NatRev: Lopez on Pelosi’s gaffs on the beginning of life

Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review had interesting observations about Speaker Pelosi’s Meet The Press inept pontifications.

What Makes a Speaker Catholic?
Buying into Pelosi’s personal church.

By Kathryn Jean Lopez

Denver — “If you’re Catholic and you disagree with your Church. What do you do? You change your mind.”

So said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, [Hurray!] archbishop of the Catholic archdiocese of Denver, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 6:30 Mass on Sunday night, as the Democratic Convention was set to begin.

His comments — part of his homily during the Mass — came hours after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, describing herself as an “ardent practicing Catholic,” announced that when life begins “shouldn’t have an impact on a woman’s right to choose.” She explained that “over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy.” Ignoring both embryology and the Vatican, [Yes... good point about the embryology: this is to say that the embryo does not develop into a giraffe or three-toed sloth.] she insisted on giving the impression that abortion is somehow an open, undecided question in the Roman Catholic Church[Which is nothing more than a lie.  She knows better.  She lied.]

But, as Chaput, author of the new book Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, explained in an interview with National Review Online last week, “Abortion always, deliberately kills an innocent unborn child. Nobody can honestly claim to be a faithful Catholic and then support a false ‘right’ to abortion; it’s just an elegant way of evading the brutality of what abortion actually does.” He explained, “Abortion is never morally justified.”

The archbishop’s guidance echoes The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”

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,” it continues.

Further, it cites Vatican instruction: “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”

It’s a far cry from Nancy Pelosi’s catechism which would make Roe v. Wade a sacred doctrine. [Exactly my point in my own fisk of the transcript.  Pelosi makes Roe v Wade the point of reference, rather than the Magisterium.] The ruling, she said, has “very clear distinctions.” She doesn’t make those distinctions clear (nor does the Court — contrary to popular mythical belief, the Court does not ban third trimester abortions, for instance), because she really can square the circle she’s trying to; she simply can’t make the case that an “ardent practicing Catholic” can believe that abortion is a perfectly fine decision [Right.] that a “woman has to make with her doctor and her god.”

The issue of abortion is not the only significant issue Pelosi is in disagreement with her church on. In a book edited by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s daughter Kerry Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi contributes an essay in which she announces:

    My granddaughter was getting ready for her First Communion. Around the time of the swearing-in, we were all just lying on the bed, after the tea or something, and she said to her mother, “I want to explain to Mimi” — that’s me — “that it is the body and blood of Christ. When we go to church, it is the body and blood of Christ.” So her mother, in the interest of trying to simplify, said “Yes, the host and the wine represent the body and blood of Christ.” And my granddaughter said, “Not represent. Is, it is the body and blood of Christ.” My granddaughter was buying into it, okay. But it is hard. Every Sunday for me it’s hard. Christ had died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Now think of it, we say that every week. Do I really believe he’s coming again? Yes, I believe he’s coming again. Christ died, Christ is risen, Chirst will come again. This is my body, this is my blood. They’re asking a lot. In my era, we didn’t question any of it[Congresswoman Pelosi, kindly review John 6.]

If you believe Christ is coming again and died for our sins to give us eternal life, “they’re” not asking all that much.

If you’re not Catholic, her frustration probably sounds reasonable — which may be part of the reason you’re not Catholic. But if you’re truly Catholic, that is, if you “buy into” what the Catholic Church teaches, then you believe in the Real Presence, which is at the very heart of the Church. Otherwise, as Archbishop Chaput put it Sunday, “you’re not Catholic.[That's it in a nutshell.] Preaching from the Gospel for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, from Matthew (16:13-20), Chaput echoed Christ’s question to His Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” Chaput replied: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” One has to “say it and let our lives be driven by it.” Our personal, professional, communal, and political lives, Chaput was careful to spell out. “If you can’t,” he said, “you’re not Catholic.”  [This is important.  Faith must not be relegated to soley the realm of the private.  It must inform every aspect of your life.  But for decades now, since the infamous Kennedy speach in Dallas, since the evil teaching of Fr. Drinan, since the more modern application of both by Mario Cuomo, Catholic politicians have been given "permission" to buy into the broader efforts to marginalize the Catholic voice from the public square.]

Like Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joseph Biden, presidential nominee John Kerry before him, nearly every Kennedy who has ever ran for office, and countless other “Catholic” Democrats, Pelosi doesn’t shy away from using her Catholicism on the campaign trail and in her political life. As these politicians court “the Catholic vote,” faithful Catholics need to consider their moral responsibilities in the voting booth and hold accountable those politicians who support and defend a candidate who, for example, has refused to oppose infanticide.

