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Archdiocese of New Orleans urges Catholics to avoid Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine

The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans urges Catholics to avoid the recently approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which it claims is “morally jeopardized” by its “extensive use of abortion cell lines”. In a statement on Friday, the archdiocese noted that the decision on whether to receive the vaccine is an individual decision. “Janssen / Johnson & Johnson’s latest vaccine is morally vulnerable as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in the development and manufacture of vaccines, the vaccine as well as the testing. “While a number of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers have used cells originally from an aborted fetus in the 1970s, the Archdiocese argues that Johnson & Johnson’s” widespread use “is inferior to Moderna and Pfizer’s BioNTech vaccines that used the cell lines only to test their vaccines, according to the Religion News Service. This makes the “link to abortion … extremely distant” in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the statement said, and advises Catholics to choose one instead if they have a choice. While the Archdiocese claims the decision is in line with instructions from the Vatican, the U.S. Bishops’ Conference and the National Catholic Bioethics Center, none of the three statements denouncing the new vaccine has made. In December the Vatican issued general guidelines for vaccines in which the Holy See said it was “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive shots using HEK293 cells for research purposes. While the HEK293 cells are reported to be from an aborted fetus from the 1970s, ethicists have said the cells and similar cell lines are clones rather than the original fetal tissue. The Vatican has made the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine available to all residents of Vatican City. Pope Francis reportedly received the shot in January. The statement by the Archdiocese of New Orleans comes after USCCB leaders and leaders of other religious organizations sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration commissioner last spring regarding ethical concerns about COVID-19 vaccines. “We understand that among the dozens of vaccines currently being developed, some are made with ancient cell lines made from the cells of aborted babies,” the letter said. “For example, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has a major contract with the US Department of Health (HHS) working on a vaccine made using one of these ethically problematic cell lines.” This was stated in a USCCB memo from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the USCCB teaching committee, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, chairman of the organization’s pro-life activities committee however, the vaccines argued are moral.

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