Speaker Pelosi’s bishop now speaks

UPDATE 15:49 GMT 5 Sept:

American Papist has a fascinating observation:

AmP reader Desiderius asks:

"Note the Abp’s message was printed simultaneously in The Tidings (Los Angeles), obviously [well, reasonably - AmP] a coordinated effort. Might one conclude this suffices as Cardinal Mahony’s response to Nancy Pelosi?"

This has been a public service announcement.

And now back to our regular post:
___________________

From His Excellency Most Reverend George H. Niederauer, Archbishop of San Francisco, the ordinary of the place where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has domicile.

My emphases and comments.

 

San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer addresses recent comments made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

By Most Rev. George H. Niederauer

September 5, 2008

Following is a statement by San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer in response to recent comments on abortion, Catholic teaching on the beginning of life, and other life issues made by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This statement by Archbishop Niederauer was published in the Sept. 5, 2008 issue of Catholic San Francisco, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Last month, in two televised interviews and a subsequent statement released through her office, Nancy Pelosi, [He names her. Not all bishops did.] Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a Catholic residing in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, [and Washington DC] made remarks that are in serious conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church about abortion. [solid] It is my responsibility as Archbishop of San Francisco to teach clearly what Christ in his Church teaches about faith and morals, and to oppose erroneous, misleading and confusing positions when they are advanced.  [Good for him!]

In his statement about Speaker Pelosi’s remarks, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., [the other bishop involved] expressed the response of many bishops when he said, "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." In addition to Archbishop Wuerl, several other bishops have already appropriately and helpfully pointed out the errors in the Speaker’s remarks. Nevertheless, it is my particular duty to address them as well. Let me acknowledge even as I do so that Speaker Pelosi is a gifted, dedicated and accomplished public servant, and that she has stated often her love for her faith and for the Catholic Church. The Speaker has been supportive of legislation that helped to implement some [some] of the social teachings of the Church. However, her recent remarks are opposed to Church teaching.

[Here comes the necessary boilerplate.  Still, repetita iuvant.] In The Catechism of the Catholic Church we find this statement: "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, willed either as an end or a means, is grossly contrary to the moral law." ( 2270 – 71 ) The Catechism then quotes the Didache ( also referred to as The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles ) , the oldest extant manual of church order, dating from the late first or early second century: "You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish." In 2004 the bishops of the United States, in their statement, "Catholics in Political Life," said: "It is the teaching of the Catholic Church from the very beginning that the killing of an unborn child is always intrinsically evil and can never be justified. This is the constant and received teaching of the Church. It is, as well, the conviction of many other people of good will."

On the television program "Meet the Press," [therefore, scandal on a grand scale] on Sunday, August 24, 2008, Speaker Pelosi spoke of herself and the bishops of her Church in these words: "So there’s some areas where we’re in agreement and some areas where we’re not, and one being a woman’s right to choose, and the other being stem cell research." In April of this year, in a teleconference with Catholic News Service and other media she made a similar remark: "I have a sort of serenity about the issue. I come from a family who doesn’t share my position on pro – choice. The Church sees it another way, and I respect that."

The bishops at the Second Vatican Council declared that, as Catholics, we believe what the Church authoritatively teaches on matters of faith and morals, for to hear the voice of the Church on those matters is to hear the voice of Christ himself. ( Lumen Gentium, No. 25; Mysterium Ecclesiae, No. 2 ) [Let's mention GS 51] Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church and protects it from error. We believe that the Roman Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, is the successor of Peter, the Rock on whom Jesus Christ has built his Church, and is not just another man who is entitled to his opinions on faith. We believe that we are called to trust the Spirit to guide the Church, so we do not pick and choose among her teachings. Mr. Tom Brokaw, the moderator of "Meet the Press," asked Speaker Pelosi, "When does life begin?" She responded: "We don’t know. The point is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose." Later: "I don’t think anyone can tell you when life begins, when human life begins." Mr. Brokaw: "The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it begins at the point of conception." Speaker Pelosi: "I understand. And this is maybe fifty years or something like that."

Speaker Pelosi’s remarks called forth many responses, from Catholics in the pews as well as from bishops. [Not just from the pews, Your Excellency.] As a result, on Tuesday, August 26th, two days after "Meet the Press" had aired, the Speaker’s office issued a statement on her behalf. It contained this sentence: "While Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception, many Catholics do not ascribe[sic] to that view." That statement suggests that morality can be decided by poll, by numbers. If ninety percent of Catholics subscribe to the view that human life begins at conception, does that makes Church teaching truer than if only seventy percent or fifty percent agree?

Authentic moral teaching is based on objective truth, not polling. [Well said.] For instance, in 1861, as the Civil War began, a majority of the residents of Massachusetts opposed slavery, a majority of the residents of South Carolina approved of slavery, and in Missouri people were sharply divided on the issue. Does that mean that, in 1861, slavery was immoral in Massachusetts, moral in South Carolina, and something of a moral "wash" in Missouri? Sound moral teaching demands much more good sense than that.  [Good!  Good arguement.  This could be useful in light of the same-sex marriage controversy as well.]

Since August 24th many Catholics have written me letters and sent me e – mails in which they expressed their dismay and concern about the Speaker’s remarks. Very often they moved on to a question that caused much discussion during the 2004 campaign: Is it necessary to deny Holy Communion to some Catholics in public life because of their public support for abortion on demand? [Yes.  This is the unavoidable question.]  I want to address that question in the light of the 2004 statement of the U.S. bishops, [Uh oh...]  "Catholics in Political Life," and their 2006 statement on preparing to receive Christ worthily in the Eucharist, "Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper." Both statements can be found on the bishops’ website, usccb.org, and they lead the reader to conclude that this is a sensitive and complicated question, [even, perhaps, "nuanced"?] and does not lend itself to sound bites, headlines or slogans.

In their 2006 document, "Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper," the bishops begin by reminding Catholics that "the celebration of the Mass is the center of the life of the Church." The Eucharist joins each of us to the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross, unites us with the Risen Christ, and unites us with one another in Christ. Each reception of Holy Communion looks forward to our union with Christ forever in heaven. [okay...]

The very first generation of Christians saw the need to examine one’s conscience regarding one’s worthiness to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord. Writing around 57 A.D., St. Paul told the Corinthians, "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup." ( 1Cor. 11;27 – 28 ) Of course we are never fully worthy to eat the bread and drink the cup, as we exclaim at each Mass before we receive Holy Communion: "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." However, the unity nourished and expressed in Holy Communion can be broken by serious sin, hence our self – examination enables us to acknowledge whether we have committed such a sin, and to seek out the Sacrament of Reconciliation before eating the bread and drinking the cup.  [okay....]

