Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on when human life begins.

With a tip of the biretta to Amy   o{]:¬/   I repost here the exchange I saw this morning on Meet The Press between host Tom Brokow and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).


    MR. BROKAW: Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you’re looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, “Help me out here, Madame Speaker. When does life begin?” what would you tell him?

    REP. PELOSI: I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, [?] this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator–St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose. [So… let me get this straight.  She doesn’t know, but it could then begin at conception.  The prudent decision would be err on the safe side and presume that it begins at conception.  But no.  Even though a person might be killed, Pelosi is okay with that.  However, Holy Church has made this determination.  The Doctors of the Church to whom she refers are not the same as the Church’s Magisterium.]  Roe v. Wade talks about  [So, instead of her Church’s teaching, her reference point is Roe v Wade.] very clear definitions of when the child–first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There’s very clear distinctions. This isn’t about abortion on demand, it’s about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and–to–that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god. And so I don’t think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who’ve decided["those"]

    MR. BROKAW: The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it…

    REP. PELOSI: I understand that.

    MR. BROKAW: …begins at the point of conception.

    REP. PELOSI: I understand. 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. But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions. That’s why we have this fight in Congress over contraception. [Aren’t very many contraceptives really abortifacients?]  My Republican colleagues do not support contraception. 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[I may break my keyboard against my forehead.] We have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it, as it has been–and I’m not saying Rick Warren did, because I don’t think he did, but others will try to.


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  1. TNCath says:

    Nancy Pelosi: “But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions.”

    Indeed. With the line of thinking published here, I am afraid Nancy, Joe Biden, Teddy Kennedy, and many others will have a lot to answer for.

  2. Hidden One says:

    Has she been publicly informed of her excommunication yet?

  3. Aelric says:

    This scholarly erudition should earn her an honorary S.T.D. at any number of ‘Catholic’ Colleges & Universities.

  4. Fr W says:

    She seems to be confusing the question of ‘ensoulment’ which true, the Church has not defined, and the beginning of human life. We don’t say when the soul is present – that is the question Aquinas and others considered – with the science at their disposal. But it is certainly clear, and scientists agree, that human life BEGINS at conception. IN other words, its not a lizard, or a goat, or a cockroach – it is the beginning of the life of a human being.

    I am glad that after 30 years we might be returning to the question of when life begins. That question fell out of the political discussion after Reagan, who said, if we aren’t sure, we should error on the side of life.

    I hope for consistancy, when Nancy’s grandchild points to mommy’s tummy and says ‘its a baby!’ – I hope she corrects the child’s ignorance. Fact is, children even know what it is inside of mommy’s tummy.

  5. [I may break my keyboard against my forehead.]

    I need a blood pressure cuff installed on my desk here. These kinds of posts make me physically ill. All I can do is pray for mercy toward this human being.

  6. shana sfo says:

    Wow is right. This is just – words fail me.

    Either a case of seriously invincible ignorance, a very bad liar or the woman is completely insane.

    Not for me to judge which it is.

    I wonder if the USCCB will have anything to say about this immediately and specifically – not after a Committee has been selected to Choose a Clever Name for the Document but, say, Immediately?

  7. Frank says:

    Sad, very sad.

    I wish she would not speak about her knowledge of Church History or Theology (was it a Psalm that said “I”
    knew you before I formed you?) Wasn’t it the 1st Century Didache that said abortion was forbidden?
    (I could be wrong)
    She should speak of modern science and the science (not Theology or Church history) that allows us to see the baby in the womb. See Dr. LeJeune’s research.

    We must pray for this very lost and destructive person. We must pray for the unborn.

  8. Andrew says:

    Perversi difficile corriguntur, et stultorum infinitus est numerus. (Eccl. 1:15)

  9. Jim says:

    Seriously, this is scandalous. For the Speaker of the House, the third person in succession for the presidency, speaking publicly as a practicing Catholic in such a manner demands a public response from her bishop. If a blatantly contrary view is being promulgated by such a public official “as an ardent, practicing Catholic” does not at the least result in a public tongue lashing, and properly an excommunication (not as punishment, but to help persuade and bring her back in communion), then my disappointment in the episcopacy will be further advanced.

    It is times like this that Church leaders need to fearlessly speak out and not let this garbage imperil the souls of the faithful.

  10. Sawyer says:

    Pelosi’s home is in the Archdiocese of San Franciscio. I hope Archbishop Niederauer is made aware of Pelosi’s statements. He has previously feigned ignorance about Pelosi’s stance on abortion as the reason why he has not judged it necessary to advise her not to receive Communion. Then again, Mayor Gavin “Any Twosome” Newsom is another “ardent” Catholic in the Archdiocese who has suffered no public reprimand by the Archbishop for his support of same-sex marriage and his almost singular role in legalizing it in California. Seems that Catholicism is practiced differently in S.F. than elsewhere.

  11. The pro-abortion position demands ignorance and uncertainty about what a person is, and why women get abortions. Those who actually know, are forced to pretend not to know. They lie, obfuscate and conceal with the greatest of effort, and they inevitably look stupid and dishonest in the process. Because they are.

  12. Some Guy says:

    I would be interested to know more about what Augustine’s philosophy was concerning when life begins, not because it would change anything, but purely out of curiosity.

  13. Brian says:

    Can one imagine the ramifications if the Ordinary of Lincoln was her bishop?

    Oh I wish for the days of St. Pius X!

  14. johnny b says:

    Seriously, like Jim said above, THIS IS SCANDAL!!!

    Someone (ie bishop or bishops) needs to set the record strait.

  15. Joe says:

    I think every time someone reports someone as saying ‘right to choose’ the following should be added to the published edition: (sci. to kill the child).

  16. Woody Jones says:

    I do not have the opportunity to refer back to the texts on Americanism, but I am wondering: is not Speaker Pelosi’s confusion the kind of thing that the great Leo XIII was warning about? As in past elections the hierarchy will have an opportunity for a teaching moment, but I will not hold my breath waiting for them to seize it for good.

    At this point, we have to face the unpleasant fact that we idle writers to blog comboxes are not going to affect things by our words, no matter how clever or heated, and so we must resort to what should be our first refuge, but (if everyone else is like me) is too often our last: prayer and penance.

