The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement Wednesday discouraging Catholics from receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine if alternative vaccines are available.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was recently approved for emergency use in the United States, was developed, tested and produced with lab-grown cells originally derived from cells taken from aborted fetal tissue in the 1980s. Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines were tested with the lab-grown cells, but the cells were not used in their production.
The USCCB is encouraging Catholics to choose the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead if available, but stressed that if there are no alternatives to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, "being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good."
Before the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was authorized, the Roman Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that "it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process."
The Catholic Diocese of Richmond did not issue its own statement, but shared the USCCB's statement on its website.