Catholic Family News

COVID Vaccines, the Common Good, and Moral Liceity: A Response to Professor de Mattei — Part III

An Astonishing Admission

As the first two articles in this series have shown, Prof. de Mattei’s argument for the “Moral Liceity of the Vaccination” (MLV), meaning abortion-derived COVID vaccines, fails on all counts:

First, the material cooperation with abortion is not remote and “passive” but rather constitutes direct participation in a “structure of sin”: an evil commercial enterprise whose existence depends upon the continuing exploitation of the bodies of murdered children.

On that score, we must bear in mind the scientific fact that every cell in the commercially exploited cell lines of the murdered children is a living memorial to their existence, for each of those cells contains the DNA that would have determined all their physical characteristics, expressed variously in somatic cells differentiated according to the genetic code in the DNA as implemented by the divine miracle of the gene regulatory network.[1] It must also be noted that, despite claims of assiduous purification of the vaccine products generated by fetal cells, fragments of the DNA in those cells still find their way into certain abortion-derived vaccines, causing contamination with potentially mutagenic base pairs.[2] This fact adds to the utter moral repugnance of these vaccines.

Second, the material cooperation is directly intended by recipients of abortion-derived vaccines who are aware of their inextricable connection to murder and the ongoing exploitation of the victims’ remains, which MLV rather imperiously dismisses as “a problem which is entirely peripheral.” (MLV, p. 52).

Third, even if the cooperation in evil were merely remote and “passive,” there is no grave or proportionate reason to justify recourse to abortion-derived COVID vaccines in particular, either for the common good (cf. Part I) or the individual’s good (cf. Part II), because their inability to inhibit viral spread is officially admitted, and their harmful effects, both known and unknown, outweigh any supposed benefits for the vast majority of individuals.

As to the third point, we have also shown (cf. Parts I and II) that even if MLV’s contrary position on the first and second points were conceded for the sake of discussion, the lack of any grave or proportionate reason for recourse to abortion-derived vaccines renders MLV’s argument as a whole a two-legged stool that collapses for lack of its third leg. For it must be remembered that without a grave or proportionate reason, not even supposedly “remote” cooperation in evil is permissible.

But now, to our great surprise, we find that outside the four corners of MLV Prof. de Mattei has admitted that he himself declines to take any of the abortion-derived COVID vaccines precisely because he does not think them gravely necessary for protection of his health, but on the contrary doubts their efficacy and fears they might even be harmful! Here is the astonishing admission in its full context (emphasis added):

“But is this vaccination really useful and could it not be harmful instead? This is another matter. The truth is that we are faced with vaccines that have not yet been sufficiently tested, whose ability to effectively cope with the multiple variants of Covid is not known. What will then be the consequences of these vaccines on the human body, for example with regard to fertility? To these questions it is not morality, but science that must answer. And to give a sure answer it will be necessary to wait months or perhaps years. We can therefore understand the prudence of those who, while considering it lawful, do not consider it useful to be vaccinated. And I am among them.”[3]

This admission of course extinguishes Prof. de Mattei’s entire argument for “the moral liceity of the vaccination” because it negates any claim of grave necessity for recourse to abortion-derived vaccines and even suggests a grave necessity to prudently avoid them. As for his claim that “it is not morality, but science that must answer” the question of the vaccines’ utility and safety, we see here yet another instance of polemical confusion. For if science cannot give a reliable answer to that question, and if prudence counsels a wait-and-see attitude toward the vaccines, then the question has already been answered for morality: there is no demonstrable grave necessity to have oneself injected with an abortion-derived vaccine.

So, Prof. de Mattei himself evidently sees no necessity for the vaccine, and thus abstains out of prudence. And with good reason: reports of severe adverse events following the indiscriminate vaccination of one and all are piling up in the VAERS reporting system, particularly among those who, quite senselessly, have been vaccinated after recovering from the virus even though they have acquired immunity. In fact, as the renowned physician and vaccine safety expert Dr. Peter McCullough noted[4] — in a video interview predictably removed by YouTube[5] — the abbreviated clinical trials for the vaccine that preceded its “emergency use authorization” (EUA) excluded COVID-recovered people, people with T-cell antibodies (offering permanent protection), pregnant women, women of child-bearing age not contracepting, and young children. As to all these cohorts, representing scores of millions of Americans, there are no data, much less reliable data, on safety or efficacy.

