AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — Worshippers at St. Bernards Roman Catholic Church in Akron on Friday were praying for an acceptable merger between science and theology that might help bring an end to the to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The church, as with all churches in the Cleveland Diocese, taking every conceivable measure to protect worshippers, including social distancing, masks and sanitizer.
At the same time across the country, the Bishop of the Diocese of Fresno, California was cautioning those in his diocese not to jump on the vaccine “bandwagon.”
In an address to parishioners in Fresno, the Most Reverend Joseph Brennan cautioned against Roman Catholics taking any vaccine that was developed using fetal stem cells at any point in its development.
“Apart from safe and effective vaccines, we must always and only pursue vaccines that are ethical and morally acceptable,” said Brennan.
Brennan, who is concerned about the speed with which vaccines have been developed, said he was not instructing Roman Catholics not to ever consider a vaccine.
He suggested vaccines are already being developed that do not use fetal stem cells, but they will take more time before they are ready for distribution.
“The John Paul II medical institute is developing a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus that has no connection at all with any of that material,” he said.
Denise Leipold, who is the executive director of Right to Life in Akron, is also a practicing Catholic. Her organization protects the lives of people from conception to seniors and says she understands the bishop’s message.
“I would be morally opposed to taking a vaccine made from those fetal cell lines when we know that it is possible to do so otherwise,” said Leipold.
“If you are morally opposed to children being killed by abortion we should be morally opposed to using those fetal tissues for developing these vaccines.”
Leipold told Fox 8 News if seniors, who are the most vulnerable, take precautions to protect themselves until there is an acceptable vaccine, they should have no objection to it.
“The Catholic Church also says that if there is no other choice, then they would rather you take something to preserve life or save life, but in this case, there are alternatives and it’s rare where there isn’t,” she added.
In his statement, Bishop Brennan said the church is not against vaccines and he, himself, has taken vaccines, including a flu shot just a few weeks ago.
He said the church should be pulling for the pharmaceutical companies and the governments involved in research to come up with a safe and effective vaccine, but one that he believes is also ethical.
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