Anti-vaccine talk cancelled at Catholic Church

A Catholic New Hampshire parish announced plans to sponsor an anti-vaccine speech, then abruptly cancelled it after protest from parish staff and other laymen.

Ste. Marie in Manchester, NH announced last week they’d be hosting a talk called “Vaccine Inflation” by Jenna Pedone, who describes herself as “a Registered Pharmacist for 20+ years with experience in retail pharmacy and pharmaceutical sales [who] has for over two years vigorously studied and reviewed vaccine science and ingredients as a concerned parent and healthcare professional.”

Pedone said she “studied under Dr. Sherry [sic] Tenpenny in her Mastering Vaccine Info course in 2018.”

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny is an osteopath who believes vaccines cause autism, food allergies, and speech impediments. She advocates a total refusal of vaccines and antibiotics. Tenpenny rejects germ theory and has no specialized training in infectious diseases, immunology or microbiology. When Gabrielle Giffords was shot, Tenpenny blamed vaccines.

The “Mastering Vaccine” course she offers, which consists of a series of online “modules,” explicitly promises to train participants to influence others in their churches to reject vaccines.

As a Catholic, I was alarmed to see the church sponsoring what was clearly going to be an anti-vaccine presentation marketed as information for “prolife Catholics.” The graphic Pedone provided for her speech shows pills marked with five-dollar bills.

Although vaccines are not administered in pill form, the image suggests that vaccines are promoted for financial reasons. I contacted Pedone for more information on the content of her speech. She told me:

I want to empower Catholics young and old to do their OWN research, trust their gut, believe in the immune system God have them. I was initially struck by something my pastor said about no boys being ordained this year in our diocese. It prompted me to email him sharing what I have researched about how vaccines are destroying our boys brains and how at the rate we are vaccinating, 1 in 2 boys will be autistic by 2030 so who will run our churches? Who will father our children and grandchildren? I want people to leave the talk feeling empowered that they don’t need a medical degree to learn about vaccines and health for their family and grandparents.

Pedone is apparently referring to a 2014 claim by a “senior research scientist at MIT” that half of all children will be autistic by 2025.

The scientist in question, Stephanie Seneff, is trained in computer science and has no training in epidemiology. She made her startling claims about autism based the assumption that correlation is causation, and that trends will always continue at the same rate.

But the rate of autism spectrum disorder diagnoses is not increasing. It has stabilized in recent years in the US, and most researchers believe that the apparent increase in autism in the past decade was due to improvements in diagnoses, and not to an increase in actual cases. In other words, it’s likely that more children do not have autism these days; we have simply become better at understanding what autism is and at recognizing it.

No study has ever established a causal connection between vaccines and autism. Countless studies have looked for and found no causal connection.

Moreover, boys with autism can and do grow up to father children and become priests.

Pedone said when she proposed making her speech at Ste. Marie, she did not speak to the pastor directly, but she had spoken to his secretary. Pedone said the secretary “was open to people seeing the information of which vaccines contain fetal DNA. People can learn and then make their own determination.”

No vaccines contain fetal DNA. Some vaccines are produced using cell lines derived from fetal tissue. Researchers have debunked reports suggesting that vaccines produced from fetal cell lines are “tainted.”

But even if these vaccines are safe, are they ethical, since they are derived from cell lines obtained through abortion? Pedone said that her speech would include “what to know as a prolife Catholic if you are going to follow the CDC recommended vaccine schedule.”

The Church has issued a statement about what pro-life Catholics need to know before they vaccinate:

The Church has asked us to protest against the practice of producing vaccines using cell lines derived from fetal tissue, to demand ethical vaccine production, and to ask for ethical alternatives if they are available; but the Pontifical Academy for Life has said it is ethical to use these vaccines. It says that doctors and parents who use vaccines produced unethically participate only in “a form of very remote mediate material cooperation” with the evil of abortion. Another example of remote mediate material cooperation is paying taxes as a citizen of a large country which may use some miniscule portion of that money to fund some unethical activity.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center says:

One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.

[…]

There would seem to be no proper grounds for refusing immunization against dangerous contagious disease, for example, rubella, especially in light of the concern that we should all have for the health of our children, public health, and the common good.

After I talked to Pedone, I contacted Ste. Marie to ask for more information about the speech. On Wednesday, Fr. Moe Larochelle called me to say that the talk had been cancelled, and that the cancellation would be announced in the bulletin and at Mass.