Yet, as Dr. McCullough observed in the same interview, there is a mysterious worldwide effort by public health “experts,” the medical establishment, the media, and politicians (cf. Part II) to suppress and even criminalize all modes of treatment short of vaccination for everyone, made compulsory by various forms of coercion such as loss of employment and “vaccine passports.” Anthony Fauci insanely recommends that even children down to the age of 4 be vaccinated with abortion-derived substances still in the experimental stage. In response, Dr. Harvey Risch of the Yale School of Public Health warned against this “irrational” advice, noting that the vaccine is of no benefit to children but presents only risk. This is seen in the VAERS data, which are now showing, in addition to all the adverse events among adults, “fifteen-year-old children getting heart attacks, two-year-olds dying a day after the vaccination, and a six-month-old dying from the child’s mother’s vaccination… through breast milk.”[6]

Therefore, Prof. de Mattei has ventured far beyond his competence and embroiled himself in scandal by publicly declaring in MLV, contrary to his own conduct in private, that “untold numbers of doctors… acknowledge all the problematic aspects of the vaccines, but assert that, from a health point of view, not vaccinating would be far worse than vaccination” and that “hun­dreds of thousands of immunologists, virolo­gists, infectious disease specialists and epidemiologists… recommend the vaccina­tion” versus “a small minority [that] disagrees with them.” (MLV, p. 50). Prof. de Mattei has a moral duty to retract these reckless assurances of vaccine safety, given in the context of prominently published moral advice to the whole Catholic world — advice, moreover, that is riddled with haughty disdain for Catholics who disagree with him. He ought also to retract, with apologies to that “small minority” (including such eminent authorities as Dr. Risch of Yale), the calumny that “[t]his minority is, generally speaking, made up of doctors with little authority, seeking media exposure…” (ibid.). Indeed, we now know that Prof. de Mattei agrees with that very minority. His polemic against it, then, is inexcusable.

But let us suppose, for purposes of argument, that Prof. de Mattei has not discredited his own argument with this amazing display of self-contradiction. Let us proceed to address MLV’s remaining points as a conclusion to this series.

Specious Analogies, Arbitrary Distinctions

MLV proposes several analogies to support its argument that the cooperation with abortion here is only “remote” and thus morally acceptable for a grave reason (which he himself has admitted does not really exist):

First, MLV suggests that while a nurse may not hand the abortionist a scalpel to assist in an abortion, the nurse must hand him the same scalpel to save the woman’s life if she is dying during the procedure. (MLV, pp. 24-25). That is not in any sense cooperation in abortion, but rather direct cooperation in saving the life of a victim of abortion.

Second, MLV proposes that “in the case of a cleaning lady who is required to sweep the room in which the operation takes place, cooperation would be equally licit.” (MLV, p. 25). No, it would not be. It is morally impermissible tout court to be in the employ of a business that kills children. Would Prof. de Mattei make the same argument in favor of a cleaning lady who sweeps the room in which Jews have just been gassed by the SS? There, at least, one would have an argument for cooperation under duress: sweep the room or die. But what is the cleaning lady’s excuse for providing her services to a butcher of human beings at a Planned Parenthood abortuary?

Third, MLV argues that “[t]he owner of a plot of land who finds a treasure buried by a thief two hundred years ago is not obliged to trace the descendants of the original owners and return the treasure.” (MLV, p. 52). First of all, this proposition is eminently debatable depending on circumstances. (For example, are the descendants easily located?) But a two-hundred-year-old theft is hardly comparable to the murder of children whose remains are still being commercially exploited by an endless replication of cells whose DNA contains the inherited genetic code for their bodily identities. It is no surprise that MLV’s authority for this false analogy is literally a casuistry website.

Fourth, in a gross abuse of the Gospel, MLV invokes no less than St. Paul for the proposition that having oneself injected with an abortion-derived vaccine is morally equivalent to purchasing meat that had been sacrificed to idols. (MLV, p. 67; citing 1 Cor 8:4). But St. Paul himself refutes this fallacy in the very citation on which MLV replies: “But as for the meats that are sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one” (1 Cor 8:4). That is, the idol to which the meat was sacrificed did not exist, and so the meat (from which the burned portions had been excised before sale) was untainted by that meaningless act. But the child who was sacrificed to make a vaccine did exist “in the world,” and the murder of that child is the sine qua non for the vaccine being injected into one’s body, whereas the sacrifice to idols had nothing to do with the existence of the meat as a marketable commodity.

Fifth, even more abusively, MLV cites Our Lord Himself, speaking of the Mosaic dietary laws, for the proposition that, “There is nothing from without a man that entering into him, can defile him,” but rather what defiles him are “the things which proceed out of the mouth” in the form of sinful utterances and deeds. (MLV, p. 71; citing Mark 7 and Matt 15). According to this logic, one could drink a preparation containing cells from an aborted child for “health” reasons because nothing that goes into the mouth can defile a man.

Does Prof. de Mattei sincerely believe that St. Paul and even Our Lord would approve of inoculation with abortion-derived vaccines as “remote” cooperation with evil, when he himself abstains from them because he deems them unnecessary and potentially harmful? Or is this not exactly the sort of Pharisaical casuistry Our Lord condemned?

