Politico: Pelosi a ‘religious heretic,’ says former GOP Rep

Here is something from Politico:

August 26, 2008
Categories: Leadership
Pelosi a ‘religious heretic,’ says former GOP Rep.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is a “religious heretic” for suggesting that there is disagreement within the Catholic Church over the definition of conception, former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.) said Tuesday morning. Beauprez was speaking to Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and other Republicans, who didn’t disagree with the suggestion.

“It’s one thing to torture public policy. It’s quite another to be a religious heretic,” said Beauprez.

On NBC’s "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Pelosi told NBC’s Tom Brokaw, in response to a question about when life begins, that “over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know.” Pelosi said that as “an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time.”

Brokaw pressed her, saying that the church “feels very strongly” that life begins at conception, but Pelosi countered that she was referring to disagreement within the church over the centuries, not in the last several decades. “I understand,” she told Brokaw. “And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy.”

Church leaders have criticized her, with Archbishop Donald Wuerl reportedly calling her position “incorrect.”

Beauprez, however, doesn’t limit the heretical label to Pelosi alone. “Heretics like Pelosi and Joe Biden, who also supports abortion and professes to be a Catholic, are giving Catholics a bad name,” Beauprez has written on his blog. “Pelosi, Biden, Obama and the Democrat Party can spin it all they want. Rationalizing evil, wishing it away, doesn’t make it any less evil. They have exposed themselves as the heretics that they are willing to be, to win an election.” (Obama, however, is not a Catholic and in The Crypt’s nonexpert understanding could therefore not be a heretic.)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  1. Thomas says:

    With all the dishonesty and equivocation and hypocrisy, there’s something refreshing about that terrible word: HERETIC.

    ROPER: Now that’s a word I do not like, Sir Thomas –

    MORE: It’s not a likable word, it’s not a likable thing.

  2. I realize people will like the use of the term “heretic”; however, I think for practical reasons, it will behoove us to avoid it. Pelosi and Biden would much prefer to get all outraged about being labeled “heretic” than to have to defend their manifest lapses of logic, common sense, and, in Pelosi’s case, simple facts.

  3. Gladiatrix says:

    It will be interesting to see if Speaker Pelosi responds to the criticism, and if any journalist asks Senator Biden about this and his view and if he will ask for Communion this Sunday.

    So far, the British Press despite being quite unjustifiably all over the Democrat convention has not picked up on this at all.

    Not even Damian Thompson has commented on it.

  4. Joseph Dylong says:


    It would seem Damian Thompson is busy with issues around the English Bishops.

    The British press dont care.

  5. mike koenig says:


  6. “Comment by Fr Martin Fox — 26 August 2008 @ 5:03 pm”

    Father, if I didn’t know of the years you spent as a lobbyist in Washington, I would still say you were correct. That being the case, your observation nonetheless does not change at least one other simple fact.

  7. Tridentum says:

    While I may be totally incorrect, is not the teaching of the Church on abortion a teaching which “while the assent of faith is not required, a religious submission of intellect and will is to be given” (CIC 752). And since the definition of heresy is “obstinate denial or doubt, after baptism, of a truth which must be believed by divine and catholic faith” would that not mean the Pelosi was not a heretic (but would however be committing a grave sin). But then again, perhaps the Church’s teaching on abortion is a truth to which we must give the divine assent of faith.

  8. Brian says:

    Fox News reports:

    In response to the barrage of criticism, Pelosi’s spokesman Brendan Daly issued a statement Tuesday, saying: “Her views on when life begins were informed by the views of Saint Augustine, who said: ‘the law does not provide that the act [abortion] pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation.'”

    “While Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception, many Catholics do not ascribe to that view,” Brady said.

    So much for having “to defend their manifest lapses of logic, common sense, and, in Pelosi’s case, simple facts.\”

  9. fortradition says:

    “I think when statesmen forsake their own private conscience
    for the sake of their public duties,
    they lead their country by a short route to chaos.”

    Saint Thomas More,
    Lord Chancellor of England
    The King’s Good Servant,
    But God’s First

  10. Emilio III says:

    Comments here charging heresy brought to mind the short introduction to the section of laws dealing with heresy in Alfonso X’s Siete Partidas (mid XIIIc):

    “Herejes son una manera de gente loca que se esfuerza por escatimar las palabras de Jesucristo, y darles otro entendimiento distinto de aquel que los padres santos le dieron y que la iglesia de Roma cree y manda guardar.”

    My poor translation: “Heretics are a kind of crazy people who struggle to constrict[?] the words of Jesus Christ and give them another meaning different from that given to them by the holy fathers and that the church of Rome believes and bids us hold.”

