Life in Fraternity and COVID-19 Vaccinations
Doug Clorey, ofs, National Minister
Since October 1, 2021, a national directive has been in place within the National Fraternity of Canada regarding the participation of vaccinated and unvaccinated sisters and brothers in fraternity meetings, chapters and events. This directive was a response to requests from both regional and local fraternities to provide direction in this area.
As expected, this directive has been welcomed by some and criticized by others. In this regard, I would like to emphasize that no judgments are being made on the choices made by individual Secular Franciscans to remain unvaccinated. I would encourage all of us to be patient and kind with our sisters and brothers who have made this choice and to continue to love and reach out to them as best we can during these challenging times. And, to those who have chosen to remain unvaccinated, I would encourage you to also be patient and kind with your sisters and brothers who have chosen to be vaccinated. Please respect the choices that they have made. It is most disheartening to read some of the material being circulated by Secular Franciscans that is clearly disrespectful and offensive to the members of our family.
Finally, let us remember that we are an Order within the Catholic Church, called to be a
“community of love”, as Saint Pope John Paul II exhorted us to be at the OFS General Chapter in 2009. As individuals, we may not have qualms about taking and expressing strong positions on certain issues; however, as members of the Secular Franciscan Order, there are boundaries that must be respected if we are to maintain unity and live in full communion within the Church (OFS Rule, 6). Clearly, we don’t have to agree with everything, but we do need to think long and hard before we decide to break the bonds of unity and follow our own path.
At the end of the day, it is my hope that all will understand that the primary objective of this time-limited directive is the safety of all the sisters and brothers, as well as the safety of those with whom they come in contact.