The practice of the Church is to accept this conscientious self – appraisal of each person ["conscientious self"?] ( Canon 912 ). Thus, in this matter the state of the person’s awareness of his or her situation is of fundamental importance. [But... in the situation of very public figures, at the focus point of this controversy, we know that adequate instruction has been applied.... right? ] As the bishops say most forcefully in the 2006 document, " we should be cautious when making judgments about whether or not someone else should receive Holy Communion."

Nevertheless, the bishops go on to say: "If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately repudiate her definitive teachings on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain." Why is this repudiation of Church teaching such a serious matter? The bishops respond: "To give selective assent to the teachings of the Church deprives us of her life – giving message, but also seriously endangers our communion with her."

This teaching of the bishops does not violate the separation of church and state. [Good.] That separation does not require a division between faith and public action, between moral principles and political choices. Believers and religious groups may practice their faith and act on their values in public life, and have done so throughout the history of this country. In his or her conscience, properly formed, a Catholic should recognize that making legal an evil action, such as abortion, is itself wrong[Ergo.... ?]

What of Catholics who find themselves questioning the teachings of the Church, or experiencing uncertainties and questions about them[Your Excellency.. what of those who know them and explicitly deny them on world-wide television?] The bishops answer, "Some Catholics may not fully understand the Church’s doctrinal and moral teachings on certain issues.  [Who "fully understands" mysterious things?  What we can understand fully enough are the clear teachings of the Church, repeated in many ways in many ages, especially the present.]They may have certain questions and even uncertainties. In situations of honest [honest] doubt and confusion, they are welcome to partake of Holy Communion, as long as they are striving to understand what the Church professes and to resolve confusion and doubt."  [How many times do people need to be instructed or informed before we say, "Okay, you are either invincibly ignorant or simply dissenting."]

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and my predecessor as Archbishop here in San Francisco, wrote in 2004: [Here it comes.  One wonders about the ... no... let that pass...] "No bishop is eager to forbid members of his flock from receiving the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who invites us into communion with Himself and his Body, the Church, as grace and salvation." In that same year, the U.S. bishops acknowledged that pastoral sensitivity, and they endorsed the following approach to this question of denying Holy Communion: "Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness, we recognize that such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action. Nevertheless, we all share an unequivocal commitment to protect human life and dignity and to preach the Gospel in difficult times." From that statement I conclude that it is my responsibility as Archbishop to discern and decide, prayerfully, how best to approach this question as it may arise in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.  [With respect... you didn't need that to know what your responsibility is.]

I regret the necessity of addressing these issues in so public a forum, but the widespread consternation among Catholics made it unavoidable. Speaker Pelosi has often said how highly she values her Catholic faith, and how much it is a source of joy for her. Accordingly, as her pastor, I am writing to invite her into a conversation with me about these matters. It is my obligation to teach forthrightly and to shepherd caringly, and that is my intent. Let us pray together that the Holy Spirit will guide us all toward a more profound understanding and appreciation for human life, and toward a resolution of these differences in truth and charity and peace. 

After all that… has His Excellency decided not to decide?

Maybe he is taking an overdue necessary step? 

I sincerely hope the dialogue goes well. 

Better late than never.

How did the dialogue go in years past?

During this conversation, will he solicit from her assent to Church teaching?

We know Archbishop Burke, as clear and bold as he is, also tried to talk personally to people.

Let us hope new ground can be covered.

In the meantime, people "in the pews" will watch where this goes and pray.

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47 Responses to Speaker Pelosi’s bishop now speaks

  1. Joseph says:

    I would think that this goes far beyond the holding onto beliefs, obstinately or otherwise which would contradict Church teaching. Are we not talking, as well, material cooperation with evil..Feel free to respond here, Fr. and others.

    For example, if one championed a bill that would not only keep abortion legal, but allay the difficulties in obtaining such, IOW, grease the wheels of the abortion machinery, as in fighting for legislation that would fund abortions for certain groups, or for the military.

    The bishop is ostensibly gutless, but may have a tactic or remedy up his sleeve, and is willing to exhaust every possibility for ignorance on the part of the offender. (Yeah right). Well, let us give him the benefit of the doubt. If this becomes an elaborate dance, tap style, let us resolve to make sure there is heaven to pay. Our leaders must lead and not add to the scandal – a term they seem so afraid to employ.

  2. To sanctify (when bugged incessantly to do so), to teach (when the public scandal forces you into a corner), to govern (NOT since the 1950s).

    …empty pews, not withstanding.

  3. Kradcliffe says:

    I took that to be a threat. She either responds to him and satisfies him that she has been properly “taught” once and for all, or she is in trouble. I’m sure it would have been much more exciting for us had he thundered out her excommunication, but would that necessarily bring about greater good in the world? Even if she must ultimately be excommunicated, there may be value in being diplomatic, at first.

  4. Father says:

    Kradcliffe,
    I doubt that this is meant to be a thread that leads up to a hypothetically necessary excommunication. The Archbishop probably would have loved nothing more than for the commotion to die down so he would not have had to issue a statement. He was probably angry when Archbishop Chaput immediately issued a strong statement. Now, after several days, he has to issue some kind of statement which ends up, in the end, being too little and too late. It plays the mushy conscience card and is filled with all kinds of side-steps and avoidance of confrontation. In the end, he is probably hoping that the commotion will die down and he will be able to return to the jolly episcopal world of confirmation dinners and chancery meetings without having being pulled in further or having to [have an adviser or P.R. rep] compose and issue another public statement.

  5. Okay…. turn this around.

    Simply piling on is uninteresting.

    I think we need to turn the sock inside out and look for what is good and well-expressed in this letter.

    Go to it.

  6. rj57 says:

    It underscores, by contrast, the excellent statements released by the good bishops of New York, Washington, Chicago, and elsewhere.

  7. The other David says:

    Challenging to find the good in the Archbishop’s solution, but I suppose I would say the good in it is that Pelosi can no longer claim her Archbishop accepts what she says as authentically Catholic. Whether more good comes of this will depend on what the result of the Dialogue is. While I would have hoped for a more solid action against Pelosi, we can hope something is done based on the fact that he made some solid assertions pointing out Pelosi was flat out wrong.

    Certainly we need to pray for the Archbishop that he shepherd his Archdiocese well when the action he takes will have large after-effects

  8. Maureen says:

    The Archbishop very kindly, and very pastorally, refrained from saying that, in his judgment, his parishioner Pelosi and many others in his care were not so much obstinate as invincibly ignorant.

