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I've read a lot of shocking stories lately from Lifesitenews and the like about the age of vaccine passports. I think they just assume that the reader will have an innate revulsion to them and don't go into whether or not a thing is morally justifiable. So for that purpose, I'm asking here. According to the constant tradition of the Catholic Church, the interpreter of the Natural Moral Law (which is written on the hearts of all men and women and "expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties"), does a "vaccine passport" comport with human dignity?

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  • I found an article on the Catholic view of 'Natural Moral Law' but am none the wiser! Although you want a Catholic answer, it might be helpful to people like me if you could give a link to or a simple explanation of what the 'Natural Moral Law' is: vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c3a1.htm
    – Lesley
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 10:32
  • @Lesley that's the defacto definition of the Natural Moral Law (often just called Natural Law) it's what the Pope Paul VI used as the authority to outlaw contraception in Humanae Vitae, I'm wondering if and how the principles apply here.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 14:33
  • Here in the U.K. many people want to see the introduction of "vaccination passports" to ensure vulnerable people are not put at risk by being cared for by people who have refused the vaccination. It has huge implications for employers with regard to employment and charges of discrimination if someone who has refused the vaccine doesn't get the job. Employees may also refuse to work alongside a colleague who has refused the vaccine on the basis that they put everyone else at risk. It's a complex issue. It will be interesting to read any answers you get.
    – Lesley
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 14:56
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    @Lesley I'm an American, but work in cyber security and touch on global health systems in some of my work, so I have some familiarity with GDPR. I haven't understood through this pandemic how some of the European proposals like papers to prove you've gotten the Covid vaccine aren't violations of GDPR. How can a business force you to divulge sensitive information more or less publicly in order to do business with them?
    – jaredad7
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 20:07
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    @Lesley that's the crux of the matter. Too many people have forgotten that we govern ourselves in a democracy. In a true democracy, matters of health policy are internal affairs and most of it depends on whether you feel like getting out of bed in the morning.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 14:14

1 Answer 1

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Based on the CDF's document regarding the Covid-19 vaccine, I would think that vaccine passports would only be permissible if:

  1. Such a requirement is necessary to promoting the public good and

  2. there are no possible legitimate objections a well-formed conscience could have to receiving the vaccine.

As it currently stands in regard to Covid-19, I do not know of any vaccines which satisfy 2, and I am personally of the opinion that Covid-19 is not a big enough threat to the common good to cause any vaccination to it to satisfy 1. The reason I believe these two conditions must be met is paragraph 5 from the linked document:

At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary. In any case, from the ethical point of view, the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed. Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent. In particular, they must avoid any risk to the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons, and who are the most vulnerable.

This paragraph makes clear that vaccination is a matter of conscience, with respect to Covid-19 specifically, because of the remote cooperation with the evil of abortion. Natural Law requires that our prudential decisions include the consideration of remote cooperation with evil. Also included in those considerations must be the outcome of our actions. If we can predict an action will have more evil effects than good, we can't take it, even if the act isn't intrinsically evil. So, if someone thinks, with good reason and sound judgement, that their participation in a particular regimen of vaccination will lead to more evil than good, they shouldn't be forced into taking that regimen. This is why I provided for requirement number two. A vaccine mandate/passport seems like it could only be ethical if no reasonable moral objections to the vaccine exist, otherwise someone may be forced to violate their conscience.

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  • That link (especially paragraph 5 as quoted in your post) is most helpful.
    – Lesley
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 12:20

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