A health care worker holds a vial of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen Covid-19 vaccine at Northwell Health South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, New York, USA on Wednesday. Bloomberg / Bloomberg via Getty Images Hide caption
Bloomberg / Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg / Bloomberg via Getty Images
Johnson & Johnson’s new COVID-19 vaccine may offer the best chance of protecting as many Americans as possible as soon as possible, but some U.S. faith leaders say they have moral concerns about its development.
Unlike the Pfizer or Moderna variants, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was made in part using cell lines derived from an aborted human fetus. in the a statement The leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, released this week, said the vaccine’s characteristic raises questions about its legitimacy.
“Given the opportunity to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines should be preferred to Johnson & Johnson,” say Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph F. Naumann and Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend ( Indiana), Kevin C. Rhoades. Naumann chairs the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Rhoades chairs the Conference Committee on Doctrine.
Bishops are stop telling US Catholics to avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine altogether, a position shared by other religious leaders known for their strong opposition to abortion.
“We should refuse to approve or fund research based on innocent lives,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Freedom Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention.
“That doesn’t mean, however,” Moore told NPR, “that people should avoid medical treatments that could save lives because they were discovered that we wouldn’t necessarily approve.”
In practice, Americans who can get a COVID-19 vaccination generally have no choice which variant to get. Vaccination centers can generally only offer the vaccines to which they have access. In these circumstances, the advice from faith leaders that people should feel free to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when alternatives are not available may be the most important part of their advice.
In their statement on the usefulness of the various COVID-19 vaccines, the US bishops quote A judgment from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“If ethically sound COVID-19 vaccines are not available,” the Vatican office said, “it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used aborted fetal cell lines in their research and production process.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed using PER.C6, a fetal cell line derived from an 18-week-old fetus that was aborted in 1985 an article from June 2020 In Science Magazine, human fetal cells can be used as “miniature factories” to produce large quantities of adenoviruses … which are used as vehicles for transporting genes from the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. “
Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines also use human fetal cells, but only while testing the vaccine’s effectiveness, which makes them acceptable, according to a detailed statement from the U.S. bishops released in December 2020.
“While none of the vaccines are completely devoid of any association with morally compromised cell lines,” say the bishops, “the association in this case is very far from the initial evil of abortion.”
A United States Catholic leader, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, has said He is against the use of a COVID-19 vaccine with any connection to aborted human fetuses, no matter how far away, but his extreme position on the issue is an exception among Catholic leaders. Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict both received COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they were available.
In their statement on ethical considerations related to the use of COVID-19 vaccines, the US bishops said that vaccination “should be understood as an act of charity towards other members of our community. In this way, safe against COVID-19 To be vaccinated should be viewed as an act of love for our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good. “
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is just now available in the US, and Catholic hospitals and other church health facilities are still grappling with the ramifications of bishops’ advice to avoid the vaccine whenever possible.
At least one Catholic hospital has already faced this challenge. Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md., Received 500 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week and plans to give them as soon as possible despite its association with fetal cell lines.
“It’s a safe vaccine,” says Rev. Kirtley Yearwood, the hospital’s chief mission officer. “It has a wonderful record of preventing serious illness and hospitalization. These are very distant cell lines. It’s not a major concern when you have the bigger problem of saving lives.”