    Social and spiritual conditions in San Francisco may indeed have been such as to preclude some people from having any chance to think the right thing, much less do it. Pelosi is in the unfortunate condition of having gone to the “right” schools, studied under the “right” professors, and made friends with the “right” people. This may have made her spiritually incompetent to have good spiritual judgment. So the Archbishop may regard her misstatements as like those of a child before the age of reason, or a crazy person. This may be why he corrects the misstatements and repeats the Church’s rules on Communion, but doesn’t come right out and connect the dotted lines. If you’re not really responsible for what you say, you’re not committing a sin and can receive Communion without danger.

    Of course, it may also be that the Archbishop is desperately trying to get Pelosi to act like a grownup and connect the dots herself, because it’s pretty sad that a bishop has to come right out and say, “You shouldn’t be presenting yourself for Communion unless you repent of what you said.” Many “elite” people like Pelosi have more pride than sense; and to hurt their pride, or say right out that they’ve done wrong, is often to drive them away entirely. They may be more likely to turn to doing right if they work it out for themselves.

  9. rj57 says:

    What’s good about the letter … Well, the letter contains important information about actual Church teaching on abortion and the responsibilities of Church leaders. Some pro-abortion advocates may be hearing this for the first time. The letter publically corrects Pelosi’s erroneous statements. The letter’s tone conveys a sense of thoughtful and deliberate action. The letter praises Pelosi for some of her perceived good actions as a legislator. The letter presents a public invitation to Pelosi to engage in converstation about the issue, that if ignored will make Pelosi appear obstinate and ideological (which I believe she is). Finally the letter serves as one model on how pastors can engage their pro-abortion flock in dialogue. Sadly, this letter should have been written in 1986 when Pelosi began her career of public advocacy for the killing of unborn children.

  10. Chironomo says:

    The letter goes to great lengths to lay out the premise, and through it’s documentation and example, infers the obvious conclusion. However, the obvious conclusion is never made explicit. It is clear that Speaker Pelosi’s support of abortion does not arise from a lack of awareness or understanding of the Church’s teachings. It is clear that she understands that this particular belief of hers is in conflict with the teachings of the Church. As such it is obvious, both to her and to others, that she should not be receiving communion. The problem is that she continues to receive in defiance of the Church’s teaching that she should not receive, and since the Bishops have abdicated this decision to a person’s “contientious self-appraisal”, it again becomes the subject of relativism… “I feel that this belief is OK for me to defy, because I reject the premise on which it is posited in the first place, namely that abortion is wrong.” The string of justification is just made a little longer in this case, but in the end, she still ends up justifying her position and receiving no reprimand for it. That is the truly shameful aspect of all of this.

  11. Rob Alvelais says:

    Well, while I would have preferred that the letter be more plainly and clearly worded, it did clearly state: 1) abortion is a grave evil and grave sin. 2) The church has taught that abortion was a grave sin and grave evil since its earliest days. 3) Catholics who knowingly or obstinately reject the Church’s teaching should not take part in the Eucharist (“diminishes his or her communion with the Church” and “not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration,”).

    I would have preferred that he call her out and said directly, “You need to see me *now*, Nancy. You can’t receive communion until we have a “chat”!” But, he came close, IMO. It’s all but there, really.

    Rob

  12. David2 says:

    “Yeh, it’s sad, believe me, Missy,
    When you’re born to be a sissy
    Without the vim and verve.
    But I could show my prowess,
    be a lion not a mou-ess
    If I only had the nerve!
    I’m afraid there’s no denyin’
    I’m just a dandelion,
    A fate I don’t deserve….”

    On a more serious note, I’ve just had another look at His Grace Abp Burke’s “Canon 915: The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin”.

    Now as Father Z points out, His Grace the Abp of SF fails to take the final logical dtep demanded by his own arguments, namely “… the discipline applies to any public conduct which is gravely sinful, that is, which violates the law of God in a serious matter. Certainly, the public support of policies and laws which, in the teaching of the Magisterium, are in grave violation of the natural moral law falls under the discipline….”

    and:

    “No matter how often a Bishop or priest repeats the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices and, at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow. To remain silent is to permit serious confusion regarding a fundamental truth of the moral law. Confusion, of course, is one of the most insidious fruits of scandalous behavior.”

    His Grace Abp Burke, however, points out that the discipline of denial of Communion is never easy to apply, not least in the United States.

    Giving the Abp of SF the benefit of the doubt, could we say that he is taking the approach of Cardinal Egan (vis a vis the former Mayor of NYC), namely a private re-statement of teaching combined with an instruction to not present for Communion in the future.

    The problem is, that Pelosi’s attack on Church teaching is so public that her rebuke must be public. But, if one were determined to defend the Bishop. one could argue that it might be prudent to look her in the eye and explain the Church’s teaching to her, to make absolutely positively certain that Pelosi is not merely mistaken, but defiant. Of course, nobody really believes she is honestly mistaken… At best, she’s kidding herself.

    As to Fr Z’s request to focus on what His Grace said well, I will say this: that he got the basics right, he just failed to draw the final conclusions that his arguments required. As such, what we have here is not primarily a failure of expression or doctrine. It is a failure of nerve. Hence the cowardly lion.

  13. Gomer says:

    Now that she (and other Democrat “Catholics”) has been “counseled”, shall we expect firmer admonishment (perhaps using “bold” font in his letter) in future? When does a bishop use the word “Excommunicate” in a sentence? Or is this word going the way of “gibbet” in the next USCCB Tea Party?

    Father, I’m trying to be gracious about this, but we’re speaking of an unspeakable horror the children of God go through one million times a year! To NOT have a bishop clearly and forcefully articulate, correct, and warn this lady (and others) of the grave sin, they are NOT DOING WHAT CHRIST CLEARLY COMMANDED TO ST. PETER: to feed His sheep.

    When a wolf attacks a flock, does the shepherd idly sit by and test the polling (I’m not saying this happened mind you), or wait for other shepherds to come to the defense of his flock, or attend the annual Shepherds Conference to bloviate and vote on the matter? I think not and the folks in the “pews” are incensed over her scandalous words, and are now getting more angry over the tepid response from the bishop who should’ve been first off his “rock” to defend his flock. I’m even astonished that the Bishop of Arlington, who has many Catholic politicians in his diocese has been silent on the matter.

    In the long run, I know the Church will be protected..those who need the bishops’ help are the Democrat “Catholics” who have been poorly catechised (and still are, given the USCCB’s mind-numbing instruction on Catholicism in the public square: they don’t specifically instruct Catholics NOT to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, but give the voter a loophole with which they can justify their pro-abortionist vote. Even Archbishop Chaput danced around the issue in his EWTN interview by giving a voter the option even though he stated he couldn’t understand how one could vote for a pro-abortion candidate. A Catholic on the fringe is going to drive a truck through this loophole…it needs to be closed once and for all!

