The Catholic Weekly 13 September 2020 $2 Giving people the ability to choose a vaccine that does not present moral concerns will mean it is taken up in greater numbers, which is crucial ...” Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP CATHOLIC ETHICISTS have welcomed the Federal Gov- ernment’s deal to secure a home-grown coronavirus vac- cine with no link to an aborted human foetus. A number of faith leaders expressed deep reservations after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced support for the Oxford University vac- cine, which is being developed using a cell line from a human foetus electively aborted in the early 1970s. Although some accepted that there was sufficient dis- tance from the event to make the use of a life-saving vaccine morally legitimate, all said the link would cause many to re- ject it. Health Minister Greg Hunt said he respected the con- cerns of religious leaders call- ing for an ethical vaccine for COVID-19 that is free fromany connection to human elective abortion. “In relation to religious con- cerns I deeply and profoundly respect those,” Mr Hunt said. “I know there are differing views in the theological com- munity.” In addition, Mr Hunt con- firmed that the University of Queensland vaccine candi- date which is being developed with $5 million in support from the Australian Govern- ment is not based on a foetal cell line, unlike the Oxford candidate. Mr Hunt made the com- ments in a press conference on 7 September at which Mr Morrison announced he had signed a $1.7 billion agree- ment between the Australian Government and both the University of Oxford-Astra- Zeneca vaccine alliance and the University of Queens- land-CSL grouping. Under the agreement, the two will provide more than 84.8 million vaccine doses for the Australian population, with early access to 3.8 million doses of the University of Ox- ford vaccine, which is leading in safety trials, in January and February. Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, a bioethicist and member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said he was pleased that the Government had “listened to the reasonable concerns raised by people of faith and is pursuing options for a vaccine that doesn’t raise ethical issues for some in our community. “Giving people the ability to choose a COVID-19 vac- cine that does not present moral concerns will mean it is taken up in greater numbers, which is crucial if we want to protect the community, par- ticularly our most vulnerable, from this deadly disease and have life return to some nor- mality for everyone.” Dr Joe Parkinson, a Perth- based adjunct professor of bioethics at the University of Notre Dame Australia, wel- comed the news that it was likely Australians will have a choice of vaccines, “assuming that they are equality safe and effective”. “The problem the Catholic community has had with this is the relationship between things that have been done in the past and benefits that may flow from them in the present,” Rev Dr Parkinson said. “Some people are very sensitive to this and that’s very understandable, and there’s always a balance that has to be found between the moral principles and the ur- gent health care necessities. “The Church I think has been very wise and balanced and said that people who recognise that the urgent health care issues trumps everything else are morally entitled to use that vaccine. “It’s an issue that’s not go- ing to be resolved this year and is not going to be re- solved for many years but it’s something that we will keep talking about. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 New vaccine deal Biotech company signs agreement with Federal Government for ethically produced vaccine ¾ ¾ Marilyn Rodrigues KNIGHTS AND dames of the Order of Malta marked the 900th anniversary of the death of the Order’s founder, Blessed Fra’ Gerard, with a Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney on Thursday 3 September. Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, one of the Order’s honor- ary conventual chaplains, pre- sided at the Mass. The Order is one of the oldest chivalric orders of the Church. Blessed Fra’ Gerard, the first Grand Master, died in Jerusalem in 1120 where his hospital for pilgrims to the Holy Land accepted everyone, regardless of origin or religion. For nine centuries mem- bers and volunteers have put his ideals of faith and charity into practice. “As we now approach its millennium, the Order still seeks, like Blessed Gerard, to defend the faith and serve Christ in the sick poor,” said the Archbishop. “We lead by serving, as Christ recommends in [the] Gospel.” ¾ ¾ David Ryan Knights, Dames mark 900 years 13, September, 2020 ARCHBISHOP’S AWARDS TO STUDENTS FOUR MEN FOR GOD P12 CENTRE Byron Pirola stands with fellow knights and dames at the Mass marking the 900th anniver- sary of the death of Blessed Fra’ Gerard, founder of the Order of Malta. PHOTO: GIOVANNI PORTELLI