NOW that the Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use by Health Canada, can Roman Catholics in the province take it even though that church views it as "ethically compromised?"
The answer is yes, according to Archbishop Richard Gagnon of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg.
Archbishop Gagnon, who is also president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, made the announcement last week.
The dilemma arises for Catholics over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine since it was developed from abortion-derived cell lines.
"Being approved by Health Canada is one thing," he said. "Whether or not a given vaccine is ethically compromised because it was derived from the stem cells of aborted fetuses is another thing."
Noting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been "declared ethically compromised" by the Roman Catholic Church "for that very reason," he went on to say if Manitoba Catholics have "the opportunity to choose another vaccine, either the Moderna of Pfizer, we should do that."
If, however, that choice is not available, "we are permitted to receive these ethically compromised vaccines because of the greater good that is achieved through them in mitigating the virus in our community and our country," he said.
In making his pronouncement, the archbishop echoed an earlier statement from the Vatican that declared "all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal co-operation with the abortion."
A similar announcement about the use of vaccines derived from abortion was made by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops discouraged Catholics.
The bottom line for Archbishop Gagnon is "preference should be given to those vaccines with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines. However, if one does not have the choice at all, one may still receive a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson for the common good."
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.