Friday, October 8, 2021

Covid-19 vaccination is not the hill to die on

What should Catholics think about the Covid-19 vaccines and about vaccine mandates?  I keep getting asked about this, so a post devoted to the topic seems in order.  As I have said before, I think that the statement on these subjects issued last year by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) gets things exactly right.  The vaccines can be taken in good conscience, but authorities ought to keep them voluntary rather than making them mandatory.  (For those who are wondering, yes, I’ve been vaccinated, as have several other members of my family.) 

What about abortion?

Some Catholics mistakenly object to the vaccines on the grounds that they are connected to abortion.  Now, some uninformed people think that the vaccines actually contain fetal parts, or that they were manufactured using fetal parts.  That is not true.  What is true is that cells that are descended from cells taken from an unborn child aborted fifty years ago were used in testing but not in manufacturing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (as they are used in testing all sorts of vaccines, food products, etc.).  (In the case of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, these descendent cells are used in manufacturing the vaccine.)

Naturally, it would be better if there were not even this very remote material connection to an abortion.  But the connection is merely material and very remote rather than formal or direct, and it is a longstanding and well-known principle of Catholic moral theology that an action can be justifiable in the case of a merely remote material connection to wrongdoing, if there is a proportional reason for taking that action.  In particular, it is a longstanding position among orthodox Catholic moral theologians that use of vaccines developed in the manner in question can, for this reason, be morally justifiable when there are no alternative vaccines available. 

This position was officially endorsed by the Church in connection with other vaccines having a remote connection to abortion, in a document prepared during the pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II and in another document issued under Pope Benedict XVI (cf. sec. 35). What the Church has done in the more recent document is simply to apply the preexisting principles set out in those earlier documents to the case of the Covid-19 vaccines.  There is no novel moral principle involved, and nothing special about the Covid-19 vaccines compared to the other vaccines the use of which the Church has permitted.

Some Catholics, understandably troubled by the sometimes imprecise and misleading remarks made by Pope Francis on other topics, seem to think that they cast doubt on the reliability of the CDF document on the Covid-19 vaccines.  But that is a red herring.  Again, the latest document merely reiterates and applies official Church teaching that was already in place under John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and has long been defended by orthodox Catholic moral theologians.  Whatever one thinks of Pope Francis’s statements on other matters, they are completely irrelevant here.

Some Catholics would respond that the documents in question, including those associated with the two previous popes, are not infallible proclamations.  That is true, but also irrelevant.  If the Church officially determines that some action is morally permissible, then Catholics do not sin in carrying out that action, even if the decision is not infallible.  A theologian may have the right respectfully to present arguments in criticism of the decision if he thinks the Church ought to reconsider it, but he has no right to accuse fellow Catholics of sin if they decide to follow the Church’s pronouncement rather than his personal theological opinion. 

I don’t have anything to add to this particular issue beyond what many others have already said about it.  Readers interested in a detailed discussion of the rationale behind the Church’s position on the Covid-19 vaccines (including the question of the relative moral status of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines) should read the Ethics and Public Policy Center statement on the issue signed by Ryan T. Anderson, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, Maureen Condic, Fr. Kevin Flannery, Robert P. George, Carter Snead, Christopher Tollefsen, and Fr. Thomas Joseph White (who are well-known for their firm opposition to abortion). 

Those who think that the Covid-19 vaccines are somehow uniquely problematic from an anti-abortion point of view should read Fr. Matthew Schneider’s responses to that claim (here and here).  Those who think that traditionalists ought to oppose the vaccines should read Prof. Roberto de Mattei’s articles on the subject (here, here, and here), and the comments of Fr. Richard Cipolla.  The Pillar has an especially detailed overview of the reasons for the moral justifiability of the vaccines and responses to objections to them.

This is in no way to deny that Catholics ought to oppose, and try to end, any medical research with even a very remote material connection to abortion.  On the contrary, the Vatican documents cited above emphasize this.  But similarly remote connections to abortion or other forms of wrongdoing (and in many cases closer, if still remote, connections) are entailed by countless other medicines, products, and services of various kinds that are licit and that the vaccine critics have not objected to.  (These include certain vaccines for rubella and chicken pox, Tylenol, Advil, aspirin, Benadryl, Maalox, various foods and cosmetics, and so on – all of which have been tested the same way the Covid-19 vaccines were – not to mention corporate donations to Planned Parenthood, immoral labor practices, etc.  See Fr. Schneider’s articles for more detailed discussion of these examples.)  Given how economically interconnected the world is, some remote connection to wrongdoing is unavoidable, and not something for which we are morally culpable (as orthodox Catholic moralists, and the Church, have long acknowledged, long before the Covid-19 situation).  There is nothing special about the Covid-19 vaccines in this regard, and thus no reason to be alarmed about them, specifically.

As the sources cited indicate, this is not a liberal vs. conservative issue, or even a conservative vs. traditionalist issue.  It is, again, simply an application of principles that were already widely accepted by conservative and traditionalist Catholics before Covid-19 or Pope Francis came on the scene.  Hence, Catholics who attempt to make a “pro-life” cause out of opposition to the Covid-19 vaccines do not, in my opinion, have any reasonable basis for doing so.  Though well-meaning, they are muddying the waters and taking precious time and energy away from dealing with the many genuine and very serious problems currently facing the world and the Church.

What about mandates?

None of that entails that a Catholic must take any of the vaccines.  In my opinion (and that of the CDF), there is no general moral obligation to do so (though a particular person’s special circumstances could generate such an obligation for him).  And as I say, I think the CDF is correct to hold that it is better that Covid-19 vaccination be kept voluntary rather than made mandatory, certainly as far as general government policy is concerned (though the military, schools, and the like may have their own special reasons for a mandate, as they do with other vaccines).  Unfortunately, some governments, like the California state government and now the Los Angeles city government, have moved to impose Covid-19 vaccination mandates.  How should a Catholic react to such policies?

The first thing to note is that a vaccine mandate, even if ill-advised in some cases, is not per se or intrinsically immoral.  Most Catholics acknowledge this in the case of other vaccines.  For example, few complain about the fact that schools have long required measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines as a condition for attendance.  Whether or not it is a good idea for a school, a government, a business corporation, or any other authority to impose some particular vaccine mandate is a matter of prudential judgment.  Hence, the Covid-19 vaccine mandates cannot reasonably be objected to simply on the grounds that they are mandates.  A reasonable objection would have to be based instead on the judgment that they involve a failure of prudence.

But how prudent or imprudent a policy is is a matter of degree.  A certain tax policy, for example, might be extremely wise, merely defensible, merely ill-advised, outright foolish, or extremely foolish.  The same thing can be true of a vaccine mandate.  In my opinion, Covid-19 vaccine mandates of the kind now in play in California are somewhere between ill-advised and foolish.  For one thing, I do not believe it has been shown that such mandates (as opposed to voluntary compliance) are necessary in order effectively to deal with the virus.  That suffices to make them a bad idea, because imposing a vaccine mandate is a significant enough infringement on personal liberty that the authority imposing it faces a high burden of proof. 

For another thing, when citizens are highly polarized about some policy that has merely prudential considerations in its favor, that is itself a serious reason for a public authority not to impose it, especially if the skeptical part of the population is already distrustful of the authority and sees the policy (whether correctly or not) as a crisis of conscience.  This is just basic statesmanship.  When polarization and distrust are already very high, the aim should be to reduce them, and to try as far as possible to accommodate those who have reservations.  Heavy-handed policies like vaccine mandates will inevitably have the opposite effect. 

Are the reservations people have about the mandate reasonable ones?  Some are, and some are not.  On the one hand, some people have certainly said some very stupid things about the vaccines – that they amount to the “mark of the Beast” from Revelation, that they contain tracking devices, and other such idiocies.  Others have less bizarre but still unfounded medical concerns of one kind or another, due to rumors spread on social media.  (Here is a useful video by Catholic physician Dr. Paul Carson on myths surrounding the vaccines.)

On the other hand, it is perfectly reasonable for someone who has already had Covid-19 and thus has natural immunity to wonder why it is imperative that he be vaccinated – as even Anthony Fauci has acknowledged.  It is perfectly reasonable for someone simply to prefer to wait as long as possible before taking some novel vaccine, just to be certain that there are no unforeseen bad side effects.  It is perfectly reasonable for those who are not particularly vulnerable to the virus (which is most people) to prefer not to get vaccinated, and to wonder why it is not sufficient that people who are vulnerable can get the vaccine if they want to. 

A response to this last point would be that the vaccines are not a magic bullet, and that they don’t guarantee that a person will not get the virus.  Rather, they make it less likely that one will get it, and less likely that one will get seriously ill if he does get it.  At the same time, though, if everyone got the vaccine, then the overall incidence of infection and serious illness would be greatly reduced.  In this indirect way, vaccinating those who are not at high risk from the virus contributes to protecting those who are at high risk from it.

That’s not an unreasonable argument.  Still, since there are legitimate concerns about possible (if rare) side effects, reasonable doubts about whether there is any point to vaccinating those who have already been infected, and significant social unrest over the issue, one must weigh benefits against costs.  It’s a judgment call, and since the burden of proof is on those who would impose burdens, the wiser decision in my view would be to refrain from imposing mandates, and instead encourage voluntary compliance while trying respectfully and patiently to address the concerns of the doubters.

It is also perfectly understandable that many citizens doubt the judgment of the governing authorities on this matter.  Many of these authorities have approached the pandemic in a nakedly politicized and cynical way – questioning the vaccines when Trump was in office, then encouraging them after Biden took office; condemning right-wing public protests as super-spreader events, then encouraging left-wing public protests (which were, into the bargain, often violent); insisting on masks for everyone else while personally not bothering with them; and so on.  Some of these public officials have also proven themselves foolish or malign in other respects – supporting pointless and destructive lockdowns, lunatic policies like defunding the police, and so on.  And there are among them many whose enthusiasm for vaccine mandates is of a piece with a general desire to increase the power of the state and a disdain for subsidiarity.  Then there is the fact that there is no better way to increase skepticism than to shout down and censor those who express it, rather than responding to their arguments in a calm and civil way.  As I have argued before, many of the authorities and experts who have shaped policy during the pandemic have themselves generated the resistance they complain about.

