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Mary wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a question on buying from a company who has a contract with another company that uses fetal cells for research.

Pepsi, the one who has the contract with this research company, is not using fetal cells in their research but is still contracted with them.

  • Is it a sin to buy from them?

I read about other companies that do use the cells but they were not on a [PDF] recent list I read on the Children of God for Life web site.

I also read Coca Cola backed down from using fetal cells but can't find the site where I read this.

  • Would it be a sin to assume they don't use fetal cells?


  { What moral culpability do we have with companies that use immoral means to sell their products? }

and in a similar question:

Anthony Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

I asked this question in a Question and Answer section of a Catholic forum, but I wanted some additional feedback.

I want to start by mentioning that this question is based on [PDF] a letter I read from the Pontifical Academy for Life. It was in regards to purchasing vaccines that made use of fetal cells. It stated that those who bought those vaccines were guilty of a very remote mediate material cooperation with the act of abortion.

It's very long, but if you still want to look at it, the relevant section is on page seven. According to this letter buying such vaccines would be sinful and should only be done in extreme circumstances. I'm guessing this also applies to food.

Apparently companies are using fetal cells to test the flavors of foods. The cells aren't in the products, but are used solely for testing. I guess this was brought to light by the group called Children of God for Life .

  • Do you know if they are a credible source?

The brands they mention are:

  • Pepsi (I assume this implicates Frito-Lay since they are owned by Pepsi)
  • Kraft, and
  • Nestle.

According the their web site, Pepsi and Kraft are removed from the boycott list. Although, Pepsi is still partnered with Senomyx, the company that does the testing, fetal cells won't be used in the testing of their products.

  • That said, should I now consider it moral to purchase Nestle and Pepsi products?

Also, I've seen blogs state that other brand names, like Kellogg's and Heinz have partnered with Senomyx. Outside of these blogs (one or two), I'm unable to verify these claims and it doesn't look like they are associated with the companies mentioned by Children of God for Life.

  • Considering this, what should I make of these claims?
  • Would it be moral for me to dismiss them?
  • Also, what's your general perception of this issue as a whole?

Lastly, I want to bring up something that's somewhat unrelated.

  • What should I do with companies that are known for animal abuse?

It seems like a lot of the big companies have been accused of such practices. While I stand strongly against such practices, it seems difficult to avoid their products.

  • Do I have a moral obligation to do so?

The reason I ask these questions is that these unethical practices are undertaken by most of the major companies (at least in appearance). It is a huge chore to avoid everything produced by them.



  { What moral culpability do we have with companies that use immoral means to sell their products? }

Mike replied:

Hi guys,

This is a common question; it's even in our searchable knowledge base:

There are a lot of quick answers there, so give it a try.

I searched the knowledge base for you and found these web posting that may help:

Although the above answer should address your questions, my other colleagues may have something else to add.

You went on to say:
I guess this was brought to light by the group called Children of God For Life.

  • Do you know if they are a credible source?

Yes! Catholic Culture gives them an excellent rating:

Children of God For Life

You said:
Lastly, I want to bring up something that's somewhat unrelated.

  • What should I do with companies that are known for animal abuse?

It seems like a lot of the big companies have been accused of such practices. While I stand strongly against such practices, it seems difficult to avoid their products.

  • Do I have a moral obligation to do so?

The Catechism tells us:

Respect for the integrity of creation

2415 The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. (Genesis 1:28-31) Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation. (cf. Encyclical Letter His Holiness Pope John Paul II Centesimus Annus 37-38)

2416 Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care.
By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. (cf. Matthew 6:26; Daniel 3:79-81) Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.

2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. (cf. Genesis 2:19-20; 9:1-4) Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.

It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.

In our culture, because human life is so down played and abused, before addressing issues of animal abuse, I would first ensure companies and organizations are boycotted that promote human abuse, like abortion, and human trafficking. Too many Catholics and other non-Catholic Christians have grabbed on to a weird idea that there are animals in Heaven. As my article, the Life of the Soul shows, there are no animals in Heaven.


Because animals only have a mortal or earthly soul, not an immoral or everlasting soul like men and women do.

If possible, you have a moral obligation to buy from companies that first respect all human life from conception to natural death followed secondarily by a respect for animal life.

When you are dealing with a set of companies that all have a disrespect for human and animal live, you should strive to choose the company that shows a lesser disrespect:

  1. first, for human life, and
  2. secondarily for animal life.

I hope this answers your question.


Mary replied:

Hi Mike,

Thanks it did help me.

