Certain Catholics have rejected the teaching authority of Pope Francis, and then of the body of Bishops who support him, and also of Vatican II, and of other Popes and other Councils. Nothing is left of the Magisterium for them but a few tattered pieces, so now they are inventing their own false teachings, to replace the true Magisterium. Those who reject the Magisterium grasp at straws seeking its replacement. There’s no valid dispute here. There are not two sides to consider. Rome has spoken; the case is closed. These vaccines are moral to receive.
Every Covid-19 Vaccine Is Moral To Receive. There is no Covid-19 vaccine which would be a sin to receive, due to its association a cell line, used in research, which originated from an aborted fetus. This association is very remote. There are no cells from any aborted fetus in any vaccine, period. The cell lines used for research and development are cells which were never in any unborn or born child.
A research cell line begins this way, unfortunately. A woman has an abortion for personal reasons. She does not choose the abortion for the sake of providing research will cells. The cells taken from the aborted fetus are grown in a container. Those cells divide, producing a second generation of cells. That second generation of cells was never inside the fetus. As the years pass, the cells continue to divide, and are distributed into more containers, so that, after many generations of cell division, there are very many of the cells. Companies then sell samples of these cell lines to researchers for a wide range of different experiments.
These types of cell lines are sometimes derived from human adult cancer cells (because cancer cells divide well), or from the African green monkey (Vero cells), but there are also several cell lines from fetuses aborted decades ago. The cell lines that are not from an abortion are not always a fitting choice for particular types of research.
The use of these aborted fetus cell lines (ABCLs) in research is widespread, so much so that there is no vaccine, no medicine, and no medical treatment that does not have some type of association with research involving these ABCLs. Any research study in medicine will cite dozens of studies whose information contributed to the current study. All these studies are interconnected. It’s like Six-Degrees of Kevin Bacon. There are no so many degrees from any chosen medical research study to one using ABCLs. If you think that you cannot accept a vaccine because of this very remote association with an abortion from 50 or so years ago, an abortion that would have happened any way, then you also cannot accept any vaccines, medicines, or treatments. This is not an exaggeration.
But that is not how Catholic moral theology works! The immorality of an abortion from the 1970’s is very distantly related to the cell lines in use today. It is distant because the abortion was not chosen for the sake of research and would have occurred anyway. It is distant because the researchers in no way encouraged or supported that abortion. It is distant because the cell lines have replicated through so many generations since that time. It is distant because the purposes for which these cell lines are used is unrelated to abortion. This results in an example of remove material cooperation that is so remote as to arguably be NOT a type of cooperation at all. Accepting a vaccine in no way cooperates with that original abortion.
But if we suppose that it is a type of remote material cooperation, it is so remote that the proportionate benefit in the circumstances needed to outweigh that very remove cooperation is met by any good medical purpose, even the use of ABCLs in a research project. Therefore, EVERY Covid-19 vaccine and every other vaccine which does more good than harm as a vaccine, is moral.
If you have a reason for rejecting a particular vaccine, such as an allergic reaction to an ingredient (polyethylene glycol is in both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines), or such a concern about side effects, you might morally decline the vaccine. But you must also morally weigh the harm done if you decline a vaccine, you become sick with Covid-19, you transmit the disease to another person, and they suffer, or they die, or they survive but end up with LongCovid. Concern about ABCLs does not carry sufficient weight to be the deciding factor in receiving any vaccine or other medicine.
The research community needs cell lines from human cells, especially cells that divide well, such as cells from fetuses. But these can be obtained in a number of ways: miscarriages, umbilical cord blood, tissue from circumcision, adult stem cells, etc. Any Catholics objecting to ABCLs should found and fund a research project to develop new cell lines. But NOTHING is gained by opposing vaccines which used ABCLs in their research and development.
Some prominent persons have been arguing against these vaccines, on the basis of the use of ABCLs in the research and development of the vaccines. Neither the Moderna nor the Pfizer vaccines, nor the new AstraZeneca vaccine contain any fetal cells. They are no more closely related to an abortion from the distant past than any over-the-counter or prescription medication that you might take. All these medicines are either tested on human cell lines at some point, or they use information from studies that used ABCLs. All medicines rely on information from tens of thousands of studies, some of which used ABCLs.