    Although it may not be theologically correct, I always liked that definition (which seems applicable to many recent cases).

  11. CK says:

    Well, after these particular bishops have made their corrective statements, Pelosi has come out with her own statement more or less saying that many Catholics do not agree and continue to do otherwise. So now, she’s been warned (by her own bishop we don’t know), so why can’t the bishops simply state that those who continue to use their power/influence to enable abortions to continue are FORBIDDEN to receive holy Communion? Period. As long as they keep saying, like Wuerl, that each person has to examine his/her own conscience before coming to receive, those whose consciences seem to work for convenience and rationalizing will still be in the communion lines to the scandal of the rest.

    Since this “ardent, practicing Catholic” didn’t do much of a researching job perhaps we should just send her a bunch of “The Catechism of the Catholic Church…for Dummies”. Maybe that won’t be too much over her head.

  12. Woody Jones says:

    “[M]any Catholics do not ascribe to that view”… besides wondering why the speokesperson cannot tell the difference between “subscribe” and “ascribe” this moves me to ask again my questions:

    Why is the “hermeneutic of rupture” still so entrenched after 3 years?
    Why does it seem that this situation is in fact endorsed by most of the faithful and their bishops?
    Why has there been no distinct and binding directive, backed by forced retirements at the episcopal level?
    Why do those who trumpet their closeness with the Pope’s (any Pope’s) thinking not follow Benedict’s clearly indicated preferences for altar arrangements and communion on the tongue while kneeling?
    Why does it seem that the majority of bishops in the Western world are simply enduring the present time and waiting for the repose of Pope Benedict?
    Why is it that the Church seems to be in the grasp of effeminacy?
    Why should I not conclude, as do a number of my Anglican friends, that Rome is just 50 years behind Canterbury?

  13. Thomas says:

    “Why should I not conclude, as do a number of my Anglican friends, that Rome is just 50 years behind Canterbury?”

    Because then the Church would have caved on abortion 3 decades ago.

  14. David:

    I’m not sure, but your post seemed incomplete to me.


    I stand by what I said. I think Fr. Z’s response to her reaching over 1500 centuries back to Augustine–and cherry-picking a citation from him–is far better ground on which to face off, than on whether she is a heretic.

    I think the reasonable person, whether Catholic or not, who beholds the Speaker of the House, and the U.S. Bishops, disputing over what the Catholic Church believes, are generally likely to think the bishops know that subject a wee bit better.

    The same is true of heresy; but it’s a lot easier for most people to agree Pelosi got the facts wrong, for obviously self-serving reasons, than for them to make the leap to heresy.

    So, it depends on what you want: if you want to do better in the court of public opinion, avoid the heresy label.

    Now, of course, there remains the question: is she a heretic? I dunno; but I feel very comfortable saying she’s a nitwit. (Question for canon lawyers: is nitwittery a legitimate defense from the charge of heresy?)

  15. Brian says:

    Fr. Fox,

    I agree with you that Fr. Z’s Augustine response is brilliant; as he has been on this issue to two solid, tireless days.

    I do not disagree with you that there is little or nothing to be gained by calling Nancy Pelosi a “heretic;” a term she would haughtily dismiss as from the Middle Ages.

    In her public response to the Bishops correction, however, Nancy Pelosi clearly demonstrates that truth and reason are irrelvant to her. She sees no need to defend her manifest lapses of logic, common sense, and simple facts. Her presumptuous heart is hardened. She needs prayer.

    In picking Senator Biden as VP, Obama is counting on a substantial Catholic vote.
    Approximately 30% of U.S. abortions are performed on Catholic women.

    To provide moral and spiritual leadership for the millions of Catholics who are confused on this issue, I would pray that our Bishops would take action with regard to Pelosi and Biden receiving Communion.

    Perhaps such action would also help to convict the heart of Pelosi or Biden.
    Perhaps not.

    Such action would put the dilemna between them and our Lord, where it belongs.

  16. TJM says:

    I think Nancy Pelosi is a heretic, not only for her views on abortion, but for her views on
    the Real Presence as well. However, I do agree with Fr. Fox, that in America that the term
    “heretic” probably does not play very well with the general public. However, that should not deter the appropriate Church authorities from declaring her separated from the Faith and a former Catholic so that she ceases to be a source of scandal and division within the Church. She is not a Catholic in the meaningful sense of the word and allowing her to market herself as a Catholic is a source of great scandal. Perhaps, Pope Benedict needs to do the job that his
    clergy refuse to do. Tom

  17. Anne says:

    Canon 1398: “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.”

    Canon 751: “Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

    Canon 1364 §1: “an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.”

    Canon law says she’s a heretic and it appears that the next step will be excommunication.