    One suggestion here would be to pray more frequently the Prayer to St Michael, originally penned by Leo after his vision of trials to come. I presume we are now living in those times and so need the help of the Holy Archangels even more.

  17. Larry says:

    The good news here is that Mr. Brokaw seems to be getting IT! Nancy has already displayed her identity as a false prophet in saying the Obama is a gift from God to lead our country. If he is a gift from God we are in really deep do do! The last time God gave that kind of gift Israel went into captivity. At the same time Archbishop Charles Chaput has put out the word that Sen. Biden should NOT present himself for Holy Communion. Bring it on!!! At the same time we had two tornadoes south oif Denver tonight! AND a huge rainbow! Things are getting pretty interesting in the Mile High City. You might want to come out west Fr. Z. things will be very interesting out here over the next few days. Of course the language won’t be Latin even if it is vulgar.

  18. Jerry says:

    If she’s an “ardent” Catholic (yeah, sure)I’d hate to hear the opinion of one who is not ardent. She is one that should quite publically be denied Communion…come to think of it VP nominee Biden, Senator Kennedy and quite a few others ought to be as well.

  19. RBrown says:

    I would be interested to know more about what Augustine’s philosophy was concerning when life begins, not because it would change anything, but purely out of curiosity.
    Comment by Some Guy

    I think she’s actually referring to St Thomas, who in one text adopts Aristotle’s idea that takes 40 days for the embryo to be developed enough to be joined to a rational soul.

    Modern Science, however, has demonstrated that at the first moment of conception all the human genetic material is present, which means that from the beginning the body is adequate for the rational soul.

  20. Brian Kemple says:

    I actually just wrote an article (http://socath.blogspot.com/2008/08/this-week-in-sanity-abortion-rhetoric.html) about this sort of rhetoric last night. There is definitely a shift in rhetoric for the mainstream pro-abortionites.

  21. Jim Dorchak says:

    ………..” Roe v. Wade talks about [So, instead of her Church’s teaching, her reference point is Roe v Wade.”

    Fr Z, Abortion is her religeon, so of course it is the basis of her moral foundation.

    The question is:

    With national coverage of her position and the Church’s position according to Nancy Pelosi (which now is defacto for the Catholic Church), why have the UCCCCCCCCCCB, or her Bishop not defended the true Church teaching?

    The answer: The Church supports abortion by its inaction.

    All it takes is for good people (the laity not the bishops) to say nothing.

    Jim Dorchak

  22. vox borealis says:


    I agree…and as horrible as Pelosi’s words are, they do betray some positive things. For example, she appears to have largely abandoned the old “my Catholic conscience says…” The very fact that she has abandoned that tired old misuse of conscience (post-Vatican II misinterpretation) suggests that they know it doesn’t sell anymore. She is, of course, trying to cloud the issue is non-sensical appeals to the church fathers and by disparaging recent teachings as, well, recent. But this too will prove to be a fool’s game, because “recent” teachings on abortion are not recent, but consistent in a very long line of church teachings. She (and her ilk) recognize the internal contradictions in their various positions; they realize that they swear by only one book, the Acts of Roe v. Wade, and that puts them at odds with their more religious constituents. These so-called Catholic legislators are squirming, and they haven’t had to do that in years (if ever)–that’s why we see new attempts to dance around the elephant in the corner of the room.

    So yes, this is shocking and horrible etc, etc, etc. But *we* now need to keep the pressure on the like of Pelosi. The new line of argument will only work for so long until it too is revealed for the fallacy that it is.

  23. Mark says:

    For me the greatest scandal here is not the Speaker’s opinion… but the lack of response from the Church hierarchy!

    Why doesn’t the Church formally excommunicate these people??? Excommunication is not a ‘permanent’ state. Once one reconciles oneself with the Church, the excommunication is lifted. We need some ‘tough love’ here. Hasn’t it been said that excommunication is medicinal in its nature.

    It seems reasonable to excommunicate in cases like this. Another side affect is that they can’t claim to be Catholic when their views strike so ardently against the true teaching of the Church.

  24. Baron Korf says:

    Fr. Z hit it right on the head with the erring on the side of caution. I never understood how the argument that “Well it might be human, but since we don’t know, let’s say you can kill it” makes any sense at all.

  25. Irenaeus says:

    “Wasn’t it the 1st Century Didache that said abortion was forbidden?”

    Here’s many, if not most, of the pertinent Jewish and Christian texts from antiquity as well as some chatting about Pelosi’s unfortunate comments.

  26. Luke says:

    I suggest she read a book I read a few months ago called “The Rise of Christianity” by Rodney Stark. It’s a secular book, but Stark recalls how anti-abortion teachings actually helped Christianity thrive from the earliest days. YES, THE CHRISTIAN FAITH HAS ALWAYS ALWAYS BEEN AGAINST ABORTION! NO EXCEPTIONS!

  27. Natural scientists (and individual members of the Church – including great thinkers like Aquinas and one Pope, at least) have not always been clear about the “moment of ensoulment,” (cf. Fr. W., above) just as they have not been clear about the moment of ‘exsoulment,’ i.e. when the soul leaves the dead body. The practice, therefore, has always been to err on the side of caution: excluding abortion and formerly allowing for Extreme Unction while the body was warm. We know now that all zygotes are distinctly human in their chemical, DNA make-up. This relatively new knowledge is an incredible tribute to the Church’s unwavering insistence on caution in matters of our Salvation. For centuries, the Church admitted that it was speculating on the moment of ensoulment and therefore concluded that we could not assume that abortion was possible even from the moment of conception, thereby following a policy of always bowing too low, rather than not low enough. She is now–given the certainty of scientific discoveries–without any doubt vindicted in Her consistent policy of forbidding abortion of any type. Ms (btw, one should never use a period after the word Ms – it is not an abbreviation for anything and thus doesn’t deserve the abbreviation marker) Pelosi shows only an understanding of political expedience and absolutely NO understanding of what the writer calls her “ardent” Cathoic faith. As many of us have expressed here, she needs prayers, but she also needs a reminder form the old Confirmation rite; a “slap” by her confirming bishop, to remind her of the real suffering Catholics must endure, might be well placed at this point in time.

  28. Gloria says:

    And of course the news media are salivating over the fact that NOW Obama will have the Catholic vote because of Senator Biden. Sad to say, I fear that in too many cases that is true; because the misdirected Catholic of today thinks contraception and even abortion is o.k. I can’t believe how many Catholics are enthusiastic about Obama, even with his record on abortion. It’s frightening.