At the same time, it is possible to react foolishly to these very real and grave problems, and too many right-wingers and faithful Catholics have done so.  As Prof. de Mattei has lamented, some have let themselves become so rattled by the social, political, and ecclesiastical crises of recent years that they have fallen into subjectivist “narrative” thinking and crackpot conspiracy theorizing.  Some flirt with schism in a manner that echoes the rigorist heresies of the first centuries of the Church.  They insist on treating an extreme anti-vaccine position as a mark of true orthodoxy, regardless of what the Church herself has taught.  And some have worked themselves into such a lather over the vaccines during the last several months that, now that mandates are on the horizon, they have boxed themselves in psychologically.  They fear that to get vaccinated at this point would be on a par with offering a pinch of incense to an idol – and thus judge that they are obligated to give up their jobs, pull their children out of school, etc. rather than do so.

This is all melodramatic, theologically unsound, and self-destructive.  It is perfectly reasonable to object to the more draconian mandates and to work to get them reversed.  But they are a matter of bad public policy at worst, not a crisis of faith.  As with any bad public policy, those who put themselves at professional or financial risk in fighting it deserve our respect.  But it is wrong to pretend that such resistance is analogous to that of the martyrs of the Church, or a general moral obligation on Catholics as such.  The way our culture and politics are going, there will in future be no shortage of hills for Catholics to die on.  This is not one of them.

Follow-up posts:

Covid-19 vaccines and Jeffrey Dahmer's nail clippings

Covid-19 vaccination should not be mandatory

93 comments:

  1. There are a lot of good reasons to be skeptical of this "vaccine." The new "vaccine" (they had to change the definition to make it count as a vaccine) was rushed out and, as a result, we can expect a lot of problems with it. Especially since many countries like Ireland have given blank-check legal immunities to the companies responsible for producing the vaccine.

    We have this study here showing that the fully vaccinated are more likely to carry more resistant and more infectious variants: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.08.19.21262139v1

    We have this study here, which says that the viral loads of breakthrough Delta variant infection cases were 251 times higher than those of cases infected with old strains: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3897733

    This study here talks about how there is no relationship between the number of vaccinations and increases in COVID-19: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10654-021-00808-7

    The people in charge of managing this COVID crisis lied to us about the origins of the virus, the promised length of the lockdowns, the infection fatality rate, the efficacy of masks and plastic barriers, natural immunity, surface spread, and now vaccine efficacy, it's reasonable to assume that the people pushing these policies are generally untrustworthy. It's about as reasonable to be skeptical of what they say as it is to be skeptical of a spouse who cheats on you multiple times and lied about it each time.

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    1. https://boriquagato.substack.com/p/have-hospitals-really-been-overloaded

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    2. First thank you to the thorough analysis by Professor Feser.

      I am going to respond to the above reply, but would first note that you need to look at all the data in total. One piece of data is that since the vaccines were initiated the death rate from COVID is about half what it was prior to the vaccines, and the social distancing lockdowns is less. There is data that about half of the hospitalized patients in a study out of the Brocton VA are not terribly ill, as they do not require oxygen. There have been several large pivotal trials that have shown your change of getting COVID 19 was substantially less.

      In the first study sited above, which is not peer reviewed, the respondent misinterprets the significance of the data. It shows that people who have breakthrough infections were more likely to have resistant variants. But this merely tells you the reason for the breakthrough infections. The incidence of getting COVID 19 is less if you get vaccinated ( substantially so). There was no difference in viral loads, so the point is that if you had a breakthrough infection you were infected most likely with a variant that was associated with less neutralizing antibody related to the vaccine. This is not surprising.. it means non vaccinated get infected with any SARS COV 2 virus, vaccinated mostly just get infected with the few variants that are associated with less neutralizing antibody in response to the vaccine.

      Overall you are less likely to get infected with SARS COV 2 of some kind of you are vaccinated and much less likely to get seriously ill. This paper does not suggest otherwise

      The second study from Vietnam discusses the AstraZeneca vaccine which was not effective against the Delta variant and is not approved for use in the United States for a number of reasons. Since it is not one of the vaccines approved for use in the United States it is not relevant to the situation here. If it is any consolation the FDA was not impressed with this particular vaccine either. In fact that should reassure the commenter above the system worked.

      Even the authors of the last paper which notes that increases in vaccination rates were not sufficient to suppress the delta wave alone still recommend vaccination. I would say there are several reasons effective vaccinations alone may not completely suppress new cases. The first is since the vaccines decreased the chance of infection with delta to a great degree but less than with other variants and that delta was about three times as infections, and that it took time to roll out the vaccines and that the lock downs ( which were excessive but do decrease in the rate of infection,, its not that they do not work it is that they can be done to excess) All of the opening up of society and delta was enough to keep infection rates high even though vaccine were protecting people. So think about it this way.. lets suppose there are 1000 vaccinated people, their chance of getting infected is 100/1000 this is before delta and before the vaccine.. This group is observed and you get 100 infections. You take another 1000 people that are vaccinated.. there chance of getting infected goes down to 10/1000 if all of them are vaccinated.. but lets suppose only about 50% get vaccinated.. you would then see that this group has not 100 infections but they would have 55 infections. ( 500 people who are vaccinated get 5 infections much less than you would expect but the other 500 get 50 infections.. they are not vaccinated.. Now lets throw in the delta variant.. the people with delta have a higher rate of infection at baseline.. they get about 300/infections for every 1000 people, with the vaccine if half the people are vaccinated they might get 180 infections.. ( so its more than pre vaccine because delta is so infectious but less than it would be had delta been circulating around before the vaccine..

      The point is that the vaccine is still effective just not as effective against the particular variant. And not on a population basis as effective as it might be when not everyone gets vaccinated..



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    3. The injections do not decrease the rate of infection. Furthermore, Covid infection is easily treated in it's early stages with a 100% cure rate. This can be proven by the many countries where there were no mandates, no lockdowns, no restrictions whatsoever, but easy access to Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Leading virologists, epidemiologists, researchers (including the inventor of mRNA genetic therapy) infectious disease experts and other docs, have published protocols which are close to 100% effective. There was no need for a so-called vaccine. The rush job and the clear and present damage being done by the injections is part of the gross immorality being forced on us.

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    4. the inventor of mRNA genetic therapy-you can not mean Malone b/c he DID NOT INVENT it-there is adequate proof the HCQ is a crock and so far no good proof ivermectin works.

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  2. As a graduate student in Canada, my STEM supervisor went into a fit of rage when he found out I wasn't vaccinated. He couldn't even see where I was coming from, very disappointing. Naturally our relationship heavily strained, just trying to survive until I graduate in a couple of months.

    I wasn't necessarily against the vaccine, but the mandates helped convince me not to take it. Conscientiously, I can't take the jab just so that the government will let me sit in a restaurant again.

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    1. Hello anon,

      I get that. The stupidity and fanaticism of the mandate freaks and panic porn peddlers is bound to make many people less likely to get the vaccine, not more likely.

      But here's the problem. What is the source of the vaccine skepticism that the mandate freaks are so worked up about? Well, a lot of it stems from the supposition that to take the vaccine is somehow a sellout of the anti-abortion cause -- which, as I say in the post, is simply not true. So, the extremism of one side is triggered by the extremism of the other, and in turn prompts further extremism from the opposite side, etc. in a death spiral of irrationality.

      This, as I have often complained, has characterized too much of the debate during the course of the pandemic -- each side reacting to the other rather than to objective facts and calm argumentation. And it's resulted in people getting so hardened into pseudo-moralistic extremism that it is psychologically difficult for them to calm down and look at things soberly.

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    2. I appreciate your points Dr. Feser, and I completely agree that it is not un-Catholic to take the vaccine, nor is it direct support of abortion. That being said, I am willing to lose my job over the mandate because I have so little trust in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

      The lying around COVID, the speed at which it was developed, the novelty of the delivery mechanism, the suppression of possible viable alternatives, ignoring natural immunity, the low fatality rate, and so forth have convinced me that this drug is not in my interest.

      But I also hold no grudges against those who get the vaccine, even if for no other reason than to keep their jobs.

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    3. Dr. Feser,

      What do you think about objecting to the vaccine on grounds that acquiescing to the mandate is an acquiescence to the federal government violating subsidiarity and the Constitution? I was on the fence about the vaccine before the mandate, but now the mandate has pushed me more to reject it since getting the vaccine will now be a positive reinforcement of unlawful federal power grabbing. Obviously it is still in the realm of prudential, so people may get it without sinning, but I do not know if I could get it without sinning. Aquinas does state that our conscience is binding even on matters of indifference.

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    4. Scott, arguably there are some people who - given their specific situations - should resist the mandate and not get the vaccines, and other people with other circumstances who should comply with the mandate. Even people who do get the vaccine (or already did before the mandate) can still work against the mandate by registering formal complaints and filing for administrative actions or even lawsuits. So, it's not all or nothing.

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    5. Agreed. Honestly, it’s a very mundane reason, but my biggest reason for not getting the vaccine is the very real potential of me feeling wiped out (fever, fatigue, etc.) for two days, two times, or four days total.

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    6. @ Scott
      That a bad reason not to get vaccinated. Would you start cheating and commit adultery out of protest if state unjustly starts stonning people for it?

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  3. I would add another point to what Prof. Feser said: some Catholics in traditional circles have argued that because the CDF said the vaccine is permissible but should be voluntary, not mandated, they have concluded that they are necessarily morally free to decline to get the vaccine. Some have gone further and said that "The church will never oblige anyone to cooperate with evil, even if it's deemed to be very remote." Both of these are very wrong.

