Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample agrees with leading bishops who have urged Americans to try to choose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines over the newly approved Johnson & Johnson shot.

The archbishop issued a brief statement March 4 referring to a March 2 release from Bishop Kevin Rhoades, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities. The two bishops say Johnson & Johnson relied too heavily on aborted fetuses for testing and production. Archbishop Sample is a member of the bishops’ pro-life committee.

“The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the United States again raises questions about the moral permissibility of using vaccines developed, tested, and/or produced with the help of abortion-derived cell lines,” Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann wrote. “Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines raised concerns because an abortion-derived cell line was used for testing them, but not in their production. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, was developed, tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising additional moral concerns.”

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has taught that “when ethically irreproachable COVID-19 vaccines are not available … it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”

Interpreting the Vatican teaching, Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann promoted vaccines with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines.

“If one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s,” they wrote. “While we should continue to insist that pharmaceutical companies stop using abortion-derived cell lines, given the world-wide suffering that this pandemic is causing, we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good.”