Fr. Pavone to Nancy “abortion-is-sacred ground” Pelosi (D-CA)

Fr. Frank Pavone is the head of Priest For Life.

He posted an Open Letter to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) which I reproduce here for maximum circulation. My emphases:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Dear Mrs. Pelosi,

Last Thursday, June 13, you were asked a question in a press briefing that you declined to answer. The question was, “What is the moral difference between what Dr. Gosnell did to a baby born alive at 23 weeks and aborting her moments before birth?”

Given the fact that the Gosnell case has been national news for months now, and that Congress, where you serve as House Democratic Leader, was about to have a vote on banning abortion after 20 weeks fetal age, this was a legitimate question.

Instead of even attempting to answer the question, you resorted to judgmental ad hominem attacks on the reporter who asked it, saying, “You obviously have an agenda. You’re not interested in having an answer.”

Mrs. Pelosi, the problem is that you’re not interested in giving an answer.

Your refusal to answer this question is consistent with your failure to provide an answer to a similar question from me and the members of my Priests for Life staff. Several years ago, we visited your office with the diagrams of dismemberment abortion at 23 weeks, and asked the simple question, “When you say the word ‘abortion,’ is this what you mean?” In response, nothing but silence has emanated from your office.

In what way is this refusal to address an issue of such national importance consistent with the leadership role you are supposed to be exercising? Public servants are supposed to be able to tell the difference between serving the public and killing the public. Apparently, you can’t. Otherwise, you would have been able to explain the difference between a legal medical procedure that kills a baby inside the womb and an act of murder — for which Dr. Gosnell is now serving life sentences — for killing the same baby outside the womb.

Moreover, you stated at the press briefing on June 13, “As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics.”

With this statement, you make a mockery of the Catholic faith and of the tens of millions of Americans who consider themselves “practicing and respectful Catholics” and who find the killing of children — whether inside or outside the womb — reprehensible.

You speak here of Catholic faith as if it is supposed to hide us from reality instead of lead us to face reality, as if it is supposed to confuse basic moral truths instead of clarify them, and as if it is supposed to help us escape the hard moral questions of life rather than help us confront them.

Whatever Catholic faith you claim to respect and practice, it is not the faith that the Catholic Church teaches. And I speak for countless Catholics when I say that it’s time for you to stop speaking as if it were.

Abortion is not sacred ground; it is sacrilegious ground. To imagine God giving the slightest approval to an act that dismembers a child he created is offensive to both faith and reason.

And to say that a question about the difference between a legal medical procedure and murder should not “have anything to do with politics” reveals a profound failure to understand your own political responsibilities, which start with the duty to secure the God-given right to life of every citizen.

Mrs. Pelosi, for decades you have gotten away with betraying and misrepresenting the Catholic faith as well as the responsibilities of public office. We have had enough of it. Either exercise your duties as a public servant and a Catholic, or have the honesty to formally renounce them.


Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Priam1184 says:

    Umm Father Pavone that letter should be sent to the Ordinary of Ms. Pelosi’s diocese. She has already renounced the Catholic Faith, ages ago, yet she is allowed to continue going through the motions in public because the people with the authority to stop her won’t do that.

  2. EXCHIEF says:

    I admire Fr Pavone for saying what more than one Bishop should have said, publicly, a long time ago. The exact same letter would be justified if sent to a whole lot of other prominent “catholic” politicians including, but certainly not limited to, the Vice President and Speaker of the House. Bishops need to man up and do their jobs. Statements like Pelosi’s (on-going statements for years) have done nothing but scandalize real Catholics as well as give non-Catholics a very poor impression of how seriously (or not!) the Church takes its teachings.
    The pity is that some Bishop(s) will probably criticize Fr. Pavone and Priests for Life for taking this stand.

  3. Facta Non Verba says:

    Well done Father Pavone!

  4. Sandy says:

    Bravo, Fr. Pavone! I hope this courageous letter gets wide circulation. Every bishop should have this kind of backbone! God help our country with leaders such as this.

    God bless you, Father Z, for all that you do!

