MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Health experts are reacting after the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans says they have received guidance from the Vatican that Catholics should avoid the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine due to the use of stem cells.
In a statement released Friday, the Archdiocese of New Orleans says upon guidance from the Vatican, “the archdiocese must instruct Catholics that the latest vaccine from Janssen/Johnson & Johnson is morally compromised as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in the development and production of the vaccine as well as the testing.”
“The science of this is straightforward. Ethical considerations a lot of times can certainly be much more complicated,” said Dr. Steve Threlked, infectious disease expert for Baptist Memorial Healthcare.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans said Catholics should receive the Moderna or Pfizer shots because they claim those vaccines do not rely on cell lines from abortions.
Threlkeld says cell lines were used in the development and testing of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in what is a very common practice.
“Some of those cell lines were extracted from elective abortions in the 1970s and 1980s,” said Threlkeld. “So there’s no fetal tissue remaining in any cell lines that we use. These cells have been passing in the laboratory over thousands of generations of cells.”
A representative of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis said Bishop David Talley wants local Catholics to pray on the issue and do what they think is best for their families.
They also directed us to a joint statement issued Tuesday by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that Catholics should avoid the J&J vaccine if possible and being vaccinated is an act of charity.
“But I think everybody would agree that our goal is to get as many of these vaccines out to as many people as we can right now,” said Threlkeld.
In December, Pope Francis and the Vatican said that 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, given the “grave danger” of the pandemic.
To read the full statement from the Archdiocese of New Orleans, CLICK HERE.
To read the full statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, CLICK HERE.