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Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics.

Our guest today is someone who has been on the frontlines in helping people during these times of the coronavirus pandemic. Her name is Jennifer Dagarag. She is a registered nurse serving the diocese at her parish in Cypress, St.

Irenaeus. Jennifer is seeing firsthand how parishioners’ mental health is being affected by the pandemic.

She shares stories of both heartbreak and triumph. Join us for this important discussion!





Originally broadcast on 2/13/21


Host Rick Howick welcomes our own Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer back to the studios of OC Catholic Radio.

In this lively conversation, we’ll be talking about the coronavirus, vaccines, and Catholic ethics.

“The bishops of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange fully support the California Catholic Conference’s statement on the COVID-19 vaccinations. After thorough research and reviewing the statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life, we find the vaccines morally acceptable and imperative in the ongoing effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic. 

We are hopeful and encouraged by the promise these scientific breakthroughs represent, and urge the 1.3 million Catholics in Orange County to take any and all appropriate steps to protect themselves and their families. We pray for them as we pray for the world. 

We still have much work to do, but we now have hope and a path forward rooted in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.  We place our trust and confidence in the providence of God.” 

– Bishop Kevin Vann, Bishop Timothy Freyer, Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen 


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Originally broadcast on 12/26/20


WASHINGTON (CNS) — The “gravity” of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and “the lack of availability of alternative vaccines,” are “sufficiently serious” reasons to accept the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ doctrine and pro-life committees said Dec. 14.

“Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community,” they said. “In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.”

The bishops addressed the moral concerns raised by the fact the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have some connection to cell lines that originated with tissue taken from abortions.

However, this connection to morally compromised cell lines is so remote and the public health situation is too grave to reject the vaccines, said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Late Dec. 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency-use approval to the Pfizer vaccine, with approval expected for Moderna the week of Dec. 14. UPS and FedEx began shipping the doses across the country Dec. 12, with the first shipments arriving Dec. 14.

Each state has a distribution plan for administering them. National guidelines call for health care workers and those in nursing homes and long-term care facilities to be first in line to get immunized.

On Dec. 8, The Lancet medical journal reported that four clinical trials of a third vaccine, being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca “appears to have moderate efficacy in preventing symptomatic illness, and may significantly reduce hospitalization from the disease.” Astra Zeneca is expected to apply to the FDA for emergency use of its vaccine in the coming weeks.

Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann said they found the AstraZeneca vaccine it to be “more morally compromised” and concluded this vaccine “should be avoided” if there are alternatives available.

“It may turn out, however, that one does not really have a choice of vaccine, at least, not without a lengthy delay in immunization that may have serious consequences for one’s health and the health of others,” the two prelates stated. “In such a case … it would be permissible to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Shortly after Pfizer and Moderna announced Nov. 11 and Nov. 16, respectively, that their vaccines were 95% effective against COVID-19, critics claimed the vaccines have been produced using cells from aborted fetuses, leading to confusion over “the moral permissibility” of using these vaccines.

Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann addressed this issue in a Nov. 23 memo to their fellow bishops and addressed it again in their 2,400-word statement Dec. 12. In the memo they noted some were “asserting that if a vaccine is connected in any way with tainted cell lines, then it is immoral to be vaccinated with them. This is an inaccurate portrayal of Catholic moral teaching.”

In their new lengthy statement, the two committee chairmen emphasized that any such cell lines were derived from tissue samples taken from fetuses aborted in the 1960s and 1970s and have been grown in laboratories all over the world since then.

“It is important to note that the making of the rubella vaccine — or that of the new COVID-19 vaccines — does not involve cells taken directly from the body of an aborted child,” Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann said. “Cells taken from two abortions in the 1960s were replicated in a laboratory to produce two cell lines that can be reproduced again and again, indefinitely.”

“To make the rubella vaccine, cells from these cell lines are stimulated to produce the chemicals necessary for the vaccine,” they explained. “It is not as if the making of the vaccine required ever more cells from ever more abortions.”

The two committee chairmen said the Vatican, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Academy for Life, “has offered guidance on the question of whether it is morally acceptable to receive a vaccine that has been created with the use of morally compromised cell lines.”

Both the congregation and the academy “emphasize the positive moral obligation to do good,” they said, “and in so doing to distance oneself as much as possible from the immoral act of another party such as abortion in order to avoid cooperation with someone else’s evil actions and to avoid giving scandal, which could happen if one’s own actions were perceived by other people to ignore or to minimize the evil of the action.”

“Our love of neighbor should lead us to avoid giving scandal, but we cannot omit fulfilling serious obligations such as the prevention of deadly infection and the spread of contagion among those who are vulnerable just to avoid the appearance of scandal,” the two prelates said.

At the same time, the bishops also cautioned Catholics against complacency about the moral issue of abortion and ethical issues surrounding the development of some vaccines.

“While having ourselves and our families immunized against COVID-19 with the new vaccines is morally permissible and can be an act of self-love and of charity toward others, we must not allow the gravely immoral nature of abortion to be obscured,” Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann said.

