All pronouncements from the Vatican and the USCCB conclude that inoculation with the anti-COVID-19 vaccine does not constitute material cooperation with abortion. 

According to the church’s moral theologians, this is not true. The morality of using vaccines tested with fetal cell lines has been debated by theologians for years and has consistently been resolved in favor of vaccination. Many common vaccines we routinely give our children—including those for measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox—were developed and tested using the same cell lines utilized in the manufacture of the current vaccines for COVID-19. 

Here’s where your sister’s pastor finds matter for concern and confusion. In the U.S., cell lines used in lab research were originally cultivated from fetal tissue from abortions that occurred fifty years ago—before the moral debate on utilizing such tissue was engaged. It’s important to grasp that the fetal cell lines used in the production and testing of vaccines today are not the same fetal tissue from those abortions. Fetal cell lines are grown and reproduced in laboratories. They are thousands of generations removed from the original fetal tissue and are no longer capable of differentiating as human cells do.

The fear among those who reject the use of vaccines as immoral is that receiving the vaccine means materially cooperating with the sin of abortion. However, the distance from the source of the fetal cells and the laboratory process involved in growing and reproducing the cells is sufficient to remove all culpability, in the estimation of moral theologians.

All pronouncements from the Vatican and the USCCB conclude that inoculation with the anti-COVID-19 vaccine does not constitute material cooperation with abortion. Additionally, the immediate good of preventing infection and ending the pandemic is sufficient to offset the distant evil of abortion. It becomes a moral imperative for Catholics to be vaccinated: to participate in the moral good of protecting others from infection. Failure to do so could constitute a sin of omission.

In the words of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF): “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.” And “The morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one’s own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good.”

Pertinent Documents:

—“Moral reflections on vaccines prepared from cells derived from aborted human fetuses” - The Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) 2005

Dignitas Personae (On Certain Bioethical Questions) - Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) 2008 

—“Clarifications on the medical and scientific nature of vaccination” - (PAV) 2017 

—“Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines” - (CDF) December 2020 

—“Moral Considerations Regarding the New COVID-19 Vaccines” - (USCCB) Committees on Doctrine and Pro-Life Activities, December 2020

Reprinted with permission from ©TrueQuest Communications.

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