The Catholic church has had to correct the thinking of some Democrats in the past in reference to the church’s position on abortion. (Well, they’ve spoken out in the past; there’s no evidence yet that the actual thinking was corrected.) Most recently, the Speaker of the House herself has come under fire for misrepresenting Church teaching in order to buttress her own views.

Politics can be treacherous. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked on even riskier ground in a recent TV interview when she attempted a theological defense of her support for abortion rights.

Roman Catholic bishops consider her arguments on St. Augustine and free will so far out of line with church teaching that they have issued a steady stream of statements to correct her.

The latest came Wednesday from Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, who said Pelosi, D-Calif., “stepped out of her political role and completely misrepresented the teaching of the Catholic Church in regard to abortion.”

It has been a harsh week of rebuke for the Democratic congresswoman, a Catholic school graduate who repeatedly has expressed pride in and love for her religious heritage.

Enough “pride” and “love” for her to, y’know, accept her Church’s teaching? Apparently not. The “steady stream” of corrections don’t seem to do much. More below the fold…

Cardinals and archbishops in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Denver are among those who have criticized her remarks. Archbishop George Niederauer, in Pelosi’s hometown of San Francisco, will take up the issue in the Sept. 5 edition of the archdiocesan newspaper, his spokesman said.

Sunday, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, Pelosi said “doctors of the church” have not been able to define when life begins.

She also cited the role of individual conscience. “God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions,” she said.

Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said in a statement defending her remarks that she “fully appreciates the sanctity of family” and based her views on conception on the “views of Saint Augustine, who said, ‘The law does not provide that the act (abortion) pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation.'”

But whether or not parishioners choose to accept it, the theology on the procedure is clear. From its earliest days, Christianity has considered abortion evil.

“This teaching has remained unchanged and remains unchangeable,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”

The Rev. Douglas Milewski, a Seton Hall University theologian who specializes in Augustine, said Pelosi seems to be confusing church teaching on abortion with the theological debate over when a fetus receives a soul.

“Saint Augustine wondered about the stages of human development before birth, how this related to the question of ensoulment and what it meant for life in the Kingdom of God,” Milewski said.

Questions about ensoulment related to determining penalties under church law for early and later abortions, not deciding whether the procedure is permissible, according to the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Augustine was “quite clear on the immorality of abortion as evil violence, destructive of the very fabric of human bonds and society,” Milewski said.

Basically, Speak Pelosi tried to get off on a technicality. St. Augustine’s opinion on the legal issues involved in abortion are one thing, but to conflate that with his opinion on the morality of it is one of the worst kinds of disingenuousness.

And the Church’s position is pretty clear.

Catholic theologians today overwhelmingly consider debate over the morality of abortion settled. Thinkers and activists who attempt to challenge the theology are often considered on the fringes of church life.

Yes, there is debate in the public sector about how a politician’s religious faith should affect his or her public life, but let’s look at it from a Catholic’s perspective (with the disclaimer that I’m Protestant). The Catholic church is definitely not in favor of abortion, calling it, as we’ve seen, “immoral” and “evil”, and that position hasn’t changed for centuries. It’s a question that it has grappled with during that entire time. This is nothing new; not some newly uncovered area that the 21st century has introduced to society. If their position on this isn’t enough to influence your decision, Speaker Pelosi, what is? Why even bring up your religion if it has no affect on you whatsoever?

If you are proud of your religious heritage, one would think you are also proud of your religion’s teachings. But such is the dichotomy of Speaker Pelosi and other politicians who say they believe one thing but vote another.

Filed under: AbortionChristianityDemocratsEthics & MoralityLiberalPoliticsReligion

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