The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has urged Filipinos to be immunized when the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines arrive here.
CBCP Office on Bioethics chairman and Tuguegarao Archbishop Ricardo Baccay said the COVID-19 vaccines will only be able to end the pandemic in our country if enough Filipinos are vaccinated.
But he stressed that each individual person should be “left free to decide to choose to be vaccinated or not according to his or her conscience with full awareness of the obligation to protect oneself from being an instrument of contagion and the further spread of the virus.”
In a pastoral letter on potential Covid-19 vaccines in the Philippines dated January 8, Baccay also expressed their support to the efforts of the national government to procure and deploy the vaccines in our country, and thanked the private organizations who have come forward to help acquire them.
“We urge our government and the private organizations who have helped fund the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccines to commit themselves to a single vaccine distribution plan that prioritizes medical frontliners and those who are most at risk for COVID-19,” he said.
Baccay added that it would be a “moral tragedy” if young, healthy company employees who are at low risk for the disease are immunized before doctors, nurses, and other frontliners, and before our senior citizens who are at higher risk for illness.
He said they also commend the national government for considering the poor in the national vaccination program.
“They should be especially protected because their poverty makes them vulnerable to infection and severe disease,” said Baccay.
In the pastoral statement, the CBCP also thanked the scientists who have once more applied their expertise to the welfare of human beings and to their protection from the dreaded scourge of disease.
However, the bishops called attention to one ethical concern.
“We have learned that some of the COVID-19 vaccines were manufactured using cells obtained from the remains of an aborted female fetus who was killed in 1973. The perennial teaching of the Church must be repeated: Deliberately procuring abortion, even if it is for the purpose of obtaining material for vaccines, is morally unacceptable,” Baccay said.
He added:”The end does not justify the means; otherwise, the most inhuman and inhumane acts would be permissible in order to attain supposedly ‘worthwhile’ ends.”
In October 17, 2020, the CBCP also came out with a statement urging the national government to prioritize vaccines that were developed without the use of the morally controversial cell lines derived from the remains of an aborted child.
The Vatican has recently explained that “when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available (e.g. in countries where vaccines without ethical problems are not made available to physicians and patients, or where their distribution is more difficult due to special storage and transport conditions, or when various types of vaccines are distributed in the same country but health authorities do not allow citizens to choose the vaccine with which to be inoculated) it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”