He said that he did authorize the speech, but at the time, he was not aware of how much controversy surrounds vaccines.

“Jenna [Pedone] presented it as if she were just giving information, so people could decide for themselves,” he said.

Once he became aware that the topic was much more controversial than he realized, he decided to simply cancel the speech, since there wasn’t enough time to organize a speaker who could present an opposing point of view. He said the parish did not want to create the impression that they were promoting any particular point of view.

He said that, in the future, if someone proposes giving a presentation on the topic, especially since it involves bioethics, the parish will handle it as they would handle a political presentation. “Now that I know, before I do anything, I’ll call the diocese,” he said.

Tom Bebbington, Director of Communication for the Diocese of Manchester, said that the diocese does not routinely give pastors or parishes guidelines about what kind of talks or presentations can be sponsored by the parish.

Bebbington said “there is no process for those invited by pastors/parish staff to speak in parishes. The concern is that it would too much for us to handle, especially for seasonal missions in parishes (e.g., Lent).”

The number of unvaccinated children in the US has quadrupled since 2001, and recent outbreaks of chickenpox, pertussis, measles, Hib, and pneumococcal disease have been traced back to vaccine refusal. Non-medical exemptions for vaccines, including religious exemptions, are on the rise in many states.

Our pastors are responsible for keeping abreast of innumerable kinds of information, and they may need our help in understanding how fraught the topic of vaccines is, and how much dangerously flawed information, both medical and ethical, is being circulated about the topic.

The “Vaccine Inflation” talk at Ste. Marie’s was cancelled because staff at the church and a number of concerned parishioners understood how problematic the upcoming speech would be, and they were able to dissuade him from allowing it to appear that the Church sanctions the ideas the talk contained. All educated Catholics who understand the importance of vaccines, for individual health and for the safety of the community, should ready to do the same.

Just as Catholics have an obligation to push for the production of more ethical vaccines and the obligation to protect the vulnerable from preventable diseases, we have an obligation to be vigilant, guarding our local parishes from even the appearance of condoning pseudo-science and pseudo-ethics. We must be well informed about our medical and ethical responsibility surrounding vaccines, and we must be prepared to speak up when dangerously erroneous information makes its way into our communities, especially under the guise of pro-life concerns.

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54 thoughts on “Anti-vaccine talk cancelled at Catholic Church”

  1. I worked in healthcare for many years and have four lovely daughters, the youngest is very autistic and will never leave the care of her family. I have skin in this game.

    I have only seen or taken part in one other debate on vaccines, it went like this.
    My organisation was having its yearly conference in a huge hall and before the meeting started we were just chatting. Suddenly the hall went very quiet, I caught the last end of the comment “… not sure I should have my child vaccinated “.

    Then like a movie 300 doctors, nurses, midwives, etc.. all said simultaneously “get her vaccinated “.

    The original speaker then said “Thank you” in a very quiet voice and the conference went on.

    I know that all of those 300 have very different views on most things but you would never get any argument on this point.

  2. How wonderful that this pharmacist was offering a class to her parish. Nobody would have been forced to go. If sounds like the church was willing to let someone with an opposing view hold a class too. What are the vaccine-religious folks afraid of? Why do they feel compelled to stifle the conversation? I hope the pharmacist doesn’t give up and helps new parents understand the ever-changing CDC recommended schedule.

  3. While this is a very controversial topic to be sure… The most important thing is for parents to be EDUCATED about the topic and the concerns. As a mother of three, I did not realize that there were any concerns about vaccines until my third child was 4 months old. Before that, I naively trusted my pediatrician. Unfortunately, my older two children’s health suffered from my ignorance. Trust me, this speaker likely has more knowledge about vaccines than the vast majority of pediatricians out there. I do not mean any disrespect to the pediatricians when I say this, it is simply that pediatricians are not being taught the real dangers of vaccines via their medical training. It is so unfortunate that people are not educated on this topic. Bravo for this speaker trying to make a difference and while unfortunate that the talk was not allowed in the Church, I hope that she continues her journey in trying to educate others about this topic.

  4. “When Gabrielle Giffords was shot, Tenpenny blamed vaccines.”

    For all we know, Dr. Tenpenny is right…or wrong. But your attempt to smear her based on your less-than-accurate rendering of her statements from the linked-to article doesn’t really address the issues, which are: do vaccines cause harm, and if so, could that harm account for, to at least some degree, the actions of Ms. Gifford’s assailant?

