese’s directive.