Speaker Pelosi accepts Archbp. Niederauer’s invitation to “converse”

I am getting notices that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has accepted His Excellency Archbp. Niederauer’s invitation to "converse" about a few things.

I solidarity with other blogs, I note that American Papist wrote about this too.

Here is the situation.

SAN FRANCISCO – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, under fire from U.S. bishops [not just bishops – let us not forget that House Republicans wrote to her… and the blogosphere!] for comments she made about abortion, accepted on Friday an invitation from the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco for a private talk.

Pelosi said in a letter to Archbishop George Niederauer that she’d "welcome the opportunity for our personal conversation and to go beyond our earlier most cordial exchange about immigration and needs of the poor to Church teaching on other significant matters."  [Blah blah… she is trying to couch this in other issues which are of interest to the Church. Keep in mind that there is no moral equivalents in this matter.]

The proposed meeting stems from comments Pelosi made Aug. 24 on NBC’s "Meet the Press." The Democratic congresswoman defended her support for abortion by saying "doctors of the church" have not been able to define when life begins.

She also cited the role of individual conscience. "God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions," she said.  [She also said that it doesn’t make a difference when human life begins, abortion should still be an option.]

Niederauer, who extended the invitation in the Friday column of the archdiocesan newspaper, and other bishops say that the church from its earliest days has considered abortion evil.

Niederauer said Pelosi’s remarks were in "serious conflict" with church teaching and it was his duty to explain clearly church teachings about faith and morals.

Several U.S. bishops have condemned the remarks made by Pelosi, a Catholic school graduate who repeatedly has expressed pride in and love for her religious heritage.

While Pelosi’s letter said she was interested in speaking about "church teaching on other significant matters," it did not mention abortion specifically. Her spokesman has defended her comments, saying in a previous statement that the congresswoman "fully appreciates the sanctity of family." 

I am very pleased with this.  Archbishop Niederauer’s letter brought her in.

It is necessary now that their conversation actually take place and take place soon.

I suspect that the conversation, which will be private, won’t be transcribed for the public.   But surely there will be reports on both sides.

Our friend Diogenes made these observations.  First, it took Speak Pelosi less than 24 hours to respond, but nearly two week for the Archbishop to issue a statement.  Also…

how many other American Catholic politicians are still waiting for their bishops to summon their courage, clear their throats, and raise the issue for the first time[?]

What must come to the fore is that the issue of human life and abotion had to have been discussed and that Speaker Pelosi acknowledges what the Church teaches.  If she then will not embrace that teaching is a different matter.  Pro-abortion Catholic Senator and candidate Joe Biden (D-DE) accepts what the Church teaches without waffling too much about it, but then he acts against that teaching. 

What we at least need from Speaker Pelosi is that she, as a Catholic, acknowledges what the Church truly teaches.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Chris says:

    I think a lot of people are missing a very important fact.

    I used to personally throw around the word “heretic” loosely until a traditional priest stopped me and said “you don’t know what’s in their heart or that they have ever been exposed to the truth, so they may not be heretics.”

    However, not that she does’t know already, but if she goes into that meeting, is told abortion or even helping one attain an abortion — whether it’s giving the money to do so or voting for it on the House floor — is murder, and she rejects the official teaching, Nancy Pelosi will now officially be heretic Pelosi.

    Then, once she’s a heretic, all of these “strong” bishops writing these letters that are 30 years past due will have no choice but to deny her and other heretic politicians Communion.

    But guess what? They won’t. Then what does that make the bishops?

    This is much bigger than just a meeting.

  2. John Enright says:

    I’m a little bit skeptical about this; I suspect that Speaker Pelosi has another motive entirely rather than learning the Church’s authentic position on any doctrines. She didn’t become the third most powerful person in the United States by chance. That being said, I hope and pray that she may come to discern the errors of liberal relativism, return to Mother Church and thereafter use her power and influence to combat the real evils of society.

