Catholic bishops express concerns over Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

NOW: Catholic bishops express concerns over Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- It's a major controversy that centers around the Catholic church and the new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Several American Catholic bishops are discouraging people from getting that particular vaccine.

“The common good here is very clear. It is to end the pandemic, and the way to end the pandemic is get as many people as we can immunized as soon as possible," Dr. Alexandre Martins said. He is an assistant theological ethics professor at Marquette.

Martins says rapid COVID-19  vaccine distribution has been the main goal across the country. However, there's been an ongoing concern if the vaccines are safe and ethical.

“Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca are morally acceptable considering the circumstances we’re in."

Research shows Johnson & Johnson used fetal cell lines in the vaccine’s development and production. They originate from cells taken from elective abortions in the 1970s and 1980s.

“The fact that they decided to use abortion-derived cell lines is kind of the crux of it where it makes it unethical," Anna Demeuse said. She is the communications director of Pro Life Wisconsin. 

“Pfizer and Moderna are ethically derived but unethically tested. Where Johnson & Johnson is both unethical in its derivation and its testing," Demeuse said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Doctrine released a statement on the vaccine on Tuesday:

"Pfizer and Moderna vaccines raised concerns because an abortion derived cell line was used for testing them, not production.
the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed, tested and produced with abortion -derived cell lines raising additional moral concerns."

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee sent a statement to CBS 58:

"If a choice of vaccine is possible, the ones that are the least morally compromised should always be requested. But when there is no choice, the church teaches that it is morally permissible to receive the vaccine."

U.S bishops are recommending Catholics to get the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine. However, if the two are not available, they say there is no other choice but to get Johnson & Johnson.

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