    For the first: The Church, in ruling that as a matter of principle, X acts are wrong, (as she says about acts that are intrinsically disordered), this kind of negative judgment can be issued as a general rule and be binding on all as a general rule. Prudential matters wherein the right or wrong thing to do depends on individual circumstances and degrees of good versus degrees of harm, are not ruled on "as a matter of principle" nor in the form of GENERAL rules. But it remains true that once a person has applied prudential reasoning to a situation, and has determined that in these conditions, doing X is the best of all the options, and doing not-X is decidedly worse as it would harm others with no offsetting proportionate gain to anyone, he is not then MORALLY FREE to elect to do not-X. He is not MORALLY free to choose not-X which is (in the net) has bad outcomes, over doing X which is the greater good. He may indeed be legally free to do not-X, because the law does not punish all bad choices. But there is no moral law giving us license to be imprudent after we have determined what the prudent course is. The moral law doesn't work that way.

    To clarify this: human acts are sometimes characterized - when discussed in GENERAL terms - as being potentially good, neutral, or bad. IN GENERAL terms, worshiping God is good, playing cards with your brother is neutral, and committing adultery is bad. Acts that are in general neutral are acts that can be good or bad in specific circumstances due to their intention and their consequences in the specifics. However, no specifically human act (fully and freely chosen) in the concrete is neutral. In the concrete conditions of known circumstances and a definite willed intention, EVERY fully and freely chosen moral act is either a good act or a bad act. All concrete acts that have an intrinsically disordered object are bad human acts, whereas acts that are (as a general class) good acts may be bad in the concrete due to a specific intention or concrete circumstance, and the same is true of neutral acts (that is, ones that are neutral in the generic sense). An act that is neutral in general takes is moral goodness or badness from the interplay of the specific intentions and circumstances in the concrete act.

    Given that, it is possible for circumstances to occur for vaccine such that although it remains not mandatory, prudence dictates clearly and definitively that taking it is good and not taking it is bad in the concrete (e.g. if the disease is both extremely virulent and extremely deadly, and if the vaccine is both extremely effective and safe - and proven so reliably - which conditions are not equally present in today's situation): in such a case, a person is not morally free to ignore prudence and do the bad act.

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    1. Are you saying then, among (many interesting and valuable) other things: that the disease is not extremely virulent and extremely deadly, and that the vaccine(s) are not extremely effective and safe?

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    2. Delta variant has fairly high virulence, but not extreme. Extreme would have it contracted by most people. It has an IFR that varies a lot dependent on age, but speaking broadly it has significantly more danger to old people than the annual flu, but significantly LESS danger to young people - i.e. a significant but far from "extremely deadly" effect.

      The safety of the vaccine is still being worked out, but it is already clear that the vaccine is not as safe as the old "tried and true" established vaccines for measles, mumps, etc. And the vaccine is not as effective as most of those older, established vaccines, in that (at least with Delta variant), somewhat more vaccinated people get the disease than happens many other vaccines, and pass it on to others - though it IS fairly effective to the extent of reducing the level of illness it causes in the infected. All of this says: the disease is non-trivial but not extreme, the vaccine is useful but not extremely so, and not as safe as some.

      So it is not true to say of the current situation that the entire following combined 2-part double-factor proposition is valid: That (1) COVID is (a) extremely virulent and (b) extremely deadly; and (2) that the vaccine is (a) extremely effective and (b) extremely safe. In fact, it is probably the case that every one of those four criteria fail, but it is certainly the case that the combination of all four into one proposition fails.

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  4. This is the kind of refreshing, sober-minded thinking we need at this time. Similar to Dr. Feser, I completely oppose the mandates. I would probably even go further in saying that the COVID hysteria is really just one symptom of an atheistic, pleasure-seeking society’s boat being rocked, and people being completely unprepared to die. BUT, many, many of the claims out there are merely speculation, at best. And, of course, many more of the claims are just flatly false.

    I think that the last 18 months or so (since COVID, and the admittedly very sketchy and fraud-ridden 2020 election), people have just been very confused about what’s REAL. Perhaps it’s simply the unprecedented nature of the times that leads to these gnostic tendencies, but I hope, with time, people will start regaining some sense of reason about things. It’s been a struggle for me, certainly, and it’s the objective analysis of events and their causes (like what Dr. Feser provides) that helps to keep things in a proper perspective. God bless Dr. Feser.

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    1. Adam,

      "unprepared to die."

      Certainly that's true to some degree, but I've been wondering if it can be so easy as to just to pick the low hanging fruit. It seems like there's something more to it. Half the population is just so desirous of full-on submission to some kind of authority (Fauci, Biden, whatever) no matter how screwed up that authority may be. That's the weird thing. The instinct to herd? IDK.

      I've been looking to Solzhenitsyn for answers. It's this desire to turn off your brain and follow mindlessly. It's sick.

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  5. As for the idea that
    "The church will never oblige anyone to cooperate with evil, even if it's deemed to be very remote." , this too misunderstands the principles involved.

    The principle of morally licit cooperation with evil is downstream of a broader, more inclusive principle, "Do good and avoid evil", which is then elaborated into a corollary thesis: "do not do evil that good may come of it." In the context of an act X that is "in cooperation with act Y", and where act Y is evil, it might seem that doing X for a good intended outcome runs afoul the principle of "doing evil that good might come of it". The Church has taught that in the case of an act X standing as remote material cooperation with evil act Y, DOES NOT morally disqualify doing X, if the goods to be anticipated from X are proportionate to the evils anticipated from X, because in that situation doing X is not considered to be "doing evil that good may come of it". But it is still "cooperation with evil act Y".

    Now, it may be that act X, as a kind of act, is neutral (like with other acts which are, considered in the generic way, neutral), and yet, in the concrete circumstances, the only prudent option available. When a morally licit act is the only prudent option available, then you are morally obliged to do it, and declining to do it is morally wrong.

    So, if we were to suppose the CHURCH announcing that X is remote material cooperation with evil and may have a proportionately good reason in reasons A, B, and C). And suppose that the Church does not explicitly follow that announcement by saying that "therefore, in the current conditions X is the only prudent thing to do", but that you, in your own prudential determinations, discover that this is true - that in current conditions X is the only prudent thing to do. In a situation like this, even though X is an act that is remote material cooperation with evil, you are morally obliged to do it. It has ceased to be the sort of neutral act that you are free to choose or not choose, by reason of the concrete conditions that obtain. The fact that it is your own prudential judgment, and not the Church's express declaration, by which you arrive at that conclusion, doesn't mean you are free to disregard your conscience and do something imprudent.

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    1. ...so in conclusion, c19 vaccination may well be a hill to die on. That's what the prudential judgment of many people says, and that prudential judgment may well be true and binding on them. Those whose prudential judgment differs might also be right; but if they are wrong then that is a matter where they have an ill-considered prudential judgment and ought to reconsider. Whether whoever's prudential judgment is false is culpable for their false judgment and thus remains (in a diminished degree) culpable for acting in accordance with that faulty judgment, is a matter that will be made clear to all on the last day by the divine judge.

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  6. My primary concern with the vaccines is their safety.
    Over 4200 health professionals in my province claim that they have "witnessed serious adverse events, including deaths, that were temporally, closely associated from the administration of these vaccines"(https://healthprofessionalsunited.ca/open-letter-one/). "If we don’t correlate these temporally related events and report them," the health professionals write, "the data will never be there to accurately assess causality and truly ensure safety, which is the bedrock to obtaining proper informed consent." Even when we look at reported deaths and serious adverse events, the numbers are staggering. The US vaccine injury database (VAERS) now reports over 15,000 post-COVID vaccine deaths - more than half of all post-vaccine deaths reported to the system since 1990. On August 25th, a group of Holocaust survivors delivered a letter to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) demanding a halt to the COVID vaccination program, in which they charged "medical regulators with failing to accurately inform populations of vaccine dangers, in violation of the Nuremberg Code, calling the vaccination program a 'second holocaust' (https://doctors4covidethics.org/holocaust-survivors-write-to-the-european-medicines-agency/).

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    1. That's what happens when a bureaucracy that doesn't care about the people they rule over rushes out an experimental treatment to a disease for ideological purposes.

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  7. I hope you will consider reading this letter (see link below) written by Dr. Byram W. Bridle, PhD Associate Professor of Viral Immunology Department of Pathobiology University of Guelph, to the President of the University of Guelph, Dr. Charlotte Yates. The letter concerns vaccine mandates, natural immunity, concerns, safety issues for pregnant women who receive the mRNA Covid 19 vaccine, etc.

    https://www.jccf.ca/open-letter-to-the-president-of-the-university-of-guelph-from-dr-byram-bridle/

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  8. There is a comment a Catholic convert and acquaintance made recently regarding the Vatican's Covid policy. He said the following:

    "Perhaps my own approach to Christianity is more Protestant in the sense that I largely approach it by following the Holy Spirit and my own conscience. It is not merely that some bad actors have sullied the church, and one can try to ameliorate the issue or move parishes. Or even that priests have done horrible things, e.g., sex scandal. The issue is that the Pope is acting in an unchristian way, and putting a target on good people. It's also a target on myself. It’s akin to the pope saying we must destroy [insert nationality], and you are that nationality. I also think going against the pope is a more difficult proposition than made out. If you get any real influence and are pushing against papal views, I think you could be excommunicated... even if not, I'm not sure it is a game I want to play."

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    1. An honest appraisal of the situation leads one to conclude that Francis is likely illegitimate, an anti-pope.
      Much like Biden, you can think and do the opposite of what he thinks and does to find the right way to go.
      Don't be too worried, he will be gone soon. His attempt to directly suppress the Traditional Faith, and the True Mass which is it's true expression, has sealed his fate.
      The problem is, whatever it is that removes him will also affect the whole world which has deserved him and his agenda in the first place. It will happen once everybody has made their choice.
      Same thing with Biden and the Vaxx and the other Satanic Malthusians.
      Make your choice, none of the above.

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  9. Some of us are not moved into any extreme positions due to the extreme position of some governments (imposing vaccine mandates), but we are moved into not taking the vaccine.

    I didn't start believing any conspiracy theories about microchips or any of that because of the government's authoritarian decisions, nor does it affect my judgement on the efficacy and dangers of the vaccine. On the other hand, just to oppose this tendency of easily violating human liberty I will not do the vaccine. Of course I am young, healthy, strong and I don't have any underlying conditions, I wouldn't choose to take a serious risk just to make that political statement. Even though I don't think I need the vaccine, I was thinking about doing it just for the benefit of whatever reduction in the spread of the virus, but given that these vaccines don't reduce spreading greatly and they mostly protect the one who has them and because I don't want to accept this policy of imposing something that should be a personal choice, I refuse to do it.

