Episcopate: AstraZeneca and J&J shots raise serious moral objections

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Catholics should refuse to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson shots, unless they have no other vaccines to choose from and are directly obliged be inoculated, for instance at work - chairman of episcopal bioethics experts team Bishop Józef Wróbel said in a statement on Wednesday. Government Information Centre said in response that many lives depended on the vaccination programme.

The chairman of the Team of Bioethics Experts of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Józef Wróbel, issued a statement on Wednesday regarding the use of COVID-19 vaccines by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

"Serious moral objections"

The bishop wrote in the statement that, unlike vaccines using mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) which do not raise serious ethical objections, the vaccines of AstraZeneca and Johnson&Johnson are unfortunately based on a technology that uses cells from aborted fetuses.

This fact, Bishop Wróbel wrote, "raises a serious moral objection since in this case, cells derived from aborted fetuses are an essential link in the technology used to produce these vaccines".

"According to the principles outlined in the previous document, Catholics should not accept to be vaccinated with these vaccines, since there are others—the aforementioned mRNA—that do not raise conscience-binding moral objections" - the bishop concluded.

No choice, no guilt

Bishop Wróbel stressed, however, the episcopate's position was "not a definitive moral judgment on the possibility of using AstraZeneca and Johnson&Johnson vaccines"

"It must be remembered that the faithful, who have no choice of other vaccines and are directly obliged by certain conditions (e.g., professional, obedience within certain teams, structures, offices, and services for which the vaccines are intended) can use them without moral guilt" - he wrote.

"According to the position of the Church’s Magisterium, the exceptional permissibility of these vaccines is due to the fact that their reception does not imply direct participation in, acceptance of, or coercion of abortion" - he added.

Furthermore, he explained that "the link between the aborted fetus and the vaccines is not a formal link (which would be the case if the abortion had been performed at the request of the vaccine manufacturer and coerced by those wishing to use the vaccines) but is a material link (not an intentional or causal link; the vaccine is linked to the abortion only by the biological material derived from it)".

"Such persons must manifest their firm opposition"

According to the Episcopal Conference statement "the use of the vaccine is dictated by a genuine necessity or the duty to protect one’s own life and health or those of one’s neighbor who might be infected by contact with an unvaccinated person".

Bishop Wróbel pointed out, however, that "such persons must, however, manifest their firm opposition to the use of immoral biological material in the production of the vaccine in such a way that they are not considered to be indirectly advocating abortion".

"Lives at stake"

The Government Centre for Information commented later on Wednesday on the statement issued by the Polish bishops.

"What's at stake in the vaccination process, are our lives and the lives of our closest. Already over 800 million people have been vaccinated, including Pope Francis and some Polish bishops. Vaccinations will allow us to return to normal life" - we read at "#SzczepimySię".

Holy See's view

Polish Episcopate's view on the matter is similar to that of the Vatican. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a note in late December, which was lated approved by Pope Francis.

The Vatican said that when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available "it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process".

The Congregation stressed, however, "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 note it was also said that "the licit use of such vaccines 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".

Pope Francis was vaccined in mid-January. The Vatican used the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.


Źródło: TVN24 News in English, episkopat.pl