Toronto, ON May 22, 2020 – The executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) Christian Elia cosigned a letter sent yesterday to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, calling for funding for Covid-19 vaccine research that is ethically acceptable to the millions of Canadians who vehemently oppose the use of abortion derived cell lines.

The letter, posted below, is signed by representatives of numerous organizations. It provides examples of vaccine development that does not use abortion derived cell lines. A funding preference for ethically acceptable vaccine research will ensure that a greater number of Canadians, including Catholics, will have access to a potential vaccine not derived from the gravely unacceptable act of abortion, the violation of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada,
Langevin Block, Ottawa ON K1A 0A2

May 21, 2020

Dear Prime Minister,

We write to thank you for the federal government’s ongoing efforts to prevent transmission of COVID-19, especially among the most vulnerable Canadians. We endorse the earliest possible development of safe, effective anti-viral vaccines and the broadest uptake of vaccination.

We urge your government to fund the development of vaccines that do not create an ethical dilemma for many Canadians. On one hand, the wide uptake of vaccines is essential to protect citizens from the transmission of disease. On the other, a vaccine produced using abortion- derived cell lines raises conscience concerns for anyone who might be offered that vaccine and is aware of its lineage. This dilemma will emerge if there are no alternatives to vaccines developed with the use of human fetal cell lines obtained from elective abortions.

COVID-19 vaccine candidates that are ethically unacceptable are produced using human cell lines such as PER.C6 and HEK 293, derived from elective abortions.1,2 Our ethical objections relate to the use of this abortion-derived lineage, both the destruction and the exploitation of unique human lives.3 The subsequent manufacture of vaccines using such ethically-tainted human cell lines demonstrates profound disrespect for the dignity of the human person.

Governments must ensure that COVID-19 vaccines that become available do not create an ethical dilemma for Canadians. Fortunately, numerous vaccines under development do not raise ethical concerns. One excellent Canadian example is being developed at the University of British Columbia by Dr. Wilfred Jefferies. His methodology uses self-amplifying mRNA, made entirely in a test tube without cells or tissues, according to email dated May 11, 2020 from David Prentice, PhD, of the Charlotte Lozier Institute ( The reference list follows the signatures on this letter.

Please be assured of our strong support for ethically developed vaccines.

c.c.: The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P. Minister of Health

Yours sincerely,

Moira McQueen, LLB, MDiv, PhD
Executive Director, Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, Lecturer, Faculty of Theology
University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto

The Most Rev. Richard Gagnon
President, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
Archbishop of Winnipeg

Archbishop Sotirios
Chairman, Canadian Conference of Orthodox Bishops

Timothy Lau, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C)., M.Sc.
President of the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians and Societies
Distinguished Teacher, Faculty of Medicine,
Associate Professor, University of Ottawa, Department of Psychiatry
President of the Medical Staff, Clinical Lead, Geriatric Inpatient Unit, Royal Ottawa

Dr. Ryan Wilson, MD, CCFP
President, Canadian Physicians for Life

Christian Domenic Elia, PhD,
Executive Director, Catholic Civil Rights League
Assistant Professor and Academic Chair, Niagara University

Michael Shea
President and CEO, Catholic Health Alliance of Canada

Michel G. MacDonald, PhD, STD
Executive Director, Catholic Organization of Life and Family

Sheila Rutledge Harding, MD, MA, FRCPC
President, Christian Medical Dental Association of Canada

Robert Berard, PhD
President, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Canada

Helen McGee, BScN, MN
President-Elect, National Association of Catholic Nurses – Canada

Father Thomas Lynch
President, Priests for Life Canada

Catherine Pawluch, DHS
President, Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild of Toronto

Cristina Alarcon, B.Pharm, R.Ph, MBE (M. Bioethics)

David Mulroney
President and Vice Chancellor of the University of St. Michael’s College 2015-2018

Donna Fagan, PhD
Health Promotion and Population Health

Rev. Fr. Peter Turrone, PhD
Executive Director, Newman Centre, Toronto


Helen McGee:

Dr Moira McQueen:

Dr David Prentice:


1. Charlotte Lozier Institute [Internet]. Arlington VA: Lozier Institute; May 2020. An ethics assessment of COVID-19 vaccine programs; 2020 May [cited 2020 May 9]; Available from:

2. Coronavirus Today [Internet]. Houston TX: Precision Vaccinations; 2020. Janssen partners with BARDA to expedite COVID-10 vaccine development [cited 2020 May 4]. Available from:

3. Anscombe Bioethics Centre [Internet]. Oxford: Anscombe Bioethics Centre; 2020. COVID-19 vaccines and use of foetal cell-lines; 2020 April 27 [cited 2020 May 4]. Available from:

We appeal to any of you not financially impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, who may wish to accomplish more almsgiving by sending a donation to the CCRL by clicking here or by mailing a cheque to the CCRL at 2305 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, M6S 1P1, or by calling the office at (416) 466-8244 or 1-844-722-CCRL.

About the CCRL

Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

To donate to the CCRL, please click here.

For further information:

Christian Domenic Elia, PhD
CCRL Executive Director