“It is true that one can receive benefits from an evil action in the past without intending that action or approving of it. The association with the evil action that comes with receiving benefits from that evil action, however, can have a corrupting influence on one’s perception of the evil action, making it more difficult to recognize it as evil,” they explained.

“One might become desensitized to the gravely evil nature of that action. One might become complacent about that action and ignore the obligation to do what one can to oppose the evil action,” they said, adding that others might see “one’s acceptance of benefits from an evil action” and feel the action isn’t really evil, feel less urgency “to oppose that evil” or even miss opportunities to do what they can “to oppose it.”

“We should be on guard so that the new COVID-19 vaccines do not desensitize us or weaken our determination to oppose the evil of abortion itself and the subsequent use of fetal cells in research,” Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann said.


Editor’s Note: Below is a statement from Diocese of Orange bishops regarding the COVID-19 vaccines. 


“The bishops of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange fully support the California Catholic Conference’s statement on the COVID-19 vaccinations. After thorough research and reviewing the statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life, we find the vaccines morally acceptable and imperative in the ongoing effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic. 

We are hopeful and encouraged by the promise these scientific breakthroughs represent, and urge the 1.3 million Catholics in Orange County to take any and all appropriate steps to protect themselves and their families. We pray for them as we pray for the world. 

We still have much work to do, but we now have hope and a path forward rooted in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.  We place our trust and confidence in the providence of God.” 

– Bishop Kevin Vann, Bishop Timothy Freyer, Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen 


Editor’s Note: The following is a statement from the California Catholic Conference. 


The California Catholic Conference affirms that the imminent Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are morally acceptable and commit to working closely with Catholic health care ministries and Catholic Charities to: 


  • Promote and encourage COVID-19 vaccinations in collaboration with state and local governments and other entities; 
  • Advocate on behalf of vulnerable populations to ensure that they have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines; and, 
  • Provide regular and accurate information to parishioners and the community in support of morally acceptable, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. 


Life has changed this year in ways few of us could have imagined. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought loss of life and livelihood to every community, rich and poor. We mourn for those who have died and for their families, and we offer our prayers and assistance to those struggling with loss of businesses, unemployment, loneliness, anxiety and other traumas brought on by this calamity. 


Fortunately, two COVID-19 vaccine candidates will likely be granted emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before the end of the year, and one or more vaccines will likely become widely available in 2021. While the vaccines are still under review, they have been extensively studied in rigorous clinical trials and early safety and effectiveness findings look promising.  


The chairs of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ Committees on Doctrine and Pro-Life Activities, the Catholic Health Association and other respected moral theologians have found the early vaccine candidates to be morally acceptable. 


We welcome this news and look forward to the distribution of safe and effective vaccines with a sense of relief, while recognizing the formidable logistical challenges that lay ahead for vaccine developers, health care providers, governments and others. 


All the arch/dioceses in California, together with Catholic health care ministries and Catholic Charities, support the eradication of disease that disrupts human life. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines promote health in face of a devastating pandemic that no one expected. We want to reemphasize that the origins of the vaccines are morally acceptable from a Catholic perspective and their advancement fosters the common good. We also affirm that those who are most vulnerable must have a privileged place in their distribution and allocation. 


Therefore, California dioceses, various state and local outreach ministries, Catholic health care systems and hospitals offer to assist with this massive undertaking in the following ways: 


The California Catholic Conference, Catholic health care systems and Catholic Charities commit to promoting and encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations in the communities we serve. 


Dioceses have a special relationship with Catholic health care providers and will work closely with them and rely heavily on their guidance. Many also already work with other providers, such as in bringing health care to farmworkers. These collaborations will be utilized as appropriate and new ones established when they can be helpful. The dioceses and the Catholic health systems will also continue to work with the California governor’s office, the Department of Public Health, and county and local public health agencies.   


Our collaboration commits to strong outreach to vulnerable populations such as farmworkers, undocumented individuals and low-wage earners who seek guidance and assistance from our ministries. Much of this work will focus on promoting or establishing, if necessary, safe locations for undocumented individuals and others who may not have regular access to health care, are unsure of the motives behind the vaccination or are not certain where to turn for help.   


We commit to providing clear information to parishioners and communities in support of safe and effective vaccines. At a time when misinformation clouds our public discourse it is critical that we focus our efforts on clear, culturally appropriate and effective messaging. 


It is also vitally important that we work together in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation. As Pope Francis recently expressed: 


At a time when everything seems to disintegrate and lose consistency, it is good for us to appeal to the “solidity” born of the consciousness that we are responsible for the fragility of others as we strive to build a common future. Solidarity finds concrete expression in service, which can take a variety of forms in an effort to care for others. And service in great part means “caring for vulnerability, for the vulnerable members of our families, our society, our people”… Service always looks to their faces, touches their flesh, senses their closeness and even, in some cases, ‘suffers’ that closeness and tries to help them. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people. [115] 

 – Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis, 2020 


Finally, we offer a special thanks to the health care professionals who have and will continue to care for the sick; to essential workers that enable society to continue functioning; for scientists and researchers who brought us to this moment; to teachers and parents struggling to educate children; to workers in ministries finding innovative ways to bring spiritual and corporal resources to congregations; and to everyone who has helped carry the burden of others during this pandemic.   


