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Princess Pelosi, Clueless Catholic

Back in 2009, Nancy Pelosi had an interesting take on things. Ignoring critics who spent much of the week after she introduced her stimulus bill criticizing the bill’s take on issues ranging from STD prevention funding to cash for the re-sodding the National Mall, she said:

I am the Speaker of the House. I don’t get into that… popular culture

Or her equally royal “I have deep emotions about the American people. If I were to cry for anything, I would cry for them and the policies that they’re about to face.” There certainly seems to be a separation in her mind between herself and what she regards as “the American people.” It’s a mindset that sees herself as apart from, and distinct from, the great unwashed. Perhaps, being fair to Cain, his remark wasn’t all that far off. Enough, though, of defending the idea that Pelosi regards herself as Antoinetteish.

My real thrust here is Pelosi’s apparent invincible ignorance regarding the Catholic faith. In her most recent gaffe on the subject of Church teaching and abortion, Pelosi was quoted in the Washington Post as saying: “I’m a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it…but they have this conscience thing [that puts women at risk.]”

During the 2008 presidential campaign, in a Meet the Press interview to the question of whether life begins at conception she answered, “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.”

Of course, the Church disagreed. Figuring he knows better than Pelosi what the Church teaches, Pope Benedict XVI told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in what some news reports called a “stinging rebuke,” that Catholics have a moral obligation to oppose abortion. The pope told Pelosi that Catholic elected officials have a duty to protect human life “at all stages of its development.” Pelosi has been a longtime supporter of taxpayer funded abortions and she opposed a partial-birth abortion ban.

The Vatican further clarified, by saying: “His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural and moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. It said such teaching “enjoins all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men of goodwill in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.”

Nancy, of course, is bothered by all this.  She describes herself as an “ardent, practicing Catholic,” as well as “devout.” She claims to have studied this issue and cannot find a clear teaching of the Church’s doctors on the issue. Perhaps, being unable to discern a clear teaching, she would consider submitting herself to the Magisterium of the Church, and believing what the Church teaches that Catholics must believe.

Instead, Pelosi, by rejecting Church teaching, relies on her own conscience. The very thing she mocks the Church for having. To be fair, the Church does teach that personal conscience can take precedence over Church teaching. But like Papal Infallibility, the circumstances where it may be used are so circumscribed that an authentic invocation of the conscience clause can rightly be regarded as a rare occurrence.

As an ardent Catholic, given to studying the Church doctors, Pelosi surely knows that conscience come from the Latin con scienter and means “with knowledge.” And any conscience that claims primacy over the Church must be “rightly” formed, and with full knowledge. Her failure to find a consensus among Church teachers surely disqualifies her from such an invocation.

The most troubling aspect of the whole imbroglio is the attitude of Pelosi’s cafeteria-ness about her religion. In the face of clear condemnation by the Pope, she persists in claiming to be both Catholic, and pro-abortion. I don’t care about Pelosi’s politics, in a personal manner. What she believes, she believes. But I find her attitude about Catholicism disconcerting. It strikes me as another manifestation of what I previously called “inconsequentialism.”

It is a basic truth that one cannot both be something, and not be something at the same time. One cannot be alive and dead at the same time. One cannot be both human and not human at the same time. This, I believe, is self-evident. Likewise, one cannot both be Catholic and non-Catholic at the same time. To be pro-abortion is to separate one’s self from the Church. Pelosi’s position would make Catholicism a matter of heredity or, perhaps, culture, bereft of it’s core teachings and beliefs.

I don’t care about Pelosi’s religion. If she wishes to be a Unitarian or a Buddhist or a Methodist, good for her. But she cannot be a Catholic while thumbing her nose at the Pope, and the Magisterium, and the Bishops, and the good Catholics in the pews. She winds up being neither “fish, nor fowl, nor good red meat.”

Pelosi is either clueless, or a liar. The Church needs to demand her obedience or her resignation.

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