  29. Josh says:

    I hate to say it, but she is right in a way.

    1. The Church has deliberately avoided defining when human life begins (it is only truly human if it has the soul which is the form of the body, even if by analogy we would call it human life)

    2. The question does not matter so much

    From De abortu

    This declaration expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused. There is not a unanimous tradition on this point and authors are as yet in disagreement. For some it dates from the first instant; for others it could not at least precede nidation. It is not within the competence of science to decide between these views, because the existence of an immortal soul is not a question in its field. It is a philosophical problem from which our moral affirmation remains independent for two reasons: (1) supposing a belated animation, there is still nothing less than a human life, preparing for and calling for a soul in which the nature received from parents is completed, (2) on the other hand, it suffices that this presence of the soul be probable (and one can never prove the contrary) in order that the taking of life involve accepting the risk of killing a man, not only waiting for, but already in possession of his soul.

    IIRC, the latter would still formally be murder because, being in doubt and doing it anyways shows a will to kill.

  30. Central Valley Catholic says:

    Where is the Archbishop of San Francisco? This is yet another example of the weakness of the majority of California bishops. Where I live in the diocese of Fresno, Congressman Jim Costa D-Fresno spouts the same venom as the speaker of the house and the Bishop of Fresno is silent as usual. There have been brave California Bishops like the current Bishop of Sacramento who stood up to former governor Gray Davis when Davis failed at explaining Church teachings and the former Bishop of San Diego who did his job in defending the faith against the wrath of local politicians. Most of the California Bishops are so weak they will never stand up to the Speaker of the House for fear of offending their peers in the Democratic Party. How sad that the Bishops of California choose the party over the faith. How would you like to be a California Bishop or Nancy Pelosi on their judgment day?

  31. Geoffrey says:

    Why does everyone always bash the bishops? Do you really think these politicians would experience a sudden conversion if their bishop suddenly gave them a stern talking to? These people know the teachings of the Church and defy it openly and willingly. A formal statement, excommunication, etc., would not get them to change. Only prayer can. So pray.

  32. Central Valley Catholic says:

    The Bishop of a diocese is responsible for the education of the faithful. If a Bishop is weak so will be his teaching. If the Bishop is weak there are those in the ranks of the ordained who will recognize this weakness and run with it. Speaker Pelosi has a history of making comments in defiance of Church teaching. Her Bishop and other Bishops in California have a very very very strong record of looking the other way when members of their flock make public statements contrary to the teachings of the Church. Their weakness is a cause of scandal for the faithful.

  33. Rudy B says:


  34. Phillip says:

    I will remember Pelosi and mayor, Newsom, in my prayers tonight. It is sad that these two “catholic” individuals are supposed to represent me, my family, my friends, and others in the government. It seems that some Catholics just do not get it. I know many orthodox Catholics in the City and the Bay Area who will vote for anti-life politicians. Even members of my own family. They unfortunately say that while abortion is important, the enviroment, poverty, the economy, and third world diplomacy somehow make a candidate’s stance on abortion and the perversion of marriage ok. His Excellency Abp Niederauer needs to put his foot down and issue a statement addressing this issue. These people must be “officially” told by our Abp, like the situation with Giuliani and Cardinal Egan in New York. They just disregard any statements by Abp Burke, the Pope, or the magisterium.

  35. Central Valley Catholic says:

    The Democratic Party was not always part of the culture of death. John William McCormack D-Ma served as the Speaker of the House under three presidents. Speaker McCormack was a Papal Knight and a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus. Unlike Pelosi, Speaker McCormack lived the faith he was instructed in and accepted that faith his whole life. There will be no Papal awards for Teddy Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi or Joseph Biden, unless there is a change of heart and mind and a true repentence.

  36. Marty says:

    In San Francisco, Pelosi really is a beloved member of her parish, St. Vincent de Paul. No one there ever corrects or challenges her with respect to her false interpretations of the Catholic faith, so why shouldn’t she persist in her belief that she’s an “ardent, practicing Catholic”?

  37. Margaret says:

    I think Ms. Pelosi’s “fifty year” reference is a sloppy/incorrect reference to the forty year-old Humanae Vitae. Which actually just exposes another mistake in her understanding of the history of Church teaching– I can’t honestly remember anyone ever before trying to claim that the Church only just decided that life begins at conception with the publication of HV. As if abortion was somehow “okay” prior to HV…

    I loved Amy’s suggestion that this would be a wildly appropriate time for a “teachable moment.” I’d give my eyeteeth to see someone like Abp. Chaput set up a press conference right in front of the DNC center.

  38. Jake says:

    Yet another example of how many Americans are “cafeteria” Catholics.

    Having grown up in a very political family (d’Alessandro), Madame Speaker learned more how to be politically expedient rather than through her faith. Her degree from Trinity University in DC (which according to some sources is a place to be avoided due to a lot of more “radical” views) doesn’t really help her much either in this regard.

    While suggesting Archbishop Chaput’s input in Denver this week is a nice idea, it really doesn’t hold water to me, personally, because of his views of the death penalty.

    We also have to remember it was 40 years ago that if you committed a crime heinous enough that warranted it, the death penalty was justified. Now there’s a very misguided argument that we shouldn’t put people to death because we’re “above” that. Sure, it should be used sparingly, but it shouldn’t be off the table completely. I think it’s justified whenever severe harm is done to an innocent child, born or unborn. But then again, that’s not politically expedient, either.

  39. Adam says:

    Well Ms Pelosi has really taken herself out of communion with the Church by her scandalous statements on MTP Sunday. It is explicit Church teaching that LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION and this has been taught without fail and most recently taught by John Paul II and Benedict XVI.The Church is the last major spiritual bastion that holds that all abortions are morally deficient and that all Catholics are to hold that LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION. Ms Pelosi’s vague, abstract and horrendouse answers to Brokaw yesterday were just way off track and her theological musings as a Catholic on national TV were abhorrent. I hope that Catholic cardinals and bishops will make strong statements this week abhoring what she has said. She has placed herself way outside Catholic teaching on this major matter trying to justify views which see abortion as OK and by trying to justify that life somehow begins 10, 20 weeks after conception. This relativistic view of human life is totally against Catholic teaching which is in no way debatable. The Church has a strong, definite and biblically-based teaching that all abortions are morally wrong and Catholics ought know and believe that. Ms Pelosi has made a major blunder and her obfuscations in the interview are to be condemned.
    What a disgrace. Now is the time for bishops to speak out and condemn such irresponsible talk which only seeks to justify horrendous acts against the unborn innocenti.
    I hope that Biden will make very clear that as a Catholic he holds to the teachings of the Church, that abortion in all circumstances is morally wrong and horrendous. If not, then he ought reconsider his place in the Church, as ought Pelosi.

