By Lisa Zengarini
Some people have questioned the moral permissibility of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine, produced by Oxford University, arguing it has been developed from cell-lines originating from the cells of an aborted foetus in 1983.
According to a statement released Thursday by the Department for Social Justice of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), however, “one does not sin by receiving the vaccine”.
'Not a sin'
The statement, signed by Bishop Richard Moth, cited the views expressed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Academy of Life (PAV), according to which “one may in good conscience and for a grave reason receive a vaccine sourced in this way, provided that there is a sufficient moral distance between the present administration of the vaccine and the original wrongful action”.
“In the Covid-19 pandemic, we judge that this grave reason exists,” said Bishop Moth.
“Each of us has a duty to protect others from infection with its danger of serious illness, and for some, death. A vaccine is the most effective way to achieve this unless one decides to self-isolate”, he added.
“Catholics may in good conscience receive any of these vaccines for the good of others and themselves. In good conscience, one may refuse a particular vaccine but continues to have a duty to protect others from infection”, the statement concluded.
A similar view was expressed in late November by the two chairmen of the US Bishops' doctrine and pro-life committees, citing three Vatican documents which treat the matter of tainted vaccines: the 2005 study by the Pontifical Academy for Life, "Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived From Aborted Human Fetuses"; the 2008 "Instruction on Certain Bioethical Questions" ("Dignitatis Personae") by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the 2017 "Note on Italian Vaccine Issue," by the Pontifical Academy for Life.