Let Us Be Responsible for Our Own Health and Health of Our Loved Ones! - Justice and Peace Commission’s Statement

In the Justice and Peace Commission at the Slovenian Bishops' Conference, we are convinced that vaccination is one of the most effective measures to limit and eradicate the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, we support all professional services, the Government and non-governmental organizations in Slovenia to encourage citizens to get vaccinated. It is the responsibility of every citizen to protect their health and the lives and health of their loved ones.

The Covid-19 epidemic has shown that we are all one family and that the epidemic puts us in a position where we can only work together to create a situation in which the vulnerable and the sick will be adequately protected, and the epidemic will end as soon as possible. At the same time, all citizens are faced with whether it is safe to get vaccinated or not. At the Justice and Peace Commission, we believe that we need to trust the experts and the relevant government services that vaccination is safe and beneficial. We also believe that vaccination should be free. It is fitting citizens have the right to choose vaccines from different manufacturers. The decision to vaccinate is, of course, free but not arbitrary, as a person is obliged to take responsibility for his health and the health of others. No one has the right to endanger the lives of their loved ones in the name of their freedom.

The commission would like to express our acknowledgement and gratitude to health care workers and everyone else for all their efforts to vaccinate as much of the population as possible and thus reduce the number of infections and the consequent burden on the health care system.

From September 16, 2021, onwards, PCT (convalescent, vaccinated, tested) is mandatory for certain activities. However, such a decision did not receive the unanimous support of citizens. In particular, those who did not meet the PCT condition were subject to public life and services restrictions. It has led to protests and disagreements between a part of citizens, including Catholics, who reject mandatory measures to prevent the epidemic and oppose vaccination. In the commission, we emphasize that all citizens have the right to express their opinions freely. No one should be discriminated against because of their belief, health condition or (non) vaccination. We also believe that citizens can express their views respectfully and peacefully, and that personal views must not be a reason for establishing unhealthy tensions and exclusion within families and Slovenian society.

In the Catholic Church, in addition to vaccination against COVID-19 and state measures, different positions have been formed, especially towards the government ordinance, which allows only believers with the PCT condition to participate in religious rituals. Having said that, the commission would first like to encourage all Catholics to get vaccinated and protect themselves from infection or the possible more severe course of COVID-19 disease and death. Furthermore, the members of the commission would like to encourage all Catholics to maintain the unity of our Catholic community, unity with the Pope and the Slovenian bishops in discussions on the reasonableness of state measures and vaccination, and not to indulge in unargued positions and exclusion. It is especially true for all groups and spiritual movements, which should provide their members with comprehensive information about the epidemic, state measures, and vaccination's meaning.

We are currently facing the so-called fourth wave of the COVID-19 epidemic, and we want to reduce infections, prevent the unnecessary burden of the health care system and reduce the number of victims with the PCT condition. In August this year, Pope Francis said that "vaccination with vaccines approved by the competent institutions is an act of love. Also, most people getting vaccinated is an act of love, love of oneself, love of family and friends, love of all people. Love is also social and political. It is universal, and it overflows with small acts of personal love that can change and improve society" (cf. Laudato si ', no. 231, cf. Fratelli tutti, 184).

Msgr Dr Anton Stress

Chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission at SBC