VATICAN CITY December 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has issued a doctrinal note affirming that — under specific limited circumstances — one may morally cooperate in the evil of abortion through the reception of vaccines tainted in their production or testing with the living cells of children directly killed by abortion several decades ago.
The purpose of the “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines” is a response to “several requests for guidance regarding the use of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus” some manifestations of which “employed cell lines drawn from tissue obtained from two abortions,” including one in the 1970s and another of an 18-week-old baby boy in 1985. The CDF also notes that “diverse and sometimes conflicting pronouncements in the mass media by bishops, Catholic associations, and experts” on the question makes such a pronouncement useful.
Quoting previous Church documents, the CDF first explains that “‘there exist differing degrees of responsibility’ of cooperation in evil. For example, ‘in organizations where cell lines of illicit origin are being utilized, the responsibility of those who make the decision to use them is not the same as that of those who have no voice in such a decision.’”
“In this sense, when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available,” for various reasons, the note states, “it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process” (emphasis in original).
“The fundamental reason for considering the use of these vaccines morally licit is that the kind of cooperation in evil (passive material cooperation) in the procured abortion from which these cell lines originate is, on the part of those making use of the resulting vaccines, remote.”
Citing another criterion for such use, the CDF explicitly affirms that “[t]he moral duty to avoid such passive material cooperation is not obligatory if there is a grave danger.” The document goes on to state that such a grave danger presently exists in “the pandemic spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19,” though the authors are not explicit on where the Church has competence to make that determination.
Others with due competence have come to the opposing conclusion: that vaccines are not needed at all for this pandemic, which they state is effectively “over.” Several thousand doctors in Belgium also affirmed that “[i]f 95% of people experience Covid-19 virtually symptom-free, the risk of exposure to an untested vaccine is irresponsible.” And over 51,000 affirm that due to the relatively mild danger of COVID-19 to the vast majority of the population, “those who are at minimal risk” should be permitted “to live their lives normally [and] build up (herd) immunity to the virus.”
The Vatican document affirms that should one use such a vaccine, this “does not and should not in any way imply that there is a moral endorsement of the use of cell lines proceeding from aborted fetuses” and confirms that “pharmaceutical companies and governmental health agencies” should be “encouraged to produce, approve, distribute and offer ethically acceptable vaccines that do not create problems of conscience for either health care providers or the people to be vaccinated.”
Finally, the CDF states, “practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”
Indeed, as stated by the National Catholic Bioethics Center, especially since the long-term effects of these vaccines have not been sufficiently tested, “coercive measures requiring persons” to take such a vaccine are “ethically unacceptable.”
In a paper released on December 12, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, along with co-signers Cardinal Janis Pujats, Bishop Joseph Strickland, and Archbishops Tomash Peta and Jan Pawel Lenga, expressed the strong conviction that any use of a vaccine tainted with the “unspeakable crime” of abortion, under any circumstances, “cannot be acceptable for Catholics.”
These prelates cite the teaching of St. John Paul II affirming the duty of every Catholic and person of goodwill to defend “the most basic and fundamental right” to life “with maximum determination.” To make use of vaccines “made from the cells of murdered unborn children contradicts [this] ‘maximum determination’ to defend unborn life.”
“The crime of abortion is so monstrous that any kind of concatenation with this crime, even a very remote one, is immoral and cannot be accepted under any circumstances by a Catholic once he has become fully aware of it,” they wrote. “One who uses these vaccines must realize that his body is benefitting from the ‘fruits’ … of one of mankind’s greatest crimes.”
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