    Of course this harsh policy of trying to impose the vaccine even on people who don't need it, only comes as a continuation of other severe measures like the often needless and harmful lockdowns, as Ed himself mentioned. So in total we see a tendency from the governments and the media to support severe policies, easily ignoring citizens' rights and calling everyone who offers any kind of criticism a conspiracy theorist, a denialist, an anti vaxxer, anti science, etc. So, the vaccine mandates (not the vaccine itself) are, in my opinion, a part of such a political approach and I choose to oppose them.

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  10. You will one day face the mother of that aborted child. That day you will realize you waited for the wrong hill.

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    1. Really? Not getting the vaccine in 2021 would somehow prevent the death of a child aborted 50 years ago (for reasons that had nothing to do with vaccine research)?

      Delete
    2. You will one day face the mother of that aborted child.

      I'd add that that's a pretty weird way to make your point. Surely the mother of that aborted child has more to answer for than anyone taking a Covid-19 vaccine!

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    3. Dr.Feser,
      Yes, talking about Covid19 and the vaccine brings out a lot of weird reactions.

      Remember a few months ago when Trump told a crowd of his followers in Alabama that he took the vaccine and encouraged them to take it too? He got booed and jeered. But that's how weird it's gotten now.

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    4. There is some evidence (anecdotal of course but then again what exactly counts as evidence...they denied hearing loss but then it turns out people get tenontiis and it took a pro vax doctor saying it to point it out) to suggest pregnant woman who got the covid vaccine experience abortions.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXcc6KFf10E&t=690s

      Whether this is capitol P proven is of some question and of course the medical authorities and state backed pharm companies would never lie on a question like this and only have good intentions even tho they can't be sued but there are reports of it. Whether its of statistical significance or not is of some question. A Harvard study, which i could provide the link, states like 10 to 13 percent of vaccine injuries go reported. Its worth pointing out that stillborn rates went up because of covid lockdowns and woman couldn't get prenatal care. Again this might be under the heading of nicki manij type stories but pletny of people experience this if you look at covid skeptic pages.

      Its not the mothers fault for the abortion its the people who went along with saying the covid vaccine is safe for everyone and mandating while doing nothing.

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  11. I haven't looked into it yet, but there is recent news that a "whistleblower" at Pfizer is saying that fetal cells were used last year in the development of their vaccine. This is, apparently, a different issue than the "cell lines" issue. I have not had time to look into this yet and don't know the merit of these claims.

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    1. These people would use fetal cells by default whenever applicable, if for no other reason than to support the industry that supplies this "vital resource".

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  12. Good post!

    As usual, the Catholic Church has the reasonable and common-sense answer to the question even when those who lead the Church are . . . goofballs.

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    1. No body of good will can goof this hard, this often. We are being betrayed. How hard is it to admit Joe and Nancy are not in good standing. How hard is it to not worship idols and reject pedos and heretics?

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  13. Good post, Dr. Feser. Thank you for your moderation and your clarity. I have a question, though, regarding whether a vaccine mandate would ever be justifiable - a sincere question, not designed to be a "gotcha" - is it truly within the scope of the government's authority to command that we put a foreign substance developed in a lab into our bodies? Does the government have that kind of control over an individual's body? I suppose one might argue that the government can put a man death when the common good of society demands it, i.e., as as just retribution for a crime, therefore, a fortiori, the government can make a man put a vaccine into his body when the common good of society demands it. But in the case of capital punishment, the criminal has lost a certain right to life by his own free actions. A citizen who is mandated to receive a vaccine has not committed any acts that deprive him of his right to bodily autonomy, however. Doesn't a man have a certain right to care for his own individual body that would exclude the government's authority to, absent some crime, force him to engage in an an extraordinary act (for vaccine are not, in the natural order, the ordinary means of protecting health) that is immediately ordered to altering his body? Once again, asking sincerely here. Still trying to form my opinion on this issue.

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    1. We have thought, for many centuries, that the civil authority has the right to command certain men to put their lives at risk (i.e. as soldiers) for the safety of others. For that matter, we have thought for decades that the government can mandate that soldiers get vaccines, (which it has done) and indeed we have required soldiers to accept other medical treatments as well.

      There is a movement afoot to re-think even these past standards, and while it is legitimate to ask whether they were rightly made, so far as I can tell there has been no offer of an argument that the government has no such authority, beyond the entirely simplistic "my body, my choice."

      In comments above I noted how an act that might be, in typical situations, a "neutral" sort of act that a person is free to take or not take, it can in specialized conditions cease to be merely neutral. In such cases, prudence could demand that you take the act, because all other options are gravely worse. I cannot discover a principle that forbids the government to make that judgment, given a situation where the act affects the common good in a serious way, that would not ALSO preclude the government from demanding of soldiers that they go into battle, etc. Indeed, an argument could be made that IF "my body, my choice" represents an absolute, it is hard to see how the government can require me to pay taxes, or drive on the right side of the road, or not take drugs, since I do those acts too through and with my body. Everything that I do is intimate to ME, not just what I take into it. So, while I am sympathetic to the hypothesis that somehow "its my body" sets out a demarcation line that is unbreakable, I don't see how such an hypothesis can be successfully argued, and so far I have seen no adequate argument.

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    2. Supposing a very dangerous disease, where the infected would turn into a grave danger for himself and others, i don't see why the government would not have the right. If the government can stop me from being a unnecessary grave danger for people on some situations, like not allowing me to drive drunk, why it would not be the case here?

      Even if i could isolate myself completely from society, it seems that the government could still do it if the disease was dangerous enough, for the government can and should stop one from killing himself.

      Defenders of "my body, my choice" pressupose a libertarian ethics were one can do anything with one body. On A-T, on the other hand, our right to bodily autonomy has, like other rights, a teleological aim to fullfiling our nature, so it can't give us a right to destroy our bodies for no reason.

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  14. https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2021/10/the-hill-to-die-on-ask-question-and-you.html

    This could be coincidence or could not.

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    1. It's a coincidence. I hadn't seen that but I'll go check it out.

      Delete
    2. Mark Steyn made a similar point at least as early as 2018:
      The problem is, the Tories in particular, and Canadian Tories in particular, is they’ve always got a million explanations as to why something isn’t the hill to die on. I’ve heard this a thousand times: they say, “Oh, climate change isn’t the hill to die on, Same Sex Marriage isn’t the hill to die on, this isn’t the hill to die on, that isn’t the hill to die on”; and after a while you notice you’re dead. Even though there’s been no hill to die on, you’re deceased. You’re pushing up daisies and you don’t know when it happened—maybe it was four, five, six non-hills-to-die-on back, but somehow or other something went wrong and you’ve died. And particularly after Mr Harper’s ministry, and after recent Ontario Tory leaders, they like a guy who gives the sense that every hill is the hill to die on and you should defend it.
      (Mark Steyn on The John Oakley Show, 13 Mar 2018, www.steynonline.com/8520/the-geopolitical-baggage-carousel)

      The ‘not the hill to die on’ approach is the cause of conservatism’s (and now European Civilisation’s) failure. As Robert Dabney wrote over a century ago:
      [C]onservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is to-day one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will to-morrow be forced upon its timidity, and will be succeeded by some third revolution, to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. … [C]onservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. … It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle.
      (Dabney, Robert L. Discussions, vol. 4. Mexico, MO: 1897. 496.)

      Especially see what Chesterton wrote here: https://chestertonstl.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/the-blunders-of-our-parties/

      ‘Conservatives’ need to conserve more than opposition policy.

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    3. One of the necessary consequences of the complex and interlocking nature of prudential judgments of difficult questions on acts that have many different effects is that reasonable men can legitimately come to opposing conclusions whether doing the act is good or not in the actual circumstances. Their disagreement is decidedly NOT proof that one of them must be wrong-headed about the matter. In prudential judgments of difficult things, each factor must be given an estimated weight, (such as the probability of outcome N1, or N2, or... resulting), and each person can do so based on a whole lifetime of different experience guiding his judgment. The prudential judgment involves MANY estimates which do not directly admit of precision or numerical ascertainment.

      When a society, especially when a political order is in the process of falling apart, good, intelligent, and reasonable men may well judge differently whether X1, or X2, or X3 is "finally" the point at which the government should be resisted overtly. Indeed, for each such person, the best location of that line may well be different, because they have differing particular circumstances - a young pregnant mother being in a different situation than a single young man. But we should EXPECT that good men will have significant disagreements over when and where to "make a stand", because of the difficulty of estimating the (very large) range of possible outcomes, many of which will be bad in the short term (and so any expected good payoff may be several layers of effects from the present, and the further away from immediate, the more difficult they are to predict.) Overt resistance to a government (in the form of direct disobedience) should not be taken lightly as if it were naturally easy to know which hill is the hill to die on. More, we should be even more cautious in deciding we can tell which hill SOMEONE ELSE should be willing to die on.

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    4. I would also point out that the complaint by some that "conservatives have not conserved anything over the past 100 years" is based on a false understanding. Or maybe several.

      First, while conservatism may come in a flavor that is primarily a POLITICAL attitude, it has roots more deeply grounded than in politics. A conservative may be shooting for a goal that is beyond that of merely conserving THIS SPECIFIC political order. Maybe they are preserving the Church, which needs to be here even if this polity dies, to pick up the pieces. Maybe they are conserving a culture, which is deeper than this polity. We regularly speak of the monks of western Europe (especially Ireland and England), after the fall of Rome, preserving western cultural roots even though the political order went to pieces.

      Next, a movement (whether conservative or not) can easily have losses for 100 or 200 years and come out the other side winning. Christianity consistently lost political battles with Rome, for 300 years. The Spaniards lost to the Moors for about 400 years, and didn't finish pushing the Moors out of Spain until almost 800 years after the Moors invaded. Losses for 100 years is not proof of a failed movement, or a failed theory.

