Pelosi’s Continuing Dissent from Catholic Church Teaching

October 13, 2009

Pelosi’s Continuing Dissent from Catholic Church Teaching

By James Todd

Speaker Pelosi continues to dissent from Church teaching, since her meeting in February with Archbishop Niederauer.
October 13, 2009 - Late last year Speaker Pelosi made a couple of rather outrageous statements about the teachings of the Church with regard to abortion and when life begins.  Several bishops responded to correct Pelosi’s false statements.  There was sufficient outrage among faithful Catholics to prompt Pelosi’s bishop, Archbishop Niederauer of San Francisco, to meet with her in February of this year. The result of that meeting? Pelosi’s spokesman confirmed that a meeting had taken place and that Pelosi was not about to change her position on abortion.

Since that February meeting Pelosi continues to dissent from Church teaching as evidenced by both her public statements and actions. Here is a small sampling of activities by Pelosi since she met with Archbishop Niederauer in February:

On Embryonic Stem Cell Research (April of 2009)
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed critics of federal funding of life-destroying embryonic stem-cell research with this argument: “We’ve had a situation where it’s faith or science — take your pick,”

Regarding Same-Sex Marriage in California (May)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) deemed the California Supreme Court's decision today to uphold Proposition 8 as "deeply disappointing" in its stripping of marriage rights from same-sex couples.

Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Thru NFPA (June 2009)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday that taxpayers should be forced to fund the UNFPA even though it has been shown to work closely with Chinese population control officials who subject women to forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations.

TaxPayer Funded Abortions in Washington DC (July)
Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that includes language overturning the longstanding ban on forcing taxpayers to fund abortions in the nation's capital. The vote on the bill came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi manipulated a vote on rules prohibiting an amendment to stop it.

On Health Care Reform (August)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has subjected herself to criticism for authoring an editorial in USA Today in which she calls Americans who oppose the pro-abortion health care plan before Congress "un-American."

This continued dissent must be placed in a historical context. Mrs. Pelosi was first elected to Congress in 1987.  Precisely when her first Congressional vote on an issue that placed her in opposition to Church occurred is unclear.  What we do know is that as far back as 1993 her dissent from Church teaching was on public display when she voted against the Hyde Amendment. Three years later congressional voting records show she voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.  It is clear the Mrs. Pelosi record of dissent goes back at least 16 years, and possibly further. Voting records prior to 1993 are readily available.

Catholics understand and support the behind-the-scenes dialogue and diplomacy that was undertaken by Archbishop Niederauer earlier this year when he met with Pelosi. Most Catholics would prefer to have such issues resolved in this way and not to air our dirty laundry in public.  However, when public dissent by prominent Catholics continues not just for years but decades – as is the case with Speaker Pelosi - in spite of the actions and activities that have been undertaken by the current and most likely past archbishops, a line must be drawn in the sand. 

The key word in the above paragraph is “public”.  If Pelosi’s dissent were behind closed doors or private, it could be dealt with in private.  But Pelosi’s very public dissent has created a public scandal – and the only way to rectify a public scandal is to address it publicly.

Bishops who do not withhold communion or institute some other serious, public disciplinary action against such prominent Catholics that obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin, leave the impression such actions are condoned, or at least tolerated, and thereby perpetuate this scandal

With Pelosi – as well as with many other Catholic politicians - the line in the sand has not only been reached but breached.

We attempted to contact Archbishop Niederauer’s spokesman, Maurice Healy and his assistant - both by phone and email - to ask about the Archbishop’s next step with Speaker Pelosi. There was no response.

Many faithful Catholics see a double scandal here.  There is the scandal of a prominent Catholic in public life dissenting from Church teaching and continuing to receive communion. And there is a second scandal which is the unwillingness of Catholic Bishops to address the first scandal in any meaningful, concrete fashion.  It appears that Archbishop Niederauer and other bishops have made the judgment that the public scandal to millions of Catholics is LESSER IMPORTANCE than avoiding a public confrontation with ONE or a handful of prominent dissenting Catholics whose actions continue to cause grave spiritual damage.

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