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20 February 2009 — Vol. 11/No. 07
American Catholics, at least those who frequent the pews and practice their faith, have long wanted their bishops to tell wayward Catholic politicians that they cannot, at one and same time, promote abortion and remain in good standing with the Catholic Church.
Now, the most powerful American Catholic politician has been put on notice by the world’s most powerful bishop that her stance on abortion is incompatible with that of a believing Catholic. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has been “strongly rebuked”–in the words of the Catholic News Agency–by the Pope himself.1
“Strongly rebuked” is about as strong a characterization of papal language as one gets this side of excommunication.
The Speaker of the House had requested the meeting, and apparently wanted a feel-good photo op for the Catholic hicks back home. The Vatican, however, insisted that the private meeting be closed to reporters and photographers. The Pontiff used the 15-minute meeting to instruct Pelosi, who claims to be an “ardent Catholic,” on some basic teachings of the Catholic Church on the right to life and the duty of legislators to protect the unborn.
As the Vatican Press Office described the meeting, “His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoins all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.”
This summary of the Pope’s remarks, oddly enough, was released in advance of the meeting. Were Vatican officials worried that the politician in Pelosi would lead her to mischaracterize the meeting? If so, they were right to be concerned.
Pelosi’s own statement mentions nothing about the Pope Benedict’s lengthy admonition to her, as a legislator, to defend life. Instead, she recounts how she spoke to the Holy Father about “poverty, hunger and global warming.”
In the past, Pelosi has claimed to be something of an expert on Catholic doctrine, especially when it comes to the life issues. In August, during an interview on Meet the Press, she was asked about the Church’s teaching that life begins at conception.
“As an ardent, practicing Catholic,” Pelosi responded, “this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And St. Augustine said at three months, we don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.” Then, piling error upon error, she then claimed that the Church has only held the view for 50 years or so that life begins at conception.
It is doubtful that Pelosi dared repeat these heretical views to the chief catechist of the Catholic Church. Did she even acknowledge that she is a longtime abortion zealot who even opposed the ban on partial-birth abortions, and who wants to force all American taxpayers to pay for abortions at home and abroad? Did she tell him that she wants to increase funding for the abortion industry, supports deadly fetal experimentation, and believes that children hurt the economy?
For his part, did the pontiff tell the highest-ranking female politician in the United States that, because of her unbridled and scandalous advocacy of abortion, she should refrain from taking communion?
One hopes so.
After all, it was Pope Benedict XVI who, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote the doctrinal note on “The Participation of Catholics in Political Life.” This 2002 document, approved by Pope John Paul II, states that politicians who profess to be Catholic have a “grave and clear obligation” to oppose any law that attacks human life. Those who don’t, the present pontiff has also said, shouldn’t enter the communion line.
Pelosi has also been recently reprimanded by her own bishop, Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco, for attempting to justify abortion by distorting Catholic teaching. At a secret meeting on February 8, the Archbishop laid out Catholic teaching on the life issues for the Speaker. Did Pelosi change her pro-abortion position as a result? “You won’t see that happening,” said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly afterwards. “She is not changing her position on abortion.”2 Pelosi also claims that she’s never been denied communion at her church in San Francisco.
Like those dissident priests who only wear their collar when they are publicly attacking the Church’s teachings, Nancy Pelosi’s claim to be a “practicing Catholic” stands revealed as a sham, used to perpetrate a kind of voter fraud on unsuspecting Catholic voters. What she preaches, she has now been told by the Bishop of San Francisco and the Bishop of Rome, is not Catholicism.
I cannot get this picture of the Vatican meeting out of my mind. Here in one chair is the Holy Father gently instructing his daughter about the sanctity of Life and her obligations as a Catholic legislator to defend it. And here in the other is Pelosi blathering on about Global Warming.
Someone ought to remind Nancy that, whatever the truth about Global Warming, it is awfully hot in Hell.
Steven W. Mosher is the President of Population Research Institute.