The Vatican’s doctrinal office on Monday cleared the way for Catholics to be inoculated with coronavirus vaccines even if aborted fetal tissue was used to develop them.
“It is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said.
“In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed,” it explained.
While people should have the right to refuse inoculation “for reasons of conscience,” those making that choice “must do their utmost” to avoid spreading the virus, the Congregation said.
It stressed that Vatican’s position “does not and should not in any way imply that there is a moral endorsement of the use of cell lines proceeding from aborted fetuses.”
The Congregation said the Vatican encourages pharmaceutical companies and governments “to produce, approve, distribute and offer ethically acceptable vaccines that do not create problems of conscience.”
It also pleaded for Covid-19 vaccines to be made “accessible to the poorest countries in a manner that is not costly for them,” to avoid further discrimination and injustice against them.
Pope Francis personally approved the Congregation’s message, the Vatican said.
In its Catechism, the Catholic Church warns that “abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes,” and that its teaching on the issue “remains unchangeable.”
The use of fetal tissue is not uncommon in vaccine development and involves the practice of growing viruses in cultured human fetal cells.
It was not independently verified whether fetal cells are used in coronavirus vaccines.