Christians should be allowed to follow their conscience and opt out of vaccine mandates, especially in cases where aborted fetal tissue may have been part of the cell line used to develop the vaccine, key Vatican Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller told Newsmax.
Mueller, originally of Germany, is currently in the United States. He answered questions on a variety of topics on ''American Agenda'' on Thursday.
Pope Francis has said it is permissible for Catholics to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, he has urged people to get vaccinated as an ''act of love."
But some Catholics have sought religious exemptions from vaccine mandates on the grounds that they were developed with the use of cell lines obtained from aborted fetuses.
"In this case, I think it is the personal opinion of the pope, but not a doctrine of the church, that everybody must vaccinate," Mueller said.
While acknowledging that he is no expert on the use of fetal cell lines in the vaccines. But but if products of abortion are involved, he said, "everybody must be allowed to act according to his conscience.''
He said such freedom of choice is especially important in the United States, whose founding documents declare that the state serves and is not there to be served.
In a statment issued Nov. 20, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops noted that, unlike the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, "[n]either the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine involved the use of cell lines that originated in fetal tissue taken from the body of an aborted baby at any level of design, development, or production."
The bishops said that while the two vaccines "are not completely free from any connection to abortion ... it is relatively remote." They warned that it "is an inaccurate portrayal of Catholic moral teaching" to say it is "immoral" to take a vaccine in any way linked to cell lines from aborted fetuses.
On the subject of denying communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, such as President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mueller noted that the taking of human life defies the commandment of God.
''It's not possible,'' Mueller said, adding that it ''is against the commandments of God, is against life, and Pope Francis said several times ... that abortion is homicide and therefore is a great sin.''
One cannot contradict this teaching, he said, and at the ''same time receive his body and his blood.''
Mueller also condemned the idea of church leaders in Germany who are pushing for a sanctioning of same-sex unions.
While the church has ''high respect'' for all people, including those with same-sex attraction, sanctioning such unions is not possible under the doctrines of the faith, he said.
''The benediction is only possible for men and women living in matrimony,'' Mueller said.
The Roman Catholic Church, he said, should be focused on evangelism rather than divisive issues that will only further drive people from embracing the faith.
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