TO BE VACCINATED OR NOT:
There is a lot of buzz in Catholic-Land in the United States about the morality of receiving the C-19 vaccine. To clarify this situation, allow me to cite a statement from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the dicastery responsible for clarifying Church teaching, a statement from the chairs of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committees on Doctrine and Pro-Life, and finally, my interpretation of these two statements in plain English.
Here is what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the explicit approval of Pope Francis, says about the morality of receiving the C-19 vaccine: “It is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process. “Due to the situation of the ongoing pandemic, ‘all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive.’”
Here is what the Chair of the US Bishops’ Doctrine Committee and Chair of the US Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee said: “The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the United States again raises questions about the moral permissibility of using vaccines developed, tested, and/or produced with the
help of abortion-derived cell lines.”
“Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines raised concerns because an abortion-derived cell line was used for testing them, but not in their production. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, was developed, tested, and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising additional moral concerns. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged that ‘when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available
… it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.’ However, if one can choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen. Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over
Johnson & Johnson’s.”
“While we should continue to insist that pharmaceutical companies stop using abortion-derived cell lines, given the world-wide suffering that this pandemic is causing, we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good.”
Here is my interpretation of these two statements in plain English: While preferable that no cell lines from aborted fetuses be used in the production or testing of any vaccines, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are approved because cell lines from aborted fetuses were used ONLY to test them, not in their production. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is permissible as an act of charity that serves the common good of society if the other two are not available or if there is no option to get either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. While all three vaccines use cell lines from aborted fetuses in some way, receiving any of these three vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation in an abortion which would make receiving them morally prohibited.