      Finally, God does not assure us we will win our battles in THIS life, and often God asks Christians to be prepared to lose in this life to gain in the next. If we lose and lose and lose in politics while doing God's will, that is enough. If God wants to give success, He can. "Success" isn't to be measured solely in worldly terms, and it is wrong to project that onto conservatives. God giveth the increase - but on his own schedule, not ours. Our job is to work for the increase, but we do not command it. Lack of early visible success is not proof that the work was done wrongly.

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    5. Conservatism is progressivism for anxious people, for risk averse people.

      They reject the new progressive idea because it is new while accepting the one thousand last progressive ideas.

      Once they get used to the new idea, they accept it too. In fact, this idea becomes a foundation of conservatism.

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    6. Conservatism is progressivism for anxious people, for risk averse people.

      If you imagine this is true, you really have no clue what conservatism is. None. It hasn't anything to do with being risk averse, and the claptrap that people cook up to claim that is nonsense. Try this, as an antidote: http://whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2017/04/is_this_conservatism.html

      Delete
  15. Pfizer Whistleblower Leaks Execs Emails: ‘We Want to Avoid Having Info on Fetal Cells Out There'
    https://boriquagato.substack.com/p/have-hospitals-really-been-overloaded

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  16. This is an excellent post Dr Feser. Thank you. It's very useful.

    A conservative Catholic I know has been refusing to get vaccinated solely due to the abortion issue. While I respect her decision and certainly don't think she should be forced to get vaccinated I believe she is making a mistake.
    I will refer her to your post.

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    1. Why should we believe anything these criminals tell us? Why Vaxx for citizens and not illegals?
      Ask those in African and India if they want experts like Bill Gates to come back. You can't undo the vaxx or it's side-effects, and those pushing it cannot be held liable. This is snake oil. It's worth risking or getting covid and having immunity to further strains, then to take boosters without end to stay current for the enrichment of those who profess a love of depopulation in public.

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    2. @Unknown: But unless I've missed something, it is a legitimate choice to refuse vaccination solely due to the abortion issue. So what is your friend's mistake?

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  17. It appears that you posted this just hours after Bruce Charlton's post condemning the "hill to die on" mentality.

    https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2021/10/the-hill-to-die-on-ask-question-and-you.html

    "Not the hill to die on" means that, for strategic rather than moral reasons, we should not fight to the death in this particular battle, but rather let the enemy win and conserve our strength for a more decisive battle in the future. Your title thus clearly implies that the pecks are a victory for the enemy (Satan), but that we should allow this particular victory for strategic reasons.

    In the body of your post, though, you make a very different case: that getting the peck is not morally problematic at all and is not in any way a victory for Satan.

    Not to psychoanalyze you, but it seems to me that no one would choose the phrase "not the hill to die on" to refer to something which he did not in his heart of hearts view as a pragmatically-motivated moral compromise -- a.k.a. a sin.

    My own view -- based on my own moral intuition and that of certain holy men -- is that the pecks are clearly evil and to be avoided at all costs, but that the precise nature of that evil has not yet been revealed -- and will surely turn out to be something much more direct and heinous than the currently-known roundabout link to abortion.

    https://narrowdesert.blogspot.com/2021/09/greek-orthodox-archimandrite-fr-savvas.html

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    1. Another reader called attention above to the Charlton post, which I hadn't seen but will go take a look at.

      As to your amateur attempt at psychoanalysis, well, don't quit your day job, Sigmund. The arguments in my post make it clear that I do not mean by the phrase what you're trying to read into it. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

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    2. Yes, but not always. Sometimes it’s w/ a small glass of scotch.

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    3. Tychonievich's spiritual machismo seems pretty typical of a certain fideistic stripe among "traditionalists" (again, I do like the Latin mass, as I stated before as "Pugio Fidei").

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  18. This post is timely. Just as PC nutjobs feel confirmed by the madness of some on the other side, the de facto alliance between so-called traditionalists like Vigano and Rome-hating Protestant extremists gives the modernists in the Church a slight second wind.

    Interestingly, Pope Francis told a group of French bishops the other day that he mostly had the United States "in mind" while producing Traditionis custodes. All efforts to suppress the old rite, from Paul VI onward, have lacked legitimacy because of the inadequacies of the proposed alternative, and Traditionis custodes can make little impression because of this. But the crazy views one now hears from a large chunk of US traditionalism provides all the motivation somebody like Pope Francis would need. On the surface, he's been remarkably tolerant. Someone like Vigano, who's entire action in the Church today consists of the blogging of Pietro Siffi done in his name, blathers on like a latter-day Luther, yet remains unsanctioned. As long as this charade continues, Vat II year zeroism's life support will get a boost.

    The PC religion is one of stupidity and weak people. It's incredible anyone could see this sickness of the modern comfortable West as the arrival of Antichrist. If we have allowed our societies to be confined and bullied by a caste of insane leftist school-teachers, it is because we are weak as societies, not because of their strength. One way or the other it can't last.

    Vigano and co. are a mirror of the weakness and stupidity of our PC elite. Truth on this score is the greatest kindness.

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  19. Dearest Edward, unfortunately, I tend not to agree with your application of the CDF casuistry to the abortion issues linked to the R&D, test, and production phases of the various vaccines and experimental gene sera so far developed to counter the Covid's pandemics.
    Deduct from the affirmations of the CDF that those who use gene therapies coming from these voluntary abortions have only a remote responsibility is objectively not correct because it does not correspond to the truth of the facts in their entirety.
    Indeed, in the economic system in which we live, pharmaceutical companies do what they do to sell their products to patients and adequately remunerate their shareholders: using their products is therefore neither a case of action by omission nor of remote action.
    And this is well understood by all the movements that decide to boycott a product because it comes from a particular region of the world or because of its quality or the unfair way it has been manufactured: here we are warned that the act of buying such a product is an evil thing. Therefore, buying directly (or through the State) an ethically questionable product and using it means for the common sense that one participates in a close and active way to all its cycle of existence including justifying its evil roots.
    Moreover, by paying for these products we finance future research that, given the objective commercial success of said product, will comfort the pharmaceutical companies to further develop along the same line of evil acts (i.e. again and again abortions, chimeras, etc.): which makes us/the customer/the patient directly responsible for the future crimes against humanity that this implies.
    But it is the appropriation issue that is the most important from an ethical point of view: if an intrinsic evil has been done, is it licit for me to benefit from it even if I did not participate directly or indirectly in its implementation?
    In the penultimate paragraph of point 62 of Evangelium Vitae St. John Paul the Great makes a statement that has dogmatic value: "Therefore, by the authority which Christ has given to Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops - who at various times have condemned abortion and who in the previously mentioned consultation, though scattered throughout the world, have unanimously consented regarding this doctrine - I declare that direct abortion, that is, intended as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, inasmuch as it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is founded on natural law and on the written Word of God; it is transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium."
    And, right on cue, St. John Paul the Great adds, "No circumstance, no purpose, no law in the world can ever make licit an act that is intrinsically illicit, because it is contrary to the Law of God, written in the heart of every man, recognizable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church. The moral evaluation of abortion is also to be applied to recent forms of intervention on human embryos which, while aiming at purposes that are legitimate in themselves, inevitably involve their killing".
    It is therefore not possible, under any circumstances, regardless of any purpose, to appropriate, I claim to act morally and as a Catholic, "benefits" related to abortion and this has nothing to do with notions of remote or proximate, straight, or indirect participation.
    A simple example should illustrate what it means to appropriate a benefit of an evil act: a rich Jew at the time of Nazism is sent to Auschwitz while his entire prestigious collection is stolen and resold during decades to different generations of collectors, who know the origin, but in the end, one of these works of art is bought by a museum that wants to expose it publicly for the good of humanity in full knowledge of its origins. The seemingly noble purpose of the museum does not justify the intrinsic immorality of that act of buying...

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    1. but in the end, one of these works of art is bought by a museum that wants to expose it publicly for the good of humanity in full knowledge of its origins. The seemingly noble purpose of the museum does not justify the intrinsic immorality of that act of buying...

      @Gaëtan Cantale

      So, that would imply that the proper thing to do with the collection is to destroy it, so nobody can benefit from it. Right?

      Ummm, maybe not. Let me give another example: A foolish and malicious man tires of having to ask Daddy for spending money, and hires a killer to kill Daddy so he can inherit the whole fortune. But he is found out, and (per state law) he does not inherit the fortune. So then the fortune goes to his own son. But his son, when he realizes that the wealth he has received is tainted by murder, realizes that he must reject it, and gives it to a stranger on the street. But that man too discovers it is tainted money, and tries to give it to another person. By then, people in general are aware of the disorder of benefiting from the money, and all refuse, until the stranger on the street gives it to a charity to help the poor by feeding them at a shelter. But then the poor at the shelter discover that the evil money bought their food, and they repudiate the food, throwing it in the trash, and vomiting what they had eaten.

      A similar example can be posed with every piece of land in the world: it has been fought over, (usually many times, with one side being dispossessed, in cycles) so whoever owns it does so by benefiting from some prior victor. So, nobody should own land.

      The absurdity of these results illustrates, in part, the need of and the basic rightness of there being a set of principles that clarify what KIND of connectedness to a prior evil act constitutes a (later) morally evil act, and what kind doesn't - because NOT ALL kinds of connectedness do it. The body of moral prescription is referred to as morally licit "cooperation with evil". Feser didn't provide in THIS post the analysis of how vaccines fit into the picture, but referred to other posts (and articles) that did. Maybe you don't agree with those analyses, but you haven't even attempted to grapple with the arguments they employ, you have merely ignored them, or worse, rejected them outright even when they constitute traditional Catholic teaching. Or perhaps you are unaware of that body of Catholic teaching, as given by St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church, and which John Paul II himself employed in various teachings.

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    2. (A) "So, that would imply that the proper thing to do with the collection is to destroy it, so nobody can benefit from it. Right?" : No, totally wrong, if aware of the non-moral origin of the ownership of said works of art, the museum goes either to the police or to the rightful owners to report the fact but, for sure, will not reward the lack of morality of the previous owner paying him any money.