    I understand that the Church has entered the “kumbayaa” phase of human progress, where the “Ecumaniacs” influence things and we must place a huge premium on not hurting someone’s feelings…heaven forbid a bishop should use direct instructions! Gone are the days of bishops & popes declaring heresy and apostasy anathema; we now have to endure the psychobabble parsing of words so that offending a group is kept to a minimum.

    God was quite explicit in his instruction (“Thou shalt not…”) and Christ equally so (He didn’t use the term “please” or “Peter, could you…”). Following the laws of God is a no-brainer when He makes it abundantly clear what the rules are and what the penalties are.

    I pray our bishops start taking more of a direct, unequivocal, instructive role…their flocks obviously need it, there are too many dead babies, and the souls of the wayward are at stake.

  14. TNCath says:

    His Excellency starts out very well in clearly delineating Church teachings, but then, as I predicted, he brings up his predecessor with whom he no doubt consulted before writing this. I do respect his wanting to leave the door open for Speaker Pelosi for a conversation, but the line in the sand has to be drawn at some point. For some reason, the archbishop just doesn’t seem to be ready to do that yet.

    As for Speaker Pelosi, she has no doubt gotten the message that her positions don’t wash with her archbishop. We’ve at least got that to be thankful for. After the elections, I doubt we’ll be hearing much more about it from either the archbishop or Speaker Pelosi.

  15. Lindsay says:

    Apparently, the soon to be installed (Sept. 8) bishop of the diocese of Wilmington (Delaware) does not intend to formally/publicly address the issue with Senator Biden, either. This is an excerpt from the interview with the new bishop (Malooly, formally an auxiliary bishop in Baltimore) published in our diocesan newspaper this week (The Dialogue). I sent it in an e-mail to you, Fr. Z; so, Father, please delete it if your reason for not posting it was because you thought it inappropriate to post for some reason. I am posting it on the assumption that you get hundreds of e-mails each day and this one just didn’t interest you or grab your attention:

    *Dialogue*: It’s an election year. The U.S. bishops have released statements on “Faithful Citizenship” and “Catholics in Political Life” that are discussed and revisited at election time.

    *Bishop Malooly*: Which is good. We just need to make those statements clear to all of our Catholic family. Hopefully we’ll make clear what the political responsibility statement says and try to help people know where the candidate stands on issues and ask them to vote their consciences.

    *Dialog*: Regarding the candidates themselves, the reception of communion by Catholic candidates who support abortion rights remains an issue, one that has received added attention recently with the selection of Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. Some American bishops have had public confrontations but most still seem to handle the issue by talking to the candidate privately.

    *Bishop Malooly*: I look forward to the opportunity to enter into a dialogue on a number of issues with Sen. Biden and other Catholic leaders in the Diocese of Wilmington. However, I do not intend to get drawn into partisan politics nor do I intend to politicize the Eucharist as a way of communicating Catholic church teaching. It is critical to keep the lines of communication open if the church is going to make her teachings understood and, please God, accepted. It is my belief that Catholics of all occupations have the same duty to examine their own consciences before determining their worthiness for the reception of communion.

    I think I will get a lot more mileage out of a conversation trying to change the mind and heart than I would out of a public confrontation. That might not make some people happy who feel there ought to be a confrontation. but I have to follow my own conscience and try to do what I can for the long term.

  16. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Although the bishops do a great service in explaining why abortion is wrong and how it is utterly icompatible with Church teaching, the fact that it is also Church teaching that the GOVERNMENT MUST PROTECT UNBORN HUMANS. Politicians like Speaker Pelosi need to know that they are primarily in conflict with the teaching on governmental protection and not just with the teaching on when life begins.

    Bishops, as Abp. Burke did so well, need to stress that they are not trying to alter the election; they are expressing sollicitude for the souls of pro-choice Catholic politicians. That is why they treat Catholics like Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Biden in different ways from how they treat Sen. Obabma.

    Abp. Niederauer’s statement is too long, and crucial ideas are hidden. 4000 deaths a day and a Catholic’s soul deserve better.

  17. Lindsay says:

    I apologize that I tried to spell dialog with a “ue” on occasion. The title of the paper is spelled “Dialog”.

  18. Father Z:

    I accept your challenge to be positive, even if others refuse.

    If I were in the Archbishop’s shoes, (Please God, no!), I’d have a lot of things to consider.

    As a pastor, I face similar considerations every time someone wants me to thunder out about all the things people want me to thunder out about. And there’s no question, I have a duty to teach clearly, to challenge, sometimes to correct or rebuke, and so forth.

    Sometimes, I may see that some sort of confrontation will come. What I do is try to anticipate how it’s likely to play out, how it is going to affect the whole parish, all the activities and work that’s underway, and what I’m going to do about that. I think about how my choices can solve the problem without a confrontation, or make it less bad. Confrontations do cost you something. I sense a lot of folks say, “fire away, father, hit ‘em again! and don’t worry about consequences.” But our Lord did say be “wise as serpents,” and if I say, “ah, we’ll have a showdown, and let the fur fly, who cares about effects on collections? Who cares if catechists, coaches, staff and others quit?”

    So…I choose my battles and if I see a battle coming, I prepare for it.

    I try to avoid having to fight several all at once, that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, even if its what many urge me to do. Many who fault pastors for not striding into battle on issue X are unaware that, or indifferent to the fact that, the same pastor may already be dealing with struggles over issues Y and Z, only you don’t know about it because you’re not involved in that.

    It’s like watching a judggler, and only seeing one of the 10 balls he’s keeping aloft. If all you see is one ball, you naturally say, “gee, what’s the trick in that? Here’s another!” That’s what happens to pastors; they’re juggling a lot, but most observers only see one of the balls, not the other nine, and they wonder why the pastor is reluctant to take on even one more at the moment.

    So…I see what this Archbishop did, and I since I don’t know what is in his heart (and while that seems obvious, many comment as if they do know), I don’t know what his next step will be.

    But if I saw a showdown coming with a very prominent political figure in my congregation, I’d choose to go to great lengths, to lengths that many would say were way too generous, beforehand, precisely so that, when the hammer falls, it is indisputable that every other avenue was exhausted. I would do it that way so that to minimize the collateral damage from the battle, and there will be some.

    Even in a small town, as a pastor, I face similar situations over things that are far less important in the grand scheme of things, but are very important to people in the community–so it’s still a “battle.”

    Since I don’t know what the Archbishop will do–and neither does anyone else here–I don’t predict his next step will take it closer to confrontation. But it could be.