Who Is Your Teacher?
Many of those who oppose these vaccines based on the aborted fetal cell line argument are not faithful Catholics; they are schismatics and/or heretics. If anyone attacks Pope Francis with malice, with accusations of heresy, apostasy, or idolatry, then that person is a manifest schismatic and heretic. Such persons are not fit to be teachers of the faithful. Do not become the blind led by the blind by following them. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are the smoke of Satan. They are figurative freemasons who wish to remove the Stones of the Church — Her teachings and Her teachers — so as to remake the Church in their own image. You do not need a theological argument against them. They have rejected Christ by rejecting His Vicar.
And the same can be said for persons who are manifest heretics, who have for many years taught grave errors on faith and morals. See my past posts on such false teaches. Examples include Jeff Mirus, Janet Smith, Jimmy Akin. Their errors are very grave and longstanding. Ignore them on every topic having to do with Catholicism.
It is a serious problem in Catholicism when certain persons are promoted to figurative positions within a subculture, so that they are now seen as above reproach. And this is occurring at the same time that no Pope or Council or Saint is seen as a reliable teacher (unless they by chance agree with your own understanding). Is EWTN a reliable source of Catholic teaching? Not anymore, sadly. OnePeterFive is an openly schismatic and heretical publication. LifeSiteNews no longer focuses on life, but on attacking the Popes and the Magisterium; they have become a shooting-blind for authors to take pot-shots at Church authority.
Similarly, those “Catholic” publications which frequently post articles attacking Pope Francis, other Popes, the body of Bishops, the Ecumenical Councils (esp. Vatican II) should not be a source of teaching for faithful Catholics on faith or morals.
I can’t stress this enough. Do not get into an argument with such persons. Do not consider their arguments or claims about faith or morals. Could Schismatic A be right about vaccines and morality? Why are you listening to a schismatic? Listen to the Holy See and the USCCB. Apply the teachings of the Church on the three fonts of morality and on cooperation with evil.
If you are unfamiliar with the teachings of the Church on the three fonts of morality and on cooperation with evil, you are sinning gravely by omission. You have information available easily via the internet. There are plenty of teachings on these topics for free on this blog (use the Search function). You have no excuse.
No one should have to explain to any adult Catholic in this day and age whether it is moral to accept a Covid19 vaccine. You should know the teachings of the Church well enough yourselves. And if you do not, you should go to confession before receiving Communion again. It is not acceptable for Catholics to live in such a way that they do not understand the basic principles of ethics, but have to rely on posts from schismatics and heretics to guide them, every time a moral question arises. You are not spiritual infants.
Rev. Jerry Pokorsky wrote a faulty article on this topic here: TheCatholicThing.org.
JP: “The Vatican and the U.S. bishops have affirmed the morality of several of the recent anti-COVID vaccines, some developed using testing that involved embryonic stem cells.”
False. The cell lines are not taken from embryonic stem cells. They are ordinary somatic cells that are able to divide again and again because they were from such a young human being. They are not stem cells, nor are they embryonic. Embryo and fetus are not the same. Also, all vaccines and medicines use cell lines from aborted fetuses in some way at some point, if only by using information from other studies that used those cell lines.
Also, ALL the vaccines have some relationship to ABCLs. All of them. But none of them used ABCLs in such a way that would cause any part of an aborted fetus or its cells to be inside the vaccine.
JP: “When we vote for a politician because of his pro-abortion positions, we formally cooperate in the evil he promotes.”
False. Formal cooperation occurs when our sinful act is inherently ordered toward the accomplishment of the intrinsically evil act of another person. Voting for a politician BECAUSE of this pro-abortion positions (i.e. with the intention of supporting direct abortion) is explicit material cooperation. Explicit cooperation occurs due to our intention to cooperate with what is sinful in the other person’s act. It is not formal cooperation because the vote for a person is not intrinsically evil. An act that is formal cooperation is itself intrinsically evil, as it is directly involved in the intrinsically evil act of the other person.
Explicit cooperation – always wrong as it is an intention to cooperate with sin
Formal cooperation – always wrong as it is intrinsically evil
Material cooperation, which is not also explicit, but implicit, is right or wrong depending on the moral weight of the circumstances.