MLV’s remaining analogies need not detain us: paying taxes, using the internet, opening a bank account, or buying goods that may have been produced by slave labor (MLV, pp. 61-62) can hardly be compared with the entirely voluntary and avoidable choice to have oneself injected with an abortion-derived vaccine for which, moreover, there is no proven necessity but rather evidence of serious potential harm, as Prof. de Mattei himself concedes. This is another instance of the bandwagon fallacy: There are so many evils with which we unavoidably come into contact in our daily lives, so why not just add abortion-derived vaccines to the list? But as Bishop Athanasius Schneider has observed of this sophistry: “This concrete chain of horrible crimes — murdering, harvesting tissue and body parts from murdered unborn children, and commercializing their remains through the manufacturing and testing of vaccines and medicines — is out of all proportion to other crimes, e.g., benefitting from slave labor, paying taxes, etc. Even the most apparently impressive historical examples, which are sometimes adduced to justify the moral licitness of the use of abortion-tainted vaccines, are incomparable to the issue before us.”[7]

But let us consider an apt analogy that brings into bold relief the infirmity of MLV’s false distinction between historic and moral concatenation. Suppose that certain abortion-derived vaccines were developed, produced, or tested with cells obtained from victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Would Prof. de Mattei be so quick to assert a merely “historic” concatenation between the murder of Jews and vaccines that resulted from those murders? Surely not. But why? The answer, it would appear, is that Prof. de Mattei, like the population in general, has unconsciously been desensitized to the horror of mass murder by abortion, whereas the horror of the mass murder of Jews, and rightly so, remains vivid in people’s minds.

Perhaps, however, Prof de Mattei would indeed defend Holocaust-derived vaccines on the ground that they would involve only a “historic” connection with the Holocaust that “does not exist at a moral level.” Curiously enough, he cites the opinion of one Rabbi Polak and a group of scholars at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum, for the proposition that it was morally permissible for doctors to consult a book of anatomical drawings based on the bodies of Holocaust victims, provided the book’s origin was condemned. (MLV, pp. 41-44).

Here, MLV introduces another arbitrary distinction: an “appropriation of evil rather than cooperation with evil, given that the action in question does not facilitate, but takes advantage of the act of another.” (MLV, p. 44). But are we not formally cooperating with evil by appropriating its fruits and thereby at least implicitly expressing approval of the evil means by which they were produced? According to MLV, quoting the opinion of a moral theologian: “Not every time when we are benefiting from someone else’s evil action, does our benefiting signal formal cooperation with that evil.” (MLV, p. 45).

But this is just more unworthy casuistry (not all casuistry being invalid): Consulting anatomic drawings based on the body of a Holocaust victim can hardly be compared to having oneself injected with a vaccine developed from the cells of the same victim. By paying for and having injected into one’s own body vaccines that would not have been produced without the murder of an innocent, and which may even be contaminated by DNA remnants from the murder victim, one is necessarily approving, at least tacitly by one’s actions, the sine qua non of that murder. Verbal protestations of opposition to murder, perhaps even at the very moment of injection, would be an exercise in thinly veiled hypocrisy. The avoidance of just such hypocrisy is why even secular governments allow religious abstention from vaccinations tainted by abortion (cf. Part II).

MLV’s claim that inoculation with vaccines that would not exist but for murder “does not pertain to an act performed in the present” (MLV, p. 44) depends entirely on its arbitrary distinction between historical and moral concatenation with evil, and its merely verbal restriction of “the act” involved to an isolated instance of murder in the past (cf. Part II), conveniently dissevered from the ongoing exploitation of the resulting cell lines and the customer’s purchase and personal use of the resulting “products”.

Furthermore, based on MLV’s argument that “every act must be judged on its direct and immediate con­sequences, not on its historic links, even if they are close,” Prof. de Mattei would also have to defend in principle the moral liceity of recourse to any and all “life-saving” or “health-preserving” medical products or procedures in which abortion had a role, including those resulting from current experiments on the body parts of murdered children sold and purchased like consumer goods for the medical and pharmaceutical industries. As he would have it, there would be no moral connection between even present-day abortions or experimentation on the victims’ remains and the actions of customers who merely “appropriate” the resulting “products” rather than cooperating in evil. The customer need only have some colorable claim of “grave necessity”. But here, as we have seen, Prof. de Mattei has negated any such claim.

In sum, by accepting abortion-derived vaccine into one’s body, while being aware of its origin in abortion, one is knowingly and directly, not remotely, cooperating in a system of vaccination that could not exist without the murder of innocents. That system is a structure of sin. Thus, even if MLV’s “arguments from reason” were inherently plausible, they would fail because of MLV’s refusal to recognize that this structure of sin is an immoral totality from which the act of abortion cannot be neatly separated by casuistical hair-splitting.

A Misstatement of the Issue

We turn next to Prof. de Mattei’s answer to what he deems “the utilitarian contention” of Catholic vaccine opponents: i.e., that because of the potential for serious side effects, some of which are still unknown — recall the FDA warnings in this regard — the risks of abortion-derived vaccines outweigh their supposed benefits and therefore should be avoided (MLV 48-53). Prof. de Mattei argues that here “the discussion shifts from the moral level to the scientific level,” which is no concern of moral theology.