  18. TerryC says:

    I think that the real question here is what do we wish to accomplished? Is it the job of the bishops to win in the court of public opinion? or is it the job of the bishops to care for souls? Is it better to have a church building full of unrepentant sinners who, because of their rejection of Church teaching will go to the great mystery of death unprepared and probably condemned or is it better to have a half full church building which is full of struggling, but repentant, sinners who have a chance to enter the glory of God following this life?
    If the latter is the goal tell the truth. Use the word heretic. Announce Biden and Pelosi’s (and many other political public sinners) latae sententiae excommunications. Just tell them, “By your action you have seperated yourselves from the body or Christ. After recanting your public scandal and repenting of your sins, and avialing yourselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation you will be welcomed back.”
    Will this PO some of the faithful? Probably. Will we lose their contribution money and presence in social welfare programs and parish catechetical programs? Probably. But the smart ones will eventually be back and many of the fence sitters will finally commit to living a (struggling) Christian life. And the Church will holier and eventually bigger and stronger.

  19. RBrown says:

    I think Nancy Pelosi is a heretic, not only for her views on abortion,


    but for her views on the Real Presence as well.
    Comment by TJM

    I don’t understand that comment.

  20. Terry:

    There are different tasks, to be carried out by different elements of the Church, calling for different tactics.

    My point was clear enough, I think: however emotionally satisfying it is to call anyone a heretic, I’m not sure how actually useful it is.

    I happen to think that teaching the truth and winning in the court of public opinion are both worthy goals, I see no reason to go out of ones way to set them against each other; but there are those who have a Wagnerian, Gotterdammerung-style eagerness for that sort of thing.

    As for finding someone a heretic: “heresy,” for one, has a precise meaning, and for the Church to find that someone actually is a heretic requires careful procedure, because every member of the Church has rights within the Church. To find a layperson a heretic — as opposed to lesser remedies of refusing holy communion or excommunication (these are not the same things) — would, I assume, involve canonical procedures and the accused has a right of due process.

    So pursuing a charge of heresy against the Speaker of the House would involve, I believe, some sort of procedure…some sort of trial? I am not a canon lawyer, but I’m pretty sure you can’t just declare something like that.

    And as shocking as this may be, it’s very possible Pelosi is guilty of a lot of things, but heresy may not be one of them; so a trial may actually find her innocent of that specific charge.

    How can this be, you ask? Lots of pro-abortion pols say–and they all can and will say if they must–that they accept the teaching of the Church, but for this or that reason (such as the text of the Constitution, as Biden will say, or for prudential reasons, as Cuomo used to say), they are against “imposing” the teaching of the Church on the population. There are certainly problems with that stance, but whether it is heresy? That’s a bit of a stretch. If anyone commenting is a canon lawyer, please advise; if not a canon lawyer, it would be best to be cautious about ones assertions…

    But by all means, if you want the spectacle of the Church putting the Speaker of the House on trial…

    As opposed to her being told, no longer present yourself for holy communion (a far more likely outcome and a perfectly sound remedy to the problem)…

    First, good luck beating your head against a wall seeking a heresy trial (when was the last time a layperson was found to be a heretic, anywhere in the world?)…

    And second, have fun with the whole mess that will ensue…

    And we’ll all pour our energies into that, instead of all the other stuff that needs to be done in the meantime.

    P.S. I’m not certain, but I am fairly sure announcing someone’s latae sententiae excommunication is the same thing as finding someone a heretic. A person who actually gets an abortion incurs an excommunication, but that doesn’t make the person a heretic, just a grave sinner (not all grave sinners are heretics).

  21. Sorry, my P.S. should have read:

    “… I am fairly sure announcing someone’s latae sententiae excommunication is NOT the same thing …”

  22. Anne says:

    Father Martin, You wrote-> “But by all means, if you want the spectacle of the Church putting the Speaker of the House on trial…”
    Father Martin, You speak of “spectacle” in the future tense but many of us see this as past, present and future unless the mavericks are reined in and ordered to follow Church teachings or told to go evangelize for the Methodists. Nancy et al can take some responsibility but the Bishops supervising their parish take the brunt of it for not follow Church edicts.

    Here’s another ongoing spectacle:

    Jesus was a Bigot?
    August 24, 2008 by Eugene Michael
    In a homily last week at one of our DOR parishes the priest stated that Jesus was essentially a bigot because He discriminated against the Canaanite woman. It seems that God hadn’t fully illuminated Him yet so His human side dominated and provoked this so-called act of discrimination.

    It’s all very disheartening but prayer helps. Have you seen pictures of our beautiful churches made into masonic lodges? It hurts to see them.

Comments are closed.