  • For the companies I am not sure of, what do I do?

If they are not in the recent boycott list, do i just assume its OK to buy from them?


Mike replied:

Hi Mary,

  • You are not culpable on issues of corporate morality that you are uncertain of, so don't sweat it.
  • If you know a company is involved in issues of corporate morality that are contrary to Catholic teachings you are obliged to boycott or not by their product.
  • If your choice is between more than one company, all who have issues of corporate morality that are contrary to Catholic teachings, you should choose the lesser evil between the companies.


Anthony replied:

Yes, Mike,

That's the article I'm curious about.

As I was thinking about it, I don't know if that example is the same type of situation.

In it, the asker is talking about his job. In this case, he really doesn't have an option to reduce remote mediate cooperation. On the other hand, we can always buy different brands of food.

I was also curious about your opinion on the letter from the Vatican. I tied to use the search feature on their web site but I didn't have much luck.

Thanks again.


Mike replied:

Hi Anthony,

You said:
On the other hand, we can always buy different brands of food.

I would agree with your conclusion.

That document is a little on the heavy side to read, at least for me, but note this paragraph from page seven:

However, in this situation, the aspect of passive cooperation is that which stands out most. It is up to the faithful and citizens of upright conscience (fathers of families, doctors, etc.) to oppose, even by making an objection of conscience, the ever more widespread attacks against life and the "culture of death" which underlies them. From this point of view, the use of vaccines whose production is connected with procured abortion constitutes at least a mediate remote passive material cooperation to the abortion, and an immediate passive material cooperation with regard to their marketing. Furthermore, on a cultural level, the use of such vaccines contributes in the creation of a generalized social consensus to the operation of the pharmaceutical industries which produce them in an immoral way.

What applies to vaccines procured by immoral means can also be applied to products promoted using immoral means. So if you know a company is trying to promote or sell more of their product by immoral means, as you and Mary have asked, just choose a different brand.

If you don't know if one company is more immoral than another in how it promotes or sells its products, you are under no obligation to act one way or another.

Once you are aware of a difference, you are.

I hope this helps,


Anthony replied:

Hi Mike,

Thanks. That makes a lot of sense. This is entering territory in which I have little knowledge and your explanation does a lot to help make sense of it.

  • Do you mind if I ask you one more semi-unrelated question?

It deals with remote cooperation but moves further from things we need for survival.

Thanks again; I really appreciate your help.


Mike replied:


I'll do my best, though Paul may be stronger in this area.


Anthony replied:


This involves leisure activities. While I was reflecting on remote mediate cooperation, I realized that many of the companies I like, support sin.

First with Disney's acquisition of Star Wars, I became curious if buying Star Wars products (video games, movies, etc.) would be sinful. Technically by purchasing such products, money goes to Disney, which supports Planned Parenthood and gay marriage, so in a sense there's remote cooperation with sin.

I also became concerned with a video game developer whose games I like. Some of their other games allow players to enter into a same sex romance. It was a feature that was easily avoidable and so didn't bother me. Nothing led me to sin and so I wasn't concerned. Their games have good story lines with good characters. For that reason they became some of my favorites, until I thought about their supporting gay marriage through these other games. Well, currently I am subscribed to their online game.

  • Would it be sinful for me to maintain this subscription?

There is a free option, but I'll loose features. Technically, I could buy most of them back at a lower price than my usual annual fee but I'll loose some things permanently:

  • some of which creates an inconvenience, and
  • some content will be limited to a ridiculous level.

  • So what are your thoughts on these situations?

I did talk to my Confessor and he thought it would be a good idea for me to separate from these products. In regards to the game, he indicated that the fact that I would loose content could justify my continued subscription.

I never asked if he thought mortal sin could be involved so he never told me. I thought about bringing the issue up with him again but I won't have a chance for a couple of months.

Thanks and sorry for the length of my reply.


Mike replied:

Hi Anthony,

I would tend to agree with your Confessor. If a company has games that allow player to enter into a same sex romance, that's way beyond the pail.

Seeing, I'm somewhat of a gamer myself, if one runs into this, they should look to the company's competitor for alternatives and if they are all doing the same thing, try to find the least Catholic-offensive company.

It's also important to remember, there is no such thing as gay marriage.

Marriage is a Christian term that has been sanctified by Jesus. The main stream media has taken and bastardized terms in our faith for their selfish benefit.

I don't believe what you mentioned in your last question would fall into the area of being a mortal sin.

I hope this helps,


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