WELLINGTON, New Zealand (ChurchMilitant.com) - New Zealand's bishops will begin segregating Catholics based on vaccination status, forcing the faithful to attend separate "apartheid-style" Masses under a new COVID-19 "traffic light" system beginning Nov. 29.
Priests who are not fully vaccinated or do not wish to declare their vaccination status will be prohibited from attending or presiding at vaccinated-only celebrations of the Holy Eucharist or other vaccinated-only church events.
The "traffic light" system will allow people to gather in churches "in limited numbers if vaccination passes are not required or in potentially unrestricted numbers by presenting proof of vaccination," a letter from the New Zealand bishops announced.
Fully vaccinated priests presiding at mixed services open to both vaxxed and unvaxxed need to give due consideration to any specific health conditions he may have "which could make him more susceptible to the health consequences of being infected by COVID-19."
According to the bishops, the segregation balances the refusal of many vaccinated Catholics to attend mixed services hosting both vaxxed and unvaxxed while addressing the concerns of those who say they will feel excluded if unvaccinated people are unable to attend.
Failing to note the divisiveness of medical segregation, the prelates ironically blast the "intolerance" of conscientious objectors to lockdowns and forced jabs as having "the potential to create new divisions … as well as harden already existing divisions."
Anthropologist and columnist Karen Harradine told Church Militant New Zealand's "persecution of the unvaccinated has horrifying resonances with the apartheid regime I grew up under in South Africa."
Harradine, who is documenting the evils of apartheid and its parallels with current vaccine policies, elaborated:
New Zealand is no longer a democracy, but a tyranny based on apartheid-like policies. At least many church leaders in South Africa spoke out against this demonization and dehumanization of the Other. But Catholic bishops in New Zealand are totally complicit in this new apartheid. They shame the Church by doing so.
This segregation of the unvaccinated echoes the segregation of facilities for black South Africans under apartheid. The Separate Amenities Act of 1953 forced different races to use separate public facilities designated for their own race only. It doesn't take a huge feat of the imagination to see where this segregation for the unvaccinated churchgoers is headed.
Under apartheid, most churches segregated congregations by holding separate services for Whites, Blacks, and so-called coloreds, Harradine noted, asking: "Do the NZ bishops want that to be the ultimate goal, separate churches for the vaccinated and unvaccinated?"
The bishops, however, insist in their letter on "want[ing] our churches to be places of hospitality and inclusion, open and welcoming to all without prejudice or discrimination."
The bishops justify their capitulation to state tyranny, arguing "the State is legally empowered to introduce sweeping public health measures which can override personal freedoms for the sake of protecting society as a whole," in a public health emergency.
Criticizing the "decreasing tolerance" for "the restrictions created by the lockdowns and other COVID-19 responses," the bishops describe such actions as "consistent with our Catholic commitment to the common good."
"We bishops are vaccinated. We renew our call for those of you who are not yet vaccinated to do so," the prelates urge, claiming that countries with low or previously low vaccination rates are suffering the "catastrophic effects" of the virus.
Fully vaxxed congregations will still have to obey regulations compelling the use of masks, social distancing, Communion only in the hand, no holy water for blessing, and no shared hymnals or other books.
The bishops' disinformation is debunked by countries like Israel — the first country on earth to fully vaccinate a majority of citizens. Israel now has one of the world's highest reported daily infection rates with nearly one in every 150 persons testing positive for the virus.
Theologian and cultural commentator Fr. Athanasius St. Michel told Church Militant:
The initiation of eucharistic apartheid at the behest of a medical program that has failed to deliver viral protection as it promised is at best a category error and a medical mistake. At worst it is a betrayal of those faithful who have conscientious objections or medical vulnerabilities to an experimental drug.
He called the complicity in medical segregation an "abrogation of pastoral and moral care."
Meanwhile, clergy in neighboring Australia are rebelling against vaccine apartheid.
"As of next week, I am compelled to do the very thing I despise, and I will have to discriminate between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated," Fr. Kevin Williams, parish priest of St. Joseph, Chelsea, in the archdiocese of Melbourne wrote in a parish bulletin.
"On Wednesday, utterly sickened after 19 months of governmental restrictions, I handed in my resignation to Abp. [Peter] Comensoli," Williams announced in his newsletter for the 31st week in Ordinary Time.
The priest said the archbishop spent a "considerable amount of time" talking to him and persuaded him "to 'hang on' just a little bit longer."
"I will do so — but I don't know how much longer I can endure. How can I give hope to God's people when all the hope has been utterly crushed out of me?" Williams asked. "As for now, I have no words with which to express how utterly disgusted I am."
Williams said he became a priest "to bring God's healing word to his people" and not to be "an unpaid government bureaucrat moving paperwork around on desks and enforcing discriminatory government agendas."
Only double-jabbed parishioners will be permitted to attend the three Sunday Masses while the weekday Masses will be run at the "vaccination status unknown" level, the priest said.
Archbishop Comensoli acknowledged "continued forms of segregation within the community are deeply damaging" and could not "become the only way for COVID accommodation."
Despite reaching the 80% threshold of adults receiving double vaccination, the state of Victoria has prohibited unvaccinated persons from attending services with more than 30 adults present.
Unvaccinated individuals are only permitted to participate in services for those with an "unknown vaccination status." The maximum number allowed for such services is 30, both indoors and outdoors.