  40. John says:

    Ab. Burk has spoken about the responsibility of Bishops to teach and to defend the Eucharist. If they do not act in the face of a blatant attack such as Sen Pelosi’s what is Vatican responsibility? They teach well but can they also act?

  41. Frank H says:

    Such a marked contrast to the very clear statement by John McCain at the Saddleback Church interview a couple of weeks ago, where he simply replied “at the moment of conception” to the same question.

    I wonder if the late Tim Russert, former moderator of Meet The Press and apparently a fervent Catholic, would have pursued the line of questioning further, or perhaps invited a bishop to respond on a subsequent program?

  42. Forrest says:

    I pray that the good bishop Weurl gets the courage up to face down this heretic and demand a public renunciation of her scandalous words…or excommunicate her and stop this farce.

    The Catholic world is watching. I for one, am weary of bishops who say nothing in times like these.

  43. EDG says:

    I think many people are overlooking the fact that the selection of Biden (a “pro-choice Catholic”) as VP was actually meant as a direct challenge and slap in the face to the Church. The Dems are confident that most Catholics will simply vote Dem anyway, and that no bishop will have the nerve to deny Communion to or even make a statement (or at any rate, in more than foggy generalities) about the matter. Chosing Biden was a dare and a throwing down of the gauntlet, but they did it only because they are confident that the Church will not pick it up. Losing this will then essentially disqualify the Church from any comment in the future and forever remove it as a force in American life.

    I think the Dems will win this dare, unfortunately. My bishop, the Bishop of St. Augustine, is head of some Florida bishops’ organization that has come out with “voter guidelines.” I saw them in a parish bulletin on Sunday. Catholics are to consider the opinions of the candidates on – “the death penalty, war and immigration.” Not a word about abortion, euthanasia, etc.

  44. Volpius says:

    So when is he going to be excommunicated?

    This is been going on so long now all other corrective attempts have clearly failed there is only one left.

  45. Ignatius says:

    On another IMPORTANT note: did anyone view Archbishop Chaput’s interview on EWTN World Over?

    My jaw hit the floor when he espoused that Catholics in good conscience can morally justify a vote for a pro-abortion candidate provided they (the voter) are NOT voting for the candidate’s position on abortion! Is this the true belief of the Roman Catholic Church, and if so, what lawyer wrote this??? So is the good bishop telling me that it’s okay to vote for Nancy Pelosi because she’s really an advocate for combatting other evils (racism, bigotry, etc)??

    He also placed racism and abortion as two “instrinsic evils” that seemingly have coequal status.

    This merely gives cafecatholics an excuse to vote for politicians with ghoulish views on life without fearing for their soul…or his statement places a lot of folks in jeopardy.

    He also said that a Catholic could participate in a “material evil” provided it’s proportional. He may–in his theological mind–be able to split hairs on this issue, but Catholic voters need black/white guidance…

    Can a Catholic voter support a pro-abortion candidate or not?

    Are there any out there with an answer?

    This bishop’s statement made me quite sad & angry…

  46. TerryC says:

    Everyone bashes the bishops not because they believe that Ms Pelosi, and her ilk will easily recant their positions but because if the bishops were doing their job she would no longer be able to erroneously claim to be an ardent Catholic. She would no longer be able to mislead ignorant, badly catechized Catholics into sin by her scandal. Public supporters would have to admit that they were not practical Catholics, but only cultural Catholics.
    If strongly enough worded by the bishops consistently priests at the local level would exercise their responsibilities and refuse Eucharist to such public sinners, and perhaps some of them would actually recant their sin in the light of consistent and loving rebuke.
    That is why we bash the bishops.

  47. Ruben says:

    When does human life begin?
    At the point that human parentage begins.

  48. Jordanes says:

    EDG said: I think many people are overlooking the fact that the selection of Biden (a “pro-choice Catholic”) as VP was actually meant as a direct challenge and slap in the face to the Church. The Dems are confident that most Catholics will simply vote Dem anyway, and that no bishop will have the nerve to deny Communion to or even make a statement (or at any rate, in more than foggy generalities) about the matter. Chosing Biden was a dare and a throwing down of the gauntlet, but they did it only because they are confident that the Church will not pick it up. Losing this will then essentially disqualify the Church from any comment in the future and forever remove it as a force in American life.

    I was just thinking the same thing last night. I’d been wondering, “Why Biden, of all people?” Such a lackluster personality, in fact rather a strange guy with quite a temper, and an awful public speaker. Okay, I know Obama wouldn’t want his No. 2’s speeches to outshine his, but what what he bringing to the ticket? I didn’t know Biden was a nominal Catholic, a pro-aborton heretic. Then I knew this was an appeal to the large numbers of U.S. Catholics who vote Democratic out of habit, and who support abortion (or who disingenuously claim not to be in favor of abortion, just of not making it illegal, like Doug Kmiec). This VP choice is a direct appeal to the Kennedy-Pelosi-Ruether-Chittister-National-Catholic-Distotrer wing of U.S. Catholicism, an attempt to neuter the votes of faithful Catholics. They already want to vote for Obama, and they want to salve their consciences as they vote for a supporter of intrinsic evil without any valid justification.

  49. Baron Korf says:

    I did not see the interview with Archbishop Chaput, but I have heard of the idea that a Catholic in good conscience can vote for a candidate in spite of a pro-abortion record. From what I’ve gathered it has to be in a case where the opponent of the pro-abortion candidate is morally no better. This doesn’t mean that you can ignore the abortion issue just because the other person has a better tax plan or something of that sort, but more that when you have two basically evil candidates, you can, in good conscience, vote for the one that is less evil.