  3. Paul Haley says:

    There is no wiggle room here, no agreeing to disagree. Ms. Pelosi must accept the authentic and legitimate teaching of the Catholic Church. I suspect she will not but, instead, will cite “individual conscience” as trumping all other standards of morality. You know the old saying, folks, from our Baltimore Catechism days: “one has to know it’s a sin, choose to do it out of one’s own free will and actually do it for it to be a sin.” She will say simply: “I do not know that a woman’s right to choose is evil in itself and, therefore, I will stand by that right.” It will be up to the archbishop to convince her that she is wrong and her conscience must be formed in Truth, not personal opinion. Let’s pray he will be successful.

  4. TNCath says:

    Fr Z: “What we at least need from Speaker Pelosi is that she, as a Catholic, acknowledges what the Church truly teaches.”

    Not only “acknowledges” but how about “accepts and upholds”?

  5. TNCath: I said “at least”. Knowing clearly, and having been completely brought up to speed by the local bishop, is the first thing. After that she either has to “accept” or then censures must be applied.

  6. Lindsay says:

    Wasn’t there an excerpt from an essay Speaker Pelosi wrote (perhaps posted in the comments of one of the earlier posts) where she stated she does not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist? That seems a much more basic instruction she needs to hear and believe in order to be in communion with the Church. Definitely more “significant” than the church’s teaching on immigration.

    Also, while I am glad that Sen. Biden, who is certainly most capable of sticking his foot in his mouth, hasn’t attempted to misconstrue Church teaching in the public way Pelosi has, it is questionable whether he really does “believe” Church teaching if he can act in the way that he does regarding it. In a way, its almost worse to accept the teaching and act contrary to it than to try and fool your conscience by claiming it isn’t really true and open for debate. (Though, Pelosi, of course went on to say it didn’t matter–which was really the more horrifying part of her statement, imo–but isn’t that is in essence what Biden and other pro-Choice “Catholics” are saying through their public actions?).

  7. Jenny Z says:

    I said this on AmP, but this smells staged to me.

  8. Chris says:

    Lindsay: “Also, while I am glad that Sen. Biden, who is certainly most capable of sticking his foot in his mouth, hasn’t attempted to misconstrue Church teaching in the public way Pelosi has, it is questionable whether he really does “believe” Church teaching if he can act in the way that he does regarding it.”

    Joe Biden was once pro-life when he first came to the Senate. Then, in his words, he “grew up” and because a typical Democrat pro-abort. He’s a blatant hipocrite because he once knew the truth and then rejected it.

  9. Brian says:

    In his response on Sept 5th, Archbishop Niederauer quoted “Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper,” as follows, ” we should be cautious when making judgments about whether or not someone else should receive Holy Communion . . . (nevertheless) . . . If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately repudiate her definitive teachings on moral issues . . . he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain.”

    It seems to me that Ms. Pelosi is a fool if she gleefully trots off to her “conversation” with His Excellency expecting a mutual dialogue between equals in search or how to understand and apply Catholic teaching to many significant matters in our enlightened modern age.

    Archbishop Niederauer’s statement suggests that that the Archbishop will clearly instruct her and ensure that she fully understands the defined moral teaching of the Church regarding the unborn. If Ms. Pelosi then knowingly and obstinately repudiates the Church’s definitive teachings on this fundamental moral issue, His Excellency will instruct her that she has seriously diminished her communion with the Church. I believe that he will then inform her that reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that she should refrain.

  10. Tzard says:

    Notice between the lines – she hasn’t talked the bishop on personal moral issues before, much less abortion. It was previously a cordial discussion of “policy” issues.

    Another thought – The goal is not for her to receive additional, harsher medicinal remedies, but for for her to repent.

    What if the unexpected (but I expect we all should be hoping for) result happens? That she repents publicly an changes her stance? I suspect she’ll most likely lose the support of most of those who per her in office. Whether that will cause her to lose the next election (and her current influence in Washington) is another question. Turning to God is never easy and there are consequences, but there are worse for not repenting.

    The local bishop has other issues too: a “Gay” parish, a “Catholic” mayor who pushes homosexuality actively (and is working against the defense of marriage bill), a city where families are in the minority and (arguably) homosexuals are in the majority etc… It used to be called ” Babylon by the bay” for other reasons, but it can still apply. He’s in hostile territory.