On the contrary, as already noted, an assessment of risks versus benefits is no mere utilitarian calculus, but rather — according to the requirements of Prof. de Mattei’s own argument — is essential to determining whether a grave necessity justifies “remote” cooperation with evil. One can hardly argue a grave necessity to have recourse to abortion-derived vaccines that might do more harm than good, especially when the one presenting the argument wants nothing to do with the same vaccines!

At any rate, this is a purely factual question which neither the Magisterium nor Prof. de Mattei has any right to decide. It is a matter of opinion, and the burden of proof is on the one who argues for the moral liceity of these vaccines, from which argument Prof. de Mattei has disqualified himself. In any case, the burden is not met by vague allusions to “untold numbers of doctors” or by dismissing dissenting voices as vain publicity seekers, “anti-vaxxers,” conspiracy theorists, rigorists, and religious fanatics.

MLV never touches on the decisive objection that for the young and healthy, or those who have already been exposed to the virus and recovered, or those who were never symptomatic — cohorts comprising most of the population — abortion-derived COVID vaccines would be of no demonstrable benefit, even if they were effective. For the vast majority, therefore, abortion-derived vaccines represent risk without benefit and thus can hardly be gravely necessary. Indeed, the very idea of injecting every man, woman, and child with experimental vaccines that even the FDA warns pose serious risks whose scope is yet to be determined, for a virus with a 99.7% survival rate, is the height of institutional lunacy, a quasi-religious fanaticism masquerading as science, as Part II’s discussion of the bizarre campaign to “reunite” the world through vaccination should make clear.

Ignoring all of this, MLV pontificates on “the heavy moral responsibility” of “those who write in blogs, circulating utilitarian arguments without sufficient evidence…” (MLV, p. 51). But it is Prof. de Mattei who, evidently without realizing it, is making a utilitarian argument without sufficient evidence — an argument of which he himself is evidently not convinced: i.e., that abortion-derived vaccines save lives, which means they have utility, which means their use can be justified despite their link to murder in the womb. What is this argument if not the classic utilitarian principle of Bentham and Mill: “the greatest good for the greatest number of people”?

Worse, however unwittingly, Prof. de Mattei has made the utilitarian calculation that, for the greater good, one must accept that some of the vaccinated, even if they never needed vaccination in the first place, will have to suffer serious injury or death from a medically preposterous universal vaccine experiment concerning a virus that has proven fatal to only 2/10th of 1% of the population, even assuming the demonstrably inflated death tolls (cf. Part I) are accurate. Of course, Prof. de Mattei has no risk of being among those victims, as he wants nothing to do with the same vaccines he defends on the ground of “grave necessity”.

I would respectfully suggest that the author of MLV ponder his own heavy moral responsibility for the division his booklet has helped to provoke among the Catholic faithful, particularly given its peremptory and haughty tone toward Catholics who want nothing to do with abortion and thus nothing to do with abortion-derived vaccines, a conviction he rather arrantly dismisses as “sentimentalism” (MLV, p. 63).

A Rule of the Magisterium?

We turn next to the Vatican documents enumerated in Part I of this series. Part I notes that MLV begins by avoiding argument from authority in reliance upon those documents, given what Prof de Mattei admits is the dubiety or even outright error of recent moral pronouncements from Rome, particularly during the current pontificate. Yet, in his closing pages Prof. de Mattei abruptly switches modes precisely to an argument from authority. Citing the same documents, Prof de Mattei now inveighs against “a person who spreads a contention that conflicts with the Ordinary Magisterium” and “suggest[s] measures more rigid than those in the law.” (MLV pp. 63, 70). He then declares outright that the position he defends is “not an opinion, it is a rule laid down by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in accordance with the principles of traditional moral philosophy and theology.” (MLV, pp. 70, 73).

Putting aside MLV’s polemical self-contradiction (one of several), we can see that upon close examination the cited documents impose no such “rule,” but rather are tentative, ambiguous, and dependent upon contingent assessments of medico-scientific facts no more within the competence of the Magisterium than Pope Bergoglio’s opinions on climate change. Moreover, the cited documents tend in several respects to undermine MLV’s “arguments from reason”. We consider them briefly in chronological order:

As already noted, the 2005 Note of the Pontifical Academy for Life radically undermines MLV’s argument for the moral liceity of abortion-derived vaccines. Not only does the document note the availability of ethically acceptable alternative vaccines not mentioned by MLV, it also declares that “doctors and fathers of families have a duty to take recourse to alternative vaccines (if they exist)” and that “there is a grave responsibility to use alternative vaccines…” Further, even where no alternative vaccine is available, only a “serious risk” to the health of one’s children or “the health of the population as a whole”—not shown here, by any means—could even arguably justify recourse to an illicitly contrived vaccine. Even then, however, such cooperation in evil would be the result of “moral coercion of the conscience of the parents, who are forced to act against their conscience…”

That is hardly a brief for the “moral liceity of the vaccination” as such. But, according to Prof. de Mattei, one’s conscience would be in error if it regarded abortion-derived vaccines as evil: “a materially good act, such as receiving vaccination, can constitute a fault when performed against the judgement of an erroneous conscience, which considers it to be evil.” (MLV, p. 70). Here, ironically, Prof. de Mattei is “more rigid” than the CDF, which recognizes the right to religious abstention and certainly does not allow for his opinion that only an erring conscience could regard as evil the “materially good act” of being vaccinated with an abortion-derived vaccine.

