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Bishop issues statement on COVID vaccines

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

March 10, 2021

Editor’s note: Bishop Terry R. LaValley issued the following statement on Coronavirus vaccines on March 4.

Bishop LaValley is encouraging Catholics in the North Country to receive any of the coronavirus vaccines that are available to them. “In light of conflicting information, I encourage people to be vaccinated against the virus,” said Bishop LaValley. “In the current pandemic, given the limited vaccine options available, it is morally permissible to receive any of the vaccines,” he added.

Bishop LaValley issued his response to clarify the morality of taking the vaccines. In assessing the morality of the vaccines, Catholic teaching considers many factors, including any connections between the vaccines and abortion, the urgency of the pandemic, and the opportunity to promote the common good.

Last December, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared it “morally acceptable” to take vaccines that relied on cell lines derived from aborted fetuses in their research and production “when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available.” The Pfiser and Moderna vaccines used fetal cell lines from abortions in the 1970s and 1980s in their testing phase but did not use these lines in the development or production phases. As a result, the fetal cell lines are not in the injection. The connection to abortions is remote, and the use of these vaccines is morally acceptable.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine employed abortion derived cell lines in both development and production of the vaccine. That makes the connection to abortion less remote, causing bishops and theologians to encourage Catholics to opt for the Pfiser or Moderna vaccine if given a choice. However, if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the only one available, they advise that Catholics may receive the vaccine.

Bishop LaValley noted that the reality we are facing in this pandemic is complex and Catholic moral teaching is nuanced. “I want to make it clear to Catholics that while we should continue to insist that pharmaceutical companies stop using abortion-derived cell lines, given our current urgent situation, it is permissible to take any of the available vaccines. Being vaccinated is an act of charity that serves the common good,” the Bishop noted.

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