Archbishop says Catholic troops should be able to reject vaccines on religious grounds

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Timothy P. Broglio, archbishop of the U.S. military, says Catholic troops should be able to reject receiving the coronavirus vaccine on religious grounds. 

Broglio said in a statement released Tuesday that Catholics in the military who believe the vaccine goes against their religion since they were tested “using an abortion-derived cell line” shouldn’t be forced to get vaccinated. 

“Accordingly, no one should be forced to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if it would violate the sanctity of his or her conscience,” Broglio said. 

His comments come as the military still has hundreds of thousands of service members unvaccinated ahead of vaccine mandate deadlines in the branches, The Washington Post reported. 

Although the archbishop stressed the Catholic Church does not deem it sinful to get the coronavirus vaccine, he highlighted the concerns of service members over the testing of vaccines. 

The Catholic Church’s official stance against abortion has caused some to question if they want to get vaccinated. 

“The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were tested using an abortion-derived cell line. That type of a link has been for centuries considered remote material cooperation with evil and is never sinful,” Broglio said. 

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed, tested, and is produced, with abortion-derived cell lines. That vaccine is, therefore, more problematic. If it were the only vaccine available, it would be morally permissible, but the faithful Catholic is to make known his or her preference for a more morally acceptable treatment,” he added. 

The Air Force has 60,000 service members still unvaccinated, although vaccinations in the military have spiked since the Department of Defense announced the vaccine mandate in September. 

“Those who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine must continue to act in charity for their neighbors and for the common good by undertaking means to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through wearing face coverings, social distancing, undergoing routine testing, quarantining, and remaining open to receiving a treatment should one become available that is not derived from, or tested with abortion-derived cell lines,” the archbishop said. 

The Catholic Church has been in support of vaccinations, with Pope Francis previously encouraging vaccinations for those eligible.

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