Bp. Murphy of Rockville Centre on Nancy Pelosi’s errors about human life

His Excellency Most Rev.  William Murphy, Bishop of Rockville Centre, wrote in the Long Island Catholic about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) erroneous and scandalous remarks about the Church’s teaching on the beginning of human life made on Meet The Press.

You might recall Bishop Murphy’s excellent statement about Summorum Pontificum.

This week, the same mail brought me two letters. The first was from a parishioner asking me why my brother priests and I are not speaking out about those in public life who do not defend life but are instead “pro-choice” regarding abortion on demand. The second, critical of Church leadership on a number of issues, ended by wondering that the Church would try to “influence the election” by threatening to “excommunicate Catholics” who want to vote for Mr. Obama.

All too often — and once is too often — the Church is accused of being a “single issue” faith community concerning public issues. A glance at the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church as well as the U.S. bishops’ statement, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, puts that lie to rest. So let’s all agree that the Church and Church leadership are not guilty of being single issue.

What the Church does teach is the truth that the first and foremost issue is that of human life. It is the central issue of human living, and it is the most important measure of a healthy society. How we treat all human life, but especially vulnerable human life whether in the womb or at the last moments of earthly life, does determine whether or not we will have the moral vision to guide the choices we make in our families and communities, in our nation and the world.

We, United States bishops, address many issues, but we insist as the teachers of the Church that the priority task of every Catholic is to form one’s conscience correctly by attending to the teaching of the Church as an integral and necessary component in a well informed conscience. The Church teaches that “human life is sacred.” Following the clear teaching of Pope John Paul II, the U.S. bishops echoed his teaching saying that “abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human life and dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental good and the condition of all others. Abortion, the deliberate killing of a human being before birth, is never morally acceptable and must always be opposed.”

The platform of the Democratic Party for this election year was adopted at the first day of the convention in Denver. Here is how it reads on this issue: “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to undermine that right. The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care [Does the Democrat Party consider abortion to be "health care"?] and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby reduce the need for abortions. The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.”

The day before, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was interviewed on Meet the Press by Mr. Tom Brokaw on this issue. She responded as a Catholic defending the unequivocally pro-abortion position of her party. As a Catholic she said she had studied the issue and then suggested that the doctors of the Church have not been able to make the definition that life begins at conception and then suggesting that it is only in the past 50 years or so that the teaching of the Church has stated that human life begins at conception. She adds, “And Senator — St. Augustine said three months. We don’t know. The point is it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.”

Within 24 hours, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops through Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Pro-Life Committee, with Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, chairman of the Doctrine Committee, issued a statement refuting Ms. Pelosi’s incorrect statements about Church teaching. They said “procured abortion” is a “grave … moral evil … the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.” Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver each added their own comments reinforcing the constant and unambiguous teaching of the Church on abortion, a teaching that is morally binding on the consciences of all Catholics. Such teaching has been constant in the Church because it corresponds to an undeniable and indisputable fact: the direct procuring of an abortion is the destruction of innocent human life. While the Church as early as the Didache of the first century has always maintained this, it is a truth that binds not just Catholics. It binds any and everyone whose conscience has been informed by right reason. Only if you can justify the direct killing of innocent human life — and how that can be done is beyond my ability to understand — can you even countenance the evil of the abortion of the innocent child in the womb.

My aim is not in any way to discredit anyone. Speaker Pelosi, however, objectively misstated the Catholic Church’s teaching and claimed as fact things that are not. I am sure she is a fine person and I know she is a woman of talent. The platform of the Democratic Party stands or falls on its own words, although it has eliminated the word “rare” as one of their goals about abortion and it continues to propagate the false idea that more contraception leads to fewer abortions. The fact is exactly the opposite, as Pope Paul VI correctly foresaw.

May I close by urging one and all to read the U.S. bishops’ statement, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. In addition, I am happy to inform you that on Sunday, September 28, the diocese is sponsoring an afternoon on this document to be held from noon to 4 p.m. at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School, West Islip. Bishop Lori will be the keynote speaker. It promises to be a stimulating and informative day for all who can participate.

WDTPRS kudos to Bishop Murphy.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. The Lord’s servants are speaking up across America. I just observed on FOX news’ coverage of the DNCC in Denver, His Excellency, Archbishop Chaput on his knees touching the concrete outside, in obvious prayer opposing the Speaker’s recent comments on NBC which were errant, to say, the least. Unfortunately, the footage was given short shrift, but Cavuto did give the Bishop an interview in which he addressed Ms. Pelosi’s faux pas. Send FOX news an email, thanking them for covering this topic. Thank you

  2. RobNY says:

    “You might recall Bishop Murphy’s excellent statement about Summorum Pontificum.”

    And I’m pleased to say that he is affirming it not only in word, but also in deed. His excellent letter has been followed up by not only a public celebration of the extraordinary form Mass, but also confirmation in the extraordinary form to a group of the faithful who are attached to the EF. That’s really the full scope of Benedict’s vision.

