While there are signs that the pandemic may be subsiding after the Omicron variant, some authorities are tightening their restrictive policy against non-vaccinated people. For example, the bishop of Teano-Calvi and Alife-Caiazzo, in the province of Caserta, Italy, has chosen to ban non-vaccinated priests from any face-to-face pastoral activity, such as catechism or training. It has also forbidden them to distribute Communion.
A decree effective January 9th now prohibits “the distribution of the Eucharist by priests, deacons, religious, and laity who have not been vaccinated.” These restrictions are in addition to all the provisions already in force regarding prophylaxis: safety distances and barrier gestures.
A physician by training, Monsignor Cirulli justifies these extreme measures by relying on the words of Pope Francis, who sees vaccination as an “act of love.” The deliberate obstruction of the distribution of the sacraments to the faithful in times of peril, however, raises questions. The bishop has attracted a lot of criticism for this decision, which for the moment remains purely local.
The question of the vaccine is agitating the Italian clergy: on December 31st, a priest from a parish in the province of Pavia spoke out against the vaccine in his homily, explaining that it was important to accept divergent opinions on the subject, and that medical secrecy must be respected. Some of the faithful chose to leave the church during the homily, which was reported to the Curia of Milan.
Hélène de Lauzun studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. She taught French literature and civilization at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in History from the Sorbonne. She is the author of Histoire de l’Autriche (Perrin, 2021).