Pastor’s Piece – March 28

To vax, or not to vax? That is the question that I’m getting from some of you. I’ve not weighed in on the issue because I don’t feel that I’m expert in moral theology, medicine or in the art of prophecy. Nevertheless, here is my frank, non-professional assessment of the issue. I guess the word for that is pastoral.

Morally – The Church says it’s okay, then it is okay. We may be confused at times by things that Pope Francis says. We may suspect that there is too much politics involved in USCCB statements. That doesn’t mean that there is an inability to speak authoritatively on matters of faith and morals. Pope Francis, the
Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishop Burbidge, the United States bishops as a body, have said clearly that it is morally permissible to be vaccinated for COVID19. So, whether or not it is a good idea for you, is a separate question. You are not morally culpable for any association with immoral means of developing these vaccines if you should take one.

The moral question is further nuanced when we choose between vaccines. While the cooperation with evil is remote enough so as not be culpable sin, there is nevertheless greater proximity to the sin of abortion with the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines. This means that if we are given the choice between vaccines that we ought to choose the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines over the first two. Medically – Unfortunately, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are more novel and experimental in their vaccination. Some in the field of medicine do not regard them as “vaccines” but rather as gene therapy.

While they are promisingly effective, the long-term effects are unknown. In fact, although more of a traditional vaccine, AstraZeneca has been suspended in many European countries. Personally, I’m not interested. I’m not at risk. If I should catch it, and I’m not sure that I haven’t had it, there is a very small chance (.12%) that it will be mortal. This is based an on-line Johns Hopkins COVID19 Risk Calculator. ( Regardless of the morally acceptable nature of the vaccine, that doesn’t make it mandatory. “As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has clarified, ‘vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and … therefore, it must be voluntary.’”

Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines

Prophetically – This will probably mean that I run the risk of being banned from airline flights in the not-too-distant future. I’m at peace with that. I’ve seen plenty of the world and I look forward to spending more time with you.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy