Are Catholics obliged to follow scientific evidence that they find disreputable with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic?
The answer seems to be in the negative. But based on the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) guidelines, but the faithful are also bound by government rules and guidelines. The vaccines are a separate matter. Why? The CDF guidelines have a provision for Catholics to not accept the vaccines on personal moral grounds. But, Pope Francis in order to explain that the new vaccines are morally licit and will serve the common good.
Since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admits that the coronavirus is air born, it would reasonably prudent to take the normal safety measures health officials are mandating: wearing masks and staying 6 ft apart from others and avoid large crowds.
At least Pope Francis is in favour of following governmental health guidelines!
Pope Francis criticized groups protesting coronavirus restrictions and praised medical workers in an op-ed published Thursday in The New York Times.
“With some exceptions, governments have made great efforts to put the well-being of their people first, acting decisively to protect health and to save lives,” the pontiff wrote Thursday. “Yet some groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions -- as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom! Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate.
Francis, 83, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Argentina, wrote that his own personal health crisis helped him to understand how science can be used to help people recover. The pope said he was 21 in 1957 when he had part of his lung removed, The Hill reported. - Pope Francis criticizes groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions
Maybe not obliged, but Catholics must make an informed decision on this matter. That much is clear.
To say the least, it is complicated!
Catholics should strive to take the vaccine the least morally offensive possible, if possible.
The Vatican’s Note on the morality of using
some anti-Covid-19 vaccines states the following:
The question of the use of vaccines, in general, is often at the center of controversy in the forum of public opinion.
Here, our objective is only to consider the moral aspects of the use of the vaccines against Covid-19 that have been developed from cell lines derived from tissues obtained from two fetuses that were not spontaneously aborted.
As the Instruction Dignitas Personae states, in cases where cells from aborted fetuses are employed to create cell lines for use in scientific research, “there exist differing degrees of responsibility” of cooperation in evil. For example,“in organizations where cell lines of illicit origin are being utilized, the responsibility of those who make the decision to use them is not the same as that of those who have no voice in such a decision”.
In this sense, 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 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.
In fact, the licit use of such vaccines does not and should not in any way imply that there is a moral endorsement of the use of cell lines proceeding from aborted fetuses. Both pharmaceutical companies and governmental health agencies are therefore encouraged to produce, approve, distribute and offer ethically acceptable vaccines that do not create problems of conscience for either health care providers or the people to be vaccinated.
At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary. In any case, from the ethical point of view, 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. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed. 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.
Finally, there is also a moral imperative for the pharmaceutical industry, governments and international organizations to ensure that vaccines, which are effective and safe from a medical point of view, as well as ethically acceptable, are also accessible to the poorest countries in a manner that is not costly for them. The lack of access to vaccines, otherwise, would become another sign of discrimination and injustice that condemns poor countries to continue living in health, economic and social poverty. - (17 Dec 2020)
On March 2, 2021 Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recently approved for use in the United States.
The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for use 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.
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.
While we should continue to insist that pharmaceutical companies stop using abortion-derived cell lines, given the world-wide suffering that this pandemic is causing, we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good. - U.S. Bishop Chairmen for Doctrine and for Pro-Life Address the Use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Vaccine
There still remains a fair bit of confusion on the data and scientific evidence in regards to vaccines at the present. In order to follow scientific evidence that they find disreputable with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic, we as Catholics have the right to understand what the scientific evidence truly is.
Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not morally compromised and even the Vatican knows it
By tainting the COVID-19 vaccine with its taboo morality, the bishops are not respecting life, they are instead exploiting a grave situation to inject their anti-abortion politics.
Though the Archdiocese of Philadelphia did not make any additional comments about the bishops’ pronouncement, they did share the statement with educators in all Catholic schools in the five-county Philadelphia region, spokesperson Kenneth A. Gavin told The Inquirer’s Marie McCullough in an email.
The truth is, all currently approved vaccines for COVID-19 used cell lines derived from aborted fetuses in their testing phases. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, some antiabortion activists claim, is morally compromised because it also used these cells in its production. The pharmaceutical company has stated unequivocally that there are no fetal cells in its vaccine.
All vaccine companies must give the scientific evidence of research and how the vaccines are actually made, in order that as Catholics, we can follow what the scientific community is claiming.
The Church has not pronounced on the mRNA vaccines as of yet, so Catholics must ultimately make the best informed decision possible, including talking it over with your local bishop.
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