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UMass official tells Catholic students their vaccine objections are illegitimate

Liberal law professor says UMass Boston is likely violating the law

Catholic students at the University of Massachusetts Boston have hit a roadblock in their pursuit of religious exemptions from the public university’s vaccine mandate.

“A public university official in Massachusetts has been turning down all requests from Catholic students for a religious exemption from the school’s coronavirus vaccine requirement, based on his research into Catholic teachings,” the National Catholic Register reported.

The Catholic publication reported that Shawn De Veau, the vice chancellor of student affairs, has done his own research and determined that Catholic students cannot have valid objections to getting vaccinated against coronavirus.

De Veau does not claim the ability to read people’s souls like some saints have been able to do, but he did some “research” before coming to his complete rejection policy.

He explained to a court, according to the National Catholic Register:

When reviewing students’ appeals, I engage in a holistic process: I review the student’s request, research the faith tradition on which they are basing their request, and respond to the students based on my research. If students send further replies after receiving my response, I engage in phone or email conversations with them. My process for reviewing appeals is to engage in an interactive process to discuss the student’s specific circumstances and determine if the exemption is based on a sincerely held religious belief.

De Veau’s bio does not indicate any background in theology, seminary formation or that he is Catholic. He’s had a long career in school administration and in his free time is on the board of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, for what it’s worth. The Catholic publication did not link to a copy of the lawsuit where De Veau made his statements.

MORE: Chico State denies exemption requests that mention abortion

He denied exemption requests from a student based on statements by U.S. Catholic Church leadership that Catholics could take the vaccine in good conscience despite its connections to aborted-fetal tissue.

But the Vatican has said that all vaccinations must be voluntary. Furthermore, there is a clear difference between a moral analysis that concludes someone is not sinning by taking an action and requiring someone to take an action. That Catholics can take it in good conscience does not mean the faithful cannot have objections to it.

The USCCB has previously told the federal government to develop a vaccine without connections to aborted fetal tissue, and to this day has asked Catholics to advocate for ethical vaccine development.

Furthermore, a number of bishops have explained the moral problems with some or all of the vaccines and mandates for them.

It is enough that a Catholic could reasonably have an objection to a vaccine to support their exemption.

This is also the position of liberal Harvard law Professor Laurence Tribe.

“Tribe said the government is within its rights to make no exceptions for religion when it comes to rules governing health and safety,” the National Catholic Register reported, “but that once it allows for religious exemptions to a rule, the government can’t be the decider on what the religion teaches.”

I disagree with his assertion that the government cannot allow for any religious exemptions, but will put that aside for now.

Government officials telling students that their faith does not teach something, is “interpreting a religion,” Tribe said. “That’s clearly unconstitutional and deeply offensive.”

MORE: Christian students win exemption from vaccine mandate

IMAGE: Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and a M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.