    Say you have 3 candidates, A, B, and C. A and B are pro-abortion, but B favors some ‘reasonable’ restrictions. C is not pro-abortion, but isn’t well known and has a very small support from the electorate. A is the favorite to win. A Catholic, in good conscience, can support candidate B to prevent A from getting into office, and in effect limit abortion with those proposed restrictions. However, a Catholic can put his support behind C as a statement. In theory, if all the Catholics voted for C, it would send a strong message even if it’s not enough to swing the election. In practice there is just not enough solidarity in the ‘catholic’ vote.

    Or a more complicated scenario, candidate A is pro-abortion and candidate B is pro-‘gay marriage’, and there is no viable third party as above. In this case, a vote for any of the 3 could be justifiable if done for the right reason. Again, in practice, this is usually not the case in the USA because most pro-abortion people are pro-‘gay marriage’ and other things.

    Yes, racism is considered an intrinsic evil. Of course this is not referring to a black man not being able to get a cab, but things like Apartheid, Jim Crowe, and lynchings. Creating institutionalized second class citizenry is to deny the equal dignity before God of all humans. Not really a problem these days in the US.

    I think the Archbishop was trying to help those who fact difficult decisions between bad all around choices. Even the top two presidential candidates don’t qualify as pro-life, technically. Obama is for abortion without restriction and everything that goes with it. McCain is against abortion, but fails to see the intrinsic evil in using left-over embryos from fertility clinics for stem cell research. From what the Archbishops has said, I would take it as ok to vote for the lesser of two evils, McCain, rather than being forced into the third party foray because of McCain’s ESCR record.

    But that’s me.

  50. elm says:

    “Such a marked contrast to the very clear statement by John McCain at the Saddleback Church interview a couple of weeks ago, where he simply replied “at the moment of conception” to the same question”

    It takes a lot more words to tell a lie.

  51. TomG says:

    Nicely put, Baron Korf.

    As we may remember, though, this was basically the message of Cdl Ratzinger’s letter to Cdl McCarrick of Wash. D.C. several years ago. Of course, we were all shocked, shocked that it was handled disingenuously by HE Cdl McCarrick.

  52. Scott W. says:

    Pelosi’s agnosticism on when life begins is a coy pretence. As one blogger put it, “Anyone who has bought a pack of condoms knows when life begins.”

  53. EJ says:

    I have said this a thousand times, but I really believe that the Pope – or probably more the Nuncio, local diocesan bureaucracies, and the Congregation for Bishops really dropped the ball with the selection of Wuerl in DC and Niederauer in SanFran. They are such a disappointment to the Church in the US.

  54. jarhead462 says:

    More of the same from Nancy “The Mask”
    Does this really surprise anyone??

    Semper Fi!

  55. Jeff Pinyan says:

    From Nancy’s mouth: “This isn’t about abortion on demand, it’s about a careful, careful consideration … that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god.”

    That makes things a lot easier, I would imagine, only having to deal with “your” god and not THE God.

  56. LCB says:

    Where is her bishop?

    Silence on his part seems to indicate consent. It seems she isn’t the only one in San Fran that doesn’t seem to know the Church’s teaching on these and other matters.

  57. new timon says:

    Of course, for Democrats, the question is not when human life begins, but when government interference with that life begins. They are certain that it doesn’t begin at conception. What is most important to them is that the very first relationship in human life, the mother-child bond, begins with the right of the former to dispose of the latter. The most basic premise of their political philosophy is to totally and completely destroy family loyalty.

    It can only work because children naturally identify with their parents, and if the parents honor Roe, so will the kids:
    The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing,
    My bonds in thee are all determinate.
    The child has no concept of human rights, even a right to life, because
    The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,
    and so my patent back again is swerving.

  58. Hidden One says:

    Quit the Bishop bashing, people. You aren’t Bishops, and you certainly arent’ superior to Bishops. Let God do His job – through the Pope, if necessary.

  59. mpm says:

    Regarding Archbishop Chaput’s interveiw on EWTN. I did not see it, but I listened
    to it. What he was referring to is the difference between “formal” and “material”
    “cooperation in evil” (which is addressed in the CCC).

    Nobody should “cooperate in evil” if the cooperation is “formal”, because that is
    the same thing as supporting the evil itself. (In my reading of Pelosi’s comments
    to Brokaw, she is formally “cooperating in evil” in that however safe and rare,
    she wants abortion to be legal — and she can do something about it.)

    Material cooperation (as Ab. Chaput was trying to explain) can be justified for
    sufficiently proportional reasons. This is not “proportionalism” a la Fr. Curran,
    but the traditional non-quantitative proportionality of Catholic moral theology.

    An example might be voting for a bill that “regulated” abortion (i.e., made its
    occurence subject to waiting period’s, parental consent, etc.) even if it did not
    totally outlaw abortions.

    I think what Ab. Chaput said in the interview was consistent with Catholic moral
    principles; I’m less convinced that the typical Catholic today (even professionals
    like Pelosi) have the “formation” to really understand the differences, though
    I hope that the situation is improviing somewhat.

    I think the Pelosis of this world couldn’t care less about this level of doctrine:
    some priest(s) in their past has exempted them from such considerations because
    they all agreed in 1970 that there were “gaps” in the Church’s position. Case closed.

  60. JM says:

    “Wasn’t it the 1st Century Didache that said abortion was forbidden?”

    It said that abortion is the part of the way of Death.

    or in other words the way to Hell.

  61. Ignatius says:

    Baron Korf,

    Lynching is not a form of racism, it’s murder.

    Racism without action is wrong, but is it evil? Are we damned if we treat people differently? The term “racism” is constantly evoked when someone doesn’t get their way or promoted, or accepted into college…does racism really truly rise to the level of “intrinsic evil” in the Church’s mind? Granted, apartheid is wrong and is evil, but truly is the bad treatment of people based on skin color really equal to killing people? Did the Fathers of the Church or Biblical authors ever rail against slavery for instance?

    I get from our USCCB that voting is the duty of Catholics…got it; but NOT voting is also a vote. Is the message meant to get Catholics to vote no matter what, or to exercise one’s vote (or non-vote) based on solid Catholic teachings?

    I guess the true question is: are the bishops trying to save our souls from damnation by instructing us NEVER to support a pro-abortion candidate, or are they trying to guide us in being a good citizen, which is a temporal issue? Shouldn’t they err on the side of good, rather than allowing the electorate to parse these issues?

