The Vatican released a statement Monday that said it's "morally acceptable" to receive a vaccination for COVID-19, even if the vaccine's research or production involved using cell lines derived from aborted fetuses. They cited the "grave danger" of the pandemic as their reasoning behind the controversial move.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office charged with promoting and defending church morals and traditions, released a heavily cited document that stated, in part: "when ethically irreproachable COVID-19 vaccines are not available ... it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process."
Anyone objecting to the vaccine due to its nature and their religion may do so, but the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted these entities must "do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent."
The Vatican News reported that Pope Francis approved the text on Thursday.
"In such a case, all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive," the report said.
"In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in their own statement last week.
The U.S. conference said that receiving one of the vaccines "ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community" and "considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good."