(ChurchLeaders) After half a million of our fellow Americans have died to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country seems almost right on the verge of hope. Vaccines were developed with record-setting speed, and have proven both safe and effective. After the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been on the field now for a while, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just authorized a third—by pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. This vaccine has made news—both in terms of the images of trucks headed for parcel distribution hubs for delivery and, less noticed, a denunciation from the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, later joined by the Catholic bishops nationwide, arguing that Catholics, when possible, should take one of the first two vaccines but not the Johnson & Johnson version because, they argue, it is linked to cloned stem cells derived from abortions that took place decades ago.
The bishops’ recommendation was not quite as fiery as many headlines reported. They did not argue that taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was morally sinful or that no one should take it, just that Catholics should choose the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines over Johnson & Johnson, when such a choice is possible. The Vatican has already announced that COVID-19 vaccines are not only morally acceptable but to be commended in the fight against this dread disease.