Bishop expresses 'moral concern' about Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Staff Report

BATON ROUGE – Bishop Michael Duca of the Diocese of Baton Rouge expressed moral concerns over use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine due to its use of stem cells, and urged Catholics to give preferential choice to Pfizer and Moderna.

Bishop Michael Duca of the Diocese of Baton Rouge

He issued the recommendation in a letter he released Monday night, less than a week after the FDA granted emergency approval to the vaccine. The Louisiana Department of Health received the first Johnson & Johnson supply this week.

Duca said he encourages everyone to receive a vaccination but urged Catholics to give moral consideration over the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“I continue to encourage everyone to receive a vaccination, but the new vaccine from Johnson & Johnson has some moral concerns we must acknowledge,” he said. “Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, Johnson & Johnson uses a line of stem cells procured from abortions performed over 30 years ago in the production of its vaccine.

“I have reviewed these remedies along with the Bishops of the United States and we have determined, reinforced by the Holy Father Pope Francis, that receiving the new Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are justifiable and morally acceptable ways to help end this pandemic,” Duca said.  “Being vaccinated should be considered as an act of charity toward others in our communities.  I encourage all of the faithful of the Diocese of Baton Rouge to take this moral evaluation to heart as you make your decision to receive the coronavirus vaccinations as they become available.”

He recommended Catholics to their first choices the vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna.

“But if for any reasonable circumstance you are only able to receive the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, you should feel free to do so for your safety and for the common good,” Duca said. “In addition, I have consulted with Catholic health care representatives, and I understand and appreciate their serious challenges as to the acquisition and equitable distribution of all three vaccines. I therefore support their policy of administering any of the vaccines as circumstances require.”

Duca encouraged Catholics in the Diocese of Baton Rouge to “take this moral evaluation to heart as you make your decision to receive the vaccinations as they become available.”