When the abortion-tainted COVID-19 vaccines were first introduced, the initial question rightly raised by Catholics was, “Can I receive this vaccine?”; i.e., is it morally permissible? However, too few Catholics bothered to ask the second important moral question, “Should I receive this vaccine?” After all, we are not called to live a minimal life of the morally permissible; we are called to a life of holiness, which often includes sacrifice and prophetic witness to the world. Even if these vaccines are morally permissible, does taking them advance the common good of justice and holiness?

In December 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) released a statement which, based on previous Vatican instructions, noted that “it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.” For many Catholics, including many in the hierarchy, that was the end of the debate, the only thing that mattered: it is morally acceptable, so there could be no argument against taking the vaccine. 

Although certain prominent Catholics have put forward well-reasoned arguments that taking such vaccines is immoral (including in this magazine), for this article I presume the CDF is correct that receiving the vaccine is morally permissible. Even granting this, the second question still remains: Should a Catholic receive it?

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