Archbishop Jason Gordon is appealing for unvaccinated Catholics to think with the Church and not rely on “spurious information flying around”. He rebuked the influence of persons using social media to promote unscientific claims and those who think they know more than the Church’s theologians.
At the end of Mass Sunday, August 29, two days away from the country’s 59th anniversary of Independence, he made an impassioned plea, “The way you can celebrate independence and the gift you can give to your country; please, please, please let’s be vaccinated and let’s really save each other from this.” He asked for individuals to look again at the decision they are making in the pandemic.
At a press briefing hosted by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley Saturday, August 28, Chief Medical Officer Dr Rampersad Parasram stated from June 8 to the present, three fully vaccinated persons out of the 668 had died of Covid; 99.45 percent of the persons who died were unvaccinated. A similar trend was seen across the world.
Archbishop Gordon said, “The fact is unvaccinated people are dying at a much higher rate than vaccinated…that says something. If we are going to save this beautiful nation of ours and if we are going to live in some form of peace and harmony; vaccination is one of the ways we have to go for the sake of the common good.”
The nation was at a crossroads. Emphasising the consequences if too many remain unvaccinated, he said schools and businesses can be closed again, churches remain closed and social life continues unchanged. “I don’t like how we living right now,” he commented. Archbishop Gordon said he knew many people “on the fringe of economic collapse”, whose family life was impacted. He described this situation as “terrible”. The poor faced hardship if the economy does not open sufficiently for them to return to work. “We are going to have a generation of children in and out, in and out of school. We could stop that… If we made the sacrificial choice to be vaccinated”.
On a personal note, he told viewers it was painful to do Mass with only a few people in attendance. “I want the full congregation to come back to receive the Eucharist, I want us back in our churches, I want us to celebrate as a community again.”
Archbishop Gordon said he is not a scientist nor doctor but from early in the pandemic, he sought information from scientists, and researchers including his brother-in-law, an infectious disease specialist, who worked at Howard University. He challenged the vaccine hesitancy stemming from opinions shared on social media. “When you get your doctorate on Facebook and pass on information, they are not held to the same standards as people practicing medicine.” He referred to a study that found 12 Facebook accounts were responsible for 65 percent of the anti-vaccine opinions being propagated. He noted that algorithms caused persons to be fed information consistent with their interests. “…so, you like ‘anti-vaxxing’, you do three searches for that, everything going to come straight back at you; it is called an echo chamber…. everything you are hearing you think it is independent information. It is not.”
“Spurious theological claims” e.g. going into a Catholic church will prevent someone from getting Covid, were not grounded in theology. He reminded the Church’s tradition, “you do not put God to the test”. Archbishop Gordon admonished, “There is a difference between faith and stupidity. You don’t stand up on a cliff and jump because you are a man of God”.
To the “super Catholics” who do not want to get vaccinated because some vaccines were created using cells from aborted foetuses, he directed them to read the document put out by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose responsibility is the doctrine of the Church.
Archbishop Gordon said there are side effects with the vaccine but these are minuscule compared with the good being done. It is a matter of conscience whether or not to be vaccinated but, he stressed that conscience must be informed. “I am begging you to think with the Church”.
He announced that a church in the South Vicariate [St Dominic’s RC Penal] was being used as a vaccine site to help get as many people vaccinated as possible. See below
Drs Danielle Gene Leben, Desiree Boodoo, and Patrice Grant, of Genial Family Medical Services Limited, administered the vaccines