‘Suicidal negationism’: Vatican launches global campaign to contain ‘myths and disinformation’ ciruclated by vaccine rejectionists

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Credit: Corbis/Getty Images
Credit: Corbis/Getty Images

The Vatican’s bioethics academy and the World Medical Association on [July 2] called for an all-out effort to combat vaccine hesitancy and correct the “myths and disinformation” that are slowing the fight against the coronavirus.

In a joint statement, the groups said some vaccine reluctance in poorer countries is rooted in historical inequalities and suspicions of Western pharmaceutical companies. But they said “a more pernicious form” of hesitancy is being driven by fake news, myths and disinformation about vaccine safety, including among religious groups and some in the medical community.

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Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, for his part, noted that both his bioethics academy and the Vatican’s doctrine office have declared COVID-19 vaccines safe, effective and ethical. Some Catholics, including some conservative U.S. bishops, have claimed vaccines based on research that used cells derived from aborted fetuses were immoral.

But the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in December that it was “morally acceptable” to take vaccines using cell lines from aborted fetuses when other ones aren’t available. The Pontifical Academy for Life has said there was a “moral responsibility,” though not an obligation, to vaccinate and Pope Francis has decried the “suicidal negationism” of those who refuse to take COVID-19 shots.

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