Image Courtesy of the National Catholic Reporter
By Eduardo Castillon
Statement to Conscience; To Awaken Conscience, a petition written by Catholic University Busch School Professor Catherine Ruth Pakaluk Ph.D, has received more than three thousand signatures from faculty and even clergy.
The complaint is a reaction against the statements of many Catholic medical and scientific organizations on the moral responsibilities of Catholics to take COVID-19 vaccines that were derived from fetal cell lines. Organizations cited by the petition include the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), the Catholic Health Association (CHA), as well as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The petition states “We deplore the lack of moral imagination displayed by public health officials, politicians, and all those who disregard the natural disgust felt by persons who wish to remain separate from the crime of abortion in every way possible.”
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF), which was reviewed and approved by Pope Francis, states that the use of these types of vaccines is morally licit due to the dangerous circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the aforementioned Catholic organizations do not disagree with the CDF’s position, the signatories do not see the statements as going far enough in opposition to the mandating of vaccines: “Even if, as a matter of general principles, it is not always morally illicit to use such abortion-tainted vaccines temporarily, in extreme necessity, and even then under strenuous protest, the use of such vaccines must never be advanced as mandatory, or as a universal duty.”
“We are arguing instead that it cannot become morally obligatory to take the vaccines–since an evil cannot be placed on the conscience as a duty,” said Dr. Pakaluk. “Therefore, we wanted to remind people that the Church protects our right to resist doing an evil, if in conscience we feel we cannot do this thing… and we then outline some of our reasons for seeing this as the right approach to take in the face of a culture of death.”
The statement by the CDF also claims the use of such vaccines should be voluntary, but that those who refuse such vaccines on the grounds of their conscience still have a duty to take preventative measures for infection. However, the CDF also stresses the importance of one’s duty to the common good. “In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed.”
While it is not mandatory to accept vaccination currently, the signatories believe there are legislative threats on the horizon. The petition mentions a D.C. law that has since passed which allowed for children to receive vaccinations without parental consent. A more recent example may be the “Vaccine Passports” the Biden administration is currently discussing.
“We invite (and call upon our lawmakers to require) all product manufacturers to reveal publicly and label their use of these cells,” reads the petition, “so that we can go forward avoiding such products.”
Naturally, as the campus is gradually reopening to pre-pandemic standards, students may be worried about the safety of returning to school next semester especially after hearing about this petition.
“We should pray and trust that God will not leave the students and faculty of Catholic University in trouble because of the respect of conscience rights in this matter.” said Dr. Pakaluk, “We are in good hands under President Garvey’s leadership. He has always found a way to pursue the common good while protecting religious and conscience liberties–in fact it’s an area of his special expertise.”
Dr. Pakaluk also cited a USA Today article mentioning how decline in COVID-19 cases have been seen before vaccines were meant to have any influence.
The new petition voices the disappointment from thousands of signatories on the “soft opposition” of many Catholic organizations towards COVID-19 vaccines derived from fetal cell lines. Chief amongst their concerns is the ability to morally choose not to be vaccinated as well as possible future legislation making it harder to refuse to receive vaccines.