By Bishop Athanasius Schneider
Bishop Athanasius Schneider is auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Anti-Christian world powers that promote the culture of death are seeking to impose on the world’s population an implicit—though remote and passive—collaboration with abortion. Such remote collaboration, in itself, is also an evil because of the extraordinary historical circumstances in which these same world powers are promoting the murder of unborn children and the exploitation of their remains.
When we use vaccines or medicines which utilize cell lines originating from aborted babies, we physically benefit from the “fruits” of one of the greatest evils of mankind—the cruel genocide of the unborn. For if an innocent child had not been cruelly murdered, we would not have these concrete vaccines or medicines. We should not be so naive to not see that these vaccines and medicines not only offer a health benefit but also promise to promote the culture of death.
Of course, some argue that even if people do not take these vaccines, the abortion industry will still continue. We may not reduce the number of abortions if we stop taking such vaccines or medicines, but this is not the issue. The problem lies in the moral weakening of our resistance to the crime of abortion, and to the crime of the trafficking, exploitation and commercialization of the body parts of murdered unborn children. The use of such vaccines and medicines morally – albeit indirectly—supports this horrible situation.
Observing the Catholic Church’s response, abortionists and those responsible for biomedical research will conclude that the hierarchy has acquiesced to this situation, which includes an entire chain of crimes against life and indeed can aptly be described as a “chain of death.” We have to wake up to the real dangers, consequences, and circumstances of the current situation.
Theories Justifying the Use of Abortion-tainted Vaccines
The documents of the Holy See (from 2005, 2008, and 2020) that deal with vaccines developed from cell lines originating from murdered unborn children are not infallible decisions of the Magisterium. The arguments put forth in the aforementioned documents regarding the moral licitness of the use of abortion-tainted vaccines are ultimately too abstract. We need to approach this problem in a more profound way, and not remain in juridical positivism and formalism of abstract theories of cooperation with evil, benefiting from the evil deeds of others, double effect, or whatever one wishes to call such justifying theories.
We have to go deeper, down to the root, and consider the aspect of proportionality. This concrete chain of horrible crimes—murdering, harvesting tissue and body parts from murdered unborn children, and commercializing their remains through the manufacturing and testing of vaccines and medicines—is out of all proportion to other crimes, e.g. benefitting from slave labor, paying taxes, etc. Even the most apparently impressive historical examples, which are sometimes adduced to justify the moral licitness of the use of abortion-tainted vaccines, are incomparable to the issue before us.
Indeed, due to the gravity of abortion, and the current reality of an ever-expanding abortion and biomedical research industry involving the trafficking and exploitation of aborted baby body parts, the principle of material cooperation or other similar theories cannot be applied in this case. It is, therefore, highly anti-pastoral and counterproductive to allow the use of abortion-tainted vaccines in this historical hour. The souls of the murdered babies, from whose body parts people are now benefitting through these medicines and vaccines, are living and have a name before God.
When one uses an abortion-tainted vaccine, one is standing directly and very personally before the vaccine syringe. In paying taxes, one is not directly and personally confronting the process of a specific abortion. A government is not asking you concretely to give your money to “this” concrete act of abortion now. The government often uses our money against our will. Therefore, the use of an abortion-tainted vaccine is a much more personal confrontation and a much closer meeting with the monstrous crimes involved in its production, than paying taxes or benefitting from the evil acts of another person. Should the government tell a citizen directly and personally, “I am taking your money to pay for this concrete abortion,” one has to refuse, even if it means confiscation of one’s home and imprisonment?
In the first centuries, Christians paid taxes to a pagan government, knowing that it would use a portion of the tax revenue to finance idol worship. However, when the government asked Christians personally and individually to participate in the crime of idolatry, by burning just a small grain of incense before the statue of an idol, they refused even at the price of being martyred for bearing witnesses to God’s First Commandment.
The Grave and Unique Character of Abortion-tainted Vaccines
How can we, with maximum of determination, be and proclaim to be against abortion, when we accept abortion-tainted vaccines whose origin lies in the murder of a child? Both logic and common-sense demand that we not accept such vaccines or medicines. In difficult times of great confusion, God often uses the simple and the little ones who tell the truth while the majority swims with the tide. Unfortunately, many people in the Church, and even some Catholic pro-life organizations, are swimming with the tide on the specific question of abortion-tainted vaccines and medicines. It seems that many theologians, and even the Holy See and the vast majority of bishops, are also swimming with the tide, and there remains only a minority in the Church of our day which is saying, “Stop. This is not good. This is a danger!” As Christians, it is our duty to bear witness to the world by not accepting these vaccines and medicines.
One might ask the proponents of the moral licitness of the use of abortion-tainted vaccines or medicines the following question, “If you traveled back in time and witnessed the gruesome murder of an unborn child, the dismemberment of his body, the harvesting of his tissue, and his cells then processed in the lab, even if there were hundreds of chemical processes involved with that particular vaccine or medicine, could you with a clear conscience receive such a vaccine or medicine into your body?” It is hard to imagine that they could, as they would have before their eyes the scene of a child being dismembered and are now physically benefitting from the use of his cells.
