Vatican OKs taking COVID-19 vaccine, even if developed via aborted fetal cells

Saint Peter's Basilica is pictured at the Vatican March 7, 2013. |

The Vatican has declared that coronavirus vaccines are “morally acceptable” for Catholics to take, even if their development involved using aborted fetal cells.

In a statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that Pope Francis approved, the Catholic Church said that “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 from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive.”

“It is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process,” stated the CDF, as reported by Vatican News on Monday.

The CDF went on to clarify that “the morally licit use of these types of vaccines, in the particular conditions that make it so, does not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion, and necessarily assumes the opposition to this practice by those who make use of these vaccines.”

“In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed,” it added.

The Catholic body said it believes that vaccination should be voluntary and called on pharmaceutical companies to make the vaccine readily available for impoverished countries.

In pro-life circles, there has been debate over whether to take the COVID-19 vaccine, as the AstraZeneca vaccine was developed in part through growing a modified virus in cells taken from embryonic kidney tissue derived from an abortion performed decades ago, according to Snopes. Researchers have stated that the aborted tissue was not part of the vaccine, but only used for testing it. 

Also, the Moderna vaccine was developed via the HEK-293T cell line, which were indirect descendants of aborted fetal cells derived from a baby aborted in the Netherlands in the 1970s, according to the Catholic News Agency.

This has led some pro-life groups, among them Georgia Right to Life, to urge supporters to not take the vaccine when it becomes widely available.

"The production and testing of vaccines using the remains of aborted human beings, regardless of manner of conception, is morally wrong and must be opposed. GRTL strongly urges the rejection of such vaccines," read their policy statement.

Earlier this month, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales released a statement in support of people taking the vaccine despite its origins.

The Rt. Rev. Richard Moth, chair of the Conference’s Department of Social Justice, said that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Academy of Life have stated that “one may in good conscience and for a grave reason receive a vaccine sourced in this way, provided that there is a sufficient moral distance between the present administration of the vaccine and the original wrongful action.”

“In the COVID-19 pandemic, we judge that this grave reason exists and that one does not sin by receiving the vaccine,” stated Moth.

“Each Catholic must educate his or her conscience on this matter and decide what to do, also bearing in mind that a vaccine must be safe, effective, and universally available, especially to the poor of the world.”

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