French Bishops criticise ongoing debate on covid health "pass"

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French Bishops criticise ongoing debate on covid health Catholic Bishops in France say that comparing the new COVID-19 health pass to the Holocaust shows a "serious confusion of ideas”.

As debate mounted last week in France over a new bill tightening vaccine requirements for all healthcare workers and requiring a health pass to access certain public spaces, French bishops have joined widespread criticism against comparing the measure to Jewish persecution by Nazi Germany. Opponents to the bill have taken to the streets arguing that the bill is discriminatory and dictatorial and some demonstrators have gone as far as waring the Yellow Star badge imposed by the Nazi upon Jews. According to the bishops, however, the comparison expresses “a serious confusion of ideas”.

New requirements do not deny the dignity of human beings

“The Shoah represents an absolute horror from which our political conduct must be judged, and not become a plaything for the benefit a cause”, the Bishops’ Conference (CEF) writes in a statement, emphasizing that anti-COVID vaccines are “the medical response available to deal with an epidemic which threatens to further paralyze economic life but, most importantly, social life and exchanges of affection and friendship.” “They do not deny the dignity of human beings by justifying their elimination,” the bishops say.

Government is fulfilling its legitimate responsibilities

The statement further points out that “by making it compulsory for some and by imposing a health pass for certain activities, the Government is fulfilling its legitimate responsibilities under the control of the Parliament” and that it is up to the judicial bodies of the State of law to verify that these restrictions to personal freedom are “in accordance with the law” and “proportionate”.

Being responsible towards one another

The French bishops therefore urge citizens not to confuse certain freedoms, such as traveling or going out for a meal, with “the freedom to exist”, or the freedom to go to the cinema or to a café with “the freedom to praise God or not to praise Him”, even though, they note, “neither the State or citizens should ignore that all freedoms are connected.” “This epidemic makes us all feel responsible towards one another. It somehow announces unity of mankind and its intimate union with God,” the statement concludes.

New wave of COVID-19 infections in France connected with the Delta variant

The new restrictive measures were announced by President Emmanuel Macron on July 12 following the new wave of infections from Coronavirus connected with the more contagious Delta variant which has brought new cases to over 20,000 a day in France last week. The French Parliament subsequently approved the bill on July 19 making anti-COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all healthcare workers and requiring a health pass to access to museums, cinemas, swimming pools restaurants and other social venues, but also on trains and aircrafts, where people are required to show proof of either vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Other European countries, including Italy, have introduced similar measures, which have also brought demonstrations by anti-vax protesters.

Lisa Zengarini