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Archdiocese of New Orleans Urges Catholics to Avoid Johnson & Johnson’s COVID Vaccine

The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans is calling on Catholics to avoid Johnson & Johnson’s recently approved COVID-19 vaccine, which it says is “morally compromised” by its “extensive use of abortion-derived cell lines.” In a statement Friday, the archdiocese noted that while deciding whether to receive the vaccine is an individual choice, “the latest Janssen / Johnson & Johnson vaccine is morally compromised as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in the development and production of the vaccine, as well as testing. “While several COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers have used cells originally derived from an aborted fetus in the 1970s, the archdiocese argues that Johnson & Johnson’s” extensive use “is worse than of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which used the cell lines only to test their vaccines, according to Religion News Service. This makes the “connection to abortion … extremely remote” in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, argues the statement, which recommends that Catholics choose one of those instead, if given the option. While the archdiocese claims the decision is in line with Vatican guidance, the Conferen the United States Catholic Bishops and the National Catholic Bioethics Center, none of the three have issued statements denouncing the new vaccine. In December, the Vatican issued general guidelines regarding vaccines in which the Holy See said it was “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive injections using HEK293 cells for research. While HEK293 cells reportedly originate from an aborted fetus from the 1970s, ethicists have said that similar cells and cell lines are clones and not the original fetal tissue. The Vatican has made the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available to all residents of Vatican City. Pope Francis reportedly received the vaccine in January. The Archdiocese of New Orleans’ statement comes after USCCB leaders and leaders of other faith-based organizations sent a letter to the US Food and Drug Administration commissioner last spring regarding ethical concerns about vaccines. COVID-19. “We are aware that among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using older cell lines that were created from cells from aborted babies,” the letter said. “For example, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has a substantial contract with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is working on a vaccine that is being produced using one of these ethically problematic cell lines.” However, a memo from the USCCB written by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who chairs the USCCB Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, who chairs the Activities Committee The organization’s Pro-Vida argued that vaccines are moral.

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