Four students of the Jesuit-run Creighton University in Nebraska sue the institution for refusing to allow their exemption from vaccination based on religious grounds. The plaintiffs allege in their Sept. 8 lawsuit that they received “arbitrary and disparate treatment” from Creighton due to their objection. They refuse the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine due to its use of fetal cell lines from aborted babies – which goes against their beliefs.

Attorney Robert M. Sullivan represents the group of four students filing the lawsuit. Lauren Ramaekers, the president of campus group Creighton Students for Life, is among the suit’s plaintiffs. Three others – Patrice Quadrel, Sarah Sinsel and an anonymous female student – join her.

Ramaekers, a senior in the university, defends her refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She tells The Epoch Times: “The use of fetal tissue, fetal cells or any product of abortion in the development or testing of a vaccine or any medical treatment, is abhorrent to me. This is a sincerely held religious belief, which impacts my moral and ethical views of the world.”

Meanwhile, both Sinsel and Quadrel also cite the links between abortion and the vaccine industry in defense of their refusal to get the COVID-19 shot. Quadrel says she is scheduled to graduate from Creighton University School of Dentistry if not for her expulsion.

Ramaekers adds that on Sept. 9, she is informed of her expulsion from enrolled classes in the fall semester. She is also made aware of her being banned from the campus and being prohibited from registering for future courses. Thus, she and the other three students seek a court order overturning their expulsion from Creighton.

Sullivan has sent a letter to Creighton President Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ on Sept. 2. His letter says: “I must express the hope that instead of a summary denial, you can help these students continue their education at your institution, without forcing them to violate their consciences.” The lawyer later adds that he has not received a reply.

According to Sullivan, the Jesuit university’s “rigid and intolerant approach” toward unvaccinated students “comes as a great surprise to many.” He adds: “Many students and parents are disturbed that a religious institution is not allowing religious exemptions.” Nevertheless, Sullivan says his clients “remain confident that justice will prevail” despite their experience with the university.

Pope says vaccination an “act of love”

A spokesperson for Creighton says the university is aware of the lawsuit by the four students, but adds that they cannot comment on legal action or pending litigation. The university has mandated back in July 2021 all students attending classes in its Phoenix and Omaha campuses to “be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to their arrival on campus.” It adds that students joining on-campus programs who do not show proof of COVID-19 vaccination “may be subject to unenrollment.”

Alongside this, the university has permitted medical and religious exemptions – albeit on a temporary basis while the vaccines still have emergency use authorization. Ramaekers obtained a temporary exemption to the vaccine, but this expired on Aug. 23 when the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine. Creighton has not issued any religious exemptions to students as of writing.

The Sept. 8 lawsuit against Creighton cites a December 2020 document by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which states that “vaccination is not … a moral obligation and that … it must be voluntary.” It also calls on those who completely refuse the vaccine to “do their utmost to avoid … becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent.” However, the same CDF document states that getting COVID-19 vaccines with cells from aborted fetuses is morally acceptable “when ethically irreproachable COVID-19 vaccines are not available.”

The lawsuit by the four students against the Jesuit university comes weeks after Pope Francis issues a public service announcement calling on people to get vaccinated. NBC Connecticut reports that cardinals and archbishops from North, Central and South America join the pontiff in urging people. “Thanks to God’s grace and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from COVID-19. They bring hope to end the pandemic, but only if they are available to all and if we collaborate with one another,” the Jesuit pope says.

Francis continues: “Getting the vaccines that are authorized by the respective authorities is an act of love. [Vaccination] is a simple yet profound way to care for one another. I pray to God that each one of us can make his or her own small gesture of love.” 

Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil concurs with the pope’s remarks in the video, saying that “getting vaccinated is an act of love for all, especially for the most vulnerable.” Meanwhile, Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez of El Salvador defends vaccination as a “moral responsibility” and “an act of love for the whole community.”

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