JP: “If the material cooperation is avoidable (it’s possible to vote for a candidate that has comparatively more morally upright policy positions), we are guilty of the sin.”
False. Any act that is unavoidable is not a sin as it is not freely and deliberately chosen. Material cooperation is moral or immoral based on the evaluation of the moral weight of the circumstances. Implicit material cooperation is usually moral when what is sinful in the act of the other person is remote from your cooperative act. It is not moral or immoral based on whether it can be avoided. Proximate material cooperation is usually immoral, as the closeness of your act to the sinful act gives that element of the circumstances greater moral weight.
Proximate material cooperation can be moral when the sin of the other person is venial, or when the sin of the other person is outweighed by very grave circumstances (as sometimes happens in war). Remote material cooperation requires only a proportionate good accomplished by your act to morally outweigh the sin of the other person, as that sinful act is remote from your act. In the case of a vaccine and ABCLs, the past sinful abortion is very remote.
JP: “A nurse who disapproves of abortion but assists an abortionist during the medical procedure also shares in the guilt with ‘proximate material cooperation.’ ”
Such a nurse commits formal cooperation with the sin of abortion as she is directly involved in the performance of the abortion. That is not mere material cooperation. It is direct participation in an act against innocent human life. Her act is formal cooperation, and is intrinsically evil, and it carries the penalty of automatic excommunication as stated in Evangelium Vitae 62: The excommunication affects all those who commit this crime with knowledge of the penalty attached, and thus includes those accomplices without whose help the crime would not have been committed. Such a nurse is an accomplice. She may not receive Communion until she repents, confesses, resolves not to commit that sin again, and has the excommunication lifted.
At this point, it is clear that Rev. Jerry Pokorsky has such a poor understanding of the basic principles of ethics that he cannot be relied upon for guidance or instruction on morality.
JP: “Hospital maintenance personnel who mop the floors of an abortion facility may or may not be guilty of sin. The clean-up is ‘remote material cooperation,’ but there is an obligation to seek employment elsewhere then, if possible.”
False. It is doubtful as to whether the act of mopping a floor a cooperative act at all. If it were cooperative, it is very remote material cooperation, and will be entirely moral as long as the person has a proportionate good in the circumstances, such as the good of having a job, the good of feeding his family, and the good of working at a hospital (in any capacity).
There is no moral obligation to seek a circumstance in which the remote material cooperation is absent. The reason is that EVERY circumstance of our lives contains many instances of remote material cooperation every day. You use the internet, which contains porn, which is used to promote violence, which is used to harass persons, etc. You buy products and services from companies who support abortion in very direct ways. The person who mops the floor does not have to seek employment elsewhere.
And notice that Fr. Jerry does not say that the nurse needs to seek employment elsewhere. He seems to have no sense of the different moral weights of different cooperative acts.
Fr. Jerry then goes on to compare the teaching of the Holy See and the USCCB on a vaccine aimed at ending a very deadly pandemic, one of the worse in human history, to cannibalism and to Nazi medical experiments. This is the type of vicious rhetorical attacks on the Magisterium that have become socially acceptable among conservative Catholics. There is no moral comparison to be made here.
Even the researchers who use these cell lines are acting with very remote material cooperation.
JP: “Conspiracy theories abound. Some vaccinations cause sterility. How do we know whether authorities are using the entire population as experimental guinea pigs for population control or other ideological purposes? Conspiracy theories are, sometimes, true.”
So he began his article with the teaching of the Holy See and the USCCB. And now the article has devolved to implying that a conspiracy theory about the vaccine might be true. He is instilling fear of a vaccine into his readers. The passage quoted above and his other passage on cannibalism and Nazi medical experiments are a reprehensible manipulation of his readers’ emotions to turn them away from a vaccine that is one of the few hopes we have to end a pandemic that sickened over 80 million persons and killed over 1.8 million persons worldwide.
And he then goes on to give examples to support his conspiracy theory references.
What is wrong with this priest? What happened to priests who support the teachings of the Church, and who explain them to the faithful, simply and clearly? Do not listen to Fr. Jerry Pokorsky on any matter of Catholic moral teaching. He clearly does not understand even the most basic principles, and he is willing to use fear of conspiracy theories to motivate people to act as he wishes.
Ronald L Conte Jr.