American Bishops respond to Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

What do the American bishops have to say as a body about Speak Pelosi’s remarks?

Bishops respond to House Speaker Pelosi’s misrepresentation of Church teaching against abortion

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

In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law." (No. 2271)

In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.  [This is something that bears repetition: even though theologians in centuries past were working from scientific knowledge less advanced than that of today, through the history of the Church abortion has never been condoned.]

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

More information on the Church’s teaching on this issue can be found in our brochure "The Catholic Church is a Pro-Life Church".  PDF  Text

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. TJM says:

    Father Z,

    I am not a techy, but you may wish to review Cardinal Egan’s statement firing back at Nancy Pelosi found on the American Papist website.
    It is a breath of fresh air and pulls no punches. You’ll love it.



  2. Read this blog lately? o{]:¬)

  3. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Still nothing from the archbishop of San Francisco? If I were a reporter, I would call her pastor at St. Vincent de Paul and ask his opinion. (Just sayin’)

  4. Geoffrey says:

    “Still nothing from the archbishop of San Francisco?”

    The SF archdiocesan website posted a copy of the USCCB statement. That’s something!

  5. Cory says:

    Wow, all of these bishops are speaking out against what Pelosi said. I’m impressed that the bishops are finally taking some action. The only problem that I see with this is that their voice may not be heard via the media.

  6. Lem says:

    “we the bishops are very, very, very verrrrrrrrrrry mad at you Madame Speaker, but voters can still vote for you just as long as their vote isn’t supporting your abortion position…”

    Now that the bishops are “shocked, shocked”, any action?

    Nope, and don’t expect any to come.

  7. Bernie says:

    Action!? It is good that some bishops have spoken but when a public figure defies Church teaching and causes scandal like this why isn’t excommunication applied? I really have a hard time understanding why Mrs Smith next door can’t receive Communion because she left her cheating husband (not that I don’t understand this or am advocating for allowing divorce; far from it) but Mrs Pelosi doesn’t get a letter from her bishop or from whoever has the authority saying “confessions are held from x to y on Saturdays; repent or do not receive Our Lord”. These double standards depress me. When the little folk sins all laws apply. When the big guys do it, just like in the regular courts, they cave. Shame on us feeble catholics, clergy and laity, who support (on the ballot or funding) and act leniently before such acts of “catholic” politicians.

  8. Brian Walden says:

    “I really have a hard time understanding why Mrs Smith next door can’t receive Communion because she left her cheating husband”

    Unless Mrs. Smith civilly remarried Mr. Jones, she can receive communion. Anyway (and sadly), lots of Catholics who have civilly divorced and remarried do receive communion illicitly with no one stopping them. I’m not sure where you live, but if your bishop is strictly enforcing this on Mrs. Smith and Mr. Jones I doubt he’s turning a blind eye to dissenting Catholic public figures in his diocese.

  9. In answer to Bernie, and others who might be wondering when the Church might act against those who support abortion: Please, read the Catechism,cf2272 which states that excommunication is incured, latae sententiae. The magesterium has yet to rule if this sentence applies to lawmakers. Pray, that action will happen soon

  10. Bernie says:

    Mr Walden,
    I perfectly understand “why Mrs Smith…”. Good point about the high correlation between caring about Mrs Smith and about dissenting public figures. Bishops who do one tend to do the other.

    My point was that the bishops’, as a whole, minuscule reaction of today and in the past is but an incentive, an “imprimatur” on these dissensions. The “vote for them just as long as the vote isn’t supporting their abortion position” and the refusal to deny Communion to such heretics stops short of an imprimatur.

Comments are closed.