  11. I think we can assume the Bishop will call Ms. Pelosi to task. But pray so, for we are talking about the most liberal diocese in America

  12. Francesco says:

    It is wonderful that the bishop is calling her into a private meeting, but he and other bishops must insist that Speaker Pelosi acknowledge (and then uphold!) the Church’s teaching PUBLICLY. There can be no “Mrs. Pelosi and I talked this over privately and have reached an understanding.” This scandal will not be over until Speaker Pelosi corrects herself publicly or until she is publicly declared to be out of communion with the Church by the bishops (especially her bishops.)

    The bishops’ statements so far have been wonderful and give me great hope, especially Cardinal Egan’s and Archbishop Chaput’s. However, the issue can’t just be allowed to die without some conclusion that sends a powerful signal to Catholics that such views as Speaker Pelosi’s are totally incompatible with the Catholic faith.

    I agree with Tzard that San Francisco is in desperate need of stronger Catholic leadership and witness, especially since the marriage amendment seems to be failing in California at the moment. Let’s hope this is the beginning.

  13. Jennifer says:

    I’m sure few of us are hopeful about something fruitful coming out of this meeting. However, let us pray for a “road to Damascus” conversion for Pelosi. Miracles still happen and there needs to be one here.
    We should always remember to pray for those in positions of power as they are specially subject to the enemy. She is clearly no exception. I also pray that Archbishop Niederauer is straightforward with her. Veni Creator Spiritus…



  14. Mickey says:

    Wouldn’t be wonderful if after a lengthy talk, Mrs Pelosi publically repented of her support for abortion and announced herself as pro-life?!

  15. If I were the bishop, I would certainly make sure the conversation included a clear, direct statement of Church teaching and all that rejecting it means.

    I would make clear that she is asked to assent to Church teaching; but I would not force her back against the wall at that very moment. My goal would be conversion, not humiliation.

    I would present the truth, and convey as courteously yet as clearly as possible, that at some point a response must be given–but I would say, at this point, “Madame Speaker, I beg of you, please pray and please consider your position,” etc. I would promise my own prayers and I might, or might not, mention all the people I would enlist, confidentially, to pray for her. This would not be about public humiliation but conversion.

    Not sure what is a reasonable time to give the Speaker for a response, but I would give it, and then I would let her go her way, and then I would be low key about it afterward.

    When the deadline approached, I think I would write the speaker a hand-written note, saying I anticipate hearing from her, pleading with her.

    And then, I think, if the Speaker did not do the right thing–or if she made any public statement or took any action that indicated rejection — that is when I would take the next step.

    To some that may seem too soft, I dunno, I’m not a bishop; but what a conversion it would be!

  16. tertullian says:

    Fr Fox, I’d bet you a dollar to a donut Madame Speaker emerges from her conversation with Archbishop Niederauer and has it leaked to the press how she set him straight on Catholic doctrine.

    Her hubris knows no bounds.

  17. Brian says:

    Fr. Fox,

    Thank you for carefully threading this needle with truth, prudence, and compassion. Given her powerful position in the Democratic party and the public nature of her remarks, for Nancy Pelosi to convert will require deep soul searching, near-heroic virtue, and tremendous grace. Giving her a set period of time to pray and seek conversion seems only right, as does avoiding public humiliation.

    The one thing I would add to your excellent comments is to say that His Excellency would also do well to courteously and clearly instructs her to privately refrain from Communion while she meditates on the matter.


  18. Jerry says:

    Brian given her ego I’m sure she will approach the meeting with the ABp assuming she’s his equal. The pity is she will probably get away with it. The ABp ought to run the meeting, state the Church’s teaching very clearly and at the end ask her point blank if she accepts and will uphold that teaching AND publically recant her scandal. Doubt that will happen. That is, I doubt the ABp will be forceful like he should be and doubt that if he were she would “convert”. But at the end of the day I’m sure the “press release” from both sides describing the conversation will be as clear as mush. Mushy intentionally so good Catholics will get the impression she has “reformed” and so that her constituents will think she hasn’t. Many would describe that as a “win-win”. I don’t.

  19. Brian says:

    I do not know Nancy Pelosi, but given her public disregard for Catholic teaching and the sacredness of life, it would not surprise me if she approached her meeting with His Excellency as if she were entering into a mutual exchange with an equal fellow-Catholic about the nuanced subtleties of applying Catholic moral teaching in our enlightened modern age.

