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Vaccination a moral choice, bishops tell Filipinos

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a moral choice for Catholics as it protects those most at risk, the Philippines’ Catholic bishops said.

“If the vaccine is for us a gift, then by receiving it we can also give to others especially to those most vulnerable,” said Naval Bishop Rex Ramirez, chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Commission on Health Care (CBCP-ECHC).

Ramirez issued this message in remarks read by Father Dan Cancino, executive secretary of the CBCP-ECHC, in an online town hall about COVID-19 vaccines. The event, held on Thursday, March 4, was mounted by the CBCP-ECHC.

In his statement, Ramirez pointed out that Pope Francis himself got vaccinated and encouraged everyone to do so as “concrete contribution to the common good, a manifestation of Christian concern.” 

Pope Francis, already fully vaccinated, said in an interview last January that it is ethical for everyone to take the COVID-19 vaccine. “It is not an option; it is an ethical action, because you are playing with your health, you are playing with your life, but you are also playing with the lives of others," the Holy Father said.

Early on, Filipino bishops have expressed their willingness to help in the nationwide vaccination drive by volunteering to receive the jabs publicly and designate churches as vaccination sites. The vaccine town hall was among these efforts.

The Philippine government has finally started its vaccination program this month, in the face of delays and low public confidence. A recent Octa Research survey showed around 46% of Filipino are still unwilling to get vaccinated.

Ramirez, in his remarks, also said that Catholics can “receive a vaccine with a clear conscience” despite “valid reasons not to be inoculated.” 

Other bishops have expressed concern on the ethics of receiving vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted human fetuses in research and production. 

However, the Vatican had already issued guidelines last December, stating that “when ethically irreproachable COVID-19 vaccines are not available, it is morally acceptable” to receive them. – Rappler.com