We pray for them as we pray for the world. We still have much work to do, but we now have hope and a path forward rooted in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.  We place our trust and confidence in the providence of God. 


Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 8, 2020 / 07:00 am (CNA) – Production for a new coronavirus vaccine is speeding along, but if one is developed to fight the pandemic, ethical questions remain about its development, and who should receive it first.

There are many workers in health care and in the public sector who could be considered a priority to receive any new vaccine, as they come into contact with many different people due to the nature of their profession, explained Edward Furton, ethicist and director of publications at the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

“All of those who come into contact with many different people through their ordinary line of work, they would be first in line,” Furton told CNA. People in this group might include first responders, physicians, nurses, and other health care workers, police officers, and public transit employees.

Authorities should also consider prioritizing citizens living in crowded urban conditions, as “an effort to tackle the disease and the places where it’s most likely to spread,” he said.

Multiple vaccine candidates to fight the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) are entering the latter phases of production and testing.

On July 27, the biotech company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced that their vaccine was entering phase 3 of clinical trials, during which it will be tested for safety and effective prevention of the virus in two doses.

Another vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford in collaboration with Astrazeneca has entered phase 3 of trials.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID and White House health advisor, has said that a coronavirus vaccine might not be developed, approved, and made widely available until several months into 2021.

The Trump administration is funding several vaccine candidates as part of “Operation Warp Speed,” including the two by Moderna/NIAID and the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca.

However, Catholics are also discussing whether an obligation exists for one to receive a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, if it is made available. And other ethical questions remain, such as the source of the vaccines being developed and the speed at which they are being produced.

Two bishops of the conference of England and Wales recently produced a paper on vaccination in light of the pandemic.

“We believe that there is a moral obligation to guarantee the vaccination coverage necessary for the safety of others. This is especially important for the discovery of a vaccine against COVID-19,” they said.

In 2017, the Pontifical Academy for Life addressed the issue of commonly-used vaccines in a document.

The academy said that, in the case of commonly-used vaccines against rubella, chickenpox, polio, and hepatitis A, there exists a moral obligation for Catholic parents to vaccinate their children in light of possible threats to the vulnerable caused by a resurgence in the prevalence of the diseases.

The academy said that “the moral obligation to guarantee the vaccination coverage necessary for the safety of others is no less urgent, especially the safety of more vulnerable subjects such as pregnant women and those affected by immunodeficiency who cannot be vaccinated against these diseases.”

However, those vaccines have been used for years, while a vaccine for the new coronavirus has yet to be fully developed, approved, and distributed.

One of the preeminent issues with current COVID vaccine candidates is whether or not they are being produced by using cell lines from aborted babies—something that Vatican has warned against in previous documents.

In the 2008 document Dignitas Personae, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that researchers may not use biological material of “illicit origin,” or cell lines from aborted babies, in developing a vaccine.

Parents gravely concerned about their children’s health could use the vaccine, the CDF said, but must “make known their disagreement and to ask that their healthcare system make other types of vaccines available.”

Some of the vaccines being developed to fight the new coronavirus are using the HEK-293 cell line, one commonly used in vaccines and which is derived from aborted fetal tissue. The candidate being developed by the University of Oxford and Astrazeneca is using this cell line.

Other candidates do not use this cell line, such as one being developed by Sanofi Pasteur. The  Moderna vaccine candidate does not rely on this HEK-293 cell line for production. Rather, it uses a Spike protein, the gene sequence of which was determined through testing that involved a HEK-293 cell line. The gene sequence was not determined by Moderna scientists, but was simply selected by the company as the target for the vaccine.

Another ethical question that is being discussed is the rapid nature of the vaccine development. The prevalence and deadly nature of the coronavirus has prodded scientists to enter the final testing phase in record time, yet some ethicists are cautioning that a vaccine must be produced that is safe for widespread use.

“We all agree that it’s great to go as fast as possible, as safely as possible” during the production phase of vaccines, Joseph Meany, Ph.D., president of the NCBC, told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.

However, he said, during the trial phases “safeguards exist for a purpose.”

“They should be very cautious about cutting corners when it comes to human safety” in the trials, he said.

If an ethical vaccine is developed and made available, the question remains as to the responsibility of Catholics to receive it.

“I think it would be reasonable for the government to issue a mandate, and require people to vaccinate, but there should also be exemptions—for obvious reasons,” Furton said.

Some legitimate exemptions that could be crafted might be someone’s medical risk or frail condition, he said, or other attributes that logically exempt them from being vaccinated.

If multiple vaccines are developed, and one of them is ethically sourced, Catholics would have a “moral obligation” to seek out one which is not ethically compromised, he said, unless for some reason the ethical vaccine is not distributed in someone’s immediate vicinity.

“Then the case might be different, depending on how difficult it would be to get it,” he said.