Pelosi Primer

To understand why and how the Church is intervening with Nancy Pelosi because of her abortion position, we have to first look at the context of the modern abortion mentality.

The widespread “pro-choice” attitude toward abortion today is especially horrific precisely because it has made abortion so commonplace.

The two messages we give young women are destined to collide: Your life’s worth is your career; your boyfriend has a right to intimacy with you without preconditions. Are we surprised that so many young women to choose abortion?

However, the burden we’ve placed on women doesn’t change the bare fact of what abortion is, and women know it.

Abortion is the killing of a child by her own mother, and as the Supreme Court pointed out in Gonzales v. Carhart, it is evident that women who give in to the pressure to abort suffer from Post-Abortion Syndrome for a lifetime. The pain and regret of abortion leads to decades of depression, broken relationships, and high suicide rates.

When U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., became the first woman to be speaker of the House in 2007. That a Catholic achieved this position was a great opportunity; Pelosi’s faith and very life showed that one can find worth in motherhood, as she did with five children, and also in community service.

But her achievement quickly became a source of great shame for the Church.

As a congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi has used her career to support abortion up to and including working to keep the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion legal. Her first act as speaker was to pass a bill that would take money from taxpayers’ paychecks and hand it over to scientists to do fatal research experiments on human beings.

When we wrote about it last year, we quoted one scientist who would have gotten killing funds from Pelosi’s plan, but developed moral qualms.

Shinya Yamanaka described a eureka moment he had in the lab. “When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters,” he said. “I thought, ‘We can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.’”

It’s too bad Yamanaka wasn’t with Pelosi on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last summer when Tom Brokaw asked Nancy Pelosi when life begins.

Her rambling answer ignored the clear data of the very embryology she funded and suggested that the Church has no clear teaching on the matter.

“Over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition,” she said on Aug. 24, adding, “St. Augustine said ‘at three months.’ We don’t know. The point is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose. … 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.”

Of course, there are several difficulties with that statement. If it were true that we don’t know when life begins, that would mean we have to oppose abortion throughout a pregnancy, since it might be killing — just like a hunter holds his fire if he doesn’t know whether it’s a deer or his buddy approaching through the grass.

But the fundamental difficulty is the one even Tom Brokaw knew to raise: The Church is very clearly against abortion. It has been on record against abortion since the first century at least, when the Christian Didache, taught: “do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant.”

In September, the Register asked Vatican Archbishop Raymond Burke what the Church’s response to Pelosi should be. Archbishop Burke is the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest court.

He told us, “The statement she made about the Church’s teachings on procured abortion is so fundamentally erroneous, and she made it in the context of declaring herself to be a devout Catholic. Simply, it’s not possible to be a devout Catholic and to believe what she stated.”

What can the Church do in such a case?

“The first step the Church always takes is a personal encounter,” he said. “We follow the evangelical counsel the Lord gives us, that in the Church, first of all, you confront them individually. So her bishop or parish priests or whoever has responsibility for her pastorally, should confront her and say, ‘Now look, what you are doing is gravely wrong, and if you continue to hold onto this teaching which is contrary to the natural moral law and also the Church’s teaching, you should no longer approach to receive holy Communion.’”

That initial encounter has now happened. First, with Archbishop George Neiderauer on Feb. 8. Secondly, with the Holy Father himself.

On Feb. 18, according to a Vatican statement, Pope Benedict XVI met briefly with Nancy Pelosi as she was touring the Vatican and spoke to her about “the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.”

What’s the next step? As Archbishop Burke put it, often a politician will no longer approach Communion and the Church’s hope is that the politician will change her position. C

And what if the person persists in misrepresenting Church teaching? “It is also possible to envision that someone who is making public declarations with regard to doctrines of the faith that are false could also be accused of heresy,” he said. “This is of course another step along the way. … Heresy and schism lead to automatic excommunication.”

That’s an extreme the Church hopes never to have to go to. The Church is the largest defender of human life in an age of unprecedented brutality. The clearer her teaching, the greater the chance that lives — and souls — will be saved.