By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been invited by her hometown archbishop to discuss her erroneous views of the Church’s position on abortion.
“Speaker Pelosi has often said how highly she values her Catholic faith, and how much it is a source of joy for her,” said Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco in a statement published in the Sept. 5 issue of Catholic San Francisco. “Accordingly, as her pastor, I am writing to invite her into a conversation with me about these matters.”
Archbishop Niederauer joins a growing list of bishops who have responded to the Speaker’s misrepresentations of Church teaching during an Aug. 24 interview on NBC’s Meet the Press. When asked to comment on when life begins, she said that as a Catholic who had studied the issue for a long time that “the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition.”
Archbishop Niederauer’s statement said, “It is my responsibility as archbishop of San Francisco to teach clearly what Christ in his Church teaches about faith and morals, and to oppose erroneous, misleading and confusing positions when they are advanced.”
His statement also addressed a press release issued by Pelosi’s office on Aug. 29 in which she stated that “While Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception, many Catholics do not ascribe [sic] to that view.”
“That statement,” responded Archbishop Niederauer, “suggests that morality can be decided by poll, by numbers. If 90% of Catholics subscribe to the view that human life begins at conception, does that make Church teaching truer than if only 70% or 50% agree? Authentic moral teaching is based on objective truth, not polling.”
The archbishop also responded to calls from the faithful that he exclude the Speaker from receiving Communion.
Citing two documents issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholics in Political Life, and Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper, the Archbishop wrote that “Both statements . . . lead the reader to conclude that this is a sensitive and complicated question, and does not lend itself to sound bites, headlines or slogans.”
He added: “ . . . (I)t is my responsibility as Archbishop to discern and decide, prayerfully, how best to approach this question as it may arise in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.”
He went on to express his regret in “the necessity of addressing these issues in so public a forum, but the widespread consternation among Catholics made it unavoidable.”
The Speaker’s office has not indicated whether or not Mrs. Pelosi will agree to discuss the matter with the archbishop.
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