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Black bishops officially endorse COVID vaccines

Two of the vaccines now being distributed in their first wave have been endorsed by the relevant USCCB chairmen—and the Black bishops aren't too far behind.

Several Black bishops have now come out in support of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which have begun to roll out nationwide.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory spoke out in support of the vaccines in an interview published on December 11th, noting that concerns from African Americans about past medical malpractice targeting their community should not keep them from this latest (and potentially life-saving) medical treatment.

His local bishops' conference officially endorsed the two vaccines the next day, adding auxiliary bishop Roy E. Campbell, Jr. to the count.

"A Catholic can in good conscience receive these COVID-19 vaccines," the Maryland-area prelates said in a statement.

They cited another communication, from the chairmen of the USCCB committees for doctrine and pro-life issues, which determined that receiving either inoculation is "morally justified".

The USCCB's 7-page statement, like the earlier Vatican decisions it cites, ultimately dismisses concerns about abortion-related fetal tissue being involved in the vaccines' development, given the "very remote" connection to an actual abortion and the extenuating factors.

"In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use, despite their remote connection to morally compromised cell lines."

The pro-life committee includes Bishop Shelton Fabre among its members, and he joined Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans Fernand Cheri III in a statement from the Louisiana bishops' conference that also cited the USCCB report and OK'ed the two vaccines in question.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois—home to only other active Black bishop, Joseph Perry—does not appear to have put out a public statement, but has re-shared the USCCB's social media posts concerning their report.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder of Black Catholic Messenger, a priesthood applicant with the Josephites, and a ThM student w/ the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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