The distinction is often made between the direct presence of fetal cell lines originating from the murder of an unborn child in a vaccine and their use in testing, and certainly the latter is objectively less grave. But we still cannot accept the use of these cell lines even for testing, as it brings us closer to the crime of marketing the cells from murdered babies. In this case, too, there is an accumulation of horrible crimes. The first crime is to have killed a child. The second is to have used and processed these cell lines. To then use these cell lines for testing is yet another crime. We cannot collaborate in this accumulation of crimes and we cannot benefit in any way from their “by-products.”
The Obligation to Resist
Let us imagine the possibility of abortion being entirely forbidden worldwide. Were this the case, the medical and pharmaceutical industries would then have to seek out alternatives to develop a vaccine, and God will provide them if we observe His law, specifically the Fifth Commandment. However, God will punish us if we use the cell lines originating from murdered babies to manufacture and test vaccines and medicines! We have to open ourselves to a more supernatural perspective.
We have to resist the myth that there is no alternative—and by using these vaccines or medicines, we cooperate in further propagating this myth. Yet, there are alternatives! The anti-Christian world powers will surely not admit that alternatives exist, and will continue to push abortion-tainted vaccines. But we must resist.
Even if there is only a small minority of faithful, priests and bishops who do so, ultimately the truth will prevail. History will look back and say that even some good Catholics yielded, even high-ranking prelates responsible for the governance of the Holy See yielded to an expanding biomedical and pharmaceutical industry that used cell lines originating from the murder of unborn children to produce and test vaccines and medicines. History will say they allowed themselves to be blinded by abstract theories of remote material cooperation, benefitting from the evil acts of others, or other similar theories.
We must follow the truth. Even if we lose all our friends, we should follow our conscience, as did Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher. It is also a sign of the end times that even good people are confused about this important matter. Let us recall the words of Our Lord, who said that even the elect will be also seduced (cf. Mt. 24:24). A time will come when God will reveal to people in the Church, who now defend the morality of using abortion-tainted vaccines, some of the consequences of this choice. Their eyes will be opened, because the truth is so powerful. We have to live for the truth and for eternity.
To remain silent and to acquiesce to the already widespread use of aborted baby body parts for biomedical research, and to argue away this injustice with an abstract theory of “remote material cooperation,” or whatever one may call such a justifying theory, is a spiritual blindness and grave omission at a dramatic historical moment when Christians instead should stand up and proclaim to the whole world, “We will never acquiesce to this injustice, even if it is already so widespread in medicine! It is not allowed to treat unborn children, the lives of the weakest and most defenseless people in the whole world, in such a degrading way, so that the stronger, those already born, may receive a temporal health benefit from their use.”
Ivan Karamazov in Dostoyevsky’s famous novel “The Brothers Karamazov” asks the fatal question: “Tell me straight out, I call on you—answer me: imagine that you yourself are building the edifice of human destiny with the object of making people happy in the finale, of giving them peace and rest at last, but for that you must inevitably and unavoidably torture just one tiny creature, that same child who was beating her chest with her little fist, and raise your edifice on the foundation of her unrequited tears—would you agree to be the architect on such conditions?“
Memorable are the words with which Pope John Paul II forcefully condemned any experimentation on embryos, declaring:
No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church. This evaluation of the morality of abortion is to be applied also to the recent forms of intervention on human embryos which, although carried out for purposes legitimate in themselves, inevitably involve the killing of those embryos. This is the case with experimentation on embryos, which is becoming increasingly widespread in the field of biomedical research and is legally permitted in some countries….[T]he use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings who have a right to the same respect owed to a child once born, just as to every person. This moral condemnation also regards procedures that exploit living human embryos and fetuses-sometimes specifically ‘produced’ for this purpose by in vitro fertilization-either to be used as ‘biological material’ or as providers of organs or tissue for transplants in the treatment of certain diseases. The killing of innocent human creatures, even if carried out to help others, constitutes an absolutely unacceptable act. (Encyclical Evangelium vitae, 62-63)
The blood of murdered unborn children cries to God from vaccines and medicines which utilize their remains in any manner whatsoever. We have to make reparation for the accumulated crimes involved in their production. We have to ask pardon not only from God, who searches the reins and hearts (cf. Rev. 2:23), but also from the souls of all murdered unborn children, who have a name before God. We must especially ask pardon from those children whose body parts are used in such a degrading way for the health benefit of the living. It is incomprehensible how churchmen, with the aid of abstract theories from moral theology, can tranquilize the conscience of the faithful, by allowing them to use such vaccines and medicines.
The blood of the murdered unborn children cries to God from abortion-tainted vaccines and medicines! May the Lord have mercy on us! Kyrie, Eleison!