"Because Cordileone is not vaccinated and we've had breakthrough vaccinations in the church, I'm not comfortable. I'm not comfortable with him coming unvaccinated," said Rita Clunies-Ross, St. Agnes Catholic Church parishioner.
December 19 was the day Archbishop Cordileone was scheduled to visit Saint Agnes Church. Several weeks before his visit, churchgoers like Rita Clunies-Ross voiced concerns. Now this church is taking a stance.
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"I called him and spoke with him and asked him to re-schedule his visit for a later time because many people in the parish had expressed concern about this. I feel it is important that everyone feel safe, and we all do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially now with the new Omicron Variant. These are stressful times enough and I felt his pastoral visit to us would be overshadowed by concerns about the pandemic," said a bulletin Pastor George Williams posted on the church's website, letting the parishioners know Archbishop Cordileone won't be visiting them for now.
The San Francisco Archdiocese has been outspoken about the COVID vaccine, encouraging San Franciscans to get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the archbishop is unvaccinated.
"It's not that he is saying we don't want you. We would more than welcome you here if you came vaccinated, if you respect the community you are visiting," said Clunies-Ross.
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In a statement the Archdiocese responded, "Health care decisions are a very personal matter. Archbishop Cordileone has every confidence in Father Williams' ability to know his people well, and respond to their sensitivities with compassion."
In August, Pope Francis urged people to get vaccinated, calling it an act of love.
During an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Cordileone said his personal doctor told him, "it's probably not necessary for him to be vaccinated," citing his "immune system is strong."
"If there was some health reason I could see it. There is not religious reason from the Catholic Church that would stop you from being vaccinated. I can't see another reason," said Clunies-Ross.
Pastor Williams said to ABC7 news, "It's our policy here that all the priests who celebrate Mass need to be vaccinated out of concern for our parishioners. When I explained this to his Excellency, he graciously understood. We look forward to his visit when circumstances permit."