      (B) Your second example is not applicable to the context we are considering as the analogy is fallacious: this because you are mixing the notion of participation with the notion of appropriation. Clearly, in your example, the appropriation is not the act of the son, but of the state which, through its law, accomplishes an act of justice by taking the wrongly aquired good from the criminal and giving it to the rightful owner, in this case the grandson.

      (C) Edward did not provide the argumentation but referred to other documents which did it: this is true. No point for me to try to "teach" him about these documents which we both know by heart. Simply, these other articles about the cooperation with evil do not analyze the issue in their entirety: first they do consider the coperation with evil only under the sole restrictive strumental causality point of view, forgetting that causality is also essentially first and final causes and that this has been largely overlooked in all those documents; second forgetting totally the issue of appropriation itself. Both cases having been illustrated in my previous intervention.

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    3. Mr. Cantale I do not agree at all with your position and I totally agree with what Feser claims, which is also what the Church claims.
      The correct example to give is that of organ donation, which is also lawful when the donor has been killed in the course of a criminal action (for example a robbery). The person receiving the donated organ has no connection with the event that killed the donor, and the donor was killed for a reason other than organ donation, and therefore would have been killed anyway.

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    4. Unfortunately, your example is not a correct analogy: as stated above the killing of a criminal is not an intrinsic evil like is the killing of an innocent and can be evaluated according to circumstances. In the case of abortion, as it is an intrinsic evil, like teaches St John Paul the Great, we do not have this latitude of considering the circumstances.

      Better example would be the killing of an innocent child by a third party, whose parents have never agreed to have his organs given away after death (the mother who aborts has no ethical right to sell/give his child limbs away) but where the operators have nonetheless taken organs.

      The teaching of the Church is perfectly right and I do repsectfully follow them and we all must abide to it: simply the teaching of the Church is not the one given to believe to the pew by the present leadership; leadership, which is not, per se, the Church Herself as teaches us the Holy Council Vatican II.

      Thank you for your comment.

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    5. Mr. Candale I believe that you are trying to misrepresent my words in order to support your erroneous theses.
      In my example I obviously meant an organ donor who died as an innocent victim of a robbery, and certainly not the robber!
      In this case the analogy with the case of abortion is total, because they are two innocent victims.

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    6. An organ donor who died as innocent victim has, definitely, expressed his will to be an organ donor: the fashion he died has no influence whatsoever.

      If the innocent victim expressed his will not to be a organ dornor, or did not express any will at all because he could not (e.g. an aborted child) or because who was in charge of him could not express that will (which cannot be done, obvioulsy, by the aborting mother) then it is immoral to proceed with organs' harvesting, obviously.

      The lawfullness has nothing to do with the moral qualification of the act, e.g. abortion is lawful but totally immoral.

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    7. I don't understand why you mix the legal aspects, which are different for each state and nation, with the ethical aspects, which are always the same.
      Here we are not talking about the legal aspect, that is to say who is responsible for deciding on the possible deed of donation, as the legislation of a state could provide that where the mother is not legitimized (abortion) or no legitimate relative is traced ( organ donation) other subjects may intervene to decide, for example the judge at the request of the doctor.
      However, the discussion focuses on the ethics of using goods from a distant and unprovoked crime specifically for the use that subsequently takes shape.
      According to your wrong reasoning, in fact, even the assets stolen from crime, and which cannot be returned to their legitimate owners, should remain unused forever as they are the result of robberies and murders. Instead, legally and with correct ethical judgment, they are used for the good of the community, assigning (for example) houses and land to charitable associations, which certainly cannot be considered responsible for these crimes, and these crimes were not committed for later fund such charities.
      The obsessive search for intrinsic evil, if done without the adequate correct conscience, proportionality and trust in the judgment of the Catholic Church and the Pope, could lead to the ethical inadequacy of most of the objects or medicines produced today, as it is very likely that all remote origin of the same there is a crime or an unethical action, which occurred decades or centuries earlier.
      The reality is that the Catholic Church has intervened several times on the ethical aspect of vaccines produced or tested with the same cell lines deriving from the two abortions of the last century that were used for covid vaccines (for example in 2008 about ethics of measles vaccines), confirming that it is permissible to take them having no better alternatives.
      I honestly don't remember all this controversy in 2008 from Catholic parents worried about going to hell because they were using the measles vaccine. It is therefore evident that the current controversies are connected to the aversion towards the current course of the Church and Pope Francis, and are produced regardless of the collective consequences that they may have.
      If indeed the vaccine were to really prove effective (as it is very likely) it is clear that those who spread these fears about its unethicality are, in part, responsible for the eventual illness or perhaps the death of those who have allowed themselves to be persuaded not to vaccinate themselves for this reason.
      And it is equally evident that this co-responsibility is all the more serious the higher the theological culture and the credibility and reliability of those who spread these fears, as they use their own charism for this, in contrast with the indications of the Church.

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    8. Dearest Jonathan, allow me to only focus on what I do consider the essence of your long intervention.
      (A) “According to your wrong reasoning, in fact, even the assets stolen from crime, and which cannot be returned to their legitimate owners, should remain unused forever as they are the result of robberies and murders.”
      Imagine you go to a shop which sells soap made with Jewish bodies in Auschwitz: what would you do? Would you buy it? Would you use it? Genocide is an intrinsic evil and this is a byproduct of a genocide.

      (B) “The obsessive search for intrinsic evil, if done without the adequate correct conscience, proportionality and trust in the judgment of the Catholic Church and the Pope, could lead to the ethical inadequacy of most of the objects or medicines produced today, as it is very likely that all remote origin of the same there is a crime or an unethical action, which occurred decades or centuries earlier.”
      This sentence of yours is true in absolute, I agree with you. The question is that you cannot reduce the Church to the sole Pope or even the whole Hierarchy, teaches the Holy Council Vatican II. Actually, in our Symbol of Faith we proclaim every Sunday “Credo… in … Ecclesiam…” non “Credo… in… Papam”. The Holy Council teaches that the Magisterium itself is not limited to the sole Episcopate but is shared with the Populus Dei which has a very much holy Sensus Fidei Fidelium. The question is to know if the current Pope teaches what the Church teaches and this is easy to determinate: if he teaches what the Church has always taught it is yes, if he teaches the opposite the answer is simply no.

      (C) “The reality is that the Catholic Church has intervened several times on the ethical aspect of vaccines produced or tested with the same cell lines deriving from the two abortions of the last century that were used for covid vaccines (for example in 2008 about ethics of measles vaccines), confirming that it is permissible to take them having no better alternatives.”
      The reality is that the Church, in Her Magisterium, expressed Herself last only under the pope St John-Paul the Great which he did using a dogmatic phraseology, hence obliging us to abide. In 2008 and 2019 we have expressions not of the Magisterium but of the International Commission if Theology, which is NOT a magisterial organ of the catholic Church, but just and advisory (or think-tank like) body and the 2019 version is not in continuity with 2008 not even with extreme good will. And no, cooperation with the evil is not admitted. It is not a path to holiness to participate with evil in any circumstances.

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    9. Dearest Gaetan. I truly believe that you are trying to justify your opinion through a series of surreal examples that draw attention away from reality, and by demonstrating in some your expressions a certain intellectual dishonesty that is hard not to notice.
      In reference to your point (A)
      Exactly as Edward said in another post you are using forced examples to stimulate revulsion and scandal.
      In my example I have appropriately cited assets (houses purchased with stolen money or directly the money) confiscated from criminals and used for charitable works, not being able to trace the legitimate owners. Obviously if they were not so usable they would have to remain unused with serious damage to the community, since these are very large sums that can help many beneficial actions and save the lives of many people, as there is a very shortage of money for charitable works.
      In your example, instead, you mention the soap made with the body of the Jews in Auswithz. The soap is worth nothing, it is easily replaceable with any other soap and therefore it would have no sense and ethical justification if it were used. It is also an object that has been specially produced to be used for washing, so there is a direct connection between the reason for the production and its possible users (while instead the assets confiscated from crime were not stolen and then used for charitable works. , but to enrich the thieves) Therefore your example is a scandalistic stretch, and only serves to strike the imagination of the reader.
      In reference to your point (B)
      Edward expressed himself clearly on this: "If the Church officially determines that some action is morally permissible, then Catholics do not sin in carrying out that action, even if the decision is not infallible. A theologian may have the right respectfully to present arguments in criticism of the decision if he thinks the Church ought to reconsider it, but he has no right to accuse fellow Catholics of sin if they decide to follow the Church’s pronouncement rather than his personal theological opinion".
      The question whether the current Pope, towards whom I perceive a lot of aversion on your part, really teaches what the Church has always taught is very interesting, but in the specific case does not apply because the Church had expressed itself even earlier on the same point and because vaccination and the methods of production and testing of vaccines are a totally new fact in the history. The judgment on this complex fact is controversial and is not simple and for this reason the Church wanted to express itself officially, translating the meaning of this new reality for Catholics. Faced with this, namely the alternative of following the clear indications of the Church and the Pope or the indications of any "Gaëtan Cantale-Miège" (I don't want to offend you, but this is the reality), the Catholic is obliged to follow and trust the Church, because only in this way will he be sure not to commit in any case a sin that falls upon himself.
      Any other judgment is questionable, it can be the subject of discussion on a blog, but when one insists on the point of removing legitimacy from the judgment of Church itself and confusing the "little ones" (mentioned in the gospel) it becomes an unjustifiable act.
      In reference to your point (C)
      Yours is a personal interpretation of what JPII meant. The expressions of the Church of 2008 and 2019 are in perfect continuity with each other and dealt with exactly the same topic and that is the ethics of the old men experimented with cell lines deriving from the same two abortions of the last century. In 2008 the measles vaccine and in 2019 the COVID vaccine). Only you do not see continuity in these expressions. And obviously if the Popes Benedict XVI and Francis had not agreed with these expressions they would not have allowed them to be published.

