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Students sue St. John’s University over vaccine mandate


Oh, Lord.

A group of learners at St. John’s College in New York is suing the Catholic faculty in excess of its vaccine mandate, professing the need violates their correct to their religious beliefs.

The 17 plaintiffs say in their fit that they oppose abortion — and as a result do not want to acquire any of the a few federally accredited COVID-19 vaccines because the photographs ended up examined working with “aborted fetal tissue or human embryonic stem-mobile derivation.”

“As a devout Roman Catholic, I imagine everyday living is valuable. In the Ten Commandments, it claims, `Thou Shall Not Kill,’ ” reported plaintiff Kimberly Vineski, a 19-12 months-previous, 2nd-calendar year pharmacy scholar from Glendale, LI, to The Submit, referring to abortion.

St. John’s claims in court docket papers that it will not take into consideration an exemption for the plaintiffs due to the fact there are thoughts about “the genuineness of their purported religious beliefs.”

Then there is the point that the Catholic Church supports the immunization mandate, which it states does not violate church teachings or dogma.

Continue to, it’s obvious even the Church has wrestled with the vaccines’ testing.

In a steerage paper issued before this calendar year, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded that “neither Pfizer nor Moderna utilised an abortion-derived mobile line in the improvement or production of the vaccine.

Kimberly Vineski said she does not want to take the COVID-19 vaccine due to the shots being tested with "aborted fetal tissue" which goes against her religion.
Kimberly Vineski said she does not want to acquire the COVID-19 vaccine thanks to the shots being examined with “aborted fetal tissue” which goes from her faith.

“However, these kinds of a cell line was utilized to exam the efficacy of both of those vaccines,” the bishops’ team acknowledged.

It is “wrong to generate abortion-derived mobile traces and for pharmaceutical corporations to benefit from them,” and “the use of vaccines generated with this kind of cell traces need to be prevented if similar choices with no relationship to abortion are obtainable,” the bishops wrote.

But “grave motives (e.g., major health pitfalls) may justify the use of vaccines created with these mobile strains when there are no these options,” they wrote.

“While neither vaccine is entirely totally free from any use of abortion-derived cell lines, in these two circumstances the use is incredibly remote from the first evil of the abortion,” the paper said.

The paper did not handle the third now available shot, which is produced by Johnson & Johnson. But Reuters has noted that the vaccine applied “lab-replicated fetal cells,” a k a “fetal mobile traces,” in its manufacturing method, although the shot itself doesn’t incorporate any.

St. John’s campuses contain destinations in Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and Hauppauge, LI.

The college students are in search of $2.75 million in damages, barring a improve in the school’s place, according to their lawsuit filed in condition Supreme Court docket in Suffolk County on Extended Island.

Plaintiff James Callichio II, 40, a Navy veteran and lawful-reports key from Staten Island, informed The Write-up, “I couldn’t believe that a Catholic university would deny my spiritual beliefs I fought for.”

He claimed the university should really take into consideration students’ connection with God — not what clergy bigger-ups say — when figuring out opportunity waivers.

“The pope is a man. The bishop is a guy. They are not God,” the armed forces vet claimed.

“This is concerning me and God,” he stated of his opposition to the vaccine. “You really do not require a middleman to speak to God.”

Callichio said the Catholic school's mandate is denying him his religious beliefs.
Callichio said the Catholic school’s mandate is denying him his religious beliefs.
Brigitte Stelzer

Matthew Margolefsky, 19, sophomore business main from Syosset, LI, who is Jewish, is also a plaintiff in the case.

“The Torah teaches us that we ought to ‘guard thy soul scrupulously,’ ” Margolefsky explained.

“I was rather upset that I was turned down for an exemption,” he stated, complaining that St. John’s did not have an appeals process. “It violates my beliefs to put this vaccine in my human body.”

Still, some other St. John’s learners claimed the vaccine mandate has been a blessing.

“Campus everyday living feels again to regular,” claimed Ethan Burrell, a 20-calendar year-outdated junior who is president of college student federal government at the college. “The only factor diverse is we use masks.

