Aug 25, 2021 - Health

Episcopal bishop mandates COVID vaccines for all Maine clergy and staff

Bishop Thomas James Brown, the tenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, at St. Lukes Cathedral in Portland on Thursday, April 9

Bishop Thomas James Brown, the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, at St. Luke's Cathedral in Portland, Maine, last year. Photo: Derek Davis/Staff/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The Episcopal Diocese of Maine is mandating COVID-19 vaccines for all clergy and diocesan staff.

Why it matters: Maine Bishop Thomas Brown's decision marks one of the first vaccine mandates for clergy in the U.S., per the Religious News Service.

Details: Brown issued the directive on Monday for some 240 clergy and 14 staff members to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 30, unless they provide medical exemption documentation.

What they're saying: "We needed to join the public health leaders in giving a religious voice to what is a very pressing moral issue right now," Brown said Wednesday, per the New York Times.

  • He noted in a letter to clergy: "It's clear that vaccination of our population is the best path to the pandemic’s end, and as spiritual leaders, we have a moral obligation both to protect others and to set a Christlike example to the larger world."

Of note: Religious leaders of different faiths have advocated for followers to be vaccinated against the virus, with Pope Francis saying last week that to do so is "an act of love."

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