    I do not know, and I’m sure you do not know either. But asking questions and postulating theories is how science works. That’s how we get to the truth.

    Distance yourself form the pejoratives and stay on point. In so doing, you will further the truth.

    Further, there is nothing to celebrate and promote when an event is cancelled because it might ruffle feathers. The church could’ve just as easily given the same opportunity to a “pro-vaccine” group. Attendees at both events would have, I presume, been given information in an effort to help them make an informed decision either way.

    (Some people just cannot handle healthy dialog among (presumably) intelligent people.)

  5. My (scratching my head) question is: If vaccines are effect, what is the worry that a minority of kids are not vaccinated? The vaccinated kids won’t get the diseases, right? Only the non-vaccinated and Amish will suffer and thus reduce the surplus population of the non-compliant, right? That’ll teach ’em. If other parents don’t have their kids vaccinated, how does that affect others? Everyone else has a force shield of vaccines covering them.

    Another question: Why are there vaccinations for everything from chicken pox to the flu to STDs? Why are new vaccines developed in the best (cheapest) manner that will make someone a millionaire and shaft consumers? If the powers-that-be were really concerned about our health, vaccines would be gratis and there would be some serious drug reform

    I talk to many older people who say things like, “Oh, yeah. I had the measles and mumps when I was young.” There should be survivor groups! Survivors could wear polka dot ribbons. Then we could add flu survivor ribbons – perhaps green for phlegm. Because we definitely need more victim ribbons out there.

    1. The worry that a minority of kids is not vaccined is: you need a certain (high) percentage of the population being vaccined against a desease in order to effectively limit this disease in the population.
      Keep in mind that there are not only people who don’t want to be vaccined but also people who can’t be vaccined (people with immune deficiencies) for who it is very very dangerous if they have contact with children/people who have one of those deseases because they didn’t get vaccinations.
      If you refuse to get vaccinated, maybe it will not harm you that much because YOUR immune system can fight the desease more or less well. But old and immunodeficient people are not so lucky and your refusal endangers their health tremendously.

  6. This is a rare good news story. A harried and busy pastor okay-ed a controversial speaker out of ignorance (I doubt most priests have time to trawl the internet for vaccination-related conspiracy theories or pays any attention to *that ‘friend’* on FB that shares disseminates that kind of stuff). Better informed parishioners alerted him to significant repercussions and potential for scandal and he corrected course with not much fuss.

    Good job everyone.

    For what it’s worth, I’m extremely grateful that I was born into an nation where vaccines, antibiotics and hospitals are easily accessible. Any parent in developing nations would give more than their right arm to have the same access to these so that the other half of their born children would survive beyond the age of 5. For all the flaws in various developed health systems, they do a pretty good job of stopping people dying like flies.

  7. Has there been a study of vaccinated children vs. unvaccinated children and then measured their health over time? It seems like that would be a very easy way of knowing if they are effective?

  8. As a journalist, have you done your research fully on this topic? In America we have the right to be curious and find out more information regarding our health. We can disagree without hurling insults or judgments of someone’s character. Was there a sit down with any of the people you quoted in this article? Did you have an open, transparent conversation?

  9. As a prolife Catholic, I hate that the rubella vaccine is derived from a fetal cell line. I would rather that the vaccine had never been made than that that one child had been murdered. However, now that the vaccine does exist, I feel strongly about being vaccinated and vaccinating my children. Rubella is often deadly to the unborn. As a prolife Catholic, I would hate for an unborn child to die because a pregnant woman contracted rubella from me or my children due to my excess concern over mediate material cooperation with evil.

  10. I would like you to provide the double blind placebo controlled study that proves vaccines are safe and protective. In 1986 congress granted immunity to vaccine manufacturers. I wonder why.

      1. The flu shot is tricky because epidemiologists have to try and keep up with a bugger of a virus that mutates all the time. They have to make an (educated) guess at which virus strains are going to be the most virulent and therefore the most problematic. Sometimes they get it wrong, like last year in Australia where we had record numbers of hospitalisations and deaths from influenza; a combination of low vaccination rates and a particular nasty strain that wasn’t anticipated or covered by the vaccine. This year, the vaccination rates were the highest we’ve had since the availability of the flu shot and we also had the lowest rates of influenza infections, hospitalisations and deaths so far.

