Washington D.C., Mar 18, 2021 / 08:38 am
The White House on Wednesday claimed that Pope Francis has affirmed “the safety and efficacy” of the three COVID vaccines approved for use in the U.S.
However, the latest statement of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on the morality of some COVID vaccines limited its judgement to “moral aspects” of their use, and not their “safety and efficacy.” And while Pope Francis has strongly recommended that people be vaccinated against COVID-19, he has not commented on the safety of specific vaccines.
On Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked by Owen Jensen of EWTN News Nightly about “ethical concerns” regarding the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson.
Jensen asked Psaki if President Biden could speak to concerns of Americans about the vaccine; the Johnson & Johnson vaccine utilized cell lines derived from what is believed to be a baby aborted in the 1970s. The cell lines were used in the design, production, and testing of the vaccine.
Psaki replied that Pope Francis has upheld the safety of the vaccines.
"He [Biden] would say, I know the Pope has spoken to the safety and efficacy of all three vaccines, and the American people—these vaccines have been validated by health and medical experts. They're trying to save people's lives, keep people safe, and return our country to normal,” Psaki said.
The Vatican’s CDF and the U.S. bishops’ conference have both said that vaccines derived from the problematic cell lines are morally acceptable for Catholics to receive, due to the gravity of the pandemic. However, Catholics should seek to receive a vaccine with a lesser connection to the cell lines if one is available to them, both offices have said.