The 2008 CDF Instruction Dignitatis Personae likewise fails to sustain MLV’s opinions.  Its entire treatment of the question of recourse to abortion-derived vaccines consists of the following tentative observation (emphasis added):

“Grave reasons may be morally proportionate to justify the use of such ‘biological material.’ Thus, for example, danger to the health of children could permit parents to use a vaccine which was developed using cell lines of illicit origin, while keeping in mind that everyone has the duty to make known their disagreement and to ask that their healthcare system make other types of vaccines available….”[8]

As already shown, there is virtually no danger to the health of children from COVID-19 in the first place, much less a danger that could be avoided only by recourse to abortion-derived vaccines, whose injection into children at no real risk from the virus is not only medically absurd but carries risks, both known and unknown, without corresponding benefits. Again, the same is true for the vast majority of people, whose risk of death from the virus, with a survival rate of 99.7% overall, is negligible.

As for the vulnerable elderly, already noted are the numerous prophylactic and treatment measures, along with sensible precautions no different from those applicable to influenza, that vitiate any claim of grave necessity, especially as the vaccines have manifestly failed to prevent spread of the virus and have never been proven to make the difference between life and death for anyone (cf. Part I).

These facts explain the entirely justified rise in “vaccine hesitancy,” and the corresponding campaign of illicit coercion of the unvaccinated as growing numbers of people realize the vaccines simply aren’t needed to survive COVID-19 and that the politics of social control, not medical necessity, is driving vaccine fanaticism. Anyone so convinced ipso facto cannot have a claim of grave necessity justifying recourse to the vaccines. Nor, absent a demonstrable serious risk to health, could it be morally licit to take an abortion-derived vaccine “just in case” it might provide some limited benefit such as symptom reduction. Were it otherwise, one could just as well justify taking nutritional supplements derived from abortion in order to promote overall health — as some people do.[9]

In fact, Dignitatis Personae recites the very principle that ought to preclude any recourse to abortion-derived vaccines: “When the illicit action is endorsed by the laws which regulate healthcare and scientific research, it is necessary to distance oneself from the evil aspects of that system in order not to give the impression of a certain toleration or tacit acceptance of actions which are gravely unjust. Any appearance of acceptance would in fact contribute to the growing indifference to, if not the approval of, such actions in certain medical and political circles.”[10] How does one “distance oneself” from the evil aspects of the vaccine industry and avoid “any appearance of acceptance” by having abortion-derived vaccines injected into one’s body and even defending them as morally licit, if not morally obligatory, despite their origin in murder?

Dignitatis Personae further undermines MLV’s position by rejecting the so-called “criterion of independence,” according to which those who make use of illicit “biological material” for scientific research and development are ethically irreproachable because they are separated from those who provided the material they use: “The criterion of independence is not sufficient to avoid a contradiction in the attitude of the person who says that he does not approve of the injustice perpetrated by others, but at the same time accepts for his own work the ‘biological material’ which the others have obtained by means of that injustice.”[11] How, then, can the end-user avoid the same contradiction in attitude as the scientist who developed the vaccine that the end-user purchases for injection into his body while vainly proclaiming that he “does not approve of the injustice perpetrated by others”?

As for the 2017 Note of the Pontifical Academy for Life, this document does not even have a pretense of authority. Written in conjunction with an Italian medical association and the pastoral health office of the Italian bishops’ conference, it expresses the mere opinion that “we believe that all clinically recommended vaccinations can be used with a clear conscience and that the use of such vaccines does not signify some sort of cooperation with voluntary abortion.” Given that Prof. de Mattei publicly — and rightly — declared in the same year the Note was issued that Pope Bergoglio “promotes, encourages, and favors errors and heresies within the Church,”[12] he can hardly claim that a Catholic who disagrees with the view of this document from the same pontificate is “spread[ing] a contention that conflicts with the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church” or is being “more rigid” than the Church.

One must recall that on other moral issues Prof. de Mattei has consistently been “more rigid” than the Pope. And rightly so, in the face of a wayward pontiff who recklessly undercuts the perennial Magisterium with his personal views, including the possibility of Communion for public adulterers (against which Prof. de Mattei has led a principled opposition), the supposed immorality of the death penalty and, most pertinent here, the catastrophic moral blunder — confirmed by the Vatican as Bergoglio’s opinion — that one can employ contraception as the “lesser of two evils” in “cases of emergency or gravity” such as the avoidance of contracting the Zika virus during pregnancy.[13]

We come, finally, to the CDF Note of 2020. On close reading, it imposes no obligation whatsoever to accept the view MLV defends. The document does state that “when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available… it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.” But this statement is qualified decisively against MLV’s arguments in the following paragraph, which addresses the concept of supposedly remote and passive material cooperation in evil (emphasis added): “The moral duty to avoid such passive material cooperation is not obligatory if there is a grave danger, such as the otherwise uncontainable spread of a serious pathological agent.”

