Archbishop Paglia pleads with Catholic critics of Covid vaccines

Alejandro Bermudez   By Alejandro Bermudez for CNA

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in Philadelphia, March 9, 2015. / Sarah Webb/

Vatican City, Jul 2, 2021 / 16:48 pm (CNA).

During a press conference on Friday, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, called Catholics who are reluctant to receive COVID vaccines and oppose their distribution to “listen to what the Church has already said”, implying that all objections against COVID vaccines have already been addressed by official Church documents.

The July 2 press conference was intended to present a final statement crafted the day before during a meeting of the World Medical Association, the German Medical Association, and the Pontifical Academy for Life dedicated to “promote vaccine equity and confront vaccine hesitancy.”

The statement says that “while many higher-income countries had the resources to quickly sign bilateral agreements with pharmaceutical companies for promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates, this left many developing countries at a disadvantage due to financial restrictions and limitations on production capacity.”

The document also says that reluctance to being vaccinated in disadvantaged communities “is rooted in historical inequities, breaches of trust in medical research, negative experiences with health care and suspicion about pharmaceutical companies’ behavior focused on profit.”

But it lashes out on “a more pernicious form of vaccine hesitancy … driven by unfounded and misleading claims and myths, including disinformation about side effects, which are amplified by social media and other means of enhanced communication.”

“Adding to this complexity,” the statement also says, “is the fact that vaccine hesitancy even exists in the medical community and some religious groups. Vaccine hesitancy and refusal can ultimately give rise to difficult ethical questions about the tension between individual freedom of choice and the common good.”

But during the Q&A part of the press conference, several journalists representing secular and Catholic media highly skeptical of COVID vaccines pushed back with statements followed by questions.

The correspondent from the Epoch Times opened the discussion, saying that “Your speakers discussed combating disinformation yesterday. Critics argue that only representing one side of ongoing medical research goes against scientific methods, (which) promotes propaganda and fosters reactionary disinformation. Why did yesterday’s round table only include experts on one side of this debate?”

She finally asked: “Would the Pontifical Academy for Life or and the WMA (World Medical Association)  commit today to hosting a conference honoring the scientific method by inviting recognized experts representing all sides of this debate, including credible medical experts against the COVID vaccine?”

“In fact, the Pontifical Academy for Life, which has decided some time ago to discuss the issue of the vaccines, obviously wants to treat it in a comprehensive way, therefore bringing all the sides related to dealing with this issue,” Paglia responded, while adding that “this is not only a technical, scientific issue, is an ethical and social issue, which requires a new anthropological perspective. So we will continue to debate the issue of vaccines.”

He also said that in the upcoming conferences “we will take into account those who are critical to the vaccines as a tool” and recalled that the Pontifical Academy for Life “have never spoken about ‘obligation,’ but about ‘responsibility’.”

In their responses, both Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery, Chair of Council of the WMA, and Dr. Ramin Parsa-Parsi, Head of Department for International Affairs of the German Medical Association, pushed back at the idea that experts who participated in the previous day roundtable belonged to “one side.” Both insisted that it consisted of independent scientists. But Parsi said that future meetings on COVID vaccines will include a larger number of scientists covering a “broader range of aspects.”

Later, the correspondent of St. Michael Media –parent company of Church Militant- listed noted scientists highly skeptical of the COVID vaccines who “are widely published in prestigious peer reviewed journals, and yet they are being completely ignored in this debate. So why can’t you include multiple voices and have a genuine scientific debate, because this is what science is all about.”

Parsi again dismissed the criticism, saying that “when it comes to vaccines, all the questions and all the inclarity [sic] have been tackled and I think there is no reason why we shouldn’t be confident that these vaccines are a blessing for our patients and for the people.”

Montgomery specifically discredited the papers mentioned by the journalist, and said that “as far as we know up to now, and of course, no one can say anything about long-term effects because we’ve only administered these techniques for six months now, but as far as we know, these techniques are very safe and produce much less side effects than for instance, the well-known vector therapies, which have a very high rate of side effects, especially at the first dose.”

The correspondent from The Remnant addressed a question to Archbishop Paglia: “you’ve spoken a lot today about the ethics of vaccines, but these ethics appear limited to primarily equitable distribution and overcoming vaccine hesitancy. You’ve made no mention to what genuinely concerns many Catholics; the fact that many of these vaccines are abortion tainted; the right to conscientious objection, and the fact that these vaccines have cost many lives in the United States, 6,100 people have died from them. Why are you not addressing these legitimate questions, particularly (to) Catholics, as you’re the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life.”

“I have mentioned before the interventions both from the Dicastery for Integral Human Development of this past December, but also of the document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which as you know, within the context of the Catholic Church, is the authority which responds with more clarity to all doubts and problems, and which has responded exactly to the objections you have presented,” Archbishop Paglia said.

“Now, if Catholics do not listen to that, well that is another matter.”

“We are very aware that the answer (to your question) has been provided. But since liberty exists, there are those who say ‘I don’t accept what the Pope says’, ‘or what the Congregation says’, ‘or what you say’. But from a standpoint of the Catholic doctrine, we are in the right,” he added.

“I would appeal to my Catholics brothers and sisters to listen to what has already been said (regarding the vaccines),” Archbishop Paglia concluded.

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  1. Not sure why I should listen to anything this archbishop says.
    Isn’t he the one who just undercut the Vatican’s intervention on the Italian so-called anti-homophobia proposed bill?

  2. From the “Note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Morality of Using Some Anti-Covid-19 Vaccines, 21.12.2020”:

    “5. At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary…In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed. Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent. In particular, they must avoid any risk to the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons, and who are the most vulnerable.”

    What matters in this excerpt to Catholics who consider the moral law binding in all places and at all times (cf. e.g. Veritatis Splendor) are the following considerations.

    1. Vaccination must be voluntary.

    2. Other means are available to stop or prevent the epidemic, as demonstrated by formal and informal clinical analyses.

    3. Those with a properly-formed Catholic conscience, now that information is widely available about the immoral origins or testing of the emergency-approved Covid vaccines as well as many other vaccines, must make a stand in opposition to the use of fetal cells from planned and procured abortion when such a stand commands the worldwide attention of politicians within the secular, medical, and religious spheres.

    4. A recent 5-month study of 52,238 employees by the Cleveland Clinic demonstrated the prophylactic efficacy of previous infection to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by those with acquired natural immunity ( Thus those with acquired natural immunity manifest in this immunity a level of prophylactic efficacy that satisfies the “Note” of the CDF cited above.

  3. Paglia is the same Bishop who had a blasphemous gay pornographic mural painted in his cathedral, and said he would “hold the hand” of someone being euthanized. As such his views carry zero weight.

  4. The only effective way to protest morally-tainted vaccines is simply not to use them. I have yet to see any reasonable alternative, and I doubt that such an effective alternative will ever emerge. Any other means of protest will simply be seen as a hollow, pitiable, ineffective effort that will come to nought.

    The problem is that our Church is in full surrender, retreat, accommodation, appeasement mode– a mode in which our shepherds have lost virtually all credibility with those who matter. This proclamation is just another sad example.

    • I do not disagree with Andrew. However, our charge is evangelization. Refusing the emergency-authorized vaccines on moral grounds is a given for orthodox Catholics who subscribe to all of Veritatis Splendor, Evangelium Vitae, and similar. But we are not to hide our light under a bushel basket; we are to illuminate the world. Therefore it is not enough merely to do the right thing; we are bound to make known our opposition and to convert others to alignment of their will with the will of God.

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