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ROME — Pope emeritus Benedict XVI will receive the coronavirus vaccine as soon as it becomes available, his personal secretary revealed Tuesday.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein told the German-language Catholic News Agency (CNA Deutsch) that both he and the former pontiff will be vaccinated “as soon as the vaccine is available.”

“I will also get vaccinated together with the whole household of the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery,” Archbishop Gänswein said, in reference to the Vatican residence where Benedict XVI has lived since he resigned as pope in 2013.

In late December, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in January, which will also be made available to the 800 residents and nearly 3,000 workers of the small city-state.

The vaccination will allow the pope to travel safely to Iraq in March. The vaccination will not be mandatory for Vatican workers and residents, noted the head of the Vatican’s health department, Andrea Arcangeli, but will be made available for anyone who wishes to receive it.

“Priority will be given to health and public safety personnel, to the elderly and to personnel most frequently in contact with the public,” he said.

The Vatican’s doctrinal office (CDF) issued a statement on December 21 declaring that in present circumstances “it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”

In its “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines,” the Vatican added that it is not morally licit to perform abortions in order to create vaccines or for any other reason.

Nonetheless, the use of vaccines against the coronavirus, which, in the course of research and production, “employed cell lines drawn from tissue obtained from two abortions that occurred in the last century” can be a moral option because the cooperation in the past evil is “remote.”

The Vatican office also stated that from a moral perspective, reception of the vaccine must be voluntary.

Practical reason “makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary,” the CDF declared.

The text added that from the ethical point of view, “the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one’s own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good, which may “recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed.”

The Vatican said it was responding to several requests for guidance regarding the use of vaccines with morally questionable origins as well as a need to clear up “diverse and sometimes conflicting pronouncements in the mass media by bishops, Catholic associations, and experts.”

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