Roman Catholic leaders in St. Louis and New Orleans are warning Catholics that Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, recently approved for use in the United States, is “morally compromised” because it is produced using a cell line derived from a fetus aborted.
The archdiocese of New Orleans says the decision to receive the vaccine is an individual decision.
In his statement at the end of last week, he did not advise Catholics not to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but adds that Catholics should choose coronavirus vaccines made by Moderna or Pfizer – if they are available.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans told local Catholics to avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
The Bishop of New Orleans, Archbishop Gregory Aymond, says the J&J vaccine uses ‘morally compromised cell lines created from two abortions’
Archbishop Mitchell Thomas Rozanski of St. Louis is also encouraging Catholics to look for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and avoid the Johnson & Johnson version if possible
The Archdiocese of St. Louis on Tuesday encouraged Catholics to seek Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and avoid the Johnson & Johnson version if possible.
Like the declaration of the archdiocese of New Orleans, the St. Louis declaration called the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘morally compromised’. However, the St. Louis statement emphasized that Catholics can obtain this vaccine ‘in good conscience if no other alternative is available.’
Later on Tuesday, a statement issued by the chairmen of the United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference committees on issues of doctrine and abortion issued a statement reiterating moral concerns. He said that Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are preferable ‘if someone has the ability to choose a vaccine.’
Despite not contesting church officials’ claim that an abortion-derived cell line is used in production, Johnson & Johnson issued a statement on Tuesday emphasizing that ‘there is no fetal tissue’ in its vaccine, adding that the company used a ‘modified cell line system’ that allows for the rapid production of new viral vaccines to fight many of the most dangerous infectious diseases, although it did not offer more details about its process.
Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine is made with a harmless cold virus, called adenovirus, the same technology used to produce a successful Ebola vaccine.
The adenovirus is grown using what is called an immortalized cell line, and then the virus is removed and purified.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis on Tuesday is also encouraging Catholics to seek Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and avoid the Johnson & Johnson version if possible
Several types of cell lines created decades ago using fetal tissue exist and are widely used in the manufacture of medical products, but the cells in them today are clones of the initial cells, not the original tissue.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a January statement that cell lines “derived from abortion” were used to test the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but not in their development or production.
The Archdiocese’s statements renewed religious discussions about the vaccine and the use of cells derived from abortion. In December, the Vatican said that ‘it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that used cell lines from aborted fetuses’ in the research and production process when ‘ethically faultless’ vaccines are not available to the public.
A statement was released by the Archdiocese of New Orleans
First boxes of COVID Johnson and Johnson vaccines at McKesson facilities in Shepherdsville, Kentucky
Pope Francis has often spoken about the need to ensure that vaccines are widely available, especially for the poor and marginalized. And last month, a decree signed by the Vatican City State Governor said that Vatican officials who chose to leave vaccination without a proven medical reason could be subject to sanctions, including dismissal.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans posted its statement on Friday, the day before the Food and Drug Administration released the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for use in the United States.
Asked on Tuesday about the statement by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards – a rare anti-abortion Democrat – emphasized the need for people to use any of the approved vaccines available to stop the virus from spreading.
The first box containing Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine goes down the conveyor belt to a transport truck at McKesson’s facility in Shepherdsville, Kentucky
Edwards said he spoke on Sunday with Archbishop Gregory Aymond about the statement. “I didn’t read your statement telling people who are Catholic or not to not use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” said Edwards.
‘I am encouraging everyone to get the first vaccine available to them.’
He noted a statement issued on Monday by Bishop Michael Duca of Baton Rouge.
Duca acknowledged ‘moral concerns’ about the newly approved vaccine. But, he added “if for any reasonable circumstance you can only get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you should feel free to do it for your safety and the common good.”
This is similar to the guidance of the United States Episcopal Conference issued in January. “Given that the COVID-19 virus can involve serious health risks, it may be morally acceptable to receive a vaccine that uses abortion-derived cell lines if no other vaccine available comparable in safety and efficacy without a connection to abortion,” says the guide. January said.