    I would think that a bishop who unequivocally states “no practicing Catholic should vote for a pro-abortion candidate, ever” would get the attention of the local electorate and the candidates. If one life were spared by this stance, it would be worth it…but it may put the Bishop in bad stead with the politicians.

    I for one approach my vote with the belief that I’ll have to explain it to God one day, and my excuse of “I think the bishop said it was okay” probably won’t cut it…but God is all merciful!

    I just don’t want to “test” Him.

  62. EJ says:

    Hidden One – If God’s bishop’s wont do “God’s job,” i.e. – they won’t correct and condemn error and heresy, they won’t teach, the won’t publically defend the unborn as they should… then we, God’s people, have a right to object as charitably and forcefully as possible. I live in the archdiocese of Washington and I’m scandalized by the Speaker’s gall, I pray that either her bishop or mine (where Ms. Pelosi resides most of the time, where she works and where this interview took place) publically corrects Ms. Pelosi and that they publically remind the faithful and the general public of the truth of the Church’s teachings. If this doesn’t happen, then I would hope that these two archbishops get plenty of letters from the public respectfully expressing their frustration at their lack of leadership – or should I say, for NOT doing “God’s job.”

  63. Tina in Ashburn says:

    I wonder if it is feasible for a priest or prelate to set up a private meeting with Pelosi, and go through her public statements, now and previously, with her. Identify to her the incorrect and imprecise statements on Church history, beliefs and related subjects.

    In the spirit of fraternal correction [did you say this, did you mean it, do you know its a sin…], and me being unaware if this has ever happened, wouldn’t it be wisest for a good priest to take her aside first and verify what she says, what she believes and what she does out of ignorance and poor catechesis?

    Before publicly humiliating her and perhaps hardening her heart further and of those watching, it would be best that she be aware completely of why she might get corrected publicly.

    Then, I’d agree, we need a statement from a prelate, mentioning the private verifying meeting and then making a clear statement of her error.

    Correcting Pelosi may or may not have the desired effect on Pelosi herself, but it would identify the errors for those who are misled by her and think they can use her logic to continue their own errors themselves.

    Whatever, I agree that something must be done swiftly about public statements that cause misunderstanding of the Faith, as well as scandal.

    Baron Korf and mpm: good explanation about Chaput
    Ignatius: I agree with you except that not voting at all can allow the worst candidate to be elected. Also if we vote for a poor candidate but know that his party would support good judge choices and further other pro-life causes, this can be the better choice than staying away from voting completely and watching the worst candidate and party win.

    ScottW: an indelicate quote, but very to the point. Love it and will use it!

  64. Sean says:

    Why does everyone always bash the bishops? Do you really think these politicians would experience a sudden conversion if their bishop suddenly gave them a stern talking to? These people know the teachings of the Church and defy it openly and willingly. A formal statement, excommunication, etc., would not get them to change. Only prayer can. So pray.

    As someone else said because it is the duty of the Bishop to teach. Sometimes the followers of Jesus did not like what he said either and they went away. That did not prevent Jesus from preaching, nor did he minimize it just so they wouldn’t go away. Someone told me yesterday that if all these Catholic politicians were wrong then why weren’t the Bishops correcting them, or worse yet supporting them. If this man were to lose his soul as a result it will be on the failure of the Bishops to be faithful to their office.

  65. D. R. Johnson says:

    Pelosi’s statements are scandalous and damaging to the Church. It is time for her bishop and the USCCB to take action. Unfortunately they need to be motivaed to take a real and definitive stand. I would suggest we all start a chain of emails and telephone calls to both the USCCB and Bishop Niederauer demanding action – a million emails and phone calls would get even their attention. The USCCB phone is 202-541-3000 and the email is prolife@usccb.org. Bishop Niederauer telephone is 415-614-5500 and the email is info@sfrachdiocese.org.

    Let’s stop this scandal NOW!

  66. EDG says:


    The Catholic Church was the only institution that opposed the social plans of Hitler (specifically, to put the State in the place of God and to make all morality and human life dependent upon the needs of the State as perceived by its leader) and the Nazis were aware that it was essential to destroy or undermine the Church if they wanted to go ahead. Sadly, they did find bishops who were willing to go along with them, or at least keep quiet and not give them a hard time, supposedly because they wanted to “protect” the faithful from Hitler by proving that they were no threat. Obviously, that didn’t work, if nothing else because Rome and a few heirarchs and brave clergy and laypeople resisted and wouldn’t let the Nazis roll over them. Many Catholics were persecuted, specifically for the Faith; but others, led by bad bishops,simply had to suffer through the war just like all the other Germans without even the consolation of knowing that they were suffering for doing what was right (which consolation they might have had if the Church in Germany had uniformly opposed Hitler).

    The program of the left, particularly with this latest, radicalized expression of the Democratic Party, is clearly nothing less than putting the State in the place of God. Of course, it’s all for our own good. It’s enlightened and modern and environmentally friendly (all things that Hitler and the Nazis believed about themselves, btw). This is why I see the selection of Biden, a traitor to the Faith, as a challenge that goes way beyond the issue of abortion in itself. Abortion, because it is a non-negotiable issue, is a symbol of the Church’s assertion that it has certain absolutes, that its conception of human life (founded on natural law, not the positive law of states) is different, and also that the Church is greater than whatever state it happens to find itself in.

    This is a crucial moment in the life of the Church. If the bishops don’t respond now, it will determine the fate of the Church in the US.

  67. Oremus says:

    Well, Father, really this is what we have been taught…sort of. We were taught that it was up to us, some say it is ok, some say “no”. We decide. Real Authority was renamed: Opinion.

    It is false, but that is what we were taught.

  68. Baron Korf says:

    A non-vote as a statement only works when a quorum is required to complete the vote. Otherwise, like in American Elections, it is merely abdicating your vote to those who do vote.

  69. Tina in Ashburn says:

    EDG: Excellent.
    I frequently wonder how our American political system is any better than openly oppressive governments around the world.

    We are blessed in many ways in freedom and comfort here.

    But the the environment of political correctness and popular opinion seems to be an effective method of propaganda. It is subtle and you can’t identify the source, making it most difficult to defend oneself against. This environment creates a undercurrent of fear.

    When the Church speaks out, names the evil and identifies the Truth as it should be lived, the Church truly frees us from fear and oppression.