In other words, as noted at the outset of this Part III, there is a moral duty to avoid even the most remote and passive material cooperation in evil unless there is “grave danger, such as the otherwise uncontainable spread of a serious pathological agent.” But for all the reasons already shown, there is no grave danger of an uncontainable “serious pathological agent” as opposed to a virus whose lethality, despite all the media hysteria, has been confined to a tiny segment of the very elderly population whose rate of all-cause mortality has hardly been affected by COVID-19 (cf. Part I). In any case, as even Prof. de Mattei admits by his own conduct, abortion-derived vaccines are not necessary to protect health, are potentially harmful, and may prudently be avoided.

Moreover, the Note of 2020 is plagued by ambiguities: What exactly is “a serious pathological agent”? If the concept of “grave danger” is not to be watered down to the point of meaninglessness, it must mean the danger of widespread death or permanent harm. Otherwise, recourse to abortion-derived vaccines could be justified by any illness causing mere inconvenience.

The Note of 2020 also presents a rather muddled analysis of “differing degrees of responsibility” in the chain of events leading to sale and use of abortion-derived vaccines, including this less-than-helpful observation, quoted from Dignitatis Personae: “[I]n organizations where cell lines of illicit origin are being utilized, the responsibility of those who make the decision to use them is not the same as that of those who have no voice in such a decision.” What is the meaning of this affirmation? Are employees who conduct the actual production of abortion-derived vaccines morally blameless because they “have no voice” in management decisions? By that logic, factory workers would have been morally blameless for management’s decision to manufacture Zyklon B for use in the Nazi gas chambers. As with our hypothetical woman who sweeps the floor of a gas chamber, these workers would at least have an argument from coercion: manufacture the gas or be shot. But what excuses the scientists who use the cells of murder victims to create vaccine “products,” the workers who manufacture them, the management that markets them for profit, and the customers who buy them?

Ultimately, however, the Note of 2020 all but extinguishes MLV’s position on grave necessity with the following statement: “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.” As anyone has the right in conscience to refuse the vaccine — despite Prof. de Mattei’s claim that such a conscience would be in error — the only obligation the Note recognizes is doing one’s utmost to avoid infecting others, which is true during every outbreak of infectious disease. And if that exercise of simple prudence suffices for protection of the common good, which indeed it does, there is no grave necessity of the common good for recourse to abortion-derived vaccines. Much less can one justify, as Prof. de Mattei does, the State’s right to impose compulsory inoculation with a vaccine not even shown to be a barrier to viral spread in the first place (cf. Part I).

In sum, MLV’s argument for a “rule laid down by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” fares no better than its “arguments from reason,” which lack a factual foundation in grave necessity and depend upon inapt analogies and arbitrary distinctions between historical and moral connection to evil, or “appropriating” the results of an evil act versus cooperating in it — all the while ignoring the present-day evil totality of a vaccine industry constituting a structure of sin whose foundation is the murder of innocents.

Defending a Structure of Sin While Demeaning Its Opponents

In the very arguments MLV presents, we see the ultimate consequences of that structure of sin: that it habituates society to murder in the womb, reducing Catholics to lip service against it while they partake of its fruits, even defending them as morally acceptable and publicly demeaning fellow Catholics for thinking otherwise! Prof. de Mattei goes so far as to declare (MLV p. 60) that it would be “undermining our credibility” to condemn abortion-derived vaccines or to “crusade” against them — even though the law of 44 states, in accord with natural justice, recognizes the right of citizens to view abortion-derived vaccines as what they are: an intolerable evil in which one can have no part (cf. Part II).

Worse, as noted in Part I, Prof. de Mattei suggests there is a duty to submit to compulsory vaccination with abortion-derived vaccines for the “common good,” dismissing objections to compulsory mass vaccination as “a liberal argument.” (MLV, p. 54). This he proposes even though (as noted in Part I) the CDF Note of December 2020 declares that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”[14]

While Prof. de Mattei allows that “the citizen has a right to seek to avoid this vaccination if he considers the position of the authority to be unfounded” (MLV, p. 54), he litters his argument with demagogic belittlement those who exercise precisely that right on moral grounds: they are “anti-vaxxers”[15] who deny the existence of a pandemic (p. 49); they advocate “a macro-conspiracy to damage humanity” (p. 50); they are guilty of “sentimentalism” (p. 64) and “rigorism” (p. 71); they have weak, ill-formed and erring consciences “emancipated from any refence to authority” (pp. 64, 69, 70); the medical scientists among them are “doctors with little authority, seeking media exposure” (p. 50); doctors who decline to vaccinate are “assuming a grave responsibility” (p. 63); vaccine opponents are “undermining our credibility” by participating in “anti-vaccine crusades” (p. 65). All this, from the pen of someone who declines to partake of the very vaccines he defends as gravely necessary and thus permissible as “remote” cooperation with evil.

