Rorate Caeli

The COVID-19 Vaccination Debate: Professor De Mattei responds to Critics with 10 Questions

 Roberto de Mattei: 10 questions to all those holding the “anti-vax” position


            My position in defence of the moral liceity of the currently available anti-Covid vaccines has attracted the approval of some cardinals, theologians and priests, whom I thank here, but also the predictable disapproval of many who hold an "anti-vax" position. Having recently published a study on the moral liceity of vaccination examining the question more broadly ( On the moral liceity of the vaccination), I limit myself here to putting some questions to those who hold the “anti-vax” position. I would ask them to answer these in a precise and, if possible, polite manner.


1)    The “livre de chevet” for the anti-vax position is Vaccination: a Catholic perspective by Pamela Acker, published by the Kolbe Center in 2020. In this book, the author argues that the risks of any vaccination are greater than the possible benefits (on pp. 80-81 she gives the example of rabies and tetanus). Those who consider this book as a reference text should also reject the so-called ethical vaccines because they are considered harmful to health. Beyond the vaccines against Covid, is it licit for a Catholic to get vaccinated?


2)    Some organ transplants, such as heart transplants, are morally illicit because they make use of the false scientific criterion of “brain death” and in reality cause death. However, the Church considers transplants from donors who are truly dead (for example, for corneas) or from donors who are living (for example, for kidneys) lawful, just as she allows blood transfusion. In all these cases, another person’s cells enter the human body. Do you accept the Church’s teaching on transplants?


3)    If yes, would you consider a cornea transplant licit to restore the sight of a blind person, if, with the consent of the family, this cornea was taken from a murder victim? Similarly, would you accept a transfusion of anonymous blood which could come from the body of a wicked man, and not feel contaminated by his wickedness? Would you accept a transplant or transfusion of blood which has been remotely involved in a crime?


4)    The HEK cells used in some anti-Covid vaccines are widely used in pharmaceutical research and the food industry. Considering the use of cell lines derived from aborted foetuses to be illicit, would you renounce the use of other drugs produced or tested using foetal cells, such as insulin, vaccines against rubella, hepatitis, and many others?


5)    The Holy See reaffirmed the moral liceity of vaccination in the documents of the Pontifical Academy for Life (2005 and 2017) and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2008 and 2020). Why do you reject these magisterial declarations pronounced between 2005 and 2020 today, while during these years you have not expressed any form of disagreement with them?


6)    Perhaps the reason for this apparent change in opinion regarding vaccines derived from foetal cells is due to the change of historical context in 2020 when the pandemic became a pretext for “sanitary dictatorship” over humanity including vaccination as part of this plan. Do you believe that the evil lies in the vaccination itself or in the “conspiracy” which the vaccination expresses?


7)    More concretely: do you believe that the final end of vaccination is good, but the means which have been used (the use of foetal cells) are bad, or do you share the conspiracy theories that not only the means but the final end of the vaccination is evil, which would be the extermination of humanity?


8)    The best known anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist is Robert F. Kennedy, a Democratic politician, who funded Hillary Clinton. Kennedy presents himself as Bill Gates’s enemy number one, but he is a member of the establishment that through the Children’s Health Defense has funded the spread of the majority of false information about the vaccines on social networks. Do you share Robert F. Kennedy’s theories of ecological and new age origins? If not, wouldn't it be important to publicly distance ourselves from him and his anti-vax movement?


9)    The documents of the Holy See which affirm the liceity of vaccination are not infallible, but they are certainly pronouncements of the ordinary Magisterium of the Church. What are the criteria according to which one can disagree with this Magisterium? Those who criticise Amoris laetitia, for example, do not base their judgment on their own conscience but on the perennial Magisterium of the Church. Do you think that the conscience of a single lay person, priest, or bishop can oppose the ordinary Magisterium of the Church without being based on another teaching of the Church which has been directly expressed with continuity and clarity on the same point?


10) Some priests present the rejection of the anti-Covid vaccination not as spiritual advice, but as a moral obligation. However, the only authority that can define what is sin and what is not, in a binding manner for a Catholic, is the Catholic Church. If a bishop or a priest assumes the responsibility to impose a moral obligation not given by the Church, does he not risk creating a “new church”? And is it not paradoxical that this happens precisely on the part of those who accuse Pope Francis of having instituted a “new church”?