  70. EJ says:

    I really am not willing to give the likes of Pelosi, Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Biden et al the benefit of the doubt of them being so poorly taught (the were all alive and presumably just as Catholic before Vatican II) about the Church’s teaching concerning abortion. Perhaps I should keep my suspicion that it’s more like their using the Church and the image of an “ardent, practicing Catholic” to their political advantage, at the detriment of their souls. If they were innocently ignorant and are privately in dialogue with their bishops- then we have the examples of Cardinal Egan with Giuliani and Archbishop Naumann with Sebelius – that they have had to inform the public of that dialogue because these politicians have persisted in their error and have received Holy Communion. I agree that there are steps before a public correction should be necessary (and the-then Cardinal Ratzinger instructed Cardinal McCarrick on what these were)- but regarding Speaker Pelosi, I think we can reasonably infer that this has not effectively taken place. I don’t know if a public slap on the wrist by her Archbishop should be understood as a humiliation, maybe she could have the integrity to instead admit that she does not agree with her Church, and that she stands corrected on the Church’s true teachings.

  71. Chironomo says:

    OK… what Nancy Pelosi thinks and says about her being an “ardent, practicing Catholic” isn’t of any importance… HOWEVER…. the Church needs to loudly and publicly officially proclaim that she has, in fact, excommunicated herself. As a public figure who represents herself as proclaiming a Catholic viewpoint, would this not be possible? Wouldn’t it be GREAT to see in print “Nancy Pelosi, who claims to be an ardent Catholic, but who has been excommunicated from the Catholic Church because of her public position on abortion….” as a description?

  72. Derik Castillo says:

    Fr. Z: [I may break my keyboard against my forehead.]

    As long as you don’t break your forehead…


  73. Geoffrey says:

    TerryC said: “That is why we bash the bishops.”

    I have to say I really didn’t expect anyone to admit that they are indeed bashing bishops. I expected something sugar-coated. Thank you for your honesty.

    My “American Heritage Dictionary” gives two definitions for the word *bash*: “(1) To strike with a heavy crushing blow. (2) To criticize (another) harshly.”

    Again, thank you for your honesty.

  74. Jane M says:

    Surely Nancy Pelosi is old enough to have heard of Lourdes, that place where Our Blessed Mother declared that she was “The Immaculate Conception”. How about the infallible declaration of the pope that that is what Mary is? How can you be immaculate without a soul? That was all in the 1850’s and 1860’s.

    Also, the quote about birth control comes from Peggy Noonan’s column last week in the WSJ.

  75. Mike says:

    Well said Tina. Who is Pelosi’s bishop? We should all write to him and ask him to take her to one side and have a word. It’s what any family we would do, and we Catholics are one big family, right?

    And if he doesn’t, well then he shouldn’t be a bishop.

  76. TerryC says:

    To criticize (even harshly) does not mean that such criticism is lacking in charity. The salient point here is that most of the these bishops have failed to act after years of public scandal on the part of politicians like Pelosi. Though in some circles Archbishop Wuerl is known as a conservative he has taken no action against public sinners acting in his diocese in the three years he has been the ordinary. In that same time Archbishop Niederauer has also failed to act against the congresswoman, even though she has publically supported abortion while being active at the her parish in California, and continuing to receive communion in what appears to be a state a mortal sin. (Note I said appears to be. No one can absolutely know the state of another’s soul, but public support of an intrinsically evil act gives a pretty good indication.)
    Neither of these bishops can be unaware of the circumstances of Pelosi’s public support of theis grave evil. Both have been informed many times indirectly via the media, the Internet and blogs such as this one of faithful Catholics concern along these lines. I dare say that we could find at least a few people among the readers of this blog who have communicated personally via letter or email with these bishops expressing their concern for Ms Pelosi’s soul and for the seeming lack of pastoral care devoted to her redemption. After several years it is perhaps past time to petition and now time to criticize. Perhaps even time to petition Rome for an examination of why these bishops have not acted.

  77. Clare says:

    That’s really scary. With full acknowledgement that God’s will cannot be known by us with certainty, I believe that by those comments, Ms. Pelosi was condemning herself to Hell.

    “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
    Romans 3:18

  78. Clare says:

    And Archbishop Niederauer, as well, if he does not act.

  79. ThomasB says:

    From now on, the speaker-ess will be known in my house as “Popelosi”.

  80. Joshua says:

    Jane M, really the Immaculate Conception does not answer when ensoulment happens. The Conception referred to there is when ensoulment occurs, not necessarily the same as the generative conception of her parents. IOW, she was sanctified when she was conceived as a human person, that is when her soul was infused, even if that was after in time the act of generative conception.

    That said, I think the best answer is the one the Church gives, we do not know when ensoulment occurs, therefore we do not know that it is a human person. But it is evil anyways, because one (supposing animation is after in time) it is still a living this which is ordered and being formed for a rational soul. Two, because not knowing that it is not ensouled an act of killing would be formally the same as murder, just as a hunter unsure whether something is a deer or a man would be morally guilty for shooting, even if it were a deer.

  81. Garrett says:

    The only positive thing I can really say about Speaker Pelosi is that she looks great for her age. And I’m a (pro-life) Democrat.

  82. RBrown says:

    The only positive thing I can really say about Speaker Pelosi is that she looks great for her age. And I’m a (pro-life) Democrat.
    Comment by Garrett

    Plastic surgery?

  83. depeccatoradvitam says:

    It’s maddening to hear these error-ladden people take the bully pulpit of the media and proclaim self-piously that they have insight and the Church has none.

    This is precisely why the good Archbishop Raymond L. Burke (now Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura) wrote in the Canon Law journal, Periodica De Re Canonica, calling his brother bishops to task for their silence on the problem of Catholic politicians who support abortion, euthanasia, cloning, embryo research, the homosexual political agenda or other legislation “contrary to the natural moral law.”

    Burke’s lengthy article addresses the scandal during the 2004 presidential election campaign when Senator John Kerry insisted that he could be militantly pro-abortion, ignore “Vatican” teachings on the sanctity of human life and marriage, and remain a good Catholic and a good Catholic politician. [which certainly applies today in 2008 as well]

    And….Referring to canon 915, the good Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz said, “We agree completely with Archbishop Raymond Burke in the action he has taken and we would take the same action in the diocese of Lincoln with regard to manifest, persistent, obstinate sinners, including politicians, regardless of which diocese they are from.”

