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December 16, 2020

Information Regarding Degrees of Responsibility of Vaccine Usage

Philadelphia, PA- December 16, 2020- We are so fortunate to be able to rely on the Catholic Church for authoritative guidance concerning the moral use of vaccines to protect against COVID-19. 

Questions are not new concerning vaccines that have used aborted fetal cell lines in their development, or ancillary testing (effectiveness, safety, etc.). Even though such abortions occurred decades ago, that does not justify the violation of the dignity of the fetus in the name of medical research. 

Catholic schools have relied on the guidance of the Church to address concerns in their vaccination requirements for students: e.g., there are no moral alternatives in the United States for rubella vaccine (contained in the MMR vaccine), as well as chicken pox and Hepatitis A vaccines. Such guidance has been provided by the Pontifical Academy for Life, and most importantly by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Dignitas Personae. Specifically, Dignitas personae, while clearly addressing the duty of researchers to refuse to use such cell lines, and explaining the degrees of their responsibility, it also provides guidance for the use of such vaccines. It states:

“Of course, within this general picture there exist differing degrees of responsibility. Grave reasons may be morally proportionate to justify the use of such ‘biological material’. Thus, for example, danger to the health of children could permit parents to use 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. Moreover, 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.”

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the authoritative teaching office of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Medical Association (CMA) accepts this authoritative guidance. Specifically, CMA wishes to direct persons of conscience with concerns to the very helpful analysis by The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC): Points to Consider on the Use of COVID-19 Vaccines; and Moral Considerations Regarding The New COVID-19 Vaccines,issued by The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

CMA recognizes as an association of physicians and other health care providers, that the world is facing a grave situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. In the absence of morally developed alternatives, and this may also be a delay in the availability for such alternatives, the use of vaccines as presented in the NCBC and USCCB documents reflects prudent guidance to those having ethical concerns for receiving or administrating such COVID-19 vaccines. We must continue, as individuals and as an organization, to express our opposition to the continued development of therapeutics using cell lines from the most vulnerable of human beings, the aborted fetus whose remains are continually disrespected in the false claim of the “Common Good.” Research has demonstrated that there are moral alternative methods for such research to protect public health. Until that occurs, we rely on our Holy Mother Church, as empowered by Jesus, to guide us.

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