Bishop joins COVID-jab push despite foetus row
The head of Australia's large Maronite faith has given his blessing to followers receiving the COVID jab despite ethical concerns over the use of aborted foetal cells in the vaccine's development.
Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, the head of the Maronite Church in Australia, has told parishioners they can "receive a COVID-19 vaccine with a good conscience", describing it as a "prudent decision to serve the common good".
It comes after Australian religious leaders raised ethical doubts over the Astra-Zeneca vaccine because scientists have used foetal cells in its development.
In a statement to parishioners, Bishop Tarabay said it was "consistent with Catholic morality to be vaccinated" and pointed to the fact that Australians are unable to choose which vaccine they will receive.
"I am aware that there is a concern about the moral aspects of the use of some of the vaccines, particularly, the ones that have been developed from the cell lines derived from tissues of aborted foetuses … when health authorities do not allow citizens to choose the vaccine with which to be inoculated, as is the case in Australia, it is morally acceptable to receive any COVID-19 vaccine," he said.
Bishop Tarabay said the good that came from the vaccine was clear, while the "connection with abortion is so remote".
A large Maronite church in western Sydney was at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak last July after the priest son's attended a service while infected.
The Our Lady of Lebanon co-cathedral in Harris Park underwent three rounds of deep cleaning in line with NSW requirements and was later closed as a precautionary measure. Tragically, an elderly woman linked to the outbreak later died.
Last year, the Archbishops of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox Churches hit out at the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In a joint statement, they said there were ethical concerns because it made use of "a cell line cultured from an electively aborted human foetus". While they did not explicitly call for a boycott of the jab, they said some members of their congregations may shun it.
An Archdiocese of Sydney spokesman told News Corp on Tuesday that Archbishop Anthony Fisher had "consistently emphasised that the Catholic Church is pro-vaccination".
"Like the Vatican and fellow archbishops, Archbishop Fisher has argued that anyone using a vaccine today which was cultured from a cell-line ultimately derived from an aborted foetus, where there are no alternatives available, can honestly say they were in no way complicit in an abortion many years ago," the spokesman said.
Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, urged all Australians to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Archbishop Davies said it was "common knowledge" some people had ethical concerns about the way some vaccines were produced while others did not. He was pleased the Pfizer had been given the green light for distribution in Australia because it was "free from ethical concerns in its production".
"Of course, this is a matter of individual choice for each Australian but I want to encourage widespread vaccination in our population throughout 2021," he said.
A spokesperson for the Greek Orthodox Archdioces of Australia said Archbishop Makarios Griniezakis had expressed "certain reservations" about the AstraZeneca vaccine, but he did not reject them altogether.
The spokesperson said Archbishop Makarios supported COVID-19 vaccines and associated research and had "repeatedly stated in his sermons to the people that he will be vaccinated and will indeed receive the vaccine publicly."
Originally published as Bishop joins COVID-jab push despite foetus row