As most people already know— the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, was on NBC’s Meet the Press with Tom Brokow on Sunday:
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.
For an “ardent, practicing Catholic” who has been “studying the issue” of abortion “for a long time”, Mrs. Pelosi sure doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Newsflash: The Catholic Church has always taught clearly and consistently–over the centuries–that abortion was wrong! Maybe 50 years?! How about 2,000?!
Bishops around the country were quick to issue statements–and still are doing so–clarifying the Church’s position on abortion.
Here is a quote from my own archbishop, Archbishop Weurl of Washington:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear: The current teaching of the Catholic Church on human life and abortion is the same teaching as it was 2,000 years ago. The Catechism reads: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. … 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.” (Catechism, 2270-2271)
The Catechism goes on to quote the Didache, a treatise that dates to the first century: “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.”
Mrs. Pelosi, the Archbishop quoted the Didache–written a lot more than 50 years ago. Here are more quotes from the Early Church on abortion.
What about the ambiguously obscure reference that Mr. Pelosi mentioned? Just what did Senator–err–Saint Augustine say anyway? Here is what the spokesperson for Pelosi offered:
“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”
– St. Augustine, On Exodus (22)
The law that St. Augustine is referring to is Exodus 21:18 “When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.” Augustine points out that this act is not being considered a homicide here…because, St. Augustine thinks, ‘ensoulment’ hasn’t happened yet. He wasn’t questioning when life begins, rather he was not clear on when a body receives a soul! Futhermore, the quote deals with accidental abortion. Abortion on purpose is more grievous and St. Augustine knew this. Mrs. Pelosi should read what he says about contraception!
Context. Context. Context.
These wannabe theologians! Abusing others’ words!
To conclude, here are offical speakers for God’s House:
Ardent, practicing Catholics will quickly learn from the historical record that from apostolic times, the Christian tradition overwhelmingly held that abortion was grievously evil. In the absence of modern medical knowledge, some of the Early Fathers held that abortion was homicide; others that it was tantamount to homicide; and various scholars theorized about when and how the unborn child might be animated or “ensouled.” But none diminished the unique evil of abortion as an attack on life itself, and the early Church closely associated abortion with infanticide. In short, from the beginning, the believing Christian community held that abortion was always, gravely wrong.
-Archbishop of Denver, Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap & Auxiliary Bishop of Denver Most Rev. James D. Conley
What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.
We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers…
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…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.
-Cardinal Archbishop of NY, Most Rev. Edward Egan