Compounding the offense, Prof. de Mattei has just levelled a suggestion of religious fanaticism in those who oppose the COVID vaccine regime, including this author. In a mass email sent May 16 and addressed to members of the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family (JAHLF), which makes note of this response to MLV, Prof. de Mattei writes:

“With regard to the attack on my study on the moral liceity of the vaccination from my friend Christopher Ferrara, I only note that he is a brilliant and very busy lawyer and perhaps he has read my study hastily. Had he read it more carefully, he would have realised that I have already answered all the objections he raises. I am also very occupied at present and do not have the time to develop this debate. In any case, I do not follow the ‘no-vax’ religion and I strive to apply right reason in following the authentic teaching of the Church.”

So, Prof. de Mattei’s reply to this critique is that he has been “attacked” by a lawyer who failed to read MLV attentively. (Always mention that your opponent in a debate is a lawyer so as to imply that his arguments must in some way be shifty.) This lawyer, moreover, is but a mouthpiece for the “no-vax religion,” whereas Prof. de Mattei defends right reason — which he hasn’t the time to explain further in the very debate he himself has provoked.

But how can Prof. de Mattei have failed to notice the specifically religious notes of the lunatic crusade to inoculate the world with the same vaccines he himself avoids? For example, the very image of Our Lord in Brazil’s “Christ the Redeemer” statue has been used as a screen onto which the motto “Vaccine Saves” was projected in various languages across the Redeemer’s outstretched arms, below which was also projected “United for [or by] Vaccines”.[16] The sponsoring organization is literally named “United by the Vaccine” [Unidos Pela Vacina] — not by the Mystical Body of Christ, whose image was exploited in a blasphemous abuse of His Divine Person for secular propaganda. A video of this appalling display shows a row of youngsters, who have absolutely no need of COVID vaccines, standing in front of the world-famous statue while attired in matching “United by the Vaccine” t-shirts and large white face masks, of which they likewise have no need.

As part of this little Liturgy of the Vaccine, facial vestments included, they raise their arms together in a strange salute — to what? — and then clap delightedly like giddy attendees at some Maoist reeducation camp.


In the end, MLV’s argument for “moral liceity of the vaccination” is an exercise in aridly abstract argumentation that lacks the flesh and bones of the factual context in which this controversy has arisen. That context must be viewed with the eyes of faith, which cannot ignore the looming structure of sin that is the vaccine industry.

On this, the decisive point, the sensus fidei — the spiritual instinct of the Catholic — is really evident in the December 2020 statement opposing COVID-19 vaccines by Bishop Schneider, Cardinal Janis Pujats, Archbishop Tomash Peta, Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga, and the positively heroic (given his politically perilous American situation as a local ordinary) Bishop Joseph E. Strickland. Prescinding from the inconclusive Vatican documents just discussed, and rejecting Prof. de Mattei’s casuistical distinction between historic and moral concatenation with evil, these prelates lay bare the immoral essence of the matter, namely, a manifestation of the “culture of death” in which Catholics ought in no way to participate:

“Any link to the abortion process, even the most remote and implicit, will cast a shadow over the Church’s duty to bear unwavering witness to the truth that abortion must be utterly rejected. The ends cannot justify the means. We are living through one of the worst genocides known to man. Millions upon millions of babies across the world have been slaughtered in their mother’s womb, and day after day this hidden genocide continues through the abortion industry, biomedical research and fetal technology, and a push by governments and international bodies to promote such vaccines as one of their goals. Now is not the time for Catholics to yield; to do so would be grossly irresponsible. The acceptance of these vaccines by Catholics, on the grounds that they involve only a ‘remote, passive and material cooperation’ with evil, would play into the hands of the Church’s enemies and weaken her as the last stronghold against the evil of abortion….

Our society has created a substitute religion: health has been made the highest good, a substitute god to whom sacrifices must be offered; in this case, through a vaccine based on the death of another human life…. The Lord said that in the end times even the elect will be seduced (cf. Mk. 13:22). Today, the entire Church and all Catholic faithful must urgently seek to be strengthened in the doctrine and practice of the faith. In confronting the evil of abortion, more than ever Catholics must ‘abstain from all appearance of evil’ (1 Thess. 5:22). Bodily health is not an absolute value. Obedience to the law of God and the eternal salvation of the souls must be given primacy. Vaccines derived from the cells of cruelly murdered unborn children are clearly apocalyptic in character and may possibly foreshadow the mark of the beast (see Rev. 13:16).”[17]

In his own individual statement (published April 1, 2021), Bishop Schneider provides perhaps the best illustration in all of literature of the systemic evil MLV labors to defend:

