Pelosi's Error Becomes A Bishop's Opportunity

August 28, 2008 09:00 AM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is, as we know, an avowed proponent of aborting innocent preborn children, and for that she makes no apologies. But what Pelosi is not honest about is her position and what it means (or should mean) when she claims to witness to the truths of the Catholic faith.

She recently said that she is an “ardent, practicing Catholic” who has studied the question of abortion for a long time.

Oh? Well, in her study, something has gone terribly wrong. She told Tom Brokaw that the debate within the Catholic Church on the question of when life begins has been ongoing and that nobody really knows when a human being begins. With all due respect to the Speaker of the House, I think she must be getting her Catholic education from an avowed atheist! Her misrepresentation of truth is fatally flawed.

 And I am so happy to say that several Catholic bishops have come forward and spoken about this, telling the media the truth. For example, Cardinal Edward Egan of the Archdiocese of New York said, “What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.”

Archbishop Donald Wuerl, of the Washington, D.C. archdiocese, who has persistently said he would not deny the body and blood of Christ to pro-abortion Catholics like Pelosi, told the Washington Post, "Abortion is evil. It's the destruction of a human life... this teaching has not changed and remains unchanged."

Archbishop Charles Chaput, of the Denver archdiocese, who is not denying Holy Communion to any pro-abortion Catholic during the Democratic National Convention or at any time as far as we know, wrote in an open letter released just after Pelosi’s diatribe,  “Abortion kills an unborn, developing human life. It is always gravely ill, and so are the evasions employed to justify it. Catholics who make excuses for it – whether they're famous or not – fool only themselves and abuse the fidelity of those Catholics who do sincerely seek to follow the Gospel and live their Catholic faith."

Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Doctrine, issued the following statement:

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)

In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church's moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.

These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church teaches that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.

We are grateful to God that so many bishops have found it necessary to publicly clarify Catholic teaching on the value and dignity of the human being and when each human being’s life begins. It is indeed a breath of fresh air!

But I have to ask, amidst the celebration about this remarkable turn of events, why these same bishops – and their fellow bishops – do not follow through and make it clear that pro-abortion Catholics should stay away from the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist until they have repented of their sins, and that if those who publicly support abortion attempt to receive the sacrament, they will be denied!

When Nancy Pelosi was asked whether or not she had been denied Holy Communion, she told a reporter that she has not experienced this and said, “That would be a severe blow to me…”

And that is precisely my point! Nancy Pelosi is telling the world she would be devastated if her priest told her that until she repents of her public support for aborting innocent preborn children, she may not receive the body and blood of Christ. However, her actions in defense of abortion support the tragedy of severe, deadly blows being leveled at thousands of preborn children daily. Can’t she see that? And will she ever see it if bishops remain timid?

Just as surely as it is wrong to misrepresent Catholic teaching on such a fundamental question as when a human being’s life begins, it is equally outrageous for so many Catholic bishops to ignore Church law and, in the process, fail to protect Christ from sacrilege and reach out to those whose eternal salvation is at stake to help them realize they must repent of supporting abortion.

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