    Indeed, the Holy Father, as then Cardinal Ratzinger, spoke clearly as well, “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”

    The Church has spoke on this since the Didache, and on through many ordinary teachings, thus infallible, not just some fashionable platitudes of indecisive tunes from 40 years ago when Hummae Vitae continued the faithful and ordinary teachings.

    Ms. Pelosi needs to hear the Church and stop playing with secular liberal tea leaves of Roe v. Wade. She is playing the devils edge, manifestly, persistently and obstinately and smoke is surely billowing in the halls of Congress.

  84. Susan Schudt says:

    Did anyone hear her? She almost said BABY. Watch it again, before she starts talking about Roe vs. Wade. SHe caught herself quickly.

  85. Teresa says:

    Yes Susan, I saw that. She caught herself before offending NARAL…
    As far as what St. Agustine might have been referring to, possibly at three months, back then, a woman was able to actually realize she was pregnant. Maybe then there would be culpability for any harm to the baby since she would know she was with child.
    Certainly Scripture says [paraphrasing] “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” and Elizabeth certainly was a witness to the early, sacredness of a pregnancy. Just some thoughts…

  86. Teresa says:

    Oh, and RBrown – A ‘prolife democrat?’ That terminology is becoming a true oxymoron!

  87. Teresa says:

    Ah! Another oxymoron – the ‘safe abortion!’ Comparable to a ‘non-lethal murder’ perhaps?

  88. RBrown says:

    Oh, and RBrown – A ‘prolife democrat?’ That terminology is becoming a true oxymoron!
    Comment by Teresa

    I think your comment was intended for someone else. Politically, I consider myself a left wing conservative.

  89. Sardath says:

    I think some of you may be missing Pelosi’s point here. Augustine does have some things to say on this subject that correspond rather well with her position. In ch. 86 of his “Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Charity” he writes:

    “And therefore the following question may be very carefully inquired into and discussed by learned men, though I do not know whether it is in man’s power to resolve it: At what time the infant begins to live in the womb: whether life exists in a latent form before it manifests itself in the motions of the living being.”

    He goes on to say that it seems “too audacious” to suggest that a child was never alive when it is fully formed and has to be “cut out limb by limb from the womb”; but of fetuses in the earlier stages, he says (ch. 85):

    “Who is there that is not rather disposed to think that unformed abortions perish, like seeds that have never been fructified?”

    So according to Augustine, it is reasonable to see the fetus before a certain point as a seed which is not really alive, and after a certain point as alive without question, with an interval in between whose exact boundaries may never be known. This comes pretty close to what Pelosi seems to have been trying to say, in her admittedly garbled way, with her reference to Roe’s delineation of three trimesters with different rules. I don’t think she was using Roe as her “reference point” but rather as an example of how the current law is actually at least approximately consistent with the ancient teaching of the Church.

    There are really two different issues being confused in much of the response to Pelosi (including Archbishop Wuerl’s official statement on Tuesday). One issue is whether or not abortion is a sin from the moment of conception; that is a theological issue which can be answered by appeal to the constant tradition of the Church from apostolic times. The other issue is the natural law question of when the fetus becomes “alive” in the same sense as we are, and therefore entitled to the full protection of the civil and criminal law of a secular state.

    Pelosi was not asked whether abortion is a sin; she was asked, as a legislator, when life begins–i.e., when the fetus is “alive” and therefore entitled to legal protection. Her response in that context is correct: Historically, the doctors of the Church have not been able to agree on this point. Ludwig Ott’s “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” (Nihil Obstat 1954) says that “the Aristotelian-scholastic viewpoint” distinguishes “between foetus informis and foetus formatus. … The foetus informis was regarded as being purely animal, the foetus formatus a human being”, with only the destruction of the latter being regarded as murder. According to Ott, it is not the constant tradition of the Church but “modern Christian philosophy” which “generally holds that the creation and infusion of the spiritual soul coincides with the moment of conception”–and his language clearly indicates that fifty years ago (just as Pelosi stated) this was still not considered to be definitively established, but was only a widely held theological opinion.

    That doesn’t mean abortion isn’t a sin. It doesn’t mean Catholics should support the pro-choice position at the polls. But in a pluralistic secular society it is important not to confuse theological and natural law arguments when making public policy. It’s also important to remember the principles of charity and forbearance when engaging in these sorts of discussions with or about people who view things differently. What seems self-evidently false or fallacious at first glance may turn out not to be on closer examination, and then we end up looking pretty silly.

  90. Jesse says:

    Senator Obama handled that question well. It’s not for him to answer with specificity. What the hell is wrong with Pelosi!?
    I want to vote for Obama, but stupid people like Pelosi keep ruining it for him. Everytime I think I’m decided on who to vote for I read something like this and return to undecideness!

  91. Jordanes says:

    Sardath said: One issue is whether or not abortion is a sin from the moment of conception; that is a theological issue which can be answered by appeal to the constant tradition of the Church from apostolic times.

    No, that is a natural law question which can be settled by appeal to human reason.

    The other issue is the natural law question of when the fetus becomes “alive” in the same sense as we are, and therefore entitled to the full protection of the civil and criminal law of a secular state.

    No, the question of delayed ensoulment is a theological question, not a natural law question, and it is one that it irrelevant to the question of whether or not abortion is permissible. (You yourself admit it is theological by quoting Ott and mentioning the different stances that theologians have taken on the question in the past and more recently.) But the question of when human life begins has been settled by science, which means at no time during growth and development may a human life be denied its dignity. However, Pelosi erroneously claims that the question of when human life begins has no bearing on a woman’s “right” to kill her unborn children. She also is confused, or is trying to confuse others, suggesting that the Church only recently has determined that abortion is immoral regardless of how far along in development the unborn child is. What is recent is the overwhelming acceptance of the position that the soul is infused at the moment of fertilization (or at the moment with a twin or triplets are formed), based on our better knowledge of embryology which shows that the human creature is never “unformed.” But regardless of when the soul is infused, abortion is never permissible, nor have any Fathers ever suggested such a thing.

    But in a pluralistic secular society it is important not to confuse theological and natural law arguments when making public policy.

    That’s exactly what you, and Pelosi in a different way, have done.

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