SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Catholic Diocese of San Diego will allow for exemptions when COVID vaccine mandates take effect inside its schools.
The state’s vaccine mandate for school could go into effect as early as January, after the vaccines receives full FDA authorization for children.
When that mandate does activate, families with students at local Catholics schools will be allowed to apply for exemptions.
“We haven't hidden the fact, that we’re very supportive of vaccines and want to take the steps to protects kids, but at same time, what are our legal obligations and the legal ramifications?” said Kevin Eckery, spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of San Diego.
In a letter sent to school pastors and principals this week, the diocese says it will accept any parent's request for an exemption as valid, as a personal belief exemption.
Eckery says they are simply following state law when it comes to all mandated vaccines for students.
“Under current law, there is a person belief exemption. Unless the legislature acts to eliminate that, there is going to be a personal believe exemption,” said Eckery.
The comments from the diocese comes months after Bishop Robert McElroy urged priests to 'caringly decline' any religious exemption request from parishioners.
Bishop McElroy has called receiving COVID vaccines morally legitimate. Eckery said that stance hasn't changed.
“There is no Catholic religious exemption. We’re not giving any. We’re not encouraging people,” said Eckery.
Eckery says they will, however, abide by the 'personal belief’ exemptions currently required as options in schools. The local diocese oversees nearly 50 schools and some 15,000 students.
“We're not going to challenge what a parent or guardian wants for their kid under those circumstances,” said Eckery.
Eckery says the diocese stand by their current COVID protocols, which allowed for their schools to remain open last year when many public schools were closed.