Catholic Church Voices Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Concerns

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There's controversy within the Catholic Church after a prominent association of bishops raises moral questions about the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This as local parishes in the Bay Area are trying to overcome several obstacles to getting their members vaccinated.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops claim the vaccine is linked to cells derived from aborted fetal tissue and that raises moral concerns because of the church's opposition to abortion.

Johnson & Johnson says there is no fetal tissue in its vaccine, and that it used an engineered cell line.

NBC News says those cells are generally replicated from original cells – taken four decades ago from fetal tissue.

In a statement, the bishops wrote in part, "If one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna's vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson's."

With vaccines in such short supply, Bay Area Catholic Churches are focused on simply getting shots for as many as possible.

"We know from the holy father, the pope, that he is asking that you should get vaccinated right now. That it's a moral imperative that the community is vaccinated,” said Father Jon Pedigo from Catholic Charities. “That it outweighs some of these other concerns."

Catholic Charities in San Jose is trying to work with the Santa Clara Department of Public Health and Stanford School of Medicine to open vaccination sites on church campuses - and potentially with extended hours to try and make it easier for their hourly wage parishioners.

Many are having a tough time getting to vaccination sites that are currently open.

Right now, neither the San Jose Diocese, nor the San Francisco Archdiocese, have issued any statements supporting or rebuking the moral questions raised by the U.S. Council of Bishops.

They both encourage Catholics to take any vaccine that's available.

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