  5. DumSpiroSpero says:


  6. Fr. Frank Pavone is doing his honorable duty. Other priests, especially those closest to Pelosi need to follow the example of Fr. Pavone for this message to gain any traction with her and her kind. The political left flippantly and predictably continue to shrug off every correction made by prominent Pro-Life Catholic priest or bishops. More priests need to jump into the trenches and start lifting their share of the weight and stop watching from the sidelines like armchair QB’s on a Sunday evening. Fr. Pavone’s courage needs to be repeated by every priest in droves in order for life to have a chance.

  7. StJude says:

    Way to go Father Pavone!

  8. PA mom says:

    That’s fantastic! He doesn’t miss a point.
    Wonder if he could get that printed in the Wall Street Journal?

  9. Mari Kate says:

    Good on ya’ Fr. Pavone. In the old days, such corrections used to come from the top. Why are the Bishops so quiet on this? We are in the Fortnight of Freedom declared by our Bishops. May God give them the courage to publicly address those who scandalize the millions. The clock is ticking.

  10. majuscule says:

    I don’t know how often she is back in San Francisco. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is always in my prayers (as he is my archbishop also) and I hope he will say something. Or at least let it be known he has spoken to her privately (but I don’t know if he can share that info).

    The archdiocese did come out and state that her comments did not represent the position of the Church. Even if that statement only appeared on Twitter and Facebook…

  11. rodin says:

    Mention of Pelosi causes me to become disorderly, but recently I realized that, no matter how stomach churning it may be, my duty is to pray that she have a spiritual awakening. God gave St. Paul a kick in the head. Is it all right to pray for an equivalent for her?

  12. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    I have no idea how many were praying for Dr. Bernard Nathanson, when, and in what terms, but he seems a pretty ‘Pauline’ example of what wonderful change is possible.

  13. iPadre says:

    Right on Fr. Pavone!

    The lines are being drawn, time for Canon 1364 1 & 2. Let the cards fall where they may.

  14. acardnal says:

    Let us hope that the Archbishops of San Francisco and Washington, D.C. will exercise their authority as Cardinal Raymond Burke did when he was Archbishop of St.Louis and directed that presidential candidate (now SecState) John Kerry NOT be given holy communion in his diocese!

    The scandal to the faith that Pelosi and so many other pro-abort “catholics” in elected office commit must be dealt with via imposition of canonical sanctions.

  15. wanda says:

    Well done, Fr. Pavone. Thank you! This is so needed. Thanks also Fr. Z. for the wider attention.
    It is so disheartening when public figures, small c catholics at best, continue very publicly going against the teachings of the church. They are not addressed publicly by nearly enough bishops. It is very discouraging to faithful Catholics.

  16. Supertradmum says:

    God bless this excellent priest. May God raise up more like him.

  17. NBW says:

    Good for Fr. Pavone! Too bad the bishops are so quiet on this.

  18. greinkebs says:

    Great work Father Pavone. You are doing the work of a Bishop. Pope Francis needs to ordain you a Bishop. Your work for the unborn is a blessing for our Church and for this country. Prayers and blessings for you!

  19. Kathleen10 says:

    Fantastic. He didn’t waste the dot of an i.
    We all watch in horror while fake Catholics like Nancy Pelosi use Catholicism when it is convenient, then act and vote in a manner completely contrary. What a nightmare to see Bishops and priests who are virtually silent as this genocide goes on and on. More responsibility is of course on the Bishops. They are the leaders and can encourage or squash movements under their jurisdiction.
    Thank you and God bless you, Fr. Pavone, and Fr. Z., also other priests who must now be called “brave” because they stand up for life and what is morally right.

  20. av8er says:

    I was in San Fran this morning. The San Francisco Chronicle nor the WSJ mention this newsworthy story. I would have hoped the WSJ would have and had low expectations from the Chronicle. I did see a story in the arts and entertainment section of the Chronicle on an opera based on the “gospel of Mary Magdalene” which tells the story of Jesus getting his inspiration from Mary Magdalene. Gross.
    Fox and friends were going to mention this but had to leave hotel prior to seeing their coverage.

    A huge “attaboy” to Fr. Pavone. I hope he did cc the bishop and sent similar letters to Biden, Cuomo (all of them), Kerry and Sibelius.

  21. Kent Wendler says:

    To me, at least, Nancy Pelosi like so many in political life gives the appearance of someone who has chosen the apparent short-term rewards of earthly political power over the unending joy of Life Everlasting.

    My chief hope for them lies in the three appeals our Lord promised St. Faustina that each dieing reprobate would receive.

