Churches in Switzerland are now required to demand vaccine passports from congregants for events with more than 50 people. Critics have called the requirement a “great injustice.”
On September 13, the Swiss government extended its vaccine passport mandate to indoor events, including churches. In an effort to “prevent hospitals from being overburdened,” Churches will have to ask for vaccine passports for events with more than 50 people. The alternative is to keep events at less than 50, where the attendees are required to wear masks and observe social distancing.
The measures have been supported by the Evangelical Reformed Church of Switzerland and the Swiss Conference of Bishops (SCB).
“The national churches are grateful to the Federal Council for considering access to church services and other religious events to be important and for requiring a certificate only for 50 or more people,” read a joint statement by both organizations. The statement added that the organizations “consider it their duty to be able to continue to hold safe church services that are open to all people. They will do their utmost to avoid contamination of participants in these services.”
But they were not happy that the government did not exempt churches from the requirements because the “possibility of mourning and saying goodbye together is an essential element in dealing with personal and social crises.”
Their acceptance of the measures was criticized by Bishop Marian Eleganti, an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Chur, who described it as “a kind of captivity to political authority.”
“The Church has placed itself in a kind of captivity to political authority in order to seemingly submit to its health policy in a bourgeois way. In so doing, the Church itself relativises the meaning and power of the sacraments by subjecting their administration to arbitrary and contradictory state measures with the result that many believers are deprived of the sacraments and common sense often falls by the wayside. The same applies to the power of faith, which sees in the sacraments the present Christ, the only one who can save us. One waits in vain for this witness of the Church, in my view a fall from grace,” the bishop wrote in a statement to LifeSite News.
“The actions of governments are a great injustice in many countries worldwide and contradict the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights of citizens, which, as we know, are protective rights against state encroachment,” Eleganti said.