WHY THE POPE SHOULD TALK ABOUT VACCINES. CLEARLY.
9 Settembre 2020
In the coming months the Church, even in Italy, may find itself facing no small moral problem. It is known that the Italian Government would be ready to acquire and use the anti-Covid vaccine produced in Oxford by the pharmaceutical company AstraZenca. Now, apart from all the other problems – the company had problems in the past, the reliability of a vaccine is normally measured over several years, not several months, the possible counterindications are real and significant, and just today is the news that due to adverse reactions the trial has had a setback – there remains the fact that the production of the vaccine is using cell lines coming from aborted fetal tissue. In other words: if I use this vaccine, I am feeding the market for aborted fetuses, and as a result I am morally complicit.
Here [in Italy] I have not seen reactions to this problem. But one of the oldest religious leaders of Australia says that he will probably boycott the Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford for ethical reasons. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney has written to the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, expressing all of his concerns.
The Australian federal government has signed an international treaty that would guarantee all Australians free access to the British vaccine, which is being developed by scientists at Oxford and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, if the vaccine is approved for use.
But the Anglican Archibishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, has said that there are ethical questions about the potential vaccine: “Using that tissue for science is reprehensible,” Dr. Davies said.
His concerns are shared by Catholic and Greek Orthodox leaders, who have written a joint letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Dr. Davies said that he would “have to think very seriously” about whether to use the Covid-19 vaccine that would come from the University of Oxford. “It will depend on the nature of other vaccine development,” he said.
Instead the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, said to the Catholic Weekly newspaper that he did not believe that it would be immoral to use the Oxford vaccine if it was the only option. “But I am deeply disturbed by this,” he said.
Morrison must still respond formally to the letter from the religious leaders, and a spokesman of the Greek-Orthodox archbishop of Australia said that His Eminence Makarios Griniezakis will not speak before he has received a response.
A spokesman for Catholic Health Australia, that manages 75 hospitals and 550 residences providing elder care, said that the organization hoped that there would be different options for vaccination.
We support research based on the highest ethical standards and as a result we hope for research that will not compromise the ethical standards of any Australian,” said the spokesman.
“Where these standards are compromised, we have the moral duty to seek other alternatives.”
“If, however, there are no other alternatives, we have a duty to care for all Australians in working for the common good.”
Presently, according to Australian sources, there are about 167 vaccines being processed in order to resist Covid-19. And many of these do not use cell lines from aborted fetuses. Perhaps it would be appropriate for some moral authority to speak clearly and strongly to highlight that a mora problem exists for many Catholics. Let’s hope this happens…
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