Letter From Rome in Defense of Parental Rights on Vaccines

NOTE:  Following is a letter received on behalf of a student who was expelled from her Catholic school for refusing to use aborted fetal cell line vaccines.  The school and diocese in question have now agreed to allow children to remain in school, honoring their State provided religious exemption, while the Vatican studies this issue.



April 26, 2005

To Whom It May Concern:

It has just come to my attention that a child has been expelled from a Catholic educational institution for reasons of non-conformity to a diocesan policy of denying State-allowed religious exemptions. The vaccines in question are propagated on aborted fetal cell lines.  This is a violation of the Catholic Church’s centuries-old teaching on the supremacy of the Moral Conscience and the right of parents to preside over the total wellbeing of their children.

I can attest personally that this issue is presently under consideration by various offices of the Vatican concerned with the doctrinal and moral aspects of this complex issue. Pending a final judgment on this issue the parental right of conscience is to be considered the binding authority in this matter and the child should not be penalized for non-conformity to a policy which is not defined as Church doctrine or practice.

As Executive Director of Human Life International’s office in Rome, I have been a strong advocate of parental rights in these cases, and I have personally attended meetings of the Pontifical Academy for Life in Rome which has considered this issue carefully for the past several years. Due to recent changes in the Vatican hierarchy we remain hopeful that a definitive decision on the issue of vaccines will be given this year. In the meantime I attach for your consideration some quotes from official Church documents which clearly spell out the supremacy of the parental right of conscience in this matter.


Mons. Ignacio Barreiro

Executive Director

Code of Canon Law

Christ’s faithful are to strive to secure that in the civil society the laws which regulate the formation of the young, also provide a religious and moral education in the schools that is in accord with the conscience of the parents. (c. 799)

Parents have the most grave obligation and the primary right to do all in their power to ensure their children’s physical, social, cultural, moral and religious upbringing. (c.1136)

Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, n. 40

“The parents have been appointed by God Himself as the first and principal educators of their children…their right is completely inalienable”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, on Parental Duty and Moral Conscience

The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. “The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.” The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.

(CCC 2221)

Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters. (CCC 1782)