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Catholic Culture Overview

Ways to protest morally-tainted vaccines—and why

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 19, 2021

Many Catholic commentators, including myself, have passed along the twice-repeated decision of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that if we use a morally-tainted vaccine we have a moral obligation to express our opposition to it. Few commentators, however, have outlined how this might be done. Moreover, while I firmly adhere to the CDF’s determination, when I wrote recently in defense of it, I also admitted that one of the problems we face is that the decision to take the vaccine inescapably mutes any opposition we might offer (see A corrective to the Schneider statement on the COVID vaccines).

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Nonetheless, as with any evil, a general obligation remains to express our opposition to vaccines that make use of cells derived from aborted babies, and both the CDF and the Pontifical Academy of Life have reminded us that this obligation becomes a particular moral duty if we choose to use one of these vaccines.

Let me add that this moral duty remains even if we do not believe anything we can do by way of protest will make a difference. That, obviously, depends on who and how many do the protesting, and in what venues. But it may well be that—yet again—neither the Church nor the Catholic population as a whole is spiritually healthy enough to create the sort of groundswell that is needed. Nonetheless, a moral duty to express opposition is imposed in a special way upon all who decide to make use of a vaccine which is connected in a specific way, however distant, to the grave sin of the murder of unborn children.

The question, then, is how to do that with maximum effect.

Expressing opposition

One writer who has looked into this question closely and come up with a list of suggestions is Stacy Trasancos, who has advanced degrees in both Chemistry and Theology. Her article in the National Catholic Register earlier this month provides not only seven specific steps that might be taken but also excellent advice on how to keep properly informed so that we can offer a credible witness against the tainted vaccines. Moreover, the online version of this essay includes links to contact information for effective protest, for organizations which provide accurate information, and for organizations which deserve to be supported in their own work to restore ethics to the practice of medicine.

It would hardly be fair of me to plagiarize all of Trasancos’ suggestions, so it is best to refer readers directly to the source. See How to Object to an Abortion-Tainted COVID-19 Vaccine.

And adjusting to minority status

Let us also understand our historical situation. The modern West inherited a largely Christian moral culture from the gradual formation of Europe by Catholicism over more than a millennium, before division and decline began to set in about five hundred years ago. The crisis was already acute among the intellectual classes by the late seventeenth century, but Christian principles—including the recognition of the natural law—were still fairly strong when the United States was formed in the late eighteenth. Few people considered themselves anything other than “Christian”, though the sense of what that actually means had already suffered significant degeneration in the early modern period. By the mid-twentieth century, following two world wars, a tired West no longer understood the reasons behind its outward standards of morality, and, in the 1960s, a dominant anti-civilizational movement began in earnest to sweep away all Christian and natural law constraints which remained present in our statutes and institutions.

That trend is reaching its self-destructive conclusion in our own time, leaving all who perceive more than just the material world—all who perceive and dare to speak of the sources of the spiritual and moral dimensions of the human person—to suffer increasing marginalization and even persecution. Astonishingly, the Catholic Church, despite the immense weakness arising from the secular inculturation of her own members, still seems largely intractable to outsiders, mostly because a morality which contrasts with that of the dominant culture is still at least advocated by many and discussed within the Church. That is a circumstance almost entirely lacking elsewhere, and the the result is contempt and hatred born of fear.

At some moment—a moment we cannot now discern—the progressive collapse of what little is left of Christian civilization, along with the resulting despair, will provide some sort of opportunity for a reconversion and reconstruction that is currently beyond our reach. Meanwhile, whether we think we can make a difference or not, we who see the light must bear witness to it, and that includes the relatively painless obligation of registering the protest and the opposition we have been discussing here. Such obligations may become far more painful in the foreseeable future.

Of course faithful Catholics in many fields have already found themselves ostracized, to the point even where making a living has become considerably more difficult. A growing habit of prayer must be our first strategy. But it is also better, surely, for the rest of us to develop good habits of Christian witness now. I mean while the price is still relatively small.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: racpac72442 - Jan. 20, 2021 10:44 AM ET USA

    I just can't seem to reconcile taking a tainted vaccine and then complain to the powers that be after that I don't approve of tainted vaccines. What also is extremely troubling is that there are vaccines out there that have no link to aborted fetus cells, Sonofi being one of them, so why is the Pope not telling Catholics that they should wait for those types of vaccines...

  • Posted by: dustypowder2274 - Jan. 19, 2021 7:05 PM ET USA

    It is so sad that the Pope said it was not a sin to take this "so called cure". It hurts my heart that babies are aborted and I pray for the mothers who consider this and really pray for those who are killing my little brothers and sisters.