    Again, if I were in his shoes, I would not be eager to arrive at a “win-lose” outcome: Archbishop gets his way, Pelosi “humbled” or “driven out” or “barred” or however the headline is written.

    If Pelosi can’t be brought to a change of heart and action in the political arena, then I’d want her quietly, and without too much scrutiny, to stop receiving the Eucharist. I can take no joy, nor fail to feel great pain for her, if that is the outcome. So call me what names you like, but I do not apologize for preferring this would happen as far away from cameras as possible. That would be part of how I decide on a course of action.

    That Pelosi herself has made it so public doesn’t change the compassion and concern I have as a pastor, and my desire for a quieter resolution; and I would see it as beneficial for all concerned if, when the dust settles, it was clear as could be that that was I was trying to do.

    Again, I cannot know if that is the Archbishop’s plan, but if it were, this statement would fit into such a plan.

    There’s more to it, of course; other posters have done very well highlighting issues of public scandal, clarity of teaching and actions having consequences. I am trying to give a feeling for how a pastor tries to decide on a course of action, addressing all those considerations, plus some others I haven’t seen anyone say much about.

  19. Kazimer says:

    San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer’s statement regarding the recent comments made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi :

    The Archbishop responded just enough so that no one can say he didn’t address the issue publicly.

    Yet, for me and many others, it appears that he doesn’t have the fortitude to take the rightfully direct action that the Holy Eucharist be withheld from Pelosi and that Pelosi not present herself for Communion in any Catholic Church regardless of diocese and location.

    While he writes about his invitation to Pelosi to begin the conversation regarding this matter he fails to realize and/or admit that she has already began her side of the conversation he simply was not invited.

    Since the Archbishop offered the invitation publicly to Pelosi, the next ( note not “if”), she by word or deed goes directly against the teachings of the Catholic Church – especially regarding the teaching against abortion and for life – that he be held publicly accountable for the status of any conversation with her – not the content -word for word aspect – but whether or not the conversations have been held and whether she understands and accepts and agrees to live not presenting herself for no receiving the Holy Eucharist.

  20. Sorry, one more point: I’m not saying I’d do it all the way the Archbishop has, including how he drafted this statement. I can’t walk in his shoes. I’m pretty challenged by the demand to be pastor of Piqua, how can I begin to know what it’s like to be pastor of San Francisco?

    As request, I’m attempting a positive reading of what is before us.

  21. Baron Korf says:

    From my understanding, San Francisco (Sodom-by-the-Bay) is the most anti-Catholic city in the United States. The city council actually put out a resolution telling the Catholics there to ignore the Vatican as a meddling foreign power and labeled Cardinal Leveda a traitor.

    In light of that, I am pleased to see how stern those first 7 paragraphs were. While I had wished that it would’ve continued through the rest, he did not shirk his duty of speaking to the most publicly way-ward of his flock. I intend to write to his office thanking him for standing up and encouraging him to stand firm in his duty. And of course I’ll pray for him.

  22. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Yea, maybe “gutless” applies. But taking into account Archbishop Niederauer’s typical stance, I have to admit that this is a step in the right direction for him. He states what the Church teaches.

    I wonder, because this statement seems so uncharacteristic of him, if he was directed by Rome to publish this. If this is the case, and Rome is exercising this kind of authority over our hierarchy, I am thrilled.

    Because our [mostly] indolent hierarchy is so unused to correcting their flock on views and activities that deny the Faith, perhaps many of these men need to be shown what to do and how to say it.

    None of us can deny the pitiful condition of catechesis in most dioceses in this country and the wild over-estimation of what priests learn in the seminary. Ignorance of the Faith is rampant at every level.

    Let’s see what happens after the proposed discussion with Pelosi.

    Indeed we are tired of our ordained Fathers who are afraid of correcting their children. No one likes being the heavy. But how many of us as parents are guilty of the same? How many of us fear the loss of our children’s friendship and fail to correct our own charges appropriately?

    Pray.

  23. There is a story from the ancient Olympic games. I read it in my Boy Scout Handbook years ago…

    An old man arrived late to the games, and had trouble finding a seat in the arena. Amidst a crowd of Athenians, a young Spartan was sitting. (Don’t ask me why.) Seeing the old man’s plight, the lone Spartan beckoned to the old man, and offered his seat to him. This courtesy was greeted by applause from those in the seats nearby. The old man looked up and said, “Yes, you Athenians know what is right, but it takes a Spartan to do it.”

    I’m afraid that’s as positive as I can be about this.

  24. Ed the Roman says:

    I am not a cleric. But were I His Grace, Mrs. Pelosi would have gotten a certified letter from me explaining that she and I had to have a sit down by a date certain, after which I would do as I thought best regarding what I said of her in public and whether she would be permitted to commune in my jurisdiction, based on the results, or non-occurrence, of the conversation.

  25. CK says:

    So, while he pretends he doesn’t REALLY know and she pretends she doesn’t REALLY know the blood of millions of innocents depending upon such figures of “authority” cries out for still unsatisfied justice.

    If anyone thinks that Ms. Pelosi isn’t knowingly smiling, continuing to a belly laugh of expectant and hope-filled satisfaction as she reads this, then there’s always that bridge to sell you.

    And as seriously as others may “feel” that she may be taking this “crisis” of religion of hers, we already have her own words regarding her own faith in Christ’s True Presence.

    “Words, words, words….if you’re in Love, show me”!

    But then, is this really any surprise for all the others who know they MUST be obedient?

  26. Deusdonat says:

    Father Z – I have made clear my distaste and outright saddness on the effectivity of this particular bishop, who happens to be the leader of my archdiocese. If you look at his track record, he is unresponsive, unapologetic and ineffective until he is drowned in letters, phone calls and other media attention illustrating that the world is watching. Levada was no different (both are JP II appointment legacies). Niederhauer’s focus has always been on making the church all-inclusive (except of course when it comes to Traditional Catholics); very much in keeping with the designs and agenda of the city of San Francisco itself. He steers clear of any issue or subject matter which a) shows that his archdiocese has any problems b) that everyone does not follow his mindset and c) has anything to do with the Tridentine mass. The ONLY way he comments or deals with these issues is when he is forced/confronted/shamed into doing so.

    From his belated letter, I get the tone that he is saying, “I really don’t need to go into detail here, since it’s all been said before…but then again, I AM her archbishop…so here goes.” And as you rightfully point out, he has had ample time to have this discussion with her. What I DO respect here is that he has not publically said what the outcome of the discussion was/is. That’s between her and the church. He has (albeit hesitantly) alluded to the fact that she shouldn’t receive communion, so hopefully that is the outcome.

