Three members of the Swiss Guard who are charged with protecting the pope have been ordered to leave the Vatican complex after refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine following a requirement issued by Catholic Church officials.
Catholic Church officials who oversee the Vatican issued a decree requiring that all employees and visitors to the small independent country either be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Swiss Guard official Lt. Urs Breitenmoser told The Associated Press in a story published Sunday that the three guardsmen willingly returned home to Switzerland rather than be vaccinated after being asked to get vaccinated “to protect their health and that of the others they come into contact with as part of their service.”
“Three members of the Guard have chosen not to adhere to that request, voluntarily leaving the corps,” continued Breitenmoser, adding that three other guardsmen were suspended from duty while they awaited being vaccinated.
Last month, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, head of the Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City, signed a decree requiring either vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Beginning on Oct. 1, entry into Vatican City would only be allowed for those with a "Green Pass," which is a certification document attesting that the person has been vaccinated or has recovered from COVID-19.
An exemption was given to people taking part in liturgical celebrations; however, they must still wear masks and practice social distancing before and during liturgies, and they can only be in the Vatican for the celebrations.
There has been some controversy over the development of the COVID-19 vaccines in some religious circles because it involved using cells from an aborted baby in the research and development process.
Last December, the Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement saying that it was “morally acceptable” for Catholics to take the COVID-19 vaccine, even if it was developed using cells from an aborted baby.
The CDF stated that “the morally licit use of these types of vaccines, in the particular conditions that make it so, does not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion, and necessarily assumes the opposition to this practice by those who make use of these vaccines.”
“In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed,” noted the CDF.
In January, both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI received their first doses of the vaccine, with Francis stating in advance of his first shot that he believed it was “an ethical action, because you are gambling with your health, you are gambling with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.”