Archbishop José H. Gomez is requesting that priests in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“Being vaccinated is a gesture of our priestly tenderness and compassion for our people, especially for those who are scared and those who are most vulnerable,” he wrote in a Sept. 21 letter to Los Angeles priests.
Calling the ongoing pandemic “a cross for all of us to bear,” Archbishop Gomez noted that without vaccination, priests are barred by local governments from ministering in hospitals and care facilities.
He also pointed to continuing infection rates throughout the archdiocese and the fact that many parishioners “remain worried and frightened of this deadly disease.”
Being vaccinated, he said, will given these people “peace of mind to know that they can trust the Church’s ministers to look out for their health and well-being, as well as for their spiritual needs.”
The archbishop’s full letter follows:
September 21, 2021
My dear brother priests,
You are in my prayers in a special way as we begin our Jubilee Year to mark the founding of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel by St. Junípero Serra and the Tongva people, 250 years ago.
I was thinking about something Pope Francis said when he canonized St. Junípero Serra: “He was the embodiment of a Church which goes forth, a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God. Junípero Serra … learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters.”
This is a beautiful description of what it means to be a priest. As priests, we are called to be close to our people, to care for them with “reconciling tenderness,” bringing them the mercy of God and the hope that comes from knowing Jesus Christ.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to be a cross for all of us to bear.
As you know, many of our people remain worried and frightened of this deadly disease. They are scared for themselves, and for their children and loved ones, especially their elderly family members. And as we also know, many of our brothers and sisters are still becoming infected and hospitalized with the disease, especially those who have not been vaccinated.
That is why I believe it is so important for every priest to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. It makes good sense as a matter of public health and safety. Practically, it is very difficult to minister in hospitals or other care facilities if we are not vaccinated. It is also very important for us to be vaccinated so that we can bring Holy Communion to those who are sick or confined to their homes.
Being vaccinated is a gesture of our priestly tenderness and compassion for our people, especially for those who are scared and those who are most vulnerable. Being vaccinated as a priest is a work of mercy. It will offer our people the peace of mind to know that they can trust the Church’s ministers to look out for their health and well-being, as well as for their spiritual needs. It helps protect those we serve, as well as the ones we love and live with.
My brothers, our people need the Church and her priests, now more than ever. In a time of disease and death, we hold the Word of Life. By our witness, we need to help our people to feel Christ’s tender love for every person, the power of His Cross, the promise of His Resurrection.
Pray for me and I will keep praying for you. And may our Blessed Mother Mary help each of us to grow as holy and courageous priests for her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles