Leaders with the Catholic Church in South Florida aren’t pushing back against the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after other archdioceses labeled it "morally compromised."
“I’m not the abortionist who did the abortion, I’m not even the pharmaceutical company who developed the vaccine,” said Father Albert Cioffi, a Professor of Biology and Bioethics at St. Thomas University and a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Miami. "I’m just an end line user, and if it’s the only vaccine I have available, I should use it for serious reasons."
Cioffi said he’s had discussions with Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who also believes that people should take the first vaccine available.
But in recent days, Roman Catholic leaders in St. Louis and New Orleans advised Catholics that the J&J vaccine, newly approved for use in the U.S., is “morally compromised” because it is produced using a cell line derived from an aborted fetus.
The New Orleans archdiocese says the decision to receive a vaccine is one of individual conscience. In its statement late last week, it stopped short of advising Catholics not to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but adds that Catholics should choose coronavirus vaccines made by Moderna or Pfizer — if they are available.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis on Tuesday encouraged Catholics to seek out the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and avoid the Johnson & Johnson version if possible. Like the New Orleans archdiocese statement, the St. Louis statement called the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “morally compromised.” However, the St. Louis statement stressed that Catholics can get that vaccine “in good conscience if no other alternative is available.”
Later Tuesday, a statement issued by chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' committees on doctrine and abortion issues issued a statement reiterating the moral concerns. It said the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are preferable “if one has the ability to choose a vaccine."