San Diego Catholic Diocese says Johnson & Johnson vaccine 'entirely morally legitimate'

Virus Outbreak-Catholics-Vaccines
Posted at 10:19 AM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 18:36:06-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Following warnings from some Catholic leaders about receiving Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine, the head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego says the shot is "entirely morally legitimate."

This week, the Archdiocese in New Orleans and St. Louis warned that the company's vaccine is "morally compromised" because it's produced using cell lines developed from aborted fetuses.

According to Religion News Service, Johnson & Johnson's vaccine uses cells cloned from aborted fetuses from the early 1970s. The company said in a statement to the Associated Press that no fetal tissue is used in the vaccine.

Bishop Robert W. McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, said in a statement on Wednesday that getting the vaccine is "truly showing love for our neighbor and our God."

"Because we live in a complicated world, Catholic moral teaching is often highly complex and nuanced in its reasoning about how to navigate the issues of balancing good and evil in confronting ethical choices.

But on the concrete moral and pastoral question of receiving the Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson or Astra-Zeneca vaccines, I want to make clear to the Catholic communities of San Diego and Imperial Counties that in the current pandemic moment, with limited vaccine options available to achieve healing for our nation and our world, it is entirely morally legitimate to receive any of these four vaccines, and to recognize, as Pope Francis has noted, that in receiving them we are truly showing love for our neighbor and our God."

"Bishop McElroy's message is clear: the most important thing is an act of charity and love for your neighbor, to save lives," said Charles Binkley, Director of Bioethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

Last year, the Vatican said, "it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process."

"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 -- 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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.