Some US Catholic Leaders Call Johnson & Johnson Vaccine “Morally Compromised”


Roman Catholic leaders in St. Louis and New Orleans are warning Catholics that the Vaccine for COVID-19 from Johnson & Johnson, recently approved for use in the US., is “morally compromised” because it is produced using a cell line derived from an aborted fetus. The Archdiocese of New Orleans says that the decision to receive a vaccine is a decision of individual conscience.

In his statement late last week, he stopped short of advising Catholics not to get vaccinated from Johnson & Johnson, but adds that Catholics must choose. coronavirus vaccines manufactured by Moderna or Pfizer – if they are available.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis on Tuesday encouraged Catholics to seek out the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and avoid the Johnson & Johnson version if possible. Like the Archdiocese of New Orleans statement, the St. Louis statement called the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “morally compromised.” However, the St. Louis statement emphasized that Catholics can receive such a vaccine “in good conscience if no other alternative is available.”

Later Tuesday, a statement issued by the chairmen of the doctrinal committees and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops abortion problems issued a statement reiterating moral concerns. He said the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are preferable “if one has the ability to choose a vaccine.”

While it did not dispute church officials’ argument that an abortion-derived cell line is used in production, Johnson & Johnson issued a statement Tuesday emphasizing that there is no fetal tissue in its vaccine.


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Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine is manufactured using a harmless cold virus, called adenovirus, the same technology it used to produce a successful Ebola vaccine. The adenovirus is grown using what is called an immortalized cell line, and then the virus is extracted and purified.

There are several types of cell lines created decades ago using fetal tissue and are widely used in medical manufacturing, but the cells they contain today are clones of the earliest cells, not the original tissue.

The US bishops’ conference said in a January statement that “abortion-derived” cell lines were used to test Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but not in their development or production.

In Ohio, people will be able to choose which injection they want, but the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was really the only option for 84-year-old Nancy Heber, reports “CBS This Morning” lead national correspondent David Begnaud. She has several allergies to different medications, including the solution that turns lyophilized Moderna and Pfizer vaccines into liquid.

“I thought about when it would be my turn,” Heber said after receiving the shot from Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday. “I’m so excited that today was my day of freedom.”


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The archdiocese’s statements renewed religious discussions about the vaccine and the use of cells derived from abortion. In December, the Vatican said that “it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses” in the research and production process when “ethically irreproachable” vaccines are not available to the public.

Pope Francisco He has frequently spoken of the need to ensure that vaccines are widely available, especially to the poor and marginalized. And, last month, a decree signed by the governor of the Vatican city-state said that Vatican employees who choose not to receive the vaccine without a proven medical reason could be subject to penalties. including getting fired.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans released its statement on Friday, the day before the Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States.

Asked Tuesday about the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ statement, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a rare pro-life Democrat, emphasized the need for people to use any of the approved vaccines available to stop the spread of the virus.


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Edwards said he spoke with Archbishop Gregory Aymond on Sunday about the statement. “I don’t think your statement completely tells people that they are Catholic or that they don’t benefit from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Edwards said.

“I am encouraging everyone to take the first vaccine they have available.”

He pointed to a statement released Monday by Bishop Michael Duca of Baton Rouge.

Duca acknowledged the “moral concerns” about the recently approved vaccine. But, he added, “if for any reasonable circumstance you can only receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you should feel free to do so for your safety and for the greater good.”

That’s similar to the US bishops conference guide issued in January. “Since the COVID-19 virus can pose serious health risks, it may be morally acceptable to receive a vaccine that uses abortion-derived cell lines if there are no other vaccines available that are comparable in safety and efficacy without connection to abortion,” the guideline January said.

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