WASHINGTON, D.C., December 15, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) –The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) has announced that “the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use, despite their remote connection to morally compromised cell lines.” The bishops add that receiving such vaccines are “an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.”
The document entitled “Moral Considerations Regarding the new COVID-19 Vaccines,” published yesterday by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, stated that use of the abortion-tainted Pfizer and Moderna developed vaccines is morally permissible.
The document opens by citing Pope John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae, asserting that abortion is indeed a grave moral evil, and that, on account of this, the USCCB has been “advocating for the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 that has no link to abortion.”
Relying heavily on the 2005 document “Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived from Aborted Human Foetuses” produced by the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL) and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (CDF) 2008 “Instruction on Certain Bioethical Questions (Dignitas Personae),” the bishops build a case for why they think the Pfizer and Moderna developed vaccines can be morally neutral, and even good.
The document cites three principal reasons why the vaccines could be morally permissible. The first and second points are closely related, both hinging on the ostensible requirement of a vaccine to contain a virus that poses a real and present danger: “[f]irst, at least at present, there is no available alternative vaccine that has absolutely no connection to abortion. Second, the risk to public health is very serious, as evidenced by the millions of infections worldwide and hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States of America alone.”
The bishops note that “the Congregation [CDF] affirms that a serious health danger could justify use of ‘a vaccine which was developed using cell lines of illicit origin, while keeping in mind that everyone has the duty to make known their disagreement and to ask that their healthcare system make other types of vaccines available’.”
Whilst it is true that there are not yet any vaccines approved and available which are free from abortion-related development, many experts believe that there is not actually a need for a COVID-19 vaccine in the first place.
Dr. Theresa Deisher, founder and chief scientist of the Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute, has questioned the necessity of a vaccine against COVID-19, saying: “[w]e're making a vaccine at warp speed for a virus that doesn't look like it's going to need a vaccine.”
Deisher explains that “this virus to date has less than a 0.03% fatality rate and most of those people, I believe it's 92% or above, have other health problems.” She added that developing a vaccine in such a quick time frame “is possible, but I don’t believe it is desirable, nor do I believe that it’s safe,” with as much as “15% of the very healthy young volunteers [experiencing] significant side effects.”
The third point raised by the bishops is that of a shared responsibility for those most vulnerable to the disease. They state that “we cannot omit fulfilling serious obligations such as the prevention of deadly infection and the spread of contagion among those who are vulnerable just to avoid the appearance of scandal.”
The document does nonetheless acknowledge that “neither vaccine [Pfizer nor Moderna’s] is completely free from any connection to morally compromised cell lines.” The documents also states that the “AstraZeneca vaccine is more morally compromised” since the “HEK293 cell line was used in the design, development, and production stages of that vaccine, as well as for confirmatory testing” and says that the AstraZeneca vaccine ought to be avoided “if there are alternatives available.”
Last week, a group of bishops released a joint statement challenging the use of abortion-linked vaccines in all circumstances. “Any link to the abortion process, even the most remote and implicit, will cast a shadow over the Church’s duty to bear unwavering witness to the truth that abortion must be utterly rejected,” the group stated, adding that the“ends cannot justify the means.”
The group, consisting of Cardinal Janis Pujats, Archbishop Tomash Peta, Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, criticize statements from other bishops that seek to justify the use of abortion-linked vaccines on the basis of “remote and material cooperation.”
“Such affirmations are extremely anti-pastoral and counterproductive, especially when one considers the increasingly apocalyptic character of the abortion industry, and the inhuman nature of some biomedical research and embryonic technology,” they said.
The group stated that “as Successors of the Apostles and Shepherds responsible for the eternal salvation of souls, we consider it impossible to be silent and maintain an ambiguous attitude regarding our duty to resist with “maximum of determination” (Pope John Paul II) against the “unspeakable crime” of abortion (II Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 51).”
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