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USCCB addresses Johnson & Johnson vaccine


Concerns over the moral acceptability of taking the new Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine have been addressed by the USCCB. Many members of the Catholic Church questioned if the vaccine, made from abortion-derived cell lines, could be received.

On March 2, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop John F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine recently approved for use in the United States.

“The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine for us in the United States again raises questions about the moral permissibility of using vaccines developed, tested, and/or produced with the help of abortion-derived cell lines,” the statement read.

“Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines raised concerns because an abortion-derived cell line was used for testing them, but not in their production. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, was developed, tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising additional moral concerns. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged that ‘when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available … it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.’ However, if one can choose among equally safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen. Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s.”

The statement further encouraged pharmaceutical companies to stop using abortion-derived cell lines, but acknowledged that “being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good.”

Cheryl Calire, executive director of Office of Pastoral Ministries, which includes Pro-Life Activities, has seen confusion over the use of fetal cells being used in the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines. Those companies have used fetal cells in the testing process, not production. Those vaccines do not contain aborted fetal cells. A good way of knowing which vaccine you’re getting is Johnson & Johnson is the only vaccine currently using a one-dose shot.

“If we have a choice, we should be choosing the two-dose right now,” Calire said, adding, “People need to form their conscience, which is very important, but they also need to consult with their physician with their own personal circumstance. We’re not all one size fits all.”

To read the statement from the USCCB please visit: https://www.usccb.org/news/2021/us-bishop-chairmen-doctrine-and-pro-life-address-use-johnson-johnson-covid-19-vaccine