“The vaccine mandate was important to make lifetime arrive back to usual. The pandemic shut down a lot of activities. College students can now love meeting other pupils.” 

But the plaintiffs’ attorney, James Mermigis, said, “St. John’s College is trampling on students’ spiritual rights.

“It’s disgusting,” he stated.

Margolefsky believes taking the COVID-19 vaccine would be against his Jewish faith.
Margolefsky believes taking the COVID-19 vaccine would be from his Jewish faith.
Brigitte Stelzer

Mermigis additional that St. John’s also has lifted eyebrows by recently honoring alumnus Frank D’Amelio, who is the main economical officer and govt vice president of worldwide supply for COVID-19 vaccine producer Pfizer.

D’Amelio, who graduated from St. John’s with a master’s degree in small business in 1983, sent St. John’s commencement address for graduates in the spring.

Scores of other lawsuits have been submitted to overturn the state and New York Town vaccine mandates, together with by wellness-care staff who raised equivalent religious objections above the vaccine.

Gov. Kathy Hochul argued in court that the condition is not obligated to provide a spiritual exemption from the vaccine mandate for overall health-treatment employees.

St. John’s — the second biggest Catholic University in the nation with 20,000 pupils — has barred pupils from attending in-man or woman lessons without the need of finding vaccinated or remaining granted an exemption.

The school says 98 % of its learners have gained at least one particular dose of a coronavirus vaccine to day.

The vaccination rate at the 64-campus State College of New York also has arrived at 98 percent compliance, earning the state’s schools arguably the most secure areas to be for learners in their communities.

St. John’s makes it possible for for other vaccine exemptions it deems legitimate.

The students' lawyer James Mermigis said the university is "trampling on students' religious rights."
The students’ lawyer James Mermigis mentioned the university is “trampling on students’ spiritual rights.”
Brigitte Stelzer

According to court papers, 564 of its college students submitted for professional medical or spiritual exemptions from the vaccine mandate for the slide semester, and 183 were granted.

But university officers have taken a tough line in court docket with the plaintiffs in the Suffolk County scenario.

In an affidavit submitted in the situation, SJU’s vice president of college student affairs, Kathry Hutchinson, explained lots of of the purposes have been flimsy and did not go the scent examination.

“In reviewing the Plaintiffs’ programs, among the other people, my colleagues and I discovered particular recurring styles that either invalidated their purposes or referred to as into query the sincerity and reliability of the applicants’ claims,” Hutchinson said.

“Numerous applications had been denied because the college students appeared to have
submitted materials ordered from the Online, or copied verbatim from on the net sources, which named into issue the genuineness of their purported religious beliefs.”

Hutchinson said some plaintiffs have been “particularly brazen in their try to abuse the spiritual exemption process” — which includes a student who submitted an software that provided a kind from a minister with the Common Lifestyle Church, a Internet web site giving “instant on the web ordination and providing minister apparel and paraphernalia.”

The ULC Website site lists famous people these as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Sir Paul McCartney between its “Notable ULC Ministers.”

St. John’s gained the initial spherical, soon after a choose denied the plaintiffs’ ask for for an unexpected emergency injunction, which implies the mandate is even now in put. A determination on the deserves of the scenario is investing.

“St. John’s College is confident our COVID-19 vaccination requirement, declared last April, will endure this lawful challenge,” university spokesman Brian Browne advised The Publish. “Courts have persistently upheld student vaccination requirements as required to advertise health and fitness and protection.”

“At St. John’s, we stimulate all students and employees to get vaccinated as a subject of community health and to adhere to our insurance policies. The St. John’s relatives has arrive collectively all over this ongoing pandemic and adherence to campus safety protocols, and a shared spirit of compliance and cooperation is evident.

“St. John’s will persist in our mutual determination to campus health and fitness to get earlier this pandemic.”

Requested about St. John’s connection with a major Pfizer executive D’Amelio, Brown said, “There’s no relationship among our vaccine mandate and our alumni network.”


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