As the omicron variant spreads rapidly around the world in the run-up to Christmas, the Church of England’s top clerk has made a steadfast statement: Getting the coronavirus vaccine and booster is a moral issue.
“Vaccination reduces … my chances of getting sick, [which] reduces my chances of infecting others – it’s very simple, âArchbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in an interview with UK broadcaster ITV on Tuesday. âGo get boosted; to get vaccinated. This is how we love our neighbor.
The Archbishop’s statement comes as British scientists push Prime Minister Boris Johnson to order tighter restrictions as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. Over the past seven days, more than 600,000 new cases have been recorded in the UK – an increase of over 50%, according to the Washington Post’s COVID tracker. Johnson said on Monday he had no plans to implement any new rules.
Masks are mandatory in England in most indoor public spaces and on public transport, including taxis. But they are optional in restaurants, pubs and gyms. Rules vary in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. About 77% of Britain has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to data from the Post.
Welby is one of many faith leaders across the UK who are teaming up with the government to push people of all faiths for vaccinations and boosters. But last week, the Archbishop said in a radio interview that parishioners should still go to church on Christmas and wear a mask.
âI would say it’s a necessity; worship of God is a necessity, “Welby said, according to Church Times, adding that Anglican places of worship tend to be” big, cold and [drafty]â, Which makes themâ places not very conducive to the spread of infections â.
For months, religious leaders have used their positions to advocate for immunization. In August, Pope Francis urged Catholics to get vaccinated, adding that doing so is an “act of love”. Some rabbis, evangelical church leaders, and imams have also worked to debunk misinformation about vaccines and endorse them as safe and life-saving.
In his interview with ITV’s Julie Etchingham, Welby, who has served as Archbishop of Canterbury since 2013, admitted that he could suffer a backlash for calling the coronavirus vaccination a moral issue.
âI’m going to go out on thin ice here and say yeah, I think I do,â Welby said. âA lot of people won’t like thisâ¦ but it’s not about me and my rights to choose, but how I love my neighbor. “
Etchingham then asked if it was a sin for someone to refuse the vaccine if he was in good health and had no medical reason to avoid taking it. But Welby dodged the question, focusing more on the religious argument to get the jab.
âLoving our neighbor is what Jesus told us to do,â Welby said. “It’s Noel. Do as he said.