Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: January 14, 2021 07:19 AM GMT
A health worker holds a vial containing Covid-19 vaccine in this file photo. (Photo: Christophe Archambault /AFP)
Catholic bishops in the Philippines have urged authorities not to procure Covid vaccines manufactured using morally unacceptable means.
The call comes after the bishops said they had received reports that some Covid vaccines were manufactured using cells from aborted embryos.
“As pastors, we have to call attention to one ethical concern. We have learned that some of the Covid-19 vaccines were manufactured using cells obtained from the remains of an aborted female fetus who was killed in 1973,” said the prelates in a pastoral statement.
The ethical concern was first raised by senior Catholic leaders in the United States and Canada about the use of fetal cells to test the efficacy of the vaccine.
“It is critically important that … a vaccine is produced ethically: no [American] should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience,” the US Bishops' Conference and anti-abortion groups said in a statement.
The prelates also reminded churchgoers that although Covid vaccines were considered a medical and scientific breakthrough, using embryonic vaccines must not be tolerated by Catholics.
“The perennial teaching of the Church must be repeated: Deliberately procuring abortion, even if it is for the purpose of obtaining material for vaccines, is morally unacceptable. The end does not justify the means; otherwise, the most inhuman and inhumane acts would be permissible in order to attain supposedly ‘worthwhile’ ends,” the bishops said.
“If there are several available vaccines, we urge the national government to prioritize vaccines that were developed without the use of the morally controversial cell lines derived from the remains of an aborted child.”
Certain exceptions, however, were morally permissible for pastoral reasons, they said.
“When ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available [for example, where vaccines without ethical problems are not made available to physicians and patients, or where their distribution is more difficult due to special storage and transport conditions] it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process,” the statement said.
The bishops also pushed for health workers who had exposed themselves to the virus to take care of coronavirus patients to receive the vaccine first.
“We urge our government and private organizations who have helped fund the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccines to commit themselves to a single vaccine distribution plan that prioritizes medical frontliners and those who are most at risk from Covid-19,” they said.
“It would be a moral tragedy if young, healthy company employees who are at low risk from the disease are immunized before our doctors, nurses and other frontliners and before our senior citizens who are at higher risk of illness.”
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.