D.C. restores Sister Dede’s medical license during Covid-19 vaccine legal battle

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff


Sister Deidre Byrne, POSC, MD / EWTN News Nightly

Washington D.C., Mar 15, 2022 / 08:47 am (CNA).

Sister Deirdre Byrne, perhaps better known as “Sister Dede,” says she can temporarily resume her work as a physician and surgeon after suing Washington, D.C. officials for denying her a religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care workers.

The Catholic religious sister, who grew in name recognition after addressing the Republican National Convention in 2020, told the National Catholic Register that she received a letter on Friday stating that her medical license will remain active until September.

The status could be temporary.

“If at a later date the director finds that it is in the best interest of public health, the exemption granted to you may be rescinded,” the letter reads.

A retired U.S. Army colonel, Byrne served as an Army doctor prior to joining the Sisters of the Little Workers of the Sacred Heart. In Washington, D.C., she leads her convent’s free medical clinic as medical director, in addition to operating an abortion pill reversal ministry.

Byrne objects to the D.C. mandate on moral and religious grounds, CNA previously reported, because the vaccines approved for use in the United States “have been tested, developed, or produced with cell lines derived from abortions,” according to a statement from her attorney, Christopher Ferrara, special counsel for the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit law firm focused on religious liberty cases.

As the visible head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has called vaccination an “act of love.” While the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops teach that these vaccinations can be morally acceptable, it also expresses concern over their connection to abortion. The congregation adds that vaccination “must be voluntary,” while advising the unvaccinated to take extra precautions.

The district first announced its requirement for health care workers to be vaccinated in August. Though the policy includes exemptions for medical or religious reasons, Byrne’s application was denied.

The Thomas More Society filed the lawsuit on March 9 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The defendants are listed as: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Department of Health Director LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, and the District of Columbia.

In response to the restoration of Byrne’s license, DC Health told CNA that “DC Health does not comment on pending lawsuits.” The Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, at this time, did not have a comment to provide. The D.C. Mayor Murial Bowser’s office did not respond with a comment by time of publication.

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