UK bishops say ‘one does not sin by receiving’ abortion-tainted COVID vaccine
LONDON, U.K., December 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Following the approval of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine by the U.K. government, the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) stated that Catholics would not sin by taking a vaccine developed with aborted fetal cells.
The message, released only yesterday, comes as a follow-up to their September letter in which the CBCEW declared that a Catholic could use a vaccine derived from an aborted baby in “good conscience.” That letter, in turn, affirmed the bishops’ previous statement from July, in which the bishops proclaimed that Catholics have a “prima facie duty to be vaccinated.”
However, the bishops have gone beyond their earlier statements in the most recent one, seemingly claiming that even with abortion-tainted vaccines, “one does not sin by receiving the vaccine.”
The letter mentions by name vaccines produced by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, noting that the last “has been developed from cell-lines originating from the cells of an aborted foetus in 1983.”
As in the previous statements, the CBCEW refers to the 2008 Vatican instruction Dignitatis Personae and the 2017 Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL) document, which lessened moral objections to immoral vaccines, highlighting instead the individual’s “moral obligation” to be vaccinated for the sake of public health.
Based on these texts, the CBCEW states that “one may in good conscience and for a grave reason receive a vaccine sourced in this way,” that is, connected to abortion, providing “there is a sufficient moral distance between the present administration of the vaccine and the original wrongful action.”
Despite the CBCEW issuing previous letters encouraging Catholics to get vaccinated, regardless of the vaccine’s connection to abortion, the December message is marked by one statement in particular: “In the COVID-19 pandemic, we judge that this grave reason exists and that one does not sin by receiving the vaccine.”
The United Kingdom has a population of more than 66 million people. Less than 70,000 deaths in the country have been attributed to COVID-19 throughout 2020, which corresponds to 0.1% of the population.
The bishops’ letter also seems to distinguish the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines from the AstraZeneca one, as being different in moral character, and apparently without connection to abortion. They note that Pfizer and Moderna “have a different source since they are mRNA-based vaccines,” referring also to the approval of the Pfizer vaccine in the U.K on the previous day.
Catholics must form their consciences on the subject of vaccines, adds the letter, “also bearing in mind that a vaccine must be safe, effective, and universally available, especially to the poor of the world.” No mention is made of a vaccine having to be made without connection to aborted fetal cells.
“Each of us has a duty to protect others from infection with its danger of serious illness, and for some, death,” reads the letter. “A vaccine is the most effective way to achieve this unless one decides to self-isolate.”
According to the CBCEW, a Catholic may both take “any of these vaccines for the good of others and themselves,” and refuse “a particular vaccine,” and do so “in good conscience.” While the bishops state that one may take any vaccine “in good conscience,” they note that one might only refuse “a particular vaccine,” not all vaccines.
They argue that one “continues to have a duty to protect others from infection,” after earlier asserting that COVID-19 “caused a global pandemic and led to a huge loss of life.”
In a statement made to LifeSite, John Smeaton, the Chief Executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said, “The most disappointing aspect of the statement from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of England and Wales on Covid-19 vaccines is the contrast between its emphasis on preventing the spread of the virus and its glossing over of the grave injustice being perpetrated by the pharmaceutical industry through the ongoing use of foetal tissue as a raw material in the manufacture of some vaccines. It should be obvious to everyone that using human beings in this way is deeply immoral.”
“For the Bishops to minimise the use of the remains of an unborn child by referring to ‘cell-lines originating from the cells of an aborted foetus in 1983’ is shocking. This baby was wrongfully killed by abortion but the offence to human dignity perpetuated by the ongoing exploitation of a human being as a commercial resource should not only fill us with outrage but should convince us that the evil practice of harvesting body parts from aborted children must end. This is not a single event of the distant past but the Bishops’ statement fails to reflect the gravity of a crime which is occurring today,” he continued.
“As His Eminence Cardinal Burke said recently: ‘With regard to vaccination, it must be clear that it is never morally justified to develop a vaccine through the use of the cell lines of aborted fetuses. The thought of the introduction of such a vaccine into one’s body is rightly abhorrent.’”
Smeaton continued, “It is a corporal act of mercy to bury the dead. The Bishops should demand an immediate halt to the exploitation of unborn babies and insist the remains of all children currently being used by the pharmaceutical industry are put to rest with all the respect owed to the dead.”
Details regarding the vaccines
While the CBCEW seems to imply that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not connected to abortion, medical research and scientific data suggests otherwise. Dr. Helen Watt of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford, England, told the Catholic Herald that the Pfizer vaccine “makes no use of a foetal cell line in the production process itself, and no use in the design,” but that “[one] of the confirmatory lab tests on the vaccine did sadly involve an old foetal cell line.”
The Children of God for Life organization adds that the Pfizer vaccine is tested using the HEK-293 cell line, which is derived from kidney tissue taken from a healthy baby who was aborted in the Netherlands in the 1970s.
The Moderna vaccine is also heavily connected to abortion. Children of God for Life compiled research to show that Moderna “extensively” uses the “aborted fetal cell line HEK-293” in the “fundamental design of mRNA technology, their Spike protein and in the research, development, production and testing.”
The Spike protein and the mRNA used in the Moderna vaccine “were built on technology that extensively used aborted fetal cells, rendering the vaccine absolutely immoral from start to finish.”
Teaching from Catholic bishops
Bishop Brennan of Fresno, California, recently warned Catholics to avoid any vaccine connected to abortion in any way. Mentioning the Pfizer vaccine by name, Brennan said “we must always and only pursue vaccines that are ethical and morally acceptable.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, has also warned people via Twitter against the Moderna vaccine, saying that it is not “morally produced.”
Bishop Strickland has repeatedly called to halt production of vaccines using aborted babies. He tweeted in April that “if a vaccine for this virus is only attainable if we use body parts of aborted children then I will refuse the vaccine … I will not kill children to live.”
The bishop publicly re-issued this rejection of such vaccines: “I renew my call that we reject any vaccine that is developed using aborted children. Even if it originated decades ago it still means a child’s life was ended before it was born & then their body was used as spare parts.”
In a public letter issued in May, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, along with Cardinals Mueller, Punjat, and Zen, taught that “for Catholics it is morally unacceptable to develop or use vaccines derived from material from aborted fetuses.”
They further stated that “citizens must be given the opportunity to refuse these restrictions on personal freedom, without any penalty whatsoever being imposed on those who do not wish to use vaccines.”
Most recently, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, an auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, gave an interview in which he stated that mandatory vaccines are “the last step of Satanism” to “legalize abortion globally — the killing of unborn babies — so that the entire planet will be collaborating in the process of killing babies through the vaccine which will use parts of aborted babies.”
Continuing, Schneider said that “we must resist very strongly against this, if it comes. We must even accept to be martyrs.”