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    10. Dearest Jonathan, once again thank you for continuing to develop this topic and to helping me clarifying to you my sheer untainted Catholic standpoint further. I will continue to use the A, B, C structure for better reference for you.
      (A) When you write down “In your example, instead, you mention the soap made with the body of the Jews in Auswithz. The soap is worth nothing, » we see what makes the major difference between our standpoints and why you cannot understand what the Catholic Church teaches:
      You are telling me that you are basically a Utilitarian: to you this soap made with genocide of human Jewish being is worth nothing. You just look at the utility of the object. Instead, as Catholic, I look at the meaning of things, about their value and afterwards I position myself in function of the degree of human and theological virtues I have acquired thanks to the Holy Spirit. These soaps, you see, are not “just” soaps, they are not just a byproduct of an industrial machinery, they are simply sacred: exactly like are sacred the tissues of these aborted children. And this has nothing to do with my participation or not to a direct or indirect, proximate or remote, formal or material cause: it has to do with the fact that I cannot “see” these object with the same materialistic, utilitarian eyes of the people who “produced” them: I cannot participate to their misdeed giving them reason to their final goals which is using some human beings as simple “Means” and not end of their actions.

      (B) About Edward’s sentence you cite, Personally, I only know, as "Papal" teachings, the infallible ones, because those of St. John Paul the Great were expressed with all the chrisms of infallibility. Then there are two interventions of the ITC (International Theological Commission), which is neither the Pope nor, not even, a magisterial organ per se of the Catholic Church, which have expressed theological opinions, once under Benedict XVI (issuing a theological opinion in line with the teachings of St. John Paul the Great) and once under Bergoglio with a cracked theological opinion (as already no longer reflecting with evangelical transparency the clear teaching of the Church previously expressed by the Authentic Magisterium). So certainly, not only is what Bergoglio has affirmed, omitting the stakes of his own CTI, not infallible but it is, moreover, clearly erroneous and contrary to what the Church teaches.
      However, even in its teaching, the Second Vatican Council (as also reported in the CCC at number 1778 quoting John Henry Newman) teaches us that "Conscience is the first of all the vicars of Christ". In fact, conscience, when well formed, that is, when it exercises the cardinal and theological virtues with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, is the only one that is to be followed, and this because we are free by divine creation and charity has no meaning if not within the framework of this freedom. It is a sin to delegate one's free choices to third parties, to act as an ethical blame game: in fact, it is a lack of charity not to exercise one's freedom. Even when one obeys, as Christ obeys the Father, one makes the decision to obey knowing that those who command want what is good, even if one does not understand this. If one knows that those who command do not want that good, and in our case it is easy to distinguish, because those who command do not teach what the Church teaches, not only is it not a sin not to obey but it is pure charity
      (C) Answered in the first part of my point (B) just here above
      Have a nice and fruitful Sunday!

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    11. Dear Gaetan.
      Unfortunately I see again that you carefully select phrases and parts of sentences to change the meaning of the speeches according to what interests you most.
      With regard to point A), in relation to the use of soap produced with the body of the poor Jews killed by the Nazis, I had clearly specified what differentiated this case from the case of abortion cells or donation organs. On the specific topic, I invite you to reread what Edward said much better than me, and I hope that he too wants to answer you with respect to the use of these forced and improper examples, deliberately sensational.
      With regard to points B and C, I would like to specify that no one prevents you from having your opinions on the subject, but it is seriously dishonest and non-Catholic to consider the opinions of the Church as your own, trying in every way to lower their validity (on vaccines Covid has expressed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is the highest judgment body after the Pope).
      My feeling is that all your words on the subject are self-referential, in the sense that you define your conscience as well-formed and, like Protestants do, you connect directly with God by regularly skipping the Church's judgment when you don't like it.
      The problem is not to have one's own opinion but to insist on making it worth more than that expressed by the Church, with a serious lack of faith and trust and demonstrating the same relativism that the atheists or Christians of our time show towards Catholicism.
      This issue of vaccines is not a simple "theological" issue but it is above all a very practical issue that has an effect on the reality of people, who may decide to perform or not an action that could have positive or negative effects even very serious on their lives, on that of their family and on that of those who have direct and frequent relationships with them. Therefore contributing, perhaps indirectly, to this decision, and doing it in contrast with what the Church says is a serious responsibility, which in my opinion should also be seriously investigated from the theological point of view. In fact, it would be interesting to understand if convincing someone of one's own personal opinion, when different from that of the Church and in a case so serious that it could have important consequences, is a sin to confess in front of the priest.
      I believe our discussion on the subject can end here and I wish you a happy Sunday.

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    12. Dear Jonathan, I must really deeply apologize if you had the feeling that I “carefully select phrases and parts of sentences to change the meaning of the speeches according to what interests you most”: the reason why I did it is that the vast majority of your discourse was basically using fallacies “ad hominem” insulting me instead of having a sound conversation on the merit of the treated subject and I was trying to find out in your discourse elements which could help in the case of a serious "disputatio". Even though I do not like “easy wins” during these "disputationes", I, nonetheless, agree with you to that everything has been said on my side and that I could not add much more. Thank you again for having given me this space of expression. In Jesu cum Maria.

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  20. There is something related to current politics that is driving the extreme views on the Covid vaccine (on both sides). Fetal cells are (unfortunately) used in the manufacture of many products. Most of the people saying these vaccines are immoral, did not In the past check that the soup they were served was not Campbell’s, the chocolate not nestle, the cola not pepsi etc. They also are unlikely to have an investigated the entire development history of every plaster, pill, jab, spray etc used on them in hospital. Heck a significant portion of medical science, space travel technology etc originated with the Nazi’s in concentration camps. None of it is a situation we would choose in an ideal world, but there is an indirectness that makes protests tokenism, and faith is not about meaningless tokenism.

    The reality is that there is feverish culture war spiked by politics and social media, and it’s surely a far bigger moral issue to be swept along with either of the extremes in this war, than to have a Covid vaccine.

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  21. This statement is incorrect: "Rather, they make it less likely that one will get it, and less likely that one will get seriously ill if he does get it. At the same time, though, if everyone got the vaccine, then the overall incidence of infection and serious illness would be greatly reduced. In this indirect way, vaccinating those who are not at high risk from the virus contributes to protecting those who are at high risk from it."
    I have 36 years as an intensive care doc and it seems evident that the injections (they are genetic manipulation and they are treatments' they are not vaccines in any sense) do not prevent infections. It appears evident now that, due to immune antigen dependent enhancement, that folks who have received the injections not only have quickly waning immunity to delta and all future variants, but will be 'super spreaders'.
    These injections were never even remotely tested and typically 50 deaths would stop any further possibility of a vaccine making it to market. These injections have killed as many as 150,000 and it appears, based on studies of actual VAERS reporting, the number may be much higher.
    I have heard strong moral arguments from holocaust survivors who carry much more moral weight than anything in this (IMO, rather naïve and scientifically unsound) analysis.
    Feser leaves out weightier moral arguments related to the origin of the virus, the money trail, the Fauci/Gates/WEF/WHO agenda, and many more concerns that create a rather strong moral argument for opposition to the injections.

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  22. Prof. Feser,
    I ask this question on behalf of many of my friends and relatives who have become increasingly divided in this time. I'm right in the middle of it all, as I am getting married in November in Canada, and I'm watching people left and right tell me they won't come because they require a vaccine passport to join.

    It seems that their resistance isn't really about the effects of the vaccine or the remote connection to an abortion, but the fact itself that it is mandated. As you said, there are some underlying elements of vaccine fears, but they probably wouldn't change their mind on their decision to get the shot even if it were proved to be harmless, simply due to the mandate.

    What is your thought on vaccine mandates qua mandates to do something potentially harmful to oneself? Can the government legitimately impose them in a similar way to how an army commander can command you to run into battle (or some other better analogy)? I want to be able to bring light to these conversations when I have them.

    God bless you, Professor.

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  23. There is good reason to be against the “vaccines” as an offense against the 5th commandment based on how little we know of their effects on the body, and judging by many accounts given, what we do know.

    See Lydia McGrew’s experience that she describes here:

    http://whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2021/09/the_day_life_changed.html

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  24. It's ironic that the risk of dying (or getting really sick) is precisely what's keeping many of us from *taking* the "vaccines" in the first place, especially since there are cheap and simple drug regimens that will keep you out of the hospital (and the morgue) with virtually none of the potential adverse effects of the shots. The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has shown the way; unfortunately few other countries seem inclined to follow.

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  25. I'm not part of the Roman Catholic church. I find some of its theological opinions helpful at times, but it matters to me more what they say than who says it. Here are just a few points of why I find your position wanting:

    1. What does it matter that the fetal cells are descended from cells harvested from an aborted fetus? Even if genetically modified to perpetuate some natural function that the cells already do, it is still genetically cells (and the body) of the aborted fetus. Isn't it still just exploiting (and in my mind desecrating) the body of that poor innocent girl that was killed and had her organs and cells harvested?

    2. Tylenol is a brand name for a drug that has been around since the 1800s. The brand name even precedes the aborted fetal cells lines. Aborted fetals cells had nothing to do with the development of Tylenol or in keeping it on the shelves available for consumption. The fact that some researcher for whatever reason decides to use aborted fetal cells to test Tylenol in some way has nothing to do with the development and availability of the drug itself. The same cannot be said for the covid vaccines. Why the fallacy that there is some sort of equivalency between covid vaccines and Tylenol? Or Advil? Etc.? There are certainly some cases where you could say that aborted fetal cells were part of the development or approval, so why make the fallacious argument against common drugs? It is simplistic and superficial to do a search for papers that simply indicate that a drug was tested by some researcher somewhere for some purpose, so therefore it is equivalent. It is not. And there are alternatives to many of the drugs that did use aborted fetal cells.

    3. What motivation is there for drug makers to cease using aborted fetal cells or not to develop new cell lines? Why would drug makers change their ways when Christians will simply take the drugs anyway because they are more scared of the disease than they are willing to stand for a principle? It is ridiculous to claim that Christians can all just take the drugs, grumble about the use of aborted fetal cell lines, and expect anything to change. And it is all well and good to say that the cell lines are immortal, but they are not. They have developed more cell lines, and they will develop more. And Christians are not providing any resistance to that outcome.

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    1. jd,

      There is a lot of craziness on both sides. However, it is a legitimate concern that use of the vaccine does not incentivize more abortions. I'm not saying the vaccines do that, I'm just saying it's a legit question to ask.

