Churchmen and Vaccines

12-19-2021Weekly Reflection

There is a growing phenomenon of bishops mandating the COVID vaccines imitating mandates in the secular realm. What to make of this? The official position of the Church via the Sacred Congregation of the Faith is that taking this vaccine should be voluntary and not coerced. This position was approved by the Pope so that a real argument can be made that those bishops mandating the vaccines are issuing illicit decrees and need not be followed. Here’s what the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says:

1. As the Instruction Dignitas Personae states, in cases where cells from aborted fetuses are employed to create cell lines for use in scientific research, “there exist differing degrees of responsibility”[1] of cooperation in evil. For example, “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”.

2. In this sense, when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available (e.g. in countries where vaccines without ethical problems are not made available to physicians and patients, or where their distribution is more difficult due to special storage and transport conditions, or when various types of vaccines are distributed in the same country but health authorities do not allow citizens to choose the vaccine with which to be inoculated) it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.

3. The fundamental reason for considering the use of these vaccines morally licit is that the kind of cooperation in evil (passive material cooperation) in the procured abortion from which these cell lines originate is, on the part of those making use of the resulting vaccines, remote. The moral duty to avoid such passive material cooperation is not obligatory if there is a grave danger, such as the otherwise uncontainable spread of a serious pathological agent[3]--in this case, the pandemic spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. It must therefore be considered that, in such a case, all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive. It should be emphasized, however, that 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.

4. In fact, 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.[4] Both pharmaceutical companies and governmental health agencies are therefore encouraged to produce, approve, distribute and offer ethically acceptable vaccines that do not create problems of conscience for either health care providers or the people to be vaccinated.

5. At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary. In any case, from the ethical point of view, the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed. Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent. In particular, they must avoid any risk to the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons, and who are the most vulnerable. (emphasis added)

6. Finally, there is also a moral imperative for the pharmaceutical industry, governments and international organizations to ensure that vaccines, which are effective and safe from a medical point of view, as well as ethically acceptable, are also accessible to the poorest countries in a manner that is not costly for them. The lack of access to vaccines, otherwise, would become another sign of discrimination and injustice that condemns poor countries to continue living in health, economic and social poverty.[5]

The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on 17 December 2020, examined the present Note and ordered its publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on 21 December 2020, Liturgical Memorial of Saint Peter Canisius.

Luis F. Card. Ladaria, S.I.

+ S.E. Mons. Giacomo Morandi
Titular Archbishop of Cerveteri

It has been pointed out that the current vaccines are not classic vaccines like smallpox or polio. They are leaky vaccines, that is, they lessen the severity of the illness but do not prevent it and vaccinated people can also spread the illness. On this whole issue of vaccination, Cardinal Gerhard Muller the former Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith weighed in on bishops and the vaccine. He did so in an interview with the National Catholic Register. You can read the entire interview here: The title of the interview is the following: Cardinal Gerhard Müller Calls COVID-Related Sacrament Restrictions ‘Grave Sin’ Here are some bullet points:

  • Some politicians, mainstream media and Big Tech have “ruthlessly exploited” COVID-19 to promote “totalitarian thinking” that has even led to division within families, Cardinal Gerhard Müller has observed.
  • …in a crisis, Church and state leaders must work toward cohesion and avoid discriminating against dissenters by calling them “conspiracy theorists,” “sinners against charity.” Otherwise, they are guilty of the very divisive misconduct of which they publicly accuse others.
  • Instead of uniting society in the fight against the pandemic, the powers that be in politics, the mainstream media and Big Tech have ruthlessly exploited the situation to promote the agenda of the “Great Reset,” i.e., totalitarian thinking. Right down to families, people are at loggerheads with each other.
  • Servants of Christ in the apostolic ministry must not offer themselves as courtiers to the rulers of this world and make themselves their propagandists. According to our Catholic faith, the pope, besides being the first witness of the supernatural revelation of God in Jesus Christ, is also the supreme guardian of the natural moral law. The Church’s magisterium is therefore entitled and obliged to point out the limits of temporal power, which ends at the freedom of faith and conscience.
  • It is, above all, contrary to divine law if access to the means of grace of the Church, i.e., the sacraments of Christ, are impaired or even forbidden by the state authorities. That even bishops have closed their churches or denied sacraments to persons seeking help is a grave sin against their God-given authority. This is shocking proof of how far the secularization and de-Christianization of thought has already reached the shepherds of Christ’s flock
  • In times of crisis, places of worship and people’s hearts must be wide open so that people may seek refuge in God, from whom all help comes. All vaccines have a limited temporal effect. No medicine or technical invention can save us from temporal and eternal death.
  • The task of bishops is to administer the Eucharist to the faithful, not to keep them away from it. Personal devotion at home and virtual co-celebration on screens cannot replace real and physical presence in the assembly of the faithful, for we are bodily and social beings.