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Pope says coronavirus vaccine is ‘morally acceptable’ as two Cardinals test positive for COVID-19

pope francis covid-19 vaccine morally acceptable
Photo via Ross Dunn/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Pope Francis approved language from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released on Dec. 21, determining that the coronavirus vaccine was “morally acceptable” for people to take, even though the vaccine was developed via “cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.” The proclamation coincides with news that two cardinals with close ties to the Pope have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Vatican News reported that due to the threat of the ongoing pandemic, “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.” 

The BBC further clarified the Vatican’s messaging that “In the absence of any alternative, such vaccines ‘can be used in good conscience,’” though the Vatican also noted this would “not constitute formal co-operation” with abortions that took place.

The papal-approved statement included language that reified the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion: “The Congregation clarifies 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.’ Nor should it imply a moral approval of the use of cell lines proceeding from aborted fetuses.” 

As NPR noted, “Cells derived from elective abortions have been used in the manufacture of vaccines since the 1960s, including those developed to combat chicken pox, hepatitis A, rubella, and shingles.” 

NPR also reported that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued its own statement last week as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine began being distributed and as the Moderna vaccine was being readied for approval. 

“In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use,” they said, deeming the vaccines’ connection to abortion “very remote.”

America, a Jesuit magazine covering Catholic news, reported Dec. 21 that two cardinals who work closely with Pope Francis tested positive for COVID-19 and were absent from a scheduled audience with the Pope that morning.

The report noted, “Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, 57, the pope’s almoner and his main contact with the poor and needy in Rome and elsewhere, and Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, 78, the president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, have both tested positive for the coronavirus.”

Krajewski reportedly has pneumonia symptoms and was transferred to a hospital for treatment. 

Meanwhile, priests are still trying to figure out the best way to perform last rites on sick patients.

Sources: Vatican News, BBC, NPR, America


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