        I get flu shots, not because it will prevent me from contracting the flu ever again (it won’t) but because it makes life difficult for a nasty virus that has been responsible for millions of deaths and that’s worth it. My great-grandmother (God rest her soul) lived through the Influenza pandemic of 1917-18 and told stories, so we get our flu shots and pray that we, or our children never see anything like that in our lifetimes.

  11. There are fetal DNA fragments/contaminants in certain vaccines. Even if the DNA contaminants were filtered completely out (which would make the cost of the vaccine cost an exorbitant amount of money), those vaccines were still made with fetal tissue made from aborted fetuses and more fetal cell lines are being developed from aborted fetuses to make new vaccines.
    If you are pro life, this should concern you. Even if you aren’t pro life, injecting fetal dna fragments/contaminants into your child or yourself should concern you since Theresa Deisher (researcher who discovered stem cells) says that fetal DNA is readily taken up by stem cells(which would make them mutagenic). Adult stem cells, as in a blood transfusion, is not taken up by the stem cells.
    When we depend on the outcome of something immoral, it increases the need for that immoral thing.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=13&v=G1k6xLQnJD8

  12. To my knowledge, Dr. Wakefield’s study result have NOT been replicated anywhere, much less in “numerous other studies.” In 2011, the British Medical Journal published three articles arguing that Dr. Wakefield’s work was not just flawed but actually fraudulent.

  13. “Believe in the immune system God gave them” – I truly wish more people would study the history of comminicable diseases. What about the immune systems that weren’t able to fight off polio, diptheria, measles, etc., all those years ago? Yes, more should be done in regards to vaccine research and manufacturing, but please lets not overlook the diseases they prevent.

      1. I wish people would believe in the digestive systems God gave them and stop insisting on eating all of this harmful “””food”””!!

          1. Not one of these has been eradicated. Cholera and typhoid are common in places without clean water, which can be difficult to arrange for in poorer nations. Typhus and yellow fever, spread by insects, are still common in parts of the world where DDT was taken off the market before they could be controlled. The plague, which is spread partly by fleas and partly through the air, still occurs in places where crowding and lack of cleanliness are a problem.

            If your work required you and your family to travel in Africa or Asia, you would be ill-advised to skip your vaccines against these diseases. As it is, you are no doubt fortunate enough to live in a region where you don’t need such vaccinations. Also, I notice that you leave out smallpox, one of the few deadly diseases which (so far, knock wood) really has been eradicated, a goal which was certainly achieved through a massive vaccination campaign.

            The trouble with diseases like smallpox, along with measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, and mumps, is that they are spread through human contact and in some cases, air-borne viruses in respiratory droplets. Simple cleanliness cannot prevent them, though frequent hand-washing can help to make it less likely to pick up a virus from objects touched by an infected person.

            You should not be so quick to dismiss the importance of vaccines in saving lives.

            1. LFM, but was it vaccination that stopped the smallpox? Not a quarantine, improved hygiene and
              better living conditions, as it happened with other “filth diseases” that I mentioned?
              Smallpox vaccination procedure was rather disgusting…

          2. Hi Tatiana, several of those were transmitted via contaminated water/ food or insect bites (vs. airborne + droplets), so were controlled with proper hygiene, clean water, etc. There seems to be several theories and not a definitive answer as to how the plague diminished.

          3. Tatiana,

            As stated, all of those diseases are still with us. Yellow fever has a vaccine, and a very effective one at that– but, alas, expensive and hard to handle, and so there’s a significant problem in getting it to poor African nations… far from “disappearing”, it’s actually increasing, and kills about 50,000 people a year.

            Vaccination absolutely did stop smallpox. It’s quite contagious– there were cases where people got sick from handling library books that had been near people with smallpox. Even in the first world, as late as the 1960s there were outbreaks due to travelers returning from the third world with the disease and infecting people whose vaccinations had worn off or people who couldn’t/wouldn’t be vaccinated. Quarantines and sanitation didn’t stop it at all.

            As for cholera, plague, typhus and typhoid: all of those are bacterial diseases, and since the invention of antibiotics, the mortality rates in the first world are way down. Not so in the third world: these sicken and/or kill hundreds of thousands of people per year. And as we’ve seen from the hepatitis and measles outbreaks in California show, depending on public hygiene alone to protect you is wishful thinking, I’m afraid.

  14. Just want to point out that I’m pretty sure one, if not two of the priests in my deanery are probably on the autism spectrum, and they serve their flocks and bring glory to God just fine.

  15. I disagree with the determination that we are not morally responsible for how they were produced if we decide to use them. That is a utilitarian argument in my opinion. The ends do not justify the means, no matter how “noble” the intentions.

