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Long Island Diocese Bucks Catholic Church, Blasts Vaccine Due To Use Of Cells From Aborted Fetuses

A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared at the New York State drive-thru vaccination site at Plattsburgh International Airport.
Office of N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo

The Diocese of Rockville Center on Long Island has advised parishioners to avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The letter to congregations follows a committee of bishops report last week objecting to this specific vaccine on “moral grounds” because of its connection to abortion.

The cells used to develop the vaccine were derived from fetuses aborted decades ago.

Last week, the national bishops did not prohibit the one-dose vaccine, if it is the only choice. They made similar statements about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines because they were tested using cells from absorbed fetuses.

“It is the position of the Catholic Church and the responsibility of all Bishops to instruct the faithful in the truth that abortion is a violation of natural law,” Rockville Center Diocese spokesperson Sean Dolan said in a statement. “It is a gravely evil act because it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.”

The Vatican's doctrinal office in December said it was "morally acceptable" for Catholics to have a coronavirus vaccine, even if it was developed using cell lines from aborted fetuses.

Pope Francis received the Pfizer vaccine.

"For any bishop to call into question a vaccine that has the potential of saving hundreds of thousands of lives is misguided," Rev. Lawrence Provenzano, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, told Newsday.

"It’s a morally bankrupt argument that is being portrayed here, and I think it is irresponsible," he said.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.