Speaker Pelosi Misstates Catholic Teaching

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House, appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday morning and erroneously told host Tom Brokaw that the Catholic Church has not made a determination about when life begins. 

“I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time,” Speaker Pelosi said. “And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition.”

After making this erroneous statement, she went on to say that the determination of when life begins should not have an impact on a woman’s “right to choose.”

“This isn’t about abortion on demand,” she said, “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 . . .”

At this point, Mr. Brokaw interrupted to point out that the Catholic Church feels very strongly that life begins at the point of conception, to which Speaker Pelosi responded:

“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.”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue responded to the interview by quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: ‘Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.’ It also says, ‘Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.’”

He goes on to say, “Looks like Pelosi didn’t study the subject long enough. But not to worry: We are sending her a copy of Catholicism for Dummies today. . .”

Donahue points out how the Democratic party, including newly nominated vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden, are out of step with Americans on the subject of abortion. Citing a poll just published by the New York Times, Donahue says 64 percent of American reject abortion-on-demand, yet only 23 percent of the delegates attending this week’s Democratic National Convention feel the same way.

“So there we have it,” Donahue concludes. “The man running for president on the Democratic ticket supports selective infanticide, his running mate is a pro-abortion Catholic, the delegates are wildly out of step with Americans on abortion and the Speaker of the House hasn’t a clue what her religion teaches on the subject.”

Pelosi contradicted another Church position during the interview when she advocated contraception, which the Church condemns as “intrinsically evil,” as a way to reduce the number of abortions.

“My Republican colleagues do not support contraception,” Speaker Pelosi said during the interview. “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,” she said. “But that is not the case.”

Not only was the Speaker contradicting Church teaching, she was also clinging to the unsubstantiated claim that contraception reduces abortions when, in fact, it does just the opposite. Almost half of all women who have abortions in the United States are using contraception at the time of their pregnancy.

In a rare public rebuke of a top politician, Washington D.C. Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl issued a statement yesterday correcting the Speaker’s comments and clarifying that the Church has always taught that human life must be respected from the moment of conception.

“We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops. Given this responsibility to teach, it is important to make this correction for the record.”
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