    “The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.” Wow, they jumped straight from being morally free to vaccinate to being morally obligated to vaccinate. Failing to inject drugs with harmful adjuvants and aborted fetal cell lines into myself in order to protect other people’s health is hardly the same as willing harm to them. Best case scenario, taking them would be a morally neutral action. More likely, taking them would be participating and “benefiting” from the willful destruction of human lives (regardless of how far removed I am from the activity).

    I don’t honestly care that the church event was cancelled but I feel these organizations are leading people astray morally.

    1. No, it says that parents have a moral obligation to protect their children. It strongly suggests that vaccines are generally morally obligatory (and I would agree) but it intentionally does not make that connection explicit.

      Thing is, vaccines that may have come from fetal cell lines are so far removed from the evil that is abortion that culpability is negligible. The only argument that holds water is that it’s morally evil to get a vaccine specifically because it came from a cell line. It’s practically impossible to live and participate in our society if you apply the same standard to any other good we use. Jewelry and electronics made from gems and metal from conflict zones and slave labor. Coffee and other goods that aren’t fair trade could mean farmers aren’t getting fair prices, and that can also qualify as a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance. Clothing made in sweatshops – even if purchased second hand. Buying goods from companies that support abortion. Buying anything from companies like Nestle, who have perpetrated so many evils and have so many brands that it’d take a full time job to figure out what’s okay to buy at the grocery store, if anything. What about voting for a candidate who then indirectly causes the death of innocent people?

      Arguing that it’s morally wrong to get one of those vaccines means it’s morally wrong for everyone, and that it’d be better if our children died from measles or whatever. A person could make that argument, and many people do. But please understand that there’s a massive incongruity here between vaccines and other goods and services that have a tangential relationship to moral evils.

      1. It would be better for my child to (God forbid) die of measles than for me to commit sin. People who make this argument seem to feel that death is the worst thing that can happen. It is not (though it would be devastating). Going to hell is the worst thing that can happen.

        1. This is perfectly true. However, the Church’s leaders have argued – persuasively, it seems to me – that the use of vaccines, even if sin may have been committed by those who prepared them, is not sinful. The situation appears similar to me to those many cases where people have asked us to boycott this or that business, because the business supports sinful things. We would have to go out of the world to avoid this very indirect sort of contamination by sin. There is a fundamental difference in Catholic teaching between direct cooperation with sin – which I must not do – and indirect – indeed, in this case, the bishops have said, very minimal connexion with sin.

          It is better for you to permit your child to die from measles rather than commit sin. It is better for your child not to die from measles if you could, without sin, do something to avoid that.

          jj

        2. How would you feel about other people’s children dying because you didn’t vaccinate your child? I’d feel pretty guilty, myself….

          1. Measles is a benign childhood illness. So is most of the illnesses we vaccinate for. The others are extremely rare. Many children,babies and adults have died or been injured by vaccines. No true placebo is used in clinical trials so how can we know if they are safe and protective? The VICP has paid out over $3.9 billion in this country for vaccine injury and death. How many people is it OK to sacrifice to the vaccine gods?

          2. Ali: Measles is not benign!! If a pregnant woman contracts it, it can do horrible things to her child. Blindness being the one I’m most familiar with.

        3. Perhaps you would feel different if your child had cancer and was recovering from chemo and radiation. And then unknowingly set his fragile immune system loose among children with stronger immune systems in a school where he could catch what they couldn’t. I would believe you thwarted God’s plan for his well being. I believe that is a sin.

          1. Measles is not benign. It can kill, especially if you catch it a little later in life. I had it in my late teens, and while it obviously didn’t kill me, it kept me out of school for over a month at a critical time, and left me weak for a year. It can also cause nasty scarring.

            1. LFM stop letting the CDC scare you. Measles is benign. The only reason people are getting it older is because they didn’t have it at the appropriate time because vaccines skewed that. Measles vaccines wane over time and do not confer protection so now measles appears in older populations. But really proper nutrition and keeping up your vitamin C and A levels make it a lot easier. We were promised that measles would be eradicated by use of the vaccine many years ago. Instead it is still here and one needs boosters because of waning effect. If we left it in the childhood population we would not have destroyed herd immunity. Herd immunity can only be achieved by people recovering from the wild virus.

    2. If an organ donor is murdered, is ethical to use their organs to save the lives of other people, or would that be considered as “participating and benefiting from the willful destruction of human lives”?

