The Dispatch

Giving thanks for Mike Pence at Thanksgiving

November 23, 2022 George Weigel 35

I’ll confess to some exasperation when, during the 2016 campaign, Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence described himself as an “evangelical Catholic.” Three years earlier, I had published a book on the Catholic future entitled Evangelical […]

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News Briefs

Psaki rebukes EWTN reporter who asked why Catholic Biden opposes Texas abortion law

September 2, 2021 Catholic News Agency 6
Jen Psaki responds to EWTN News Nightly’s Owen Jensen question regarding Texas’ heartbeat law. / EWTN News Nightly

Washington D.C., Sep 2, 2021 / 15:50 pm (CNA).

President Joe Biden, the second Catholic president in U.S. history, believes that abortion is a “woman’s right,” White House Press Secrentary Jen Psaki said on Thursday. Her comments came in response to a question about Texas’ newly-enacted abortion ban asked by EWTN News Nightly White House Correspondent Owen Jensen.

“I know you’ve never faced those choices, nor have you ever been pregnant,” Psaki told Jensen, “but for women out there who have faced those choices, this is an incredibly difficult thing.”

Beginning Sept. 1, the “Texas Heartbeat Act” bans abortions statewide after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The law also enables citizens to enforce the ban through private lawsuits.

When the Supreme Court rejected an emergency request to block the law in a 5–4 decision, Biden declared a “whole-of-government” response to “ensure” abortion access in the state.

On Sept. 2, Jensen asked Psaki about Biden’s position at a White House press conference.

“Why does the president support abortion when his own Catholic faith teaches abortion is morally wrong?” he wanted to know.

Psaki said that the president believes that abortion is a “woman’s right, it’s a woman’s body, and it’s her choice.”

In a follow-up question, Jensen asked, “Who does he believe, then, should look out for the unborn child?”

According to Psaki, Biden “believes that it’s up to a woman to make those decisions and up to a woman to make those decisions with her doctor.”

She added, “The president believes their right should be respected.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which summarizes Church teaching, recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of the unborn human person and considers abortion a “crime against human life.” 

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” the catechism reads. “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”


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White House claims that Pope Francis approved the ‘efficacy’ of COVID vaccines

March 18, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Mar 18, 2021 / 08:38 am (CNA).- The White House on Wednesday claimed that Pope Francis has affirmed “the safety and efficacy” of the three COVID vaccines approved for use in the U.S.

However, the latest statement of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on the morality of some COVID vaccines limited its judgement to “moral aspects” of their use, and not their “safety and efficacy.” And while Pope Francis has strongly recommended that people be vaccinated against COVID-19, he has not commented on the safety of specific vaccines.

On Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked by Owen Jensen of EWTN News Nightly about “ethical concerns” regarding the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson.

Jensen asked Psaki if President Biden could speak to concerns of Americans about the vaccine; the Johnson & Johnson vaccine utilized cell lines derived from what is believed to be a baby aborted in the 1970s. The cell lines were used in the design, production, and testing of the vaccine.

Psaki replied that Pope Francis has upheld the safety of the vaccines.

“He [Biden] would say, I know the Pope has spoken to the safety and efficacy of all three vaccines, and the American people—these vaccines have been validated by health and medical experts. They’re trying to save people’s lives, keep people safe, and return our country to normal,” Psaki said.

The Vatican’s CDF and the U.S. bishops’ conference have both said that vaccines derived from the problematic cell lines are morally acceptable for Catholics to receive, due to the gravity of the pandemic. However, Catholics should seek to receive a vaccine with a lesser connection to the cell lines if one is available to them, both offices have said.

The CDF, in its Dec. 21 statement, noted that its judgment was on the moral application of the vaccines, and not their efficacy.

“We do not intend to judge the safety and efficacy of these vaccines, although ethically relevant and necessary, as this evaluation is the responsibility of biomedical researchers and drug agencies,” the Vatican stated.

When he received a COVID vaccine in January, Pope Francis said in a television interview “I believe that, ethically, everyone has to get the vaccine. It is an ethical option because it concerns your life but also that of others.”

He said that people should accept a vaccine if doctors advise them it is safe, but did not comment on any specific vaccine. Although the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was made available to Vatican employees and officials in January, it was not reported which specific COVID vaccine Pope Francis received.

“I don’t understand why some say this could be a dangerous vaccine,” Pope Francis said. “If doctors present it to you as something that can be fine and has no special dangers, why not take it?”

Currently, three COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for use in the U.S. In addition to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the companies Pfizer and Moderna each produced a vaccine that was approved late in 2020. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines utilized the controversial cell lines in some tests, but had no direct connection to the cell lines in design and production.

The Vatican’s statement acknowledged situations where Catholics may not have a choice of vaccine—such as local health authorities only making one vaccine available to residents, or when “special storage and transport conditions” inhibit the distribution of one vaccine in a particular area. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require special cold storage and are administered in two shots, whereas the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be kept at refrigerator temperature and is administered in one shot.

Other vaccine candidates without any connection to the controversial cell lines are still being developed. When “ethically irreproachable” vaccines are not available, the Vatican said, “it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”

Although reception of a vaccine would be “passive material cooperation” in the abortion from which the cell lines are believed to have originated, such cooperation would be “remote” and can be justified in light of the gravity of the pandemic, the Vatican said.

“It must therefore be considered that, in such a case, all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive,” the Vatican stated.