“Ivan Karamazov in Dostoyevsky’s famous novel ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ asks the fatal question: ‘Tell me straight out, I call on you—answer me: imagine that you yourself are building the edifice of human destiny with the object of making people happy in the finale, of giving them peace and rest at last, but for that you must inevitably and unavoidably torture just one tiny creature, that same child who was beating her chest with her little fist, and raise your edifice on the foundation of her unrequited tears—would you agree to be the architect on such conditions?’”[18]

It is of course lamentable that Prof. de Mattei, an otherwise formidable opponent of the errors of modernity, has committed himself to defending inoculation with vaccines that are the “finale” of an edifice whose construction begins with the torture of not just one but many little ones, whose cells are then replicated endlessly for profit. That he has done so while resorting to demagogic disparagement of the contrary position — hardly an indication of confidence in his own arguments — aggravates his offense against those who have been friends and allies in the movement for a restoration of Church and State amidst a dying civilization. Prof. de Mattei’s defense of “remote” participation in a key and ever-growing element of that civilization’s terminal culture of death is as inexplicable as it is wounding to the very movement in which he participates. He would do well to consider retracting “The Moral Liceity of the Vaccination”.

See here for Part I and here for Part II of this series.

[1] It is elementary biology that “Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA.”

[2] “Vaccines manufactured in human fetal cell lines contain unacceptably high levels of fetal DNA fragment contaminants. The human genome naturally contains regions that are susceptible to double strand break formation and DNA insertional mutagenesis.” Theresa Deisher, Ph.D., et als., “Epidemiologic and Molecular Relationship Between Vaccine Manufacture and Autism,” Spectrum Disorder Prevalence, Issues in Law & Medicine, Volume 30, Number 1, 2015.

[3] My translation from the original Italian: “Ma questa vaccinazione è veramente utile e non potrebbe essere invece dannosa? Questo è un altro discorso. La verità è che ci troviamo di fronte a vaccini non ancora sufficientemente testati, di cui non si conosce la capacità di far fronte con efficacia alle molteplici varianti del Covid. Quali saranno poi le conseguenze di questi vaccini sull’organismo umano, ad esempio riguardo alla fertilità? A queste domande non è la morale, ma la scienza che deve rispondere. E per dare una risposta sicura bisognerà attendere mesi o forse anni. Si può comprendere dunque la prudenza di chi, pur ritenendolo lecito, non ritiene utile vaccinarsi. E io sono tra questi.”

[4] Interview with Dr. Peter McCullough, Tucker Carlson Today, May 7, 2007.

[5] See

[6]Fauci Says He Would Recommend Children as Young as Four Get Vaccinated,” Fox News, Laura Ingraham interview, May 20, 2021.

[7] Bishop Athanasius Schneider, “Resisting Abortion-tainted Vaccines and the Culture of Death,” Crisis Magazine, Apr. 1, 2021.

[8] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Instruction Dignitatis Personae (Sept. 8, 2008), n. 35.

[9] For example, there is a nutritional supplement that employs powdered fetal remains. See Susan Donaldson James, “Chinese-Made Infant Flesh Capsules Seized in S. Korea,” ABC News, May 7, 2012.

[10] CDF, Dignitatis Personae, n. 34.

[11] Ibid., n. 35.

[12] Roberto de Mattei, “A Response to Edward Peters on the Buenos Aires Letter & Authentic Magisterium,” OnePeterFive, Dec. 19, 2017.

[13] John-Henry Westen, “Vatican affirms Pope was speaking about contraceptives for Zika,” LifeSiteNews, Feb. 19, 2016.

[14] CDF, “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines,” Dec. 21, 2020.

[15] Roberto de Mattei, “10 Questions to All Those Holding the ‘Anti-Vax’ Position,” Rorate Caeli, Apr. 9, 2021.

[16] See

[17]One Cardinal, Four Bishops Clearly Teach: Catholics Must Refuse Vaccines Tainted by Abortion,” Catholic Family News, Dec. 12, 2020.

[18] Schneider, op. cit.

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Christopher Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara earned his Baccalaureate and Juris Doctor degrees from Fordham University. He is President and Chief Counsel of the American Catholic Lawyers Association. His articles have appeared in Catholic Family News, The Latin Mass, The Remnant, and other publications. He has authored several books, including Liberty, The God that Failed, The Secret Still Hidden, False Friends of Fatima and translated into English Antonio Socci's book, Il Quarto Segreto di Fatima (The Fourth Secret of Fatima).

Christopher Ferrara

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Christopher A. Ferrara earned his Baccalaureate and Juris Doctor degrees from Fordham University. He is President and Chief Counsel of the American Catholic Lawyers Association. His articles have appeared in Catholic Family News, The Latin Mass, The Remnant, and other publications. He has authored several books, including Liberty, The God that Failed, The Secret Still Hidden, False Friends of Fatima and translated into English Antonio Socci's book, Il Quarto Segreto di Fatima (The Fourth Secret of Fatima).