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WESTMINSTER, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - Bishops are telling Catholics they have "a prima facie duty to be vaccinated," especially in the case of the coronavirus — even if the COVID-19 vaccine was developed using tissue derived from aborted fetuses.
"We believe there is a moral obligation to guarantee the vaccination coverage necessary for the safety of others" and "out of solidarity with others," the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) announced in a statement published Thursday.
Bishops Paul Mason (lead bishop for health care) and John Sherrington (lead bishop for life issues) — and co-authors of the document "The Catholic position on vaccination" — "acknowledge the distress many Catholics experience when faced with a choice of not vaccinating their child or seeming to be complicit in abortion."
"Nevertheless," the bishops maintain, "the Church teaches that the paramount importance of the health of a child and other vulnerable persons could permit parents to use a vaccine which was in the past developed using these diploid cell lines."
The bishops selectively cite a non-magisterial 2005 paper from the Pontifical Academy for Life, which justifies the use of unethically produced vaccine strictly "as an extrema ratio" [last solution or extreme remedy].
"We support the Pontifical Academy for Life's belief that 'all clinically recommended vaccinations can be used with a clear conscience and that the use of such vaccines does not signify some sort of cooperation with voluntary abortion,'" Mason and Sherrington write.
In support of their case for vaccination, the bishops also draw a distinction between present-day unethical sourcing of vaccines and the use of historical cell lines derived from aborted fetuses in the 1970s.
Speaking to Church Militant, Catholic commentator Nick Donnelly observed that "one of the cell lines being exploited in the production of the COVID-19 vaccine at Oxford University is from a healthy baby girl murdered through abortion in 1972 in the Netherlands."
"Her kidney cells were harvested for medical research and given the dehumanizing label HEK-293. She'd probably be a 40-year-old mother with her own family by now," he said.
"I don't know how CBCEW can say it's okay for Catholics to use vaccines incorporating cell lines from babies murdered through abortion," lamented the deacon from the Northern English diocese of Lancaster. Instead, the bishops are saying not only is it morally permissible to benefit from her murder through abortion, but that its a moral obligation for the greater good."
Donnelly explained: "Catholic moral theology has always condemned the commission of evil that good may come from it. Isn't personally benefiting from the murder of a baby girl 40 years ago accepting the evil of abortion? This is blurring the absolute moral truth that all abortions are intrinsically evil acts."
"As a Catholic, I cannot accept this no matter what the English bishops say," he declared.
The pontifical academy document titled "Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived from Aborted Human Fetuses," distinguishes between "formal and material cooperation" with evil.
"When immediate material cooperation concerns grave attacks on human life, it is always to be considered illicit, given the precious nature of the value in question," it affirms.
The document also considers "morally illicit every form of formal cooperation (sharing the evil intention) in the action of those who have performed a voluntary abortion, which in turn has allowed the retrieval of fetal tissues, required for the preparation of vaccines."
For reasons of health, "doctors or parents who resort to the use of these vaccines for their children, in spite of knowing their origin (voluntary abortion), carry out a form of very remote mediate material cooperation" it clarifies.
The Vatican paper summons Catholics to "the use of conscientious objection with regard to the use of vaccines produced by means of cell lines of aborted human fetal origin," and to "oppose by all means the vaccines which do not yet have morally acceptable alternatives."
Only if there are no ethically acceptable alternative vaccines and especially if children are "exposed to considerable dangers to their health, vaccines with moral problems pertaining to them may also be used on a temporary basis," the paper advises.
"The English bishops reference a document from the Pontifical Academy for Life as if it has binding authority on the faithful," Donnelly told Church Militant.
"The fact of the matter is, pontifical academies are very low in the scale of authority and even non-Catholics can be members. It's not a Sacred Congregation that has papal authority when upholding the perennial Magisterium," Donnelly observed. "Hence, its document on vaccines can be viewed as an informative opinion piece, nothing more."
Leading Italian epidemiologist Dr. Paolo Gulisano told Church Militant that the coronavirus vaccine was "an illusion being fed to the gullible."
"We have known coronaviruses for decades, but no vaccines have ever been made. In 2002 there was the SARS epidemic, a coronavirus with characteristics very similar to the current one. Why hasn't the vaccine been made in 18 years yet?" the specialist in hygiene and preventive medicine asked.
"Where's the HIV vaccine? And the one for Hepatitis C? When I'm told that in a few months we may have the vaccine for COVID-19, I shiver: normally to develop a vaccine it takes years of research, clinical tests, to be sure of the effectiveness but also of safety," the former professor of History of Medicine at the University of Milan-Bicocca explained.
In April, Bp. Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, asked Catholics to "join your voices with mine in an effort to bring to a halt" any coronavirus vaccines which were derived from aborted babies.
"Tragically, people are not aware of or have chosen to turn a blind eye to the advances in medical science which allow vaccines to be developed with the wholesale use of aborted children's bodies," Strickland wrote in his pastoral letter.
"Scientists I've spoken with assure me that there is no medical necessity for using aborted children in order to develop the much-needed vaccine to protect us from this particular strain of coronavirus," he stated.