With the release of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, there is renewed discussion regarding the moral acceptability of this vaccine, as well as other COVID-19 vaccines currently in use. The question about the moral permissibility of using vaccines developed, tested and/or produced with the help of abortion-derived cell lines should be addressed in order that Catholics, and all people of good will, can make sound decisions that further the common good and lessen the suffering caused by COVID-19 in a morally responsible manner.
In summary, 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 stem cells from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.” However, if there is an opportunity to choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen (currently Pfizer or Moderna).
It is recognized that those seeking vaccination may not have an option between the various COVID-19 vaccines that have been developed, and in those circumstances, it is morally acceptable to receive whichever COVID-19 vaccine is available to you.
For your information and those seeking further guidance in addressing these moral considerations, you will find it useful to consult the attached documents:
- Statement of the Michigan Bishops on COVID-19 Vaccines (March 3, 2021)
- U.S. Bishop Chairmen for Doctrine and Pro-Life Address the Use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine(March 2, 2021)
- Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (December 21, 2020)
- Points to Consider on the Use of the COVID-19 Vaccines from the National Catholic Bioethics Center (December 8, 2020)
+Most Reverend Walter A. Hurley