The Vatican has released guidance this morning reiterating that, in places without alternative options, COVID vaccines with connections to abortion can still be received by the faithful.

Perhaps more interestingly, they have also declared that the vaccines are not a "moral obligation" and "must be voluntary".

"Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid... becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent."

It is unclear whether, in the eyes of the Vatican, abortion is the only acceptable reason to refuse a vaccine.

They guidance does not, however, that "the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good."

The 6-point announcement, honing in mostly on the abortion issue and citing their own vaccine guidance from 2005, comes a month after the USCCB first spoke on the matter, weeks after the vaccine began to be distributed worldwide, and ten days after the Vatican itself committed to a vaccination plan.

Debate has raged on nevertheless, with some bishops—including one US prelate—going so far as to dictate that Catholics avoid, without exception, vaccines connected to abortion.

Even so, statewide bishops conferences around the country have begun disseminating the USCCB guidance, OK'ing the Pfizer and Moderna options.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory has spoken against vaccine hesitancy in the Black community specifically, which comes not from fear of connection to abortion, but of ulterior motives and negligence.

More generally focused, today's Vatican document was presented by the CDF to the Pope on Thursday, but released today on the feast of Peter Canisius—patron saint of the Catholic press.


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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