In her book, Know Your Power, Nancy Pelosi sounds sincere when she insists, “Growing up Catholic had an enormous impact on me — greater, I am certain, than growing up in a political family.” I believe she is sincere. It seems to mean a lot to her that she represents San Francisco, “the City of St. Francis.” In her book, she cites his prayer on peace and love. She loves peace and love. But that’s not enough to be Catholic.

Perhaps Pelosi has not had the gift of a Sunday teacher as clear as Archbishop Chaput in her life. Perhaps Pelosi has been given mixed signals by churchmen. Perhaps Pelosi truly believes she can write her own way without effectively removing herself from the Catholic Church. That possibility underscores the need for more forthright priests and bishops like Chaput — for the benefit of the Nancy Pelosis and Joe Bidens of the world, as well as every last Catholic vote they court.

As Chaput put it to NRO last week: “Our faith should shape our lives, including our political choices. Of course, that demands that we actually study and deepen our Catholic faith. The Catholic faith isn’t a set of clothes that we can tailor to a personal fit. We don’t “invent” our faith, and we don’t “own” it. If we really want to be Catholic, then we’ll live by Catholic teaching. Otherwise we’re just fooling ourselves and abusing the belief of other Catholics who really do try to practice what the Church teaches.”

Sometimes “Catholic” isn’t all that Catholic. Sometimes, on Meet the Press, or on a convention stage — from which Nancy Pelosi will speak tonight here in Denver — it’s just another strategic rhetorical device. Don’t be fooled. And whether you’re voting or campaigning, don’t lose your soul to the soul of a party.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.

 Excellent!  Well done.

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27 Responses to NatRev: Lopez on Pelosi’s gaffs on the beginning of life

  1. Larry says:

    What I didn’t see in this report is that when Archbishop Charles said, “You change your mind.”, there was applause, not a lot because we normally don’t applaud his homily, because it is a homiliy. Yes we got the point and we agreed and we responded because in this context it is important to respond. Ms. Lopez of late has become a very important witness to what it means to be Catholic in the public square. Three cheers! and Thanks be to God! Keep up the Good Work.

  2. MMJ says:

    As Abp Chaput also said in his homily last night (forgive my paraphrasing)– what do you do when you find your thinking is at odds with church teaching? You change your mind.

    The audio should be available on the archdiocesan website soon.

  3. Jayna says:

    “Perhaps Pelosi has not had the gift of a Sunday teacher as clear as Archbishop Chaput in her life. Perhaps Pelosi has been given mixed signals by churchmen.”

    I actually wouldn’t be surprised at all if that were the case. I was talking to the woman who runs the initiation program at the church I have to take classes at for my confirmation and she said it was perfectly fine to know what the Church’s teachings are and then see if they mesh with your own moral constructions, if you can in good conscience follow them. She said specifically that the Church’s teachings are not black and white and are completely open to personal interpretation. This is a catechist saying these things!

    I know that when I was a child I didn’t receive that sort of education (there was a very traditional rector at the church we attended), but in the parish I am now a part of, that is more or less the party line. Priests included, more than once I have been told in confession that if I don’t personally think it’s a sin, it isn’t.

  4. TJM says:

    Jayna, sounds like the catechist is just another fake Catholic like Pelosi. Ask the catechist if you are Catholic if you don’t believe
    in the Real Presence or that Christ rose from the dead. Tom

  5. Baron Korf says:

    God Bless Pelosi’s granddaughter! St. Michael, defend her from the dissents and heresies she must face in that family!

  6. ThomasB says:

    Far less-clever could also take Popelosi apart.

  7. “…that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god.”
    I find the non-capitalization of “god” degrading to the writer. If your argument is solid and correct, then you do not need childish, digging-at-you-type of comments to solidify your position. The “her god” is a gotch ya comment, far below the dignity of the well written essay.

  8. ThomasB says:

    Sorry, posted on the wrong thread…too many pages open.

  9. David Nandell says:

    Mrs. Pelosi:

    “Truly, I tell you with certainty, when you were young, you would fasten your belt and go wherever you liked. But when you get old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten your belt and take you where you don’t want to go.”

  10. Frank H says:

    The “between her doctor and her god” is a quote attributed to Ms. Pelosi from the NBC News transcript of the interview on Meet The Press. Thus it cannot be beneath the dignity of the writer.

  11. Tina in Ashburn says:

    In the Ottaviani Intervention, Cardinal Ottaviani stated concise differences between the old Mass the then-proposed New Mass. Ottaviani said that proclaiming “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” right after the Consecration sounds like, although Christ is coming in the future, the statement ignores the Body and Blood that is right there present resulting from the Consecration. [paraphrase] *

    Ottaviani made uncanny prophecies that such changes in the Mass would create misunderstanding of the Faith itself.

