In the Service of Human Life
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In the Service of Human Life

Moral Culpability in Vaccination

The organization Children of God for Life is an active proponent among people of faith for the vaccination of their children. In 2003, they wrote to then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would become Pope Benedict XVI, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith asking for clarification on whether or not Catholics could, in the course of practicing their faith, use the vaccinations for which there were no ethical alternatives. Two years later, the Congregation responded.

In a study titled “Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived from Aborted Human Fetuses” the ethicists and moral theologians held that indeed, Catholics can in good conscience vaccinate their children using vaccines derived from aborted humans in cases in which there are no ethical alternatives. In doing so, the parents participate in the remotest possible way in the abortion, but their culpability in this participation is outweighed by their grave responsibility to protect the lives of their children and those who may come into contact with their children. Said another way, the risk of causing the death of their child or someone else outweighs the responsibility that the parents bear for using the proceeds of an abortion, the unjust taking of a human life. This is particularly so because the parent seeking the vaccination had no involvement in the choice to solicit the elective abortion.

The bishops also note, again, that we have a responsibility to advocate for the development of ethical vaccinations.

Catholics, and indeed all ethically minded parents, can ethically vaccinate their children with the five vaccines for which there are no ethical alternatives in good faith and without troubling their conscience, so long as they advocate for the development of ethical alternatives.