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Fr. James Martin at Boston College, 2014. Youtube.

July 28, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – In what may be his most strident comment on the issue yet, left-wing Jesuit priest and Vatican advisor Fr. James Martin insinuated Sunday that Christians who decline to receive a COVID-19 vaccine lack reverence for human life.

“Are you pro life? Do you reverence human life? Then get vaccinated for God's sake,” Martin tweeted. “I mean that literally.”

Many Christians hold grave ethical reservations about the three COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use in the United States due to the use of cells derived from aborted babies in the development process. According to a detailed breakdown maintained by the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were not designed or produced with abortion-derived cells, but abortion-derived cells were used for some of the lab tests conducted on both vaccines. By contrast, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was designed, produced, and tested using abortion-derived cells.

Rather than respect the choices of such Christians as a matter of conscience, however, Martin has called this objection “absurd, reckless and dangerous” and accused bishops who hold it of “endangering lives,” citing disputed statements from the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) claiming that abortion-tainted vaccines may be permissible in the absence of alternatives.

Martin also disregards secular reasons for vaccine hesitancy, as well as evidence undermining the argument for a moral obligation to vaccinate.

Arguably the biggest driver of hesitancy is the belief that the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have not been sufficiently studied for negative effects, given the fact that they were brought to market in a fraction of the time vaccine development has historically taken – clinical trials were performed in less than a year, when such trials traditionally take a minimum of two to four years. 

Vaccine defenders note that the one-year development period was not starting from scratch, but rather relied on years of prior research into mRNA technology; and that one of the innovations of the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” was conducting various aspects of the development process concurrently rather than sequentially, eliminating delays unrelated to safety. But those factors do not fully account for the condensing of clinical trial phases — each of which can take anywhere from 1-3 years on their own — to just three months apiece.

In a pro-vaccine article published May 25, Dr. Moon Nahm of the University of Alabama at Birmingham acknowledged that “trial volunteers continue to be monitored for any long-term issues,” implicitly conceding the limits of medical authorities’ current knowledge and the lingering possibility of long-term effects.

The “pro-life” case for vaccinating, meanwhile, rests on the assumption that the unvaccinated risk unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to others. But research indicates that asymptomatic transmission is not a substantial contributor to the virus’s spread, meaning that Christians can protect others simply by isolating until recovery upon developing symptoms. Further undermining the argument are “breakthrough cases” of people contracting COVID-19 afte getting vaccinated.

Several Catholics took issue with Martin’s exhortation online:

Siding with left-wing orthodoxy over Catholics and Catholicism is nothing new for Martin, from condemning teenage March for Life attendees based on misleading media coverage to celebrating LGBT “pride.”