Today our Sacred Heart parish family expresses our special condolences to Baxter Jennings on the passing of his mother, Betty, at the age of 92. Baxter was first hired here at Sacred Heart all the way back in 1983, and has been regularly contributing his tremendous gifts as an organist and pianist ever since. Many of us have fond memories of meeting and worshiping with Betty, a longtime schoolteacher, who often accompanied her son to Mass. She will be laid to rest tomorrow at Highland Burial Park. Her obituary can be found here
. As we pray in the funeral rite, “Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.”
Today the annual March for Life is taking place in Washington, D.C, marking the 48th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which has had a devastating effect on American women, children and families. Normally, dioceses coordinate the participation of hundreds of thousands of people, especially young people, but in a pandemic, this isn’t safe. So, instead of showing up in person to advocate for the sanctity of human life, it’s important that we find other ways to remind our legislators, and our fellow Americans, that human life begins at conception and deserves protection under all circumstances.
Recently, some have raised ethical concerns about receiving COVID-19 vaccines because the development of these vaccines involves cell lines which originated from tissue taken from abortions. Acknowledging the tragic origins of these vaccines, several United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) committees studied the ethical implications of receiving and avoiding the vaccines, and concluded the following:
“In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use, despite their remote connection to morally compromised cell lines.
“Receiving one of the COVID-19 vaccines ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community. In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.”
With regard to the AstraZeneca vaccine, the bishops found it to be “more morally compromised” and consequently concluded that this vaccine “should be avoided” if there are alternatives available. “It may turn out, however, that one does not really have a choice of vaccine, at least, not without a lengthy delay in immunization that may have serious consequences for one’s health and the health of others,” the bishop chairmen stated. “In such a case … it would be permissible to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
At the same time, the bishops also warned that Catholics “must be on guard so that the new COVID-19 vaccines do not desensitize us or weaken our determination to oppose the evil of abortion itself and the subsequent use of fetal cells in research.”
For the entire statement on this topic, for statements on recent decisions by the U.S. government which promote access to the horrific act of abortion, and for considerable information about the truth and beauty of our faith, I encourage you to visit www.usccb.org.