      To make this act unethical you would have to show that the existence of life-saving organ-transplants is causing people to commit murder, which I doubt is the case. This is why it’s possible to be pro-organ donation while still being against murder. In fact, if you know that the murder victim is an organ donor and that their organs could save the lives of other people, you could argue that it would be unethical *not* to perform the transplants.

      Similarly, unless it can be shown that these vaccines are the actual reason that the abortions occurred, there is no contradiction in being pro-vaccine while still being against abortion.

      What happened is a tragedy. Let’s prevent more from happening.

  16. It seems to me that, in the past fifty years (I am 76), people have become more and more distrustful – of everything. We seem to feel surrounded by conspiracies. ‘They’ are all around us and have secret agendas. It is a kind of Gnosticism, perhaps.

    jj

    1. Totally agree, Mr. Jensen. I never made the connection between alarmism and gnosticism, but I think you’re onto something.

    2. So with a scientific perspective can you provide an independent double blind placebo controlled study that proves vaccines are safe and protective?

      1. Can’t be done, ethically. You’d have to inject some people, not inject others, and then expose them all to dangerous germs over a period of years and see who got sick.

        The left-wing writer Jessica Mitford, who wanted to follow working-class mothers in their modes of baby care, took her infant to a ‘well-baby’ clinic in a dodgy neighbourhood. When she asked if she needed to have her baby vaccinated against measles which was going around at the time (her mother didn’t believe in vaccination), she was told no. The nurse and doctor assumed that like most working-class mothers, she had already had measles, and her baby would derive immunity through being nursed by her. (Nursing infants are protected by their mothers’ immunity.) Unfortunately, she had never been exposed to measles, and though she caught it and lived, her baby died of it. That was in the late 1930s, by the way.

        1. We have outbreaks of measles all the time and no one dies. By the time the vaccine was introduced mortality from measles had plummeted by 98% from what it was in 1900. The vaccine didn’t save us. When I was a kid we all got measles and lived without any adverse reactions. If anyone dies from measles now it would be because they have an underlying condition and measles would not really be the cause of death. Measles depletes the body of vitamin A so proper nutrition and supplementing vitamin A will ensure an easy passing of measles with lifelong immunity. The vaccine wanes over time and does not give lifelong immunity.

          1. I didn’t say there was. I was pointing out the dangers of measles to a child with no natural immunity and a mother who understood nothing about disease transmission.

            As I say in an earlier comment above, I’ve had measles too, and it was terrible. The great concern with it is that it can turn into pneumonia if you develop it at a later stage in childhood or young adulthood. That’s why parents of people in my generation would sometimes (laughingly) urge us to get exposed to it as early as possible, so that we could be done with it before it got too dangerous. This was probably a foolish idea, but I don’t think today’s fear of vaccination is any wiser.

  17. “…at the rate we are vaccinating, 1 in 2 boys will be autistic by 2030 so who will run our churches? Who will father our children and grandchildren?”

    What. The. Eff. On behalf of my beautiful autistic son, I humbly request that this woman never open her mouth again. This is brazenly ableist, and she shoukd be ashamed of herself.

    1. I agree that the woman’s phrasing was at best tactless and at worst rather brutal. It is possible, however, to have nothing against disabled people en masse, to see them as individuals who may be likable or not just as the ‘abled’ are, while still hoping that their disabilities can be cured or even eradicated some day. (Without killing anyone, I mean.)

      I have a disabled – mentally ill – relative whom I love dearly, and indeed I am his caregiver and legal guardian. But his disability involves considerable suffering and deprivation for him, and the loss of his original potential. I would not wish it on anyone, however much he and his family have learned to make the best of it.

  18. Excellent article, Simcha, and I’m glad the parish did the right thing.

    “believe in the immune system God have them.”
    Ugh. God gave my oldest a weak immune system and serious respiratory issues. I guess He wants him to die of an easily-prevented disease?

  19. There are just too many generalizations here. You say “No study has ever established a causal connection between vaccines and autism. Countless studies have looked for and found no causal connection.” That may be technically true in an air-tight sort of way, but even the hated Dr. Wakefield’s study results have been replicated in numerous other studies. Also, not all credibly-conducted research gets published. Look at the Vaccine Safety Commission’s list of dozens of concerning studies which never saw the light of day. I agree with you that neither side should be alarmist, but there is a need for greater honesty in discussing the risks as well as potential benefits.

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