As Colorado Public Radio’s Andrea Dukakis reports, the Catholic Church is back in the local news today on two very much separate but, singly or taken together nonetheless troubling fronts–the first being a directive from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that observant Catholics should avoid the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine due to the use of embryonic stem cells in the research and production of the drug:
Colorado’s Catholic churches have lined up to endorse the guidance, which was issued Tuesday on the heels of the FDA’s decision to approve use of the newest vaccine.
“The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the United States again raises questions about the moral permissibility of using vaccines developed, tested, and/or produced with the help of abortion-derived cell lines,” said a statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops…
“They’re not prohibiting people from getting it. They’re just saying that if one is in a position to choose, they should pick the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines,” said Veronica Ambull, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Colorado Springs.
The problem with this “guidance” is that as of now, vaccine recipients do not have a choice of which brand of vaccine they receive. As CPR explains, patients who sign up and discover that they are set to receive the J&J vaccine can, you know, wait. Or sign up again and see what they get offered next time. Either way, we’re talking about potential delays in the vaccination of Catholics–then logically resulting in some number of Catholics needlessly dying of COVID-19.
And that doesn’t seem like something Jesus would want.
The other story featuring the Catholic Church in the news today, as the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports, is a subject we’ve broached before as local church leaders have weighed in on political wedges like denying President Joe Biden communion over abortion policy–and we’ll caution that invoking it results in a sharp reaction from the church’s defenders who consider it an unfair distraction:
For decades, survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their advocates have urged states to let them hold abusers accountable in civil court, no matter how long it’s been since the abuse. A bipartisan bill in the Colorado Legislature to do just that so far appears to have widespread approval, but it’s not without opposition from the Colorado Catholic Conference — a church embroiled in a sex abuse scandal in Colorado, the U.S. and around the world…
The Colorado Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s three dioceses — Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo — said it has supported unlimited time to seek criminal charges but not, as proposed in the bill, for civil statutes.
In a statement, the group said it supports “reasonable and fair extension of the civil statute of limitations; however, statutes of limitations must have a sensible time limit to ensure due process for all parties involved.”
Got that? Embryonic stem cells from an abortion performed in the 1980s used to create a lifesaving vaccine against a global pandemic is sinful–but filing a civil suit against a priest who molests children longer than six years after the offense is “unreasonable!”
Are they precisely the same issue? No. Do we give a shit? No. The deep moral stain on the Catholic Church after their clergy–not all, but far too many and protected by too many more–molested children for decades leaves them with an enormous moral debt to society. Weighing in on these hot-button political debates, especially interfering with the rollout of a vaccine to save lives in a global pandemic, makes all these skeletons in the Catholic Church’s closet fair game. And there are a lot of such skeletons.
It’s a major reason why the church should focus on forgiving sins instead of passing judgment.