  27. Paul Murnane says:

    I am very happy to see the Archbishop weigh-in with a strong statement (“strong” given we’re talking about SF). The Church has been almost completely AWOL in the public square since the days of Archbishop Quinn. After living in SF for a few years (and living most of my live in NorCal) I would venture that a huge % of SF Catholics hold the same beliefs as Ms. Pelosi and haven’t been challenged in their wrong thinking in years, if ever. This letter is at least a start. I pray that the Archbishop will keep the issue alive.

    Oh, and I hope the statement is distributed in parishes on Sunday, otherwise very few people will ever hear about it. You can be sure it won’t be discussed from the pulpit (and I mean the explanation of Church teaching and not a direct discussion of Ms. Pelosi).

  28. John6:54 says:

    Time to start writing

    Good Bishop Niederauer , I appreciate your statement today but the longer you allow Nancy Pelosi to receive the Holy Eucharist while publicly supporting the grave matter of abortion (the murder of innocent children) you are endangering her soul, your soul, and the souls of your flock to view such scandal. Ms. Pelosi is more than capable of knowing what the Catholic Church teaches and has obstinately defied your direction and the direction of the Catholic Church. You have waited long enough and unfortunately it is time to withhold the Body & Blood of Christ for safety and salvation of all involved.

    The readings this Sunday state we should treat such people as Gentiles & Tax Collectors. You do not allow Gentiles (Non-Catholics) to receive Holy Communion, and nor should you allow Ms. Pelosi.

    Your Brother In Christ
    John 6:54

  29. Paul Murnane says:

    Deusdonat,

    You know, better than most, about the state of the Church in SF. I agree with you regarding the current and previous archbishops, but I think we can agree that Catholic identity disintegrated during Archbishop Quinn’s unfortunate reign. The Church has been essentially in hiding ever since and there’s a long road back. Not trying to cover for the Archbishop, that’s pretty much fact. Sadly, as you have pointed out, it’s also fact that the Archbishop does not seem to willingly tackle moral issues in public without a tremendous amount of prodding; and even then the response is usually mushy (e.g. the response to Gavin Newsom, which is another story altogether). This is out of the same playbook as a few other bishops in CA.

    Fortunately, change is at least on the horizon as 2011 is a huge year for the Church in California. That is the year when the archbishops of LA and SF, as well as the Bishop of Orange, reach retirement age. I fervently pray for the good health of the Holy Father.

  30. Dan says:

    What would Pope St Pius X have done in this situation.
    If His Holiness knew about Mrs Pelosi publically supporting baby murder and she unrepentantly approached him to recieve the substantial Lord in the Sacrament, and His Holiness knew who she was.

    I am sure their Excellencys Niederauer and Wuerl will do the same.

  31. Deusdonat says:

    Paul – that was a very insightful and accurate assessment. I too pray for effective leadership here in our archdiocese. God bless you.

  32. CarpeNoctem says:

    Let me second Fr. Fox’s remarks… how true his description of being a contemporary pastor are. I think what we see in the Archbishop’s letter is the set up for a final showdown, exactly as father explains.

    We can infer a lot of things about Pelosi’s voting record and what she meant by her statements and what she really understands and believes about the issues, but inferences in themselves do not make proof in the significant canonical action of declaring an excommunication. Now the lines are in the sand, the context for her future statements and actions is laid by the ‘necessary boilerplate’. The ball is now in Pelosi’s court and the whole Church is watching closely.

    I agree with Fr. Z., the archbishop should have made a direct appeal for her to assent publicly to Church teaching. I would guess, however, that only if she hides under a rock on the dark side of the moon for the next 20 years might she avoid being asked by the press the ‘money question’ we all want to hear. Hopefully there’s a smart enough reporter out there to ask the question in the right way that there is no room for quibbling or equivocating on what is meant by her response. Again… the archbishop would have been the best person to ask the question. A clear answer must be made before any “conversation” in any context is meaningful.

    Should it have taken this long to get to this point? No. I don’t think so.

    Should the Church have taken more seriously its responsiblity to correct and if necesary sanction politicians over the last 30+ years? You betcha. The “boilerplate” should be no suprise to anyone.

    Is the Archbishop acting tentatively and perhaps even reluctantly. Maybe. I don’t know. Again, anything I would say would be an inference and not proof. I have the obligation in charity to read his actions in the best light and offer him my prayerful support in carrying out his office.

    One must remember that one of the solemn promises of a bishop at consecration, besides preserving the deposit of the faith, is to seek and gather strays from the flock. He has a most solemn obligation to do everything in his power to avert the hammer coming down on one of the poor, strayed sheep. And, to change Fr. Fox’s metaphor slightly, it’s not balls being juggled or places being spun, but all the so many sheep who have been scattered so far and wide that he has to have in his sights, at the peril of his own salvation. He’s got a big job… ESPECIALLY there in SF.

    Now for the kook part of my comment: I still think she knew exactly what she was doing when she made her statement. She is running interference for Biden and others because she is in a ‘safe’ district and we are taking about her rather than Obama, Biden, Kennedy, etc. And on top of that, sometimes people dare authority to act (cut them off, sanction them, fire them, excommunicate them) so that they can run free from that authority without coming to terms with their own personal guilt or remorse.

  33. Fr. Angel says:

    Fr. Martin Fox:

    Very nice post above about the quandaries of a pastor. The image of the juggler is a good one. Baron Korf also wisely looked at the statement of the Archbishop from the context of where he writes.

    I think Baron Korf is right and that Niederauer is at the helm of the most anti-Catholic diocese in the country. His arrival and installation in San Francisco is the only time I have seen media outlets practically ignore the arrival of a new Archbishop.

    It is as if, for the powers that be, the Church simply does not exist in that city. Certainly many would not weep there if the Faith completely disappeared from the peninsula. The Archbishop’s approach is to be careful in dealing with his public. I’m not sure that hostile confrontations would help the situation. Maybe, maybe not. The letter does have very good teaching points, even if he did not strongly confront Pelosi.

  34. Dominic says:

    Father Z,

    I was distinctly underwhelmed by Archbishop Niederauer’s letter. If this were the first time Nancy Pelosi had revealed her support for abortion and her contempt for the Church’s teaching, then it would be understandable for the Archbishop to wish to dialogue with her privately before expressing any public judgment or penalty. As it is far from the first time that Pelosi has manifestly demonstrated her contempt for the unborn, it must either be assumed that previous attempts to dialogue have come to nothing (in which case the Archbishop’s present conclusion is nothing short of pathetic) or the Archbishop did not see any reason to initiate a dialogue before now (which would have been a pathetic failure to act when he should have).