    As I wrote above (2:01 pm), however, I believe that Ms. Pelosi would be a fool to enter into that “conversation” with that presumptuous expection. I hope and pray that you are incorrectly selling Archbishop Niederauer short.

    As I read his statement, His Excellency precisely and specifically shredded Ms. Pelosi’s public statements.

    He wrote, “In his or her conscience, properly formed, a Catholic should recognize that making legal an evil action, such as abortion, is itself wrong.” He pointed out that if a Catholic knowingly and obstinately repudiates the Church’s definitive teachings on moral issues, he or she should refrain from Communion.

    Rather than publicly chastise her, His Excellency invited her to a conversation to privately instruct her regarding the error of her position and to guide her “toward a more profound understanding and appreciation for human life.”

    In a previous post, I characterized his invitation as a little chat on the way to to woodshed. I thank Fr. Fox for emphasizing the pastoral nature of this chat.

  20. Ed the Roman says:

    Wouldn’t be wonderful if after a lengthy talk, Mrs Pelosi publically repented of her support for abortion and announced herself as pro-life?!

    It most certainly would. But flashing back to various staff officer jobs I had, I would not make it a planning assumption.

  21. Mark O'Malley says:

    The key for us all to remember is that the first goal of the bishop needs to be the salvation of _her_ soul. If she is converted, her public discourse will be likewise converted.

    Yes, by all perceptible measures, any hope for her conversion is futile; Saul’s conversion would have likewise been considered impossible by the early Christians. We need to pray for Abp. Niederauer and for Speaker Pelosi.

  22. Jerry says:

    Oh I pray that she will see the light and, yes, there are coversions like those of St. Paul. I just tend to doubt it will happen because the lady hates to be wrong and she does not have a track record of changing her mind on issues nor does she ever like to eat crow.

  23. Maureen says:

    Who knows? Maybe you do catch more flies with honey than vinegar. And certainly the Holy Spirit seems to be on the move, and Peter is working to strengthen the brethren. God can work with even the tiniest chink in pride, and even the tiniest bit of cooperativeness.

    St. Anne, teacher of the Virgin Mary whose name means “grace”, pray for your namesake Nancy!

  24. JohnE says:

    Adding my prayers for Nancy Pelosi and Archbishop Niederauer. May the Holy Spirit guide their conversation and may we soon see Nancy Pelosi’s conversion before more damage is done. We’re ready to welcome you back Nancy.

  25. Jennifer says:

    I rarely attend the Novus Ordo, but had to today special circumstances.
    What a very appropriate 1st reading….. Reading 1
    Ez 33:7-9

    Thus says the LORD:
    You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
    when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
    If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”
    and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
    the wicked shall die for his guilt,
    but I will hold you responsible for his death.
    But if you warn the wicked,
    trying to turn him from his way,
    and he refuses to turn from his way,
    he shall die for his guilt,
    but you shall save yourself.

    It was also very nice that my non-Catholic mother was there to hear the sermon which dealt appropriately with “those pro-abortion Catholic politicians.” This helped her to understand our position. There are no coincidences…..

    Let’s pray that more of our Bishops will take this reading to heart as only the Word of God can remind them!


  26. TJM says:

    A real “Profile in Courage.” Tom

  27. Elaine Suhre says:

    If Archbishop Niederauer chastizes Nancy Peloso in public for her support of abortion, I will change my assessment as to whether we can depend upon the leadership of ALL of our clergy here in the U.S. to uphold the morals and teachings of the Catholic Church. You will notice in his letter which he FINALLY made public on Aug. 5, 2008, Archbishop Niederauer continues to pay obescience to individual conscience even knowing of Pelosi’s past record of support of abortion in all its forms. She is a KNOWN PUBLIC OFFICIAL not a minor member of the laity who just may be uninformed as to the formation of one’s conscience. As such a member s/he would not make the impact on the public a public official would have. Both she and Niederauer, until he makes a definitive statement give scandal and misunderstanding of the teachings of Holy Mother Church in regard to the taking of the lives of innocents.

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