Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Setting the record straight on the church's record on abortion.

If you didn't hear, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the house who is also Catholic, said this Sunday in an interraction with long-time NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw...
MR. BROKAW: Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you're looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, "Help me out here, Madame Speaker. When does life begin?" what would you tell him?

REP. PELOSI: I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator--St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child--first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There's very clear distinctions. This isn't about abortion on demand, 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...

MR. BROKAW: The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it...

REP. PELOSI: I understand that.

MR. BROKAW: ...begins at the point of conception.

REP. PELOSI: 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. But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions. That's why we have this fight in Congress over contraception. My Republican colleagues do not support contraception. 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. But that is not the case. So we have to take--you know, we have to handle this as respectfully--this is sacred ground. We have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it, as it has been--and I'm not saying Rick Warren did, because I don't think he did, but others will try to.

The Bishop's of this country respond...

In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law." (No. 2271)

In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.

These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church teaches that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.

Two things come to mind. First, the same people that will use some theologians' opinion of post-conception ensoulment are the ones who criticize us for being anti-scientific. The theologians were using bad science when they were making these pronouncements. It was the best stuff out there at the time but it's clear that the church was wise in never promulgating, never endorsing, never teaching any of it. That was the Holy Spirit not letting the gates of hell take over us.

Secondly, the very idea that Speaker Pelosi would comment on this the way that she has shows that she really doesn't believe her own hype. She says that religion shouldn't be part of government and advocates a strict separation of church and state but, when asked about abortion, she not only misrepresents Catholic teaching but she sprints to do so. Why not just say that she believes this? Why lie about what the church teaches in an effort to involve religion?

Lastly, we need to applaud the bishops of this country for taking a stand. We whine when we think that they didn't respond harshly enough. Let's let them know that we appreciate this one.


Sebastian said...

Who do you speak for, Speaker Pelosi? Obviously not the innocent, nor the Truth. You must be speaking to avoid conflict, to keep some people happy. Those crazy pro-lifers have been around long enough- the government can keep ignoring them.

Fr.Dennis said...

And, if we don't know when life begins, shouldn't the benefit of the doubt be given for the earliest possible time just to make sure that you...say...aren't killing someone?