    Earlier today I wrote a single-word comment in response to this item: “Pathetic.” I was one of the first to leave a comment, and thought it was so self-explanatory that there was no need to waste time in writing anything else. As I see that my comment has now been removed, can I express an apology if the single-word comment was considered impolite, and leave this longer comment to explain it.

  35. Brian says:

    I agree with Fr. Martin Fox’s comment above (at 9:19 am) and with Archbishop Charles Chaput.

    During his recent interview with Neil Cavuto, Archbishop Charles Chaput addressing the issue of Geraldine Ferraro’s Bishop personally instructing her not to receive Communion stated, “Right. She was in his diocese. He was her Bishop; and I think that Bishops need to have that kind of personal conversation with all Catholics on these kinds of matters before they would act in a public way.”

    I believe that this may be a good time to write, call, or email Archbishop Niederauer, thanking him for his clear and courageous teaching, and praying that if Nancy Pelosi does not publically correct her destructive scandal, that he restrict her from Communion, for the good of her soul, the faithful, and the innocents.

    Archbishop Niederauer’s contact information is:

    Most Rev. George H. Niederauer
    One Peter Yorke Way
    San Francisco, Ca 94109

    telephone is 415-614-5500
    email is info@sfrachdiocese.org.

    If one were going to copy such an email to the Vatican, to whom would it be addressed?

  36. AGAIN…. turn this around.

    Piling on is uninteresting.

    Turn the sock inside out and look for what is good and well-expressed in this letter.

  37. Dan says:

    I shall express my happiness in the good that His Excellency said in his letter by applauding him for stating that he will instruct the priests of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to refuse giving Madam Pelosi Christs substantial Body ntil that time when she makes public and private amends for the scandal she has caused and the damage done to her immortal soul.
    Thank you Excellency!

  38. Paul Murnane says:

    OK…looking for what is good and well-expressed:

    1. This It is my responsibility as Archbishop of San Francisco to teach clearly what Christ in his Church teaches about faith and morals, and to oppose erroneous, misleading and confusing positions when they are advanced… plus this: This teaching of the bishops does not violate the separation of church and state. [Good.] That separation does not require a division between faith and public action, between moral principles and political choices. Believers and religious groups may practice their faith and act on their values in public life, and have done so throughout the history of this country. In his or her conscience, properly formed, a Catholic should recognize that making legal an evil action, such as abortion, is itself wrong. [Ergo…. ?]</i?

    These are things that need to be said loudly and often in SF. Pretty safe to say that the “personally opposed, but…” argument is well-entrenched among SF Catholics. Well-done!

    2. This is excellent as well: Authentic moral teaching is based on objective truth, not polling. [Well said.] For instance, in 1861, as the Civil War began, a majority of the residents of Massachusetts opposed slavery, a majority of the residents of South Carolina approved of slavery, and in Missouri people were sharply divided on the issue. Does that mean that, in 1861, slavery was immoral in Massachusetts, moral in South Carolina, and something of a moral “wash” in Missouri? Sound moral teaching demands much more good sense than that. [Good! Good argument. This could be useful in light of the same-sex marriage controversy as well.], It’s time the Church, particularly in SF, started talking again about “objective truth”; actually, more than just talk about it, forcefully make the case!

    3.What of Catholics who find themselves questioning the teachings of the Church, or experiencing uncertainties and questions about them? [Your Excellency.. what of those who know them and explicitly deny them on world-wide television?] The bishops answer, “Some Catholics may not fully understand the Church’s doctrinal and moral teachings on certain issues. [Who "fully understands" mysterious things? What we can understand fully enough are the clear teachings of the Church, repeated in many ways in many ages, especially the present.]They may have certain questions and even uncertainties. In situations of honest [honest] doubt and confusion, they are welcome to partake of Holy Communion, as long as they are striving to understand what the Church professes and to resolve confusion and doubt.” [How many times do people need to be instructed or informed before we say, "Okay, you are either invincibly ignorant or simply dissenting."]
    Excellent. Opens the door to provide solid catechesis; the opportunity needs to be seized.

    If the archbishop seized the moment and used at least these 3 items to focus on, I think we may see a slow resurgence of Catholic identity in SF. It will get the conversation started and the dissent out into the open. Is it an easy road? No. But it’s definitely a battle worth fighting and there isn’t a more important task. I pray that he leads from the front and fights. There is much to be won (and frankly, not a whole lot to be lost except for his reputation among the SF intelligentsia).

    May the archbishop’s guardian angel watch over him and protect him from his enemies.

  39. Brian says:

    Archbishop Niederauer wrote:

    “Since August 24th many Catholics have written me letters and sent me e–mails in which they expressed their dismay and concern about the Speaker’s remarks.”

    I believe that His Excellency paid attention to those letters and emails. His office responded personally to an email that I sent to them. I was and remain grateful and impressed. When I write again, I will thank him for this clear and courageous statement.

    This is an unambiguous correction. He cites Ms. Pelosi by name and specifically quotes her erroneous and scandalous public statements (e.g., “While Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception, many Catholics do not ascribe[sic] to that view.”).

    Archbishop Niederauer then shreds her moral relativism with catechesis, impeccable reasoning and his powerful analogy regarding slavery: “Does that mean that, in 1861, slavery was immoral in Massachusetts, moral in South Carolina, and something of a moral ‘wash’ in Missouri? Sound moral teaching demands much more good sense than that.”

    His Excellency then raises the issue of Communion. This is no dodge. He is among the few Bishops to have raised this issue.

    He cites the 2006 document “Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper.” He quotes, “If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately repudiate her definitive teachings on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain.”

    He adds, “In his or her conscience, properly formed, a Catholic should recognize that making legal an evil action, such as abortion, is itself wrong.”

    The ergo is stated:

    “Accordingly, as her pastor, I am writing to invite her into a conversation with me about these matters. It is my obligation to teach forthrightly and to shepherd caringly, and that is my intent. Let us pray together that the Holy Spirit will guide us all toward a more profound understanding and appreciation for human life, and toward a resolution of these differences in truth and charity and peace.”

    Given what His Excellency wrote, how many “resolutions” are there to “these differences?” I only see one.

    Archbishop Niederauer extended Ms. Pelosi a gracious and brilliant invitation to have a little chat on the way to the woodshed.

    I plan to email to thank him and encourage him to continue to deal with this matter with the same eloquence and strength.