    As to his statement– not only excellent, but also bold. This was my favorite point, I think. He dares to mention contraception, even, which is so neglected. The action of the bishops really gives me much hope for the future of the Church. So many of these things would have seemed unlikely just a few years ago. I imagine that we’ll see even more things we haven’t expected in the next few years. And how about in the next 20 or 30? I think things are solidly coming around. And such a short period of time is just a blink of an eye in the life of the Church.

  3. Anne says:

    [Does the Democrat Party consider abortion to be “health care”?]

    Good pickup Father. Europe considers it so and as Europe goes so go our silly Dems. Europe also legalized Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide so must we…otherwise we’re uncouth and unsophisticated.

    A wonderful letter by Bp. Murphy. My only objection is that he calls Nancy “a woman of talent”. :)

    God bless Bp. Murphy always.

  4. Supertradmom says:

    How can any Catholics vote Democrat?

    I just do not understand….

  5. Deusdonat says:

    Supertradmom – If there were a pro-life Democrat Catholic in California running against the pro-abortion Republican governer we have now, you better believe I would vote Democrat.

    Once again, stop putting some party in front of your faith. Remember: God first.

  6. Supertradmom says:

    Sorry I offended you. I put my faith first always, even in the voting booth. And, I think my answer on another page might help. I lived in two socialist countries, England and Canada for a long time, and I saw doctors struggling to live according to their consciences despite being told in BC, for example, that they had to perform abortions.

    I also decided I did not want my hard-earned, albeit small tax dollars paying for abortions, contraceptives, etc. which comes with a national health plan.

    In fact, I was personally bullied by five doctors in England as I had a child near 40 and they wanted me to undergo a risky medical procedure which would have endangered my baby. I was told that any child with a birth defect, either mental or physical, would be a “strain on the state” had no right to live, and that I had no right to refuse such a test, which I did and walked all the way home in tears. My son is healthy and very intelligent despite no test. These types of bullying, (Terri Schiavo is dead), are what comes of a national health system. And our little Catholic family is very poor, not wealthy.

  7. Deusdonat says:

    Supertradmom, you didn’t offend me. You asked a question and I answered. I was disgusted at the Democratic party platform and the way they use abortion in every campaign here, even when it has nothing to do with the issues at hand in a given election. I am not defending the Democratic party. But as I said, considering we have a pro-abortion Republican Governor here in my state and no condemnation from the party (to the contrary, they love the attention and star power he brings to every convention) I do not see the Republicans as any better. But as I said, for me it comes down to individuals, and on that basis my faith guides my conscience. In other words, if pro-life Catholic Democrat Bob Casey Jr ran against pro-abortion Republican Arnold Schwartzenegger, my conscience would at that turn tell me to vote Democrat.

    But I’m interested; since you lived in socialist UK and Canada (as did I), can you honestly say the healthcare system is better here in the US for lower to middle income families? Honestly? And I’m talking overall (i.e. cost, availability and efficiency of doctors and medications). And once again, I never had the “public” system over there as I had private insurance through my job. So, I’d be interested in your thoughts here.

  8. Supertradmom says:

    I agree that the health system here needs revision. We do not have health insurance in our family, as two of us are working in part-time jobs without benefits, as I wanted to home school as well as work as needed and did not pursue a career. We cannot manage to pay for insurance on our small salaries. But, I truly believe that reform is needed in the insurance companies and in places like the college where I work and the newspaper where our other wage earner works in that they purposefully hire part-time to avoid benefits.

    Neither party has addressed these needed reforms, but I cannot justify tax money being thrown into anti-life causes either, and in Europe, we had no control over such monies. Also, the State does decide who lives and who dies in Britain and in Canada, as I have witnessed. Catholics have been marginalized politically in both countries, sadly. I am afraid it is happening here, as in some states, the conscience clause for doctors and pharmacists has been taken away regarding abortions and contraceptives.

    If our dear bishops keep proclaiming the Truth as we have seen this week, maybe the clarion call to reform in the true spirit of Catholic Social Teaching will be heard. Socialized medicine is a “snake in the grass” and only a revamping in the light of the encyclicals and Church teaching will solve the problems.

    I fear and believe, however, that the age of martyrs is upon us and these issues are the beginning of real persecution. However, I am not afraid of the Gospel, nor are you, I am sure…..Peace in the Trinity and Theotokos…..

  9. Deusdonat says:

    Supertradmom – so if I can summarise, you are saying that yes, the medical system in Canada and the UK is better, but you don’t agree with the fact that your monies go to performing ab ortions and giving contraception. Is that accurate?

  10. Eric says:

    Bishop Murphy impresses me more and more as time goes by. We are blessed to have him and Msgr. Pereda who tirelessly promotes the Latin Mass in Rockville Centre. God Bless them both.