  22. govmatt says:

    As Fr. Z has noted via tag, Ed Peters has an incisive reflection on Fr. Pavone’s comments on his blog.

    I support Fr. Pavone’s sentiment. He is absolutely correct. However, he does skate uncomfortably (and perhaps quite a ways over) the line of encouragement for Pelosi to disassociate herself from our Church.

    To the Fathers who read this, I’d think this is a call to open season on the discussion of the Catholic “self-identity-pantheistic-mess” (to poorly paraphrase Pope Francis) versus true devotion (and the rigorous standard that applies to those with great responsibility in civil society). The discussions need not focus solely on American politicians (Irish Parliament etc), but also on the American voter who bears heavy culpability for putting his weight behind those who directly contradict the Church (on either side of the left-right political dichotomy)

  23. Cantor says:

    I believe that the letter is sincere and well intentioned, but misdirected. The final sentence would best be addressed to the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, to wit:

    Your Excellencies, either exercise your duties as Bishops and Catholics, or have the honesty to formally renounce them.

  24. teomatteo says:

    As an unnamed bishop once said; “trying the behind closed door dialogue just doesnt work. I know, i’ve tried it for years!”. So, atta boy fr. Frank!!

  25. Hank Igitur says:

    What a great letter!

  26. Dienekes says:

    Someone please tell me WHY our putative Church leaders have so much trouble speaking the truth and calling these pro-abortion Catholics out for what they are. If they can’t do even this much, what in God’s name good are they to anyone???

  27. Clinton says:

    Teomatteo, back in 2008 Archbishop Niederauer of San Francisco had the unenviable
    chore of being Pelosi’s Ordinary. His chancery issued a statement that he wanted to sit
    down with her and discuss her pro-abortion activities and her misrepresentation of the
    Church’s position on the matter. Pelosi’s office responded by stating that she’d get back
    to His Excellency just as soon as she could find a spare minute… (remember, it was an
    election year).

    That was five years and one Archbishop ago. I don’t think anyone at the chancery is still
    waiting for her phone call.

  28. HeatherPA says:

    So glad Fr. Pavone did this!! Please, let her Ordinary follow up repeatedly until she acknowledges it, too, so we have no more of her idiotic and offensive “I am a faithful, practicing Catholic” remarks.

    Now, can we print off Fr. Frank’s letter, whiteout Pelosi’s name and send it to Governor Cuomo? He needs one too for that NY state abortion bill, authored by Satan himself, that he is hellbent on getting passed.
    Cuomo also claims faithful “Catholicism”. Where is his Bishop?

  29. Capt. Morgan says:

    Thank you Father Pavone for living out your Faith and calling. I hope and pray that many other Priests and Bishops will do the same.

    Forgive my lack of Charity, but what I would like to see, in my lifetime, is less gentle encouragement, and more of this:

  30. LarryW2LJ says:

    So glad to have seen this! This needs to be printed in every bulletin, appear in every Catholic newspaper, and appear on every parish Website in every diocese throughout the USA. There are so many poorly catechized Catholics out there who think, “If a Catholic like her can say these things and nobody with any authority says anything about this being wrong ………”

    Scary that people can and actually do think that, but this is the age of low information infotainment. All pablum, no substance.

    Someone in authority needs to stand up, loud and clear on a national stage and say that abortion is wrong and against all Catholic teaching and is to never be condoned.

    I know this sounds so basic as to sound preposterous. I know this is the truth and you know this is the truth, but there are Catholics out there who allow themselves to be serenaded by “other voices”. We need the Lord to send some present day versions of St John the Baptist and Sts. Peter and Paul and the other Apostles. Strong men who didn’t mince words or curry favor.

  31. Juergensen says:

    Fr. Pavone better be careful. Over the past few years several orthodox priests in America have been silenced. For “financial discrepancies”, of course.

  32. Supertradmum says:

    Juergensen, we are beyond the being careful stage.

  33. poohbear says:

    On Monday we will read that Fr Pavone was transferred to a monastery in outer nowhere for contemplation.

  34. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    An excellent question! One reads with interest such accounts as Prince Constantine’s in The Pope: A Portrait from Life or Dan Kurzman’s A Special Mission about the extremely difficult position in which Pius XII found himself once Mussolini was deposed and the Nazis took over, but surely the ‘American’ (and other ‘Western’, including many ‘Global-Southern’) hierarchies still have enough (and to spare?) ‘wiggle room’ humbly yet forthrightly to ‘speak truth to (vilely abusive) power’?