  40. Nicholas E. Barreca says:

    One thing none of the bishops addressed was the second part of Nancy’s statement. It is incredible to me that this has been totally overlookedYou rarely hear one of our priests or prelates address the contraception issue. They don’t want to upset the significant number of pew sitters who embrace this sin (it impacts the collection plate and the building/church construction programs). I quote Nancy again…”If you want to reduce the number of abortions, and we all do, we must–it would behoove you to support family planning and, and contraception, you would think. But that is not the case. So we have to take–you know, we have to handle this as respectfully–this is sacred ground.” All of the prelates ignored this part of her statement which is also erroneous. The ground is so sacred that the bishops refuse to address it. Perhaps they didn’t want to admit nationally, i.e. DNC, that this might be a problem even among the faithful. This is what is known as being pastorally sensitive to the needs of the parish.

  41. Supertradmom says:

    I am pleased with the statement for the following reasons. The great heresies of relativism and individualism were spelled out clearly by the Archbishop. Secondly, an invitation to discussion is an invitation to repentance and formation of conscience. I like the fact that the Archbishop has challenged Ms. Pelosi directly, using her name and appealing to her to continue being open to changing. I pray and hope the invitation is seriously considered. Ms. Pelosi should be grateful that so many bishops are concerned about her spiritual welfare. Maybe all of this is part of her being called to be a real Catholic. Let us pray for all involved.

  42. Janet Baker says:

    Father Z, with all due respect, what is “uninteresting” (to use your adjective)is
    this constant straining to look for “what is good and well-expressed”. Yes, he
    did know how to quote teachings, and he certainly knew how to pile them on in the
    beginning of the letter so that one might not be able to notice that he doesn’t
    plan to hold Pelosi accountable. There’s only one “resolution” possible; why is
    he pussy-footing about it? I agree with Dominic that this letter is pathetic.
    After all the teachings are quoted and cited, the letter not too much more than
    a sanctimonious cop-out.

  43. Maureen says:

    Not for nothing, but it seems to me that we are fast approaching that place where the Catholic Church will be labeled as an enemy of the state. The battle has been joined for a while now.
    Note:
    legal rulings that Catholic hospitals have to provide morning-after pills, operations for sexual mutilations, etc
    rulings that require Catholic adoption services to accommodate adoptions by same sex partners, etc

    and so on….

    Over a decade ago, Cardinal O’Connor threatened to close Catholic schools, hospitals and social services rather than comply with some immoral state demand. The state backed down. Today, the opposition will accept the Church bending to their will, but they would rather we did not bend so that they might force the closing of our institutions.

    Pelosi’s statements were so public and outrageous that they necessitated a response. Yet she is not a stupid woman. It’s possible that her statement was a deliberate, calculated provocation with the intention of forcing a confrontation with the Church. It may well be that the left is confident that such a confrontation will anger most non-Catholic Americans (75% of Americans) and a substantial number of Cathoic Americans.

    So what was good about the Archbishop’s response?

    HE DEFINED HIS EPISCOPAL AUTHORITY OVER PELOSI
    Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a Catholic residing in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, [and Washington DC] made remarks that are in serious conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church about abortion. [solid] It is my responsibility as Archbishop of San Francisco to teach clearly what Christ in his Church teaches about faith and morals, and to oppose erroneous, misleading and confusing positions when they are advanced….Nevertheless, it is my particular duty to address them as well. … From that statement I conclude that it is my responsibility as Archbishop to discern and decide, prayerfully, how best to approach this question as it may arise in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. [With respect… you didn’t need that to know what your responsibility is.]
    Of course he didnt need it but this open letter is addressed to Pelosi and SHE may need to be informed of Archbishop Niederauer’s de jure authority over her. After all, if she can brush off the Pope’s words as a matter of opinion, why wouldn’t she treat the Archbishop’s with even greater distain.

    HE DEFINED THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH OVER CATHOLICS
    As Catholics, we believe what the Church authoritatively teaches on matters of faith and morals, for to hear the voice of the Church on those matters is to hear the voice of Christ …We believe that the Roman Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, is the successor of Peter, the Rock on whom Jesus Christ has built his Church, and is not just another man who is entitled to his opinions on faith….Authentic moral teaching is based on objective truth, not polling.

    HE DEFINED THE HISTORICAL RIGHTS OF THE CATHOLIC FAITH IN AMERICA
    This teaching of the bishops does not violate the separation of church and state. [Good.] That separation does not require a division between faith and public action, between moral principles and political choices. Believers and religious groups may practice their faith and act on their values in public life, and have done so throughout the history of this country.

    HE DEFINED THE PARTICULARS OF THE PROBLEM
    If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately repudiate her definitive teachings on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain.

    HE DEFINED THE NEXT STEP IN THE PROCESS OF RECONCILING PELOSI TO THE CHURCH
    Accordingly, as her pastor, I am writing to invite her into a conversation with me about these matters.

    It seems to me, so far, so good. I understand the eagerness of some people to press the Communion issue but none of us are Pelosi’s bishop. By the grace of God, Archbishop Niederauer is.

    With regards to my lead-in observations, it seems to me that we may be in circumstances similar to those that faced England under Henry VIII. So the following quote might be pertinent.

    “God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind. If He suffers us to come to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and, yes, Meg, then we can clamor like champions, if we have the spittle for it. But it’s God’s part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass. Our natural business lies in escaping. If I can take the oath, I will.”

  44. Antonia says:

    For the first time I realized clearly what a shepherd must be going through when I read Bp. Niederauer quoting of Cardinal Levada: “No bishop is eager to forbid members of his flock from receiving the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who invites us into communion with Himself and his Body, the Church, as grace and salvation.”

    Concerns about the duty to communicate the right teachings and criticism about him being apparently ‘silent’ in the face of scandal aside, it seems like the demands made for stronger statement by the bishop are motivated by a desire to see Pelosi being denied Communion, or even publicly excommunicated, as a form of punishment for public dissent.

    Surely, one would think, after those years being a Catholic, and all those years being a ‘public official’, Pelosi would have the capacity and the opportunity to know what the Church teaching says about abortion & contraception? So the real issue in my opinion is not so much to demand the bishop to clarify the issue, or to even to take a public stand, as to demand him to do something punitive about it.

    Perhaps the bishop’s pastoral experience had made him value dialogs over public confrontation. Perhaps he had converted and re-converted more souls through dialogs rather than rebuke? We can pray…

  45. Christabel says:

    May I ask : do we know if Speaker Pelosi has attended Mass and received Holy Communion since the interview was aired?

  46. CK says:

    Pelosi agrees to meeting with bishop with caveat about personal conscience!

    http://www.examiner.com/a-1572993~Pelosi_OKs_talk_with_SF_bishop_on_church_teachings.html

  47. JL says:

    I’m a bit confused about the reference to Canon 912, which in my copy and on the Vatican website says nothing about “conscientious self-appraisal” but simply “Any baptized person not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to holy communion.” Does the US have it’s own CCL? See: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P39.HTM