    I’m no fan of Pelosi or her behavior, but I dunno, I wonder if any of this relates to Pelosi’s confusion.

    *…the people’s Memorial Acclamation which immediately follows the Consecration–”Your holy death, we proclaim, O Lord…until you come”–introduces the same ambiguity about the Real Presence under the guise of an allusion to the Last Judgment. Without so much as a pause, the people proclaim their expectation of Christ at the end of time, just at the moment when He is *substantially present* on the altar–as if Christ’s real coming will occur only at the end of time, rather than there on the altar itself. The second optional Memorial Acclamation brings this out even more strongly:
    “When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.”
    The juxtaposition of entirely different realities–immolation and eating, the Real Presence and Christ’s Second Coming–brings ambiguity to a new height. [Chapter 4, 4. C]

  12. Jerry Boyd says:

    Being Catholic means living, breathing, and exemplifying the teachings of the Church 24/7/365. There can be no separation between “what I believe personally” and “the rights of others” as so-called Catholic politicians are so quick to distinguish. It would be truely refreshing (and a darned good example to others!) to have a Catholic politician publicly state that he believes certain things (such as abortion) to be wrong and that because they are wrong s/he does NOT support the right of anyone to choose them.

    The list of so-called Catholic politicians who waffle is lengthy. Biden, Kennedy, Kerry, the Governor of Oregon, etc etc. The list of Catholic politicians who will not support any waiver from Church teaching is so short it is no list at all.

    Surveys show that this country is hungry for real leadership. Yet what we have are politicians who speak out of all sindes of their mouth trying to please everyone, all the time (we have some Bishops who are that way too). Wouldn’t they be shocked to find that straight talk (in conformance with Church teaching) positions would likely have the pragmatic effect of garnering more votes than their present waffling?

  13. CK says:

    John Allen is speaking to this matter with regard to Biden and making the point that seems to be centrally important to orthodox Catholics:

    In 2004, following agonizing debate, the U.S. bishops decided that they could not arrive at a uniform national stand on this question, and therefore it would be up to each bishop to set policy in his diocese.

    That’s fully in keeping with Catholic theology, which regards each bishop as the supreme authority in his diocese, answerable only to the pope. Yet it also means that a national candidate could be treated differently depending upon which diocese he or she happens to be in on any given Sunday. Such disparities in turn fuel perceptions of division in the church, which is something the bishops always abhor.

    And then he goes on to mention that Biden is a regular communicant at 2 parishes and that his own bishop happens to be, then, one “type” of bishop on this question.

    And isn’t this ridiculous:

    If nothing else, Biden’s nomination means that advance teams for the Democrats have one other complexity to factor into scheduling campaign stops for their VP nominee. If Biden is planning to be in a given town on Sunday, they’re going to have to put out quiet feelers to make sure that if he shows up at a local parish for Mass, he’s not going to be publicly snubbed for Communion. (Kerry advance teams were forced to do the same thing in ’04.)

    http://ncronline3.org/drupal/?q=node/1670

  14. Steve K. says:

    Jayna, your experiences are not unique. The adult catechesis program at my old parish (before I jumped ship to the FSSP parish nearby), had just such a director. She taught several things that were at odds with Church teaching, and only gave notice that it wasn’t Church teaching when there was no way to deny it, e.g. on women’s ordination. When challenged on that point, she claimed a right to “personal conscience” that she assured everyone trumps Church teaching, and she has this on authority of the Church.

    Yes, this woman remains in the employ of the diocese of Richmond, Va. She also brought her friends in to teach RCIA classes (many of these women, ex-nuns, like her), one of whom one night compared Eucharist to having sex.

    In many parishes throughout the land, catechesis is in the hands of those who do the Enemy’s work, thus we should not be surprised to see so many malformed Catholics running around believing things inimical to the Truth.

  15. Lindsay says:

    I suppose it makes perfect sense that Pelosi sees no problem in receiving in spite of her differences with the church. How can she possibly have a concept of the sacrilege committed if she thinks its just a “symbol?” It isn’t simply about proper formal catechesis (teaching from priests and bishops). If we don’t treat the Eucharist as if it is sacred and holy, we stop believing it. Liturgy really is so important!

  16. Tom R. says:

    Until and unless ALL United States bishops start thinking and talking like Acbp. Chaput, we will have abortion in this country. Perhaps Ms. Pelosi’s bishop should seek counsel from the Speaker’s granddaughter. He might learn something…

  17. Jacques says:

    “If you’re Catholic and you disagree with your Church. What do you do? You change your mind.”
    I wish to add:
    “If you’re Catholic and you disagree with your Church. If you don’t want to change your mind, you are free to leave, the door is wide open”
    Possibly Mrs Pelosi secretly is considering she will succeed to change the Church’s mind regarding abortion (and probably other issues…). That’s why she will not quit.
    It is a somehow masochist attitude.

