Anglican bishop says NL vaccine passport needs clarification

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An Anglican bishop in central Newfoundland has said the central Newfoundland diocese will require proof of vaccination for all of its regular services from October 22 – but calls the provincial government’s vaccination passport “ambiguous” and of “confusing”.

In a message to the religious community released earlier this week, Bishop John Watton said the province “has made it clear that proof of vaccination is required of all churches by law.”

The government has said that if faith-based organizations do not check for evidence of vaccination at the rally, they must adhere to strict rules, including limiting gatherings to 50% of capacity, requiring people to wear masks and banning singing.

The diocese had planned to take this route, but in its message Watton said the government “has made it clear that the requirements for not using the vaccination protocol are not an optional route but should only be used. only in exceptional circumstances “.

Watton said government messages regarding the new vaccine rules “created ambiguity and negative energy that could have been avoided.”

Watton said he heard from members of the religious community who are in favor of a vaccine passport and those who are opposed to it.

Some, he said, are angry about it, but despite this, Watton wrote that the diocese has “come to the conclusion that we will support vaccination passport protocols.”

Still, he says it’s a complicated situation because vaccine passports would mean unvaccinated people might not be allowed to attend worship, which he says goes against Anglican theology. .

“We affirm our love and commitment to the unvaccinated and we are committed to doing whatever is possible for us to ensure inclusion as members of our faith community,” he wrote.

Other religious organizations disagree

However, the Newfoundland and Labrador Muslim Association and synagogue president Beth El said the government’s direction was clear. Both religious organizations plan to require a vaccination passport to attend services.

The Muslim Association says it has implemented its own registration process to screen people entering the An Nur Masjid Mosque in St. John’s before the provincial government begins planning its own vaccination passport.

Dr. Syed Pirzada, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Muslim Association, says the decision to comply with the provincial vaccine mandate was an easy one. (Curtis Hicks / CBC)

Syad Pirzada, president of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, said the mosque will use the vaccine passport but will also continue to physically distance itself and disinfect. He said it was not a difficult decision.

“In our community, I haven’t heard a single person who disagrees,” he said. “I don’t find there is any confusion. It is a very good step in the right direction.”

Michael Paul, president of Beth El Synagogue, said if people coming to the synagogue did not have proof of full vaccination by October 22, they would not be allowed to enter.

He said they had no theological concerns about not letting in unvaccinated people.

“There is a concept in the Jewish faith called ‘pikuach nefesh, ‘which, interpreted from Hebrew to English, means the security of the soul, the security of a person. There is a great deal of faith that you are doing what you can to preserve life, to live a healthy life, so it is vital that people take care of each individual but also the group, ”said Paul.

Beth El synagogue president Michael Paul said he had heard no disagreements from the congregation over the vaccination passport. (University of Remembrance)

Paul said he had not heard any complaints about the vaccination passport from worshipers at the synagogue. He also said the rules set out by the provincial government were not ambiguous and that the vaccination passport is vital for everyone’s safety.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s told CBC its COVID-19 subcommittee was reviewing information from the provincial government but had not yet completed its report.

Read more about CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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