Catholic Bishops have said that someone taking a covid vaccine made using an aborted foetus “does not sin” but that people can still refuse to have on in “good conscience”.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued a statement where it hailed the development of vaccines as an “important breakthrough”,
However, it qualified that with concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been approved for use in the UK by regulators, because it has been developed from cell lines that originated from an aborted foetus.
According to the Bishops, Catholics may “for a grave reason receive a vaccine sourced in this way” despite the “wrongful action”.
An independent peer-reviewed study found that the vaccine is on average 70.4 per cent effective. In a group which received an unplanned half dose, then a full dose, that rose to 90 per cent.
Right Reverend Richard Moth, Chair of the Department of Social Justice of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “At present, debate concerns the use of the vaccines developed by Pfizer & BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.
“Some have questioned the use of the Astra Zeneca vaccine since it has been developed from cell-lines originating from the cells of an aborted foetus in 1983.
“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Academy of Life have expressed the view that 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 and that one does not sin by receiving the vaccine.
“Both the Pfizer & BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have a different source since they are mRNA-based vaccines. On 2 December 2020, the Pfizer & BioNTech vaccine was approved for use in the UK.
“Each Catholic must educate his or her conscience on this matter and decide what to do, also bearing in mind that a vaccine must be safe, effective, and universally available, especially to the poor of the world.
“The development of a vaccine against COVID-19 presents an important breakthrough in protecting others as well as oneself from the virus; a virus which has not only caused a global pandemic and led to a huge loss of life but has also placed a great burden on healthcare workers and systems.
“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.
“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.”
According to Sarah Gilbert, lead researcher on the Oxford Vaccine Development Programme, chances are “pretty high” that the Oxford/AstraZeneca will be available by the end of the year.
She told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “If we’re trying to protect the most vulnerable, then in this country we’re planning to immunise about 20 million people based on age and also the frontline healthcare workers.
“And that would really have a big effect on hospitals being able to go back to normal. That’s not going to completely prevent transmission, but it should prevent hospitalisations and severe cases.
“And then to reduce it in the community further we would need more people to be immunised, and it’s going to be something that we get the data on as we start to see the vaccine rollout.”