  11. Anne says:

    I grew up with Socialized medicine and some of my family still depend on it. When people were taxed out they started to cut back on quality – closed hospitals, cut staff, cheap meds, delayed treatments, etc. which helped ease the burden for a while but obviously not a long-term solution. The long term solution in most of Continental Europe became Euthanasia starting in the 70’s (a few years after Abortion became legal). It started off with ironclad laws engraved in cement (not unlike Roe v Wade and we know what happened there…), which was sold to the people by their Government funded media and academic elites. The sell was to kill off the terminally ill patient who suffered intense pain unrelieved by medication and which only death would alleviate. The lethal injection could only be administered by an MD. Shortly thereafter they were killing anyone on request for a fee, the elderly, Alzheimer’s patients, Dementia, multiple sclerosis, depression, etc. Costs were reduced and the next thing you know they were practicing eugenic infanticide for the little disabled and deformed kids. Switzerland has an ongoing lucrative suicide tourist industry – they use a poisoned cocktails to kill people on request – it can be administered by the workers at the clinic. Yes, the young and healthy Europeans enjoy free care. They’re the people one hears touting their wonderful system over the net, they’re also the people our silly Dems are listening to… I guess if it’s what one wants to hear to heck with the facts.

    Italy, Britain, Ireland, and a couple of other countries didn’t go this route, yet, but they continue to close hospitals, treatments etc. Those who can afford it have their own insurance and travel outside the country to get treatment. The poor don’t have that luxury. What I don’t understand is why the UK continues to accept so many immigrants when their system is so drained and didn’t they just approve multiple marriages – the end result of that doesn’t come cheap.

    When the Anglicans approved Contraceptives the door cracked open and it’s been downhill ever since. I know we need healthcare revision here but I wouldn’t look toward Europe to find an answer. They’re broke…and in more ways than one.

    PS: Can anyone become an endangered species? If so, I want PETA to look out for me.

    Deusdonat – I used to work in Canada over a decade ago and their system was way better than Europe but friends tell me it’s gone to the dogs (sorry peta) now.

  12. TJM says:

    As a practicing Catholic, if were a politician I would not want to be associated with a political Party whose very platform proudly
    supports an intrinsic evil. Ironically, some of the crazier elements in the Democratic Party refer to Republicans as “Nazis.” But Nazis were big-time abortion proponents. I would call that statement a classic example of “projection.” Tom

  13. Anne says:

    What Europe does is just dandy with the Dems. Bush tried to stop the Oregon killings – it stopped for a while due to court stuff but it’s up and running again. This article just came out today. I’ve been following it for a while for personal reasons:

    I-1000: The Euthanasia Poison Pill for the Disabled, Elderly in Washington

    The poison peddled by the euthanasia movement here in the United States continues to take its toll. Assisted suicide was legalized in Oregon in 1997, and pro-death advocates are now pushing hard to make it legal in the State of Washington. Initiative 1000 would allow any competent adult suffering from a terminal illness to make a written request for medication that the patient may self-administer to end his or her life.

    In 1998, an Oregonian psychologist decided that 85-year-old Kate Cheney was “cognitively impaired” because she suffered from dementia and, therefore, was not qualified to pursue assisted suicide. Her family then found another psychologist who authorized the suicide. That psychologist did so despite noting the undue influence of Cheney”s family on the decision and that Cheney was so mentally impaired she did not even realize she had cancer.

    In 2007, two nurses in Oregon gave Wendy Melcher a lethal overdose. Though this was illegal (Oregon only allows physicians to prescribe lethal drugs), one of the nurses said she provided the overdose “because she believed [Melcher] to be in uncontrollable pain.” However, the nurse had never noted such pain prior to the day she administered the overdose.

    Acceptance of euthanasia in select cases leads inevitably to an ever-expanding circle of those considered “killable.” In 30 years of unpunished (and eventually legalized) assisted suicide in the Netherlands, the circle of accepted killings has been broadened to include the depressed, the disabled, and infants born with birth defects.

    The ultimate goal is death on demand for everyone. “A dignified death for the terminally ill” is just the first step towards this goal.
    more here:

    They’re also pushing for it in California. It’s no longer called “physician-assisted suicide” but “comfort aid”, “death with dignity”, “end life choices”, etc., for obvious reasons. The Hemlock Society in now called Compassionate Choice, again, for obvious reasons. They’re just warming up.

    The ultimate goal is death on demand for everyone. “A dignified death for the terminally ill” is just the first step towards this goal.

  14. Patrick says:

    Ironic that His Excellency is ordinary of one of the most liberal dioceses in the USA.

  15. @Patrick: He’s got his work cut out for him; under previous leadership, Rockville Centre was in the running with Rochester and Albany. My own pastor ran the gauntlet of the seminary back in those days. It’s quite better now by the accounts I have heard.

    There always have been pockets of orthodoxy here in the DRVC; even the “affirmative orthodoxy” that the Holy Father as displayed since he was elected. Give us 5-15 years; it may be more noticeable then.

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