    LarryW2LJ notes St. Paul among ” Strong men who didn’t mince words or curry favor”- one might add, however skillfully polite their insistence (Acts 26:1-29).

  35. acardnal says:

    Fr. Frank Pavone’s video on Cong. Pelosi and abortion:

  36. Laura98 says:

    Amen Fr. Pavone!! Now, if only all of our Bishops and Cardinals would follow up on this with some action …

  37. av8er says:

    This link re-sends the letter to Pelosi’s DC office and there’s an option to add comments.

    Here’s everyone’s chance to lend a hand. As to the nay sayers that the letter should come from her ordinary, I say the point of the open letter is to educate the poorly catechized than to correct Mrs. Pelosi. However the secondary benefit may be to straighten her out.

  38. SKAY says:

    Pelosi only cares about regaining the speakership of the house in order to ram through the rest of the Democrat/Obama/Soros agenda and securing the implementation of Obamacare. Abortion rights, gay marriage/ gay adoption, open borders and total gun control are her stepping stones to her hoped for power grab. It is clear that( Christian) religious freedom and the first amendment — will be thrown on the trash heap of history at that point.
    They had no problem going after the right to free speech (for those who do not agree with the Obama agenda) using the IRS in the last election.
    Thank you Father Pavone for your letter stating the truth and thank you Father Z for your wonderful blog.

  39. acardnal says:

    Here’s the video of “catholic” Pelosi NOT answering the reporter’s question about abortion. Despicable!

  40. Eraser says:

    Bravo Father Pavone – I’m glad whatever problems he was having were resolved and he is back to his full-time pro-life work. Pelosi doesn’t give a d**n what he thinks, but she can’t shut him up either.

  41. veritasmeister says:

    Fr. Pavone does indeed make a commendable and vigorous public statement to challenge the amoral inanities of those like Nancy Pelosi.

    But let’s also hold Fr. Pavone’s feet to the fire as well, hoping he’ll pursue his pro-life mission in a more thoughtful and non-partisan manner. Back in the run up to the 2004 election, Fr. Pavone issues a terrible shameful public statement that any of us who would dare vote for a third-party staunchly pro-life-and-family presidential candidate because we were disatisfied with President Bush would share in the moral culpability if a pro-abort President John Kerry were to be elected. Hard to say whether Fr. Pavone’s moral theology or audacity is the worse.

    Let’s see him fervently go after Republicans on embyronic stem cell research before we start showering him with excessive accolades.

  42. BLB Oregon says:

    Amen. Now if only a Catholic member of Congress would read it into the Congressional record. This eloquent rebuttal deserves to be there, as an answer to her self-serving attempt to take on a Catholic identity for political purposes even while actively advocating for access to mortal assaults upon the innocent in defiance of the most basic tenets of Catholic morality.

    Let us pray that in the not-so-distant future her wicked pronouncements will hit the ears of future Americans like the speeches made as if there freedom included some vital need for the “right” to own our fellow human beings, like these:

    Senator Robert M. T. Hunter of Virginia: “There is not a respectable system of civilization known to history whose foundations were not laid in the institution of domestic slavery.”

    Richmond Enquirer, 1856: “Democratic liberty exists solely because we have slaves . . . freedom is not possible without slavery.”

    Atlanta Confederacy, 1860: “We regard every man in our midst an enemy to the institutions of the South, who does not boldly declare that he believes African slavery to be a social, moral, and political blessing.”

    Lawrence Keitt, Congressman from South Carolina, in a speech to the House on January 25, 1860: “African slavery is the corner-stone of the industrial, social, and political fabric of the South; and whatever wars against it, wars against her very existence. Strike down the institution of African slavery and you reduce the South to depopulation and barbarism.”

    Henry Wise, Congressman (and future governor) from Virginia: “The principle of slavery is a leveling principle; it is friendly to equality. Break down slavery and you would with the same blow break down the great democratic principle of equality among men.”

    John C. Calhoun, Senator from South Carolina: “The defence of human liberty against the aggressions of despotic power have been always the most efficient in States where domestic slavery was to prevail.”

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