By Vatican News
Since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, thousands of people have either fallen ill or lost their lives to this virulent virus. Medical services have also been stretched to their limits.
Hopes are being pinned on the development of a vaccine to protect society from the disease.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Department of Social Justice of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales looks at the ethical issues surrounding the development and distribution of a vaccine.
These include “cell-lines which have their origin in tissues taken from human foetal tissue, as well as issues that may arise from testing, consent and justice.”
It stresses, “Catholics have a responsibility to voice their concerns about the origin of vaccines and argue that research and funding should be directed to sourcing a vaccine in an ethically sound way.”
It goes on to say, “If this is not possible, many Catholics and others will experience moral distress when faced with a choice of rejecting vaccination, either for themselves or their children with its serious and life-threatening consequences, or seeming to be complicit in abortion.”
The statement expresses the hope that the government “will ensure that ethically sourced vaccines are also available.”
The Bishops note that the “seriousness of the question” has led to examination of the use of cell-lines from aborted foetuses both by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Academy for Life.
A vaccine for the good of society
As companies work to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, the statement underlines that “Catholic teaching protects the good of every life and the health of all and teaches that one must not do harm to another.”
It also notes that Pope Francis has called for a successful and safe COVID-19 vaccine to be “universal for everyone.”
As the development of a vaccine continues, the statement says, individuals should welcome the vaccine not only for themselves and their own health but for the good of society as a whole and especially “the most vulnerable.”