The Diocese of Allentown on Wednesday joined other Roman Catholic leaders in advising Catholics that the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, newly approved for use in the United States, is “morally compromised” because it is produced using a cell line obtained from an aborted fetus.
Other vaccines are being offered that are more morally acceptable, Bishop Alfred Schlert said in an article published by the diocese’s AD Today.
Advice to the faithful voices of the Lehigh Valley relates to similar ones to those broadcast by Catholic leaders in St. Louis and New Orleans.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans says the decision to get the vaccine is up to the individual̵
On Tuesday, the Archdiocese of St. Louis encouraged Catholics to look for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and to avoid the Johnson & Johnson version if possible. Like the New Orleans archdiocese’s statement, the St. Louis statement called the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “morally compromised.” However, the St. Louis statement stressed that Catholics can receive this vaccine “with a good conscience, if there is no other alternative.”
Later Tuesday, a statement by the chairs of the committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on doctrine and abortion issued a statement reiterating moral concerns. It says that Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are preferable, “if one has the opportunity to choose a vaccine.”
Although he did not dispute the claim of church officials that an abortion-derived cell line was used in the production, Johnson & Johnson issued a statement Tuesday stressing that there was no fetal tissue in his vaccine.
Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine was made using a harmless cold virus called adenovirus, the same technology used to make a successful Ebola vaccine. The adenovirus is grown using a so-called immortalized cell line, and then the virus is removed and purified.
There are several types of cell lines created decades ago using fetal tissue and widely used in medical production, but the cells in them today are clones of early cells, not the original tissue.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement in January that abortion-derived cell lines were used to test Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but not in their development or production.
The archbishopric’s statements renewed religious discussions about the vaccine and the use of abortion-derived cells. In December, the Vatican said it was “morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that used aborted fetal cell lines” in the research and production process when “ethically sound” vaccines were not available to the public.
Pope Francis often speaks of the need to ensure that vaccines are widely available, especially for the poor and marginalized. Last month, a decree signed by the Vatican governor said Vatican officials who refused vaccination without a proven medical reason could be subject to sanctions, including dismissal.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans issued a statement Friday, a day before the Food and Drug Administration approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for use in the United States
Asked Tuesday about the statement by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards, a rare Democrat against abortion, stressed the need for people to use one of the approved vaccines available to stop the virus from spreading.
Edwards said he spoke with Archbishop Gregory Aymond on Sunday about the statement. “I do not read his statement as a full statement to people who are Catholics or otherwise do not take advantage of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Edwards said.
“I encourage everyone there to get the first vaccine available to them.”
He made a statement Monday from Bishop Michael Duka of Baton Rouge.
Duca acknowledged “moral concerns” about the newly approved vaccine. But he added, “If under any reasonable circumstances you can only get the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, you should feel free to do so for your own safety and the common good.”
This is similar to the guide to the US Episcopal Conference issued in January. “Given that the COVID-19 virus may involve serious health risks, it may be morally acceptable to obtain a vaccine that uses abortion-derived cell lines if there are no other available vaccines comparable in safety and efficacy without connection with abortion “, the management from January I said.
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The Associated Press and supervisory reporter Kurt Breswein contributed to the report. Get to it on firstname.lastname@example.org.