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Church to Catholics: Choose Pfizer, Moderna vaccines over Johnson & Johnson

Catholic leaders address 'moral permissibility' of taking COVID-19 vaccine with least connection to aborted fetuses
Catholic priest receives COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 1:14 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 13:18:07-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Catholic churches throughout the Diocese of Palm Beach are issuing guidance to parishioners about the "moral permissibility" of the newest COVID-19 vaccine.

A contingent of Catholic leaders issued a statement Tuesday raising concern about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine having been "developed, tested and/or produced with the help of abortion-derived cell lines."

"Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines raised concerns because an abortion-derived cell line was used for testing them, but not in their production," Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumman, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said in a joint statement. "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 already deemed 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," the joint statement continued. "Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna's vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson's."

Although the church would like pharmaceutical companies to stop using aborted fetuses, church leaders "affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good."

Johnson & Johnson issued a statement earlier this week refuting the church's claims that fetal tissue was used in the creation of the vaccine.

"Several types of cell lines created decades ago using fetal tissue exist and are widely used in medical manufacturing, but the cells in them today are clones of the early cells, not the original tissue."

Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly touted the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it requires a single shot, whereas the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are a two-dose injection.

Publix, which has been the most readily available supplier of the vaccine in Palm Beach County, uses the Moderna vaccine. CVS, Walmart and Winn-Dixie also offer the Moderna vaccine.