As Researchers Discuss Using Aborted Body Parts, Archbishop Urges Pro-life Vaccines

Archbishop Naumann added that the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has revealed a pro-life ethic in the public mind.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann. (photo: Diocese of Kansas City.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure that vaccines developed to combat coronavirus are not “morally compromised” by any connection to cell lines created from the remains of aborted babies. 

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said in an interview Thursday that “there’s been a history in creating vaccines of—in some cases anyway—of using cell lines from aborted fetuses,” and that it remains important to highlight the complicated ethical concerns in vaccine research. 

“So some of the vaccines that are used today have this ethical problem,” he said in an appearance on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly. “We as a Church, obviously, we see this as a moral issue, that we don’t want to do anything that—in some way gives support for the idea of abortion.” 

“On the other hand,” the bishops said, “I think in some cases where there are no other ethical choices, or for public health reasons, Catholics may be forced to use these vaccines even though we object to the way they were developed, but the Church says we have an obligation to object to that, and to advocate for ethical vaccines to be developed.” 

Archbishop Naumann said that at a time when so many resources and so much public attention is being devoted to developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, “this is the moment for us to advocate.”

“There’s no need to really use cell lines from aborted fetuses, there are other cell lines that can be used to develop these vaccines, so that’s why we think it’s very important at this moment to let the voice not only of the Church but other concerned citizens to voice that we want to—we all want a vaccine, we realize that’s important for our public health, but we also want a vaccine that has no ethical problems in the way it’s developed,” he said. 

Archbishop Naumann said he hopes the FDA will “create incentives for the pharmaceutical companies that are creating these vaccines to use cell lines that are not implicated with abortion” and to issue “strong guidance” to create a vaccine that is developed ethically. 

“I think all we need really is for our pharmaceutical companies to realize that this is offensive to a large number of Americans and give them the encouragement, give our government the encouragement, to make sure these vaccines are not morally compromised in any way,” he said.

Archbishop Naumann also said that the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has revealed a pro-life ethic in the public mind. 

“It’s interesting because even some figures, public officials, that don’t support us on protecting the lives of the unborn, they’ve made statements in the midst of this crisis that every life is precious, every life is sacred,” he said. 

“As a culture and society, we’re going to enormous lengths to try to protect the elderly and those that might be susceptible to the virus where it’s much more dangerous for them. So I think it’s admirable that we as a culture are taking these steps to try to protect those that are most vulnerable to the virus, and hopefully that can translate into a similar concern for the lives of the unborn as well.”