Today I would like to conclude this series in which we have addressed some of the so-called “unfreedoms” that can overshadow the true freedom that Christ offers and grants us (cf. Jn 8:36). I will return to this theme of the unfreedom in more depth in a lecture that I plan to publish on my YouTube channel before the beginning of the Advent Season.
Speaking about the first lack of freedom – fear – I referred to the title of a small booklet, which said: “Trust in God instead of fear of the coronavirus”.
As we all know, governments have been taking various measures to control the coronavirus crisis. In particular, it is considered essential that – if possible – the entire world’s population be vaccinated. Thus, a massive vaccination campaign has been launched in some countries.
However, this vaccination is not without controversy.
It is up to each individual to make a free decision in this matter. I would therefore like to apply in concrete terms what we have discussed about the lack of freedom here, so that everyone can examine whether his or her decision was perhaps influenced by one or more of these unfreedoms.
As far as vaccination is concerned, there is massive public pressure, which can go so far as to threaten to dismiss a person who refuses to receive the vaccine from his or her job. Vaccination is also promoted by most of the hierarchs in the Church, including the Pope himself, who present it as the only and inevitable solution to this crisis. The media defend and promote this same view.
To examine whether we had the freedom to make such a decision, let us ask ourselves these questions:
Did I adopt public opinion simply because it is what the majority says, or did I research further? Is it possible that my decision was influenced by my dependence on human opinion?
In this context, I would like to recall a passage from yesterday’s meditation:
By “human opinion” we mean the views that are considered correct in the environment around us. These may even influence people who are not weak in principle, but who adopt these generalised views as a matter of course, without examining their veracity or confronting them with their own vision. They simply adopt them because they are unable to resist the momentum of an environment that dominates at a general level.
What is even more difficult for the faithful is the fact that the Pope and the Church hierarchy present the vaccine as unquestionable. Was this the reason why I accepted the vaccine, or did I also listen to those other voices in the hierarchy who reject this vaccine on moral grounds, since it is linked to the use of embryonic cell lines? In this context, it should be emphasised that the Pope’s statements in this regard represent his personal point of view, and that one, as a Catholic, is in no way obliged to obey here. Nor is the pronouncement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dogmatically binding.
Have I then examined the reasons for accepting such a vaccine and have I concluded that they correspond to my convictions? Have I also listened to other voices in the medical and scientific sphere that warn against this vaccine for health reasons? Have I consulted other sources that report on the dangers of the vaccine? Am I aware of its side effects? Am I aware that the protection it confers wears off quickly and that I will then have to undergo further vaccinations? Am I aware that, even if I have been vaccinated, I can still be infected with the virus and pass it on to others?
Is it possible that I actually have reservations about the vaccine, but am influenced by other people, especially when they present their views with great conviction? In this case, I would be subject to the unfreedom of being overly influenced.
Is it possible that I, for my part, would have preferred to continue to discern whether it was right for me to be vaccinated; but when my relatives, in their fearfulness, asked me to do so, I gave in despite my reservations? Or perhaps I was even told that if I did not get vaccinated, I would no longer be able to visit my grandchildren or other such things?
If so, my decision would have been influenced by the unfreedom of false pliability.
Or perhaps I had been convinced that I did not want to be vaccinated, but ended up doing it after all for fear of what other people who had already been vaccinated might say? In this case, human respects would have influenced my decision. Perhaps even feelings of inferiority came into play, believing that other people know much more than I do and have positions of responsibility.
Finally, let us examine whether in our decision in favour of vaccination we are driven by the fear of contracting the disease, by the fear of infecting others and thus undermining “love of neighbour”… In this respect, am I really aware that the case fatality rate is relatively low?
A decision such as this must be cautiously examined, in the face of God and with understanding, to discern whether it is morally right and reasonable. In doing so, we must not allow these unfreedoms that we have discussed to come into play.
With this concrete application of the “unfreedoms” to a very important issue that touches us all, I conclude this series for the moment and, as I said at the beginning, I hope to discuss it in more depth in a lecture that I will upload to my channel later this month.