Church has ‘duty’ to counter vaccine deniers

counter vaccine deniers

An expert on the Vatican’s Covid-19 commission says religious working in health care and schools have a duty to educate and to counter vaccine deniers.

Women religious and Catholic organisations who serve others every day are “our best hope for safe and fair distribution of vaccines.

“They are also the best tool for convincing people of the safety and importance of taking the vaccines,” said Sr Carol Keehan, a nurse and Daughter of Charity.

The Church also has clear teachings about the need for more ethical ways to produce and test vaccines.

It has said that receiving vaccines is not participating or cooperating with the evil of abortion, she said during a recent online meeting sponsored by the Rome-based International Union of Superiors General.

The event was dedicated to how women religious can be leaders in bringing Gospel values to new models of the economy and health care. It was part of a series of meetings looking at ways sisters can empower other women and support those most affected and marginalised by the pandemic.

Sr Carol is the chair of the Vatican Covid-19 Commission’s health task force.

She gave the more than 300 participants online an overview of the two main goals of the taskforce.

These are an equitable distribution of vaccines and treatments, and reducing the resistance to taking the vaccine.

People have been showing resistance to the vaccine for a number of reasons, she said, and so the taskforce created a “resource kit” for Church leaders and families, available in multiple languages on the commission’s website.

“For years we have known that most vaccines are made and/or tested using stem cells grown in a laboratory that originated from a fetus aborted over 40 years ago. Almost all of us have had a vaccine made in this way,” Sr Carol said.

“The Church has decades of theology and ethical teachings, asking that better ways of testing and producing vaccines should be a goal.

“But that taking these vaccines, or administering them to children, is not participating or co-operating with the evil of abortion,” she said.

“In spite of this, a number of voices immediately started refusing to take the vaccines that had been made and or tested this way. Some of them were bishops in various dioceses, as well as priests and other teachers of the faith,” she said.

Several Vatican dicasteries stepped in to clarify the Church’s position on vaccines acceptability when no others are available.

And, she added, “Pope Francis has been very clear that it is a moral responsibility to take the vaccines to protect oneself, one’s family and one’s community from this deadly disease.”

The church “cannot and must not remain on the sidelines” in building a better world, she said. This global problem must be faced “as a global family”.


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