Catholic troops should be allowed to refuse COVID-19 vaccines for conscientious reasons, the Archbishop for the Military Services USA wrote in a statement Tuesday.

“No one should be forced to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if it would violate the sanctity of his or her conscience,” wrote Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio.

In the statement, Broglio pointed to concerns surrounding the moral permissibility of the vaccines, citing abortion-related tissues used in development or testing. As reported by Defense One, this is the second time Broglio released a statement providing moral guidance for vaccines. Previously, he wrote, “being vaccinated is also an act of charity to our sisters and brothers.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced in late August that vaccines would be mandatory for troops. Only the Pfizer vaccine will be required, as it is the only fully FDA-licensed vaccine.

Active-duty airmen have until Nov. 2, while reservists have until Dec. 2. The Navy and Marine Corps set a Nov. 28 deadline for active-duty and Dec. 28 for reservists. The Army deadline is Dec.15 for active-duty members, but Reserve and National Guard forces have until June 30.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone over 12 years old — including people that have already had the disease.

Broglio wrote that those who choose not to get vaccinated should still take precautions to protect others.

“Those who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine must continue to act in charity for their neighbors and for the common good by undertaking means to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through wearing face coverings, social distancing, undergoing routine testing, quarantining, and remaining open to receiving a treatment should one become available that is not derived from, or tested with abortion-derived cell lines.”

The Archdiocese for the Military Services provides services on installations across the globe, claiming responsibility for more than 1.8 million people.

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