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Fr Robert Christo

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The Roman Catholic Church in T&T has mandated that certain religious officials be vaccinated.

According to a proposal by the Archdiocese of Port-of- Spain Health, Safety and Environment Team issued in September, the following members of its congregations are mandated to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before performing their respective duties in the church– Celebrants i.e. priests, deacons, Eucharistic ministers or anyone distributing Holy Communion, hospitality-team members including those checking off attendees who pre-registered, choir members and lectors.

While the mandate is not one handed down by the Government, Vicar of Communications, Father Robert Christo told Guardian Media the Church voluntarily instituted it in hopes to protect against the spread of COVID-19 because these are the people who are in constant contact with the public.

“It’s really for those to eliminate and mitigate the spread of the virus for the health and protection of all…we believe in the protection of human life. Everybody else who are unvaccinated, it’s their own choice and we welcome you into the church and pre-register as normal,” he said.

“It’s protection of life,” he added.

Father Christo said the church is not mandating anyone who wishes to attend service be vaccinated.

He said they have measures in place to help educate any of their officials who may refuse to be vaccinated.

“We journey with them. We bring in doctors and we have a counselling group…to educate them and if after that people have medical conditions and we have to respect their rights,” he said.

For those who still wish to remain unvaccinated, he said, their decision will be respected but “obviously they know they can’t be interacting (with people) because we are literally bursting the bubble.”

So far, he said, people have been “very cooperative” with the policy. He said the policy is being reviewed weekly.

Meanwhile, General Secretary of the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jamaat Association (ASJA) Rahimool Hosein, said there is no such policy at the organisation.

He said the organisation has highly recommended that its Imams get vaccinated which the majority of them have.

General Secretary of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Vijay Maharaj also told Guardian Media there was no such mandate for its religious officials.