Amid an ongoing debate among Catholics as to whether accepting a Covid-19 vaccination is permissible, leaders of the US Bishops’ Conference (USCCB) declared this week that Catholics have a “moral responsibility” to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“Receiving one of the Covid-19 vaccines ought to be understood as an act of charity toward other members of our community,” said Bishop Kevin Rhoades, chairman of the US Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, and Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, in a joint statement.
The bishops particularly urged the young and healthy who do not personally feel under threat from the virus to take the vaccine, saying, “In this way, being vaccinated safely against Covid-19 should be considered an act of love for our neighbour and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.”
The risk to public health posed by the coronavirus is very serious, the bishops said, “as evidenced by the millions of infections worldwide and hundreds of thousands of deaths in the US alone”.
The bishops did not pronounce on whether vaccines for other diseases are morally optional or compulsory.
The Catholic leaders also considered the permissibility of using vaccines which may have been created using cells obtained from aborted human foetuses, as abortion is forbidden and considered a sin by the Catholic church.
“Given the urgency of this crisis, the lack of available alternative vaccines, and the fact that the connection between an abortion that occurred decades ago and receiving a vaccine produced today is remote. Inoculation with the new Covid-19 vaccines in these circumstances can be morally justified,” they declared.
According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in September, just over half of US adults say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine to prevent Covid-19.
The other 49% said they definitely or probably would not get vaccinated.
Back in May, intent to get a Covid-19 vaccine was much higher, with 72% saying they would get a vaccine when one became available.