Pope Francis and former Pope Benedict have both received their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine, a Vatican spokesman said Thursday.
Both Pope Francis and his predecessor are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus due to their age: Pope Francis is 84 and former Pope Benedict is 93, according to CNN. Pope Francis also had lung surgery as a young man that resulted in the removal of part of his lung, CBS reported.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni announced that he was “able to confirm that within the vaccine program of the Vatican City State, to this date the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus,” according to CNN.
It is not immediately clear which vaccine the popes received. (RELATED: Media Calls Biden A ‘Devout Catholic.’ Where Does He Actually Stand With The Catholic Church?)
Catholic bishops said in December that under the current “sufficiently serious” conditions of the pandemic, Catholics may take the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna but should avoid the “more morally compromised” AstraZeneca vaccine since its production relies on aborted baby cells.
Pope Francis has frequently encouraged the faithful to obtain the vaccine, saying that it is people’s “ethical duty” to do so. (RELATED: Vatican Declares Coronavirus Vaccines ‘Morally Acceptable’)
“I believe that ethically everyone should take the vaccine. It is not an option, it is an ethical choice because you are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others,” the pontiff said in a Sunday interview, according to CNN.
“It is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses” in research and production when “ethically irreproachable” vaccines are not available, the Vatican concluded according to the Associated Press. The Vatican emphasized, however, that “licit” uses of these vaccines “does not and should not in any way imply that there is a moral endorsement of the use of cell lines proceeding from aborted fetuses.”
The potential that the highly anticipated coronavirus vaccines would use cells from aborted babies posed weighty moral problems for many Americans who object to abortion — particularly Catholics, since the Catholic Church says abortion is a “crime against human life.”
The COVID-19 vaccines that have begun to be distributed in various countries will probably have used cell lines “drawn from tissue obtained from two abortions that occurred in the last century,” the Vatican said, according to the AP. The Vatican also emphasized that “health authorities do not allow citizens to choose the vaccine with which to be inoculated,” the publication reported.
The Vatican did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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