Nancy Pelosi leads a hard life. Look at all she has to do day-in, day-out: She's the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. That's tough enough. But she's just published a book (that's sold a whopping 4,000 copies); she's trying to "save the world" — her actual quote; and reassure jittery convention delegates that her choice for president, Senator Barack Obama, really doesn't have lousy poll numbers (a negative Biden bounce per today's Gallup Poll, an unprecedented decline after naming a running mate and after the first night of a convention). After all, she believes Obama was chosen by God Himself to rescue the world — from America. Adding to that slug of theology, Speaker Pelosi has added the responsibilities of Pope to her gig. On Sunday's "Meet The Press" on NBC, she responded to a Tom Brokow question about when life begins by declaring 2,000 years of Church teaching wrong. Seriously. (See it here, on YouTube.)
Okay, I'm not being straight up. The fact is, to be completely honest . . . she out-and-out lied!
Ms. Pelosi, who was raised Catholic, had the Everest-sized chutzpah to say the Catholic Church is not clear on its teaching of when life begins and that it has lacked clarity since its beginning. She implied that it even accepts cases of elective abortion. Then she said she had "researched" the issue for years and certain Church doctors (i.e., philosophers) had declared life begins three months after conception. Ms. Pelosi (contact here) considers herself a practicing Catholic. She needs to practice harder. As in Michael Phelps hard.
Rebukes were swift, sure and sharp. Chief among them, His Eminence, Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York. Today he said, in part (click here to read in full):
Anyone who dares to defend that they (the unborn) may be legitimately killed because another human being "chooses" to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name. (Emphasis added.)
Yesterday, His Eminence, Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, and Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., who head the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committees on Pro-Life Activities and Doctrines, respectively, issued a joint statement. It said, in part (click here to read in full):
In the course of a "Meet the Press" interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.
In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law." (No. 2271) (Emphasis added.)
We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops. Given this responsibility to teach, it is important to make this correction for the record.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear: the current teaching of the Catholic Church on human life and abortion is the same teaching as it was 2,000 years ago. The Catechism reads: "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception . . . Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law." (Catechism, 2270-2271)
The Catechism goes on to quote the Didache, a treatise that dates to the first century: "'You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.'"
Never before has any Catholic politician, much less one in such high authority, been so heavily rebuked by so many Church authorities so quickly and universally, for such a blatant, purposeful misrepresentation of Church teaching. In the past, several bishops have said they would withhold Holy Communion from Catholic lawmakers who supported abortion on demand. However, those politicians never disputed Church teaching. Rather, they subjugated their proclaimed agreement with the Church to the perceived law of the land (i.e., "our hands are tied"). Pelosi has grossly surpassed this already grievous miscalculation by proclaiming her views equal to Church teaching.
In addition, the Archbishop of San Francisco, George Niederauer, of Pelosi's home diocese, published the USCCB statement on the archdiocese's Web site and will publish his personal response this Friday in the archdiocese's weekly, Catholic San Francisco. (Excellent reporting on all this is at American Papist.) So, Pelosi clearly has it coming from all corners, and justifiably so. Her comments, intended to minimize the authority of the Church and — worse — relegate it to nothing more than a subjective think tank with no more understanding of Church teaching than a hack who's done "some research" is appalling and ranks near blasphemy and sacrilege.
Cardinal Egan said it best: She is not deserving of her position of leadership. Neither, we add, are any of those who agree with — or apologize for — her. If Speaker Pelosi firmly believes her secularized version of Catholicism is correct, she needs to start her own denomination. No one is stopping her. Then, she can wear a papal hat of her own and make any proclamation based on her "research" she wants.