The Archbishop and Auxiliary RC Bishop of Denver offer Further Thoughts

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Catholic public leaders inconvenienced by the abortion debate tend to take a hard line in talking about the “separation of Church and state.” But their idea of separation often seems to work one way. In fact, some officials also seem comfortable in the role of theologian. And that warrants some interest, not as a “political” issue, but as a matter of accuracy and justice.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a gifted public servant of strong convictions and many professional skills. Regrettably, knowledge of Catholic history and teaching does not seem to be one of them.
Interviewed on Meet the Press August 24, Speaker Pelosi was asked when human life begins. She said the following:

“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 . . . 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.”

Since Speaker Pelosi has, in her words, studied the issue “for a long time,” she must know very well one of the premier works on the subject, Jesuit John Connery’s Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective (Loyola, 1977). Here’s how Connery concludes his study:

“The Christian tradition from the earliest days reveals a firm antiabortion attitude . . . The condemnation of abortion did not depend on and was not limited in any way by theories regarding the time of fetal animation. Even during the many centuries when Church penal and penitential practice was based on the theory of delayed animation, the condemnation of abortion was never affected by it. Whatever one would want to hold about the time of animation, or when the fetus became a human being in the strict sense of the term, abortion from the time of conception was considered wrong, and the time of animation was never looked on as a moral dividing line between permissible and impermissible abortion.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

Posted August 26, 2008 at 6:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. KevinBabb wrote:

It amazes me how public figures can make up authority to support their opinions, and then expect the public to eat it all up uncritically. What this really shows, on the part of those politicians, is a complete contempt for the public…an attitude that says, “I can tell these [  ] anything that I want, because they’re too ignorant to know the difference” (sort of like the bogus historical and scriptural theories used ever since Boswell to justify homo-erotic behavior in the Christian community).

August 26, 7:25 pm | [comment link]
2. Intercessor wrote:

Pelosi is on a non-stop free-fall to Purgatory. I sure would like to have a quiet chat with her priest…better yet where is his Bishop on this matter or does he support 7-11 have it your way abortion as well? Jesus weeps for the unborn.


August 26, 8:23 pm | [comment link]
3. DJH wrote:

Cardinal Egan’s response to Ms. Pelosi’s erroneous assertions was even more direct:

We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.

August 26, 9:58 pm | [comment link]
4. Now Orthodox wrote:

Perhaps I misunderstand Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s explanation but purgatory is a place of refinement (being refined by spiritual fire) before moving on to paradise.  Ms Pelosi, IMHO, will not pass go; will not get our of jail free; but will receive her just reward….....gehenna!

August 27, 12:28 am | [comment link]
5. Words Matter wrote:

Actually, we should not presume to know Ms. Pelosi’s eternal fate. We can certainly say that her material cooperation with serious evil separates her from God, which is the definition of hell. That presumes, however, that she is acting freely and with full knowledge. In fact, she might not be fully culpable for her evil deeds. If so, there is a reasonable hope that she could land in purgatory, which is, after all, heaven’s mudroom (is that too Texas an image?), where her perfidy can be revealed to her and her soul cleansed.

The point is that I can say, objectively, her deeds are evil, but I cannot know the subjective state of her soul. Likewise, I can say that unrepented sin leads to hell, but I can never presume to know that any person will not repent.

August 27, 1:11 am | [comment link]
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