The Vatican is advising people to get vaccinated for the coronavirus, despite concerns about the use of stem cells in the development of the vaccines.
“In recent months, this Congregation has received several requests for guidance regarding the use of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19, which, in the course of research and production, employed cell lines drawn from tissue obtained from two abortions that occurred in the last century,” the Vatican noted in a statement, referring to a vaccine developed by Pfizer. “At the same time, diverse and sometimes conflicting pronouncements in the mass media by bishops, Catholic associations, and experts have raised questions about the morality of the use of these vaccines.”
The Vatican acknowledged those concerns but suggested the lack of an “ethical” vaccine left patients with little choice.
“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,” the statement added.
Conservative Catholics have been mildly critical of vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which used stem cells for “confirmatory testing.” They have been especially critical of a vaccine by AstraZeneca, which is still in development, that used stem cells during the design and production process.
The Vatican sought to dissuade its followers from those concerns, arguing they have a duty to get vaccinated if they have an opportunity. “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,” the statement said. “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.”