  18. Lucia says:

    Jayna–

    If you don’t think it is a sin, then it isn’t. This is not because you get to make the rules, but because if you are not aware of something being evil, you cannot possibly be held responsible for not being informed. However, this is rare, because most Confession-going, faithful Catholics have enough of a well-formed conscience to know the difference.

    Criteria for a sin: know it’s wrong, do it anyway. Not just the “do it anyway” part, but also the knowledge! :)

    Lucia

  19. RBrown says:

    I actually wouldn’t be surprised at all if that were the case. I was talking to the woman who runs the initiation program at the church I have to take classes at for my confirmation and she said it was perfectly fine to know what the Church’s teachings are and then see if they mesh with your own moral constructions, if you can in good conscience follow them. She said specifically that the Church’s teachings are not black and white and are completely open to personal interpretation.

    You might want to mention to her that her attitude toward morality has a lot in common with those homosexual priest preying on young adolescents.

    Priests included, more than once I have been told in confession that if I don’t personally think it’s a sin, it isn’t.
    Comment by Jayna

    See above.

  20. RBrown says:


    If you don’t think it is a sin, then it isn’t. This is not because you get to make the rules, but because if you are not aware of something being evil, you cannot possibly be held responsible for not being informed. However, this is rare, because most Confession-going, faithful Catholics have enough of a well-formed conscience to know the difference.
    Criteria for a sin: know it’s wrong, do it anyway. Not just the “do it anyway” part, but also the knowledge! :)
    Lucia

    Yes and no. In matters of not knowing, there’s the question of vincible ignorance: If someone is in some way responsible for ignorance of moral precepts (because of laziness, negligence, or bad will), then there is guilt.

  21. Lucia says:

    very true, RBrown, thanks for clarifying. :)

  22. PMcGrath says:

    For those who haven’t seen it yet, Abp. Chaput and his auxiliary issued a statement today (25 Aug 08), “On the Separation of Sense and State. (PDF warning).

    Good document. If I were writing it, it would be a bit more in-your-face, but the Archbishop is more gracious than I am.

    Papa Benny: Please send Abp. Chaput to New York (since we can’t have Abp. Burke)!

  23. Blake says:

    Archbishop Chaput did state on “The World Over” last week that one could vote for a pro-abortion candidate as long as your vote wasn’t in support of the candidate’s position on abortion…go figure that one out.

    He seems to speak out of both sides of his mouth on this issue. [Or he has made a distinction you have not learned about yet. - Fr Z]

  24. Willebrord says:

    Heh, looks like her granddaughter has more Catholic sense than she does (a better catechist, maybe?).

    In response to Lucia’s comment, while if a person, due to no knowledge that something’s a sin, commits that sin, obviously he is not totally guilty of that sin.

    However, that does not totally absolve a person of that sin, as many sins can be easily realized as sins from the Natural Law. It’s not rocket science, it’s a child. In a similar way, I highly doubt a rapist would believe what he’s doing is totally OK. Those in our country that claim that there is no right or wrong are simply lying to themselves.

  25. Blake says:

    Maybe Father, but I wish he and the bishops would be crystal clear on this. It would’ve been perfect if he said “Raymond, there may be some bishops who may find a compelling reason for guiding their flock to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, but I for one will not do that. To vote for a candidate that supports the murder of innocent children is anathema to the faith and puts a Catholic’s soul at risk. A non-vote is also a proper response. We must remember that God’s laws trump mens’ laws and as Catholics we must always put God’s law first.”

  26. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Blake, At first the Archbp comments scared me too. Commenters developed a better understanding on what Archbp Chaput actually said in a previous thread http://wdtprs.com/blog/2008/08/speaker-nancy-pelosi-d-ca-on-when-human-life-begins/

    Consider this: not voting at all can allow the worst candidate to be elected. If we vote for a poor candidate but know that his party would support good judge choices and further other pro-life causes, this can be the better choice than staying away from voting completely and watching the worst candidate and party win. Letting an anti-life party win would eliminate the hard-won legislation the pro-lifers have gained for us such as some of the bans on partial-birth abortion, among other things and also in other areas such as marriage.

    Now in context, do Chaput’s remarks make a little more sense? He is not advocating votes in the sense you describe.

  27. Anne says:

    Fr. Drinan RIP:- To quote Fr. Neuhaus, “a Jesuit who, more than any other single figure, has been influential in tutoring Catholic politicians on the acceptability of rejecting the Church’s teaching on the defense of innocent human life.” Fr. Drinan was also an advisor to John Kerry in the last election. No wonder they’re confused!