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  26. "But it is wrong to pretend that such resistance is analogous to that of the martyrs of the Church, or a general moral obligation on Catholics as such."

    This is certainly true; resistance in this case is not at the same level as the martyrs. They were able to stand up for their faith directly.

    On the other hand, we may not be able to choose the trials that we face.

    I believe the typical Christian during Roman times were better than the typical modern Western Christian in pretty much every way, in particular in courage, loyalty, and faith.

    Heroic ages face heroic trials. But our age is not heroic. (While Christians recognize we are not martyrs, the left seems to want to fight WWII all over again). We face different challenges.

    Will we someday face heroic challenges? I believe some will, but not all of us will get the chance. We just have to use our discernment to deal with the challenges we face at this time.

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  27. Since I admire Dr. Feser's work, I'm sorry to say that I need to disagree with him. So I'll suggest this article.

    https://catholicfamilynews.com/blog/2021/05/22/covid-vaccines-the-common-good-and-moral-liceity-a-response-to-professor-de-mattei-part-iii/

    Friends of mine found a way to see a doctor who'll prescribe Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine. They're taking the medicine instead of the vaccine. Me? I'll take the medicine, but not the vaccine.

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  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  29. I just commented on the follow up post, should have come here first.

    Anyway, as I wrote on the other post, take 10 minutes to study how the little girl's kidney's cells are being 'immortalized'... It is not Ctrl C Ctrl V stuff, it is literally the girls kidney to this day, the 'scientists' will not let her rest in peace until an alternative to this comes around. So yes, we should avoid using anything compromised with HEK cells.

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  30. My response is too long for a comment. I posted it here https://yardsaleofthemind.wordpress.com/2021/10/11/the-big-picture/

    In sum: the idea that we, by acting rationally within an artificially limited context, can somehow appease the people who are making these abusive demands on us, is a false but necessary implication of Dr. Feser's argument. We must instead remember the endless stream of lies, exaggerations, and bullying that has brought us to this point. It's not even a question of how effective and safe the experimental drugs are, nor of the moral questions around use of fetal tissues. It's a question of bowing yet again to bullies in the hope that, this time, they will relent if we prove ourselves compliant enough.

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    1. the idea that we, by acting rationally within an artificially limited context, can somehow appease the people who are making these abusive demands on us, is a false but necessary implication of Dr. Feser's argument.

      The idea that by accepting the vaccine one's motivation would and could ONLY be appeasement, is a false an unnecessary implication of such an act. Just for example, one might engage in subterfuge and misdirection by seeming to be an obedient little servant, while secretly amassing one's forces for an effective removal of the "people who are making these abusive demands". Or one of any number of even more likely other reasons. Actions notoriously can have many different motivating causes, which make it impossible to form definitive conclusions that "you must have intended X" where X is some motive beyond merely doing the act itself.

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  31. "For one thing, I do not believe it has been shown that such mandates (as opposed to voluntary compliance) are necessary in order effectively to deal with the virus."

    I'd say it has been shown that mandates are clearly not necessary, not even close. They are not intrinsically but still demonstratively "ill-advised/foolish." Look around the world, isn't it clear that "effectively" dealing with the virus is possible under radically diverse vaccination regimens? Any claim that vaccination, let alone vaxx-mandates, are "necessary" seems completely unfounded. What would an argument for that claim even look like?

    As for the Carson video, again, vaccines are clearly not "necessary" -- he doesn't even really address the question (or given any methodological or conceptual framework that would make answering it possible), despite posing it. And he just ignores the lack of long-term testing and the unknown long-term risks, which is what a lot of the concern about the vaccines is about.

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  32. Dear Dr. Feser,

    do you REALLY think that, if 1.2 billion Catholics were bound by an official strong Church statement to condemn the use of aborted fetal cells in drugs, that would not inflict a huge blow to the goulish industry of aborted fetal cells and therefore abortion?

    Also: are you aware that the fairytale of "the cells derived by only a few abortions in the 60s" is, well, a fairytale, as explained at length by this report?

    https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/05/17/exploring-the-dark-world-of-vaccines-and-fetal-tissue-research-part-1/



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    1. I would argue that the Church is not free to bind Catholics in such a way. The approach also smacks of utilitarianism and a disregard for the truth. Remember: the use of the vaccine itself is morally licit. Such a move would involve coercively instrumentalizing the members of the Church as cannon fodder to TRY to damage the industry with the hope that it would have the downstream effect of damaging the abortion industry.

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    2. Besides Oktavian intelligent critique, there is also the problem that this atitude would also fail as utilitarism, for few would obey and the Church would be associated with negationism and anti-scientific thought.

      Supposing that the Church prohibited the use of the vaccines, how many catholics would obey? Going by things like birth control or voting in defenders of abortion, not much.

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    3. Have I understood correctly what you mean? That Church should defend a moral principle only inasmuch that it has a chance that the majority of faithful would obey? Wouldn't that imply that Church must give up "Humanae vitae"?

      What I mean that by allowing such an industry to thrive is not "remote coopoeration", because every single day babies are slaughtered alive to make it work. To me, it looks like the CDF declaration was based on false assumptions, and therefore should be amended.

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    4. "Have I understood correctly what you mean? That Church should defend a moral principle only inasmuch that it has a chance that the majority of faithful would obey?"

      By no means. I was just adding to Oktavian claim that your approach sounds utilitarist by observing that even if we took utilitarism for granted(not what a sane person would do) your suggestion would not be a good one.

      Of course, i can see that you are not a utilitarian and that you are going from a diferent direction. I admit that i can't do much on the remote cooperation discussion, so i can't comment on what you are saying.

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  33. Dr. Feser. Has any Catholic philosopher ever explicated which of the reasons for separation from England given in the Declaration of Independence amounted to reason enough for a Catholic to renounce English patriotism for American patriotism? Of the 20+ reasons for separation listed, were any one a hill to die on, so to speak, for a good Catholic or did they together amount to one?

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  34. Good morning Dr. Feser. I would like to report this post on the Italian site "Croce Via" which often produces articles on his books and his posts. Even in Italy, as you can see, some Catholics have no faith in the Church's indications regarding the ethics of vaccines, and in order to attack the current Pope they do not hesitate to consider what the Church said about the covid vaccine fallacious, completely ignoring what previously mentioned by the Church for other vaccines, already at the time of JPII and BXVI. The potential damage, in terms of sick people and human lives, that this attitude has produced among those who naively trust these self-referential Catholics who, without any respect for the Church, spread fears and anathemas, is not measurable.

    https://pellegrininellaverita.com/2021/10/13/the-hill-to-die-on/

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    1. In Italy (where I am from) and in France (where I live) there's growing mistrust in the official position of the Church because there's growing real evidence of grave side effects from taking this experimental gene therapy.

      I remind you that during the last summer we (Italy and France) had MORE deaths from COVID than last year's (look up on Google "Italy/France COVID death"). Still, they told us that "vaccines saved summer season". So no, it's not because we do not trust Church authorities that there's growing mistrust in vaccination, it's rather the other way round.

      Well respected (although mostly censored) doctors are warning against potential catastrophic effects, especially for young populations, are we allowed to ignore light-heartedly such warnings and let our kids be submitted to this treatment?

      https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/covid-expert-dr-peter-mccullogh-urges-unbreakable-resistance-to-vaccines-for-kids/

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  35. Thank you for posting this. I've intuited the same general feeling about the subject, but as someone who floats in trad circles, I often feel like I'M the crazy one for holding the same general view that you've articulated here.

    I've had COVID, so have no intention of getting the vaccine. But if push comes to shove, and the choice is between losing the means to provide for my family and getting the vaccine, I'm definitely doing the latter.

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  36. An unfortunately a very bad point by Fesar. This vex is the hill to die on, because if it is allowed for a government to mandate putting something in your body, they can do anything to you. Conscience goes out the window in this case.

    The truth is this, the nature of medicine as a natural science means that there will always be a degree of uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of a proposed treatment. This means that there is never going to be a universal case where you must do something. The sacredness of the individual's conscience must be upheld in all medical decisions.

    Unfortunately Fesar also seems to miss the blazingly obvious reality that the big pharma industry has a huge conflict of interest problem. There is a simple reason to be skeptical of this vax, who is guarding the hen house? There is too much corruption with the revolving door that is between the CDC, FDA and companies they are supposed to regulate. I sure would love to run a business where I'm getting massive government contracts, free marketing and psychological influencing from the government and liability protection from the same government. Plus when you have the media and big tech companies in your pockets, you are just printing vax money at that point!

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  37. Thanks for this post. I couldn’t agree more with it. Here in Spain the issue of vaccination has not been surrounded by so much controversy nor has it aroused so many passions. In fact there is a broad consensus from both left and right in favor of promoting vaccines (although in no case making them compulsory), and most of the population (including myself) sees them basically as a means to turn the page once and for all with the pandemic issue (covid hit quite hard here, we had a significant excess mortality in last year's death statistics, and we’re also sick and tired of the severe restrictions our politicians imposed on us).

    But partly also because of what Feser said: here in Spain there are no shortage of hills for Catholics to die on. You have no idea how bad things are going here with the more fundamental issues. Our catastrophic government (a coalition of very left-leaning social-democrats and philomarxists with ties to Venezuela) is pushing an insane legislative program. Last year they legalized euthanasia (making it, in addition, one more medical benefit covered by the public health system, literally a right to which access must be granted by the State).

    They are also in process of approving a transsexuality law that basically institutionalizes gender ideology (the idea that gender is subjective and self-perceived), and will allow to change sex just by making a declaration to the Civil Registry, without the need to be examined by a doctor, or to undertake any kind of operation. And the European Parliament recently approved an infamous report that declared abortion as a 'human right' and conscientious objection to practicing it as a 'refusal to provide medical service'. It is a non-binding report, but still can be used by member States as a basis for new, more permissive abortion laws.

    Anyway, what I’m getting at is that there are many battles to fight, and we cannot waste our energy in the issue of vaccines. Don’t get me wrong, I understand very well that many of you there consider (rightly) that these mandatory vaccination measures are disproportionate. But while the jabs are awaking all this discussion, faith keeps declining and core moral values are literally being demolished.

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