By Fr. George Welzbacher
September 7, 2008
By now most of you have probably heard about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's Meet the Press interview on the August 24th. In response to a question from Tom Brokaw Ms. Pelosi misstated the teaching of the Catholic Church with respect to abortion.
Some of America's most prominent bishops were quick to correct her misstatement with public statements of their own. And on his own initiative the former Archbishop of St. Louis (and prior to that the bishop of LaCrosse ) who was recently appointed prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church) Archbishop Raymond Burke, issued an important statement with respect to ecclesiastical status of Catholic politicians who lend their vote to laws that facilitate the murder of the unborn. Archbishop Burke's statement preceded by several days Ms. Pelosi's appearance on Meet the Press, and it clarifies beyond dispute the sinfulness of those who present themselves for Holy Communion while maintaining a commitment to the promotion of abortion.
Let me share with you Archbishop Burke's comment, given by World Net Daily's Bob Unruh; followed by an account of Ms. Pelosi's interview; and then, as a sampling of our bishops' defense of authentic Catholic doctrine, statements from our own Archbishop Nienstedt and from New York's Edward Cardinal Egan. Finally let's take a look at what the new Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say on this matter.
* * * * *Archbishop Raymond Burke
Catholics who support abortion should not receive Communion, says Archbishop Burke. Rome, August 19, 2008 - The prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Archbishop Raymond Burke, said this week that Catholics, especially politicians, who publicly defend abortion should not receive Communion, and that ministers of Communion should be responsibly charitable in denying it to them if they ask for it, "until they have reformed their lives."
In an interview with the magazine, Radici Christiane, Archbishop Burke pointed out that ...... Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily is a sacrilege, "If it is done deliberately in mortal sin it is a sacrilege."
To illustrate his point, he referred to "public officials who, with full knowledge and consent, uphold actions that are against the Divine and Eternal moral law. For example, if they support abortion, which entails the taking of innocent and defenseless human lives. A person who commits sin in this way should be publicly admonished in such a way as NOT to receive Communion until he or she has reformed his life," the archbishop said. [Emphasis added]."
If a person who has been admonished PERSISTS in public mortal sin and attempts to receive Communion, the minister of the Eucharist has the obligation to DENY it to him Why? Above all, for the salvation of that person's soul TO PREVENT him from committing a sacrilege,' he added.
"We must avoid giving people the impression that one can be in a state of mortal sin and receive the Eucharist," the archbishop continued. "Secondly, there could be another form of scandal, consisting of leading people to think that the public act that this person is doing, which until now everyone believed was a serious sin, is really not all that serious - if the Church allows him or her to receive Communion."
"If we have a public figure who is openly and deliberately upholding abortion 'rights' and receiving the Eucharist, what will the average person think? He or she could come to believe that up to a certain point it is permissible to do away with an innocent life in the mother's womb," he warned.
Archbishop Burke also noted that when a bishop or a Church leader prevents an abortion supporter from receiving Communion, "it is not with the intention of interfering in public life but rather it is in the interests of safeguarding the spiritual state of the politician or public official who, if Catholic, should follow the divine law in the public sphere as well"....It is "simply wrong' to think that the faith must be reduced to the private sphere and eliminated from public life, Archbishop Burke said, encouraging Catholics "to bear witness to our faith not only in private in our homes but also in our public lives with others in order to bear strong witness to Christ."
* * * * *
Pelosi's Abortion Theology 'Mangles' Christian Teaching
From World Net Daily of Thursday, August 28, 2008
Reported by Bob Unruh
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's abortion theology remains under attack, with Catholic members of Congress writing her to castigate her re-interpretation of church teachings....
As WND reported earlier .... the Denver Catholic Archbishop, Charles Chaput, said Pelosi and those who claim that abortion can be reconciled with the Christian faith simply don't know Christianity....
"It's always important to know what our faith actually teaches, " Chaput said. "The future of a community, a people, a church and a nation depends on the children who will inherit it. If we prevent our children from being bom, we remove ourselves from the future. It's really that simple. No children, no future."
Pelosi on Sunday [August 24] on NBC's "Meet the Press" was asked when human life begins. She said:
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."
Her response, however, mangled Catholic doctrine, charges a new letter from 19 Catholic members of Congress. "We are compelled to refute your error," the letter said.
"In the interview, Tom Brokaw reminded you that the Church professes the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. As stated in the 'Catechism of the Catholic Church': 'Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being, "' said the letter, signed by Reps. Thaddeus McCotter,. Steve Chabot, Virginia Foxx, Phil Gingrey, Peter King (NY), Steve King (IA), Dan Lungren, Devin Nunes, John Sullivan, Pat Tiberi, John Boehner [Minority Leader in the House of Representatives], Phil English, Jean Schmidt, Jim Walsh, Jeff Fortenberry, Michael McCaul, Paul Ryan, Walter Jones and Mike Ferguson....
"Unfortunately, your statement demonstrates a lack of understanding of Catholic teaching and belief regarding abortion. From the time of the Apostles of the 1st Century to Pope John Paul the Great '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,'" the letter said.
"Your erroneous claim about the history of the Church's opposition to abortion is false and denigrates our common faith," the letter said
A WND message requesting a comment from Pelosi was not returned.
* * * * *"To reduce the scandal and consternation caused amongst the faithful by your remarks, we ... write you to correct the public record and affirm the church's actual and historical teaching that defends the sanctity of human life," the letter said.
In addition, Father Mitch Pacwa, a host on the EWTN Catholic television network, warned Pelosi if she is, in fact, an "ardent, practicing Catholic, " then she must "conform her conscience to the teaching of the Church that goes back [to] the very beginning of the Church on this moral issue."
"If you are ignorant and you don't know [when life begins], then you go on the side of safety and protecting rights....
"If I don't know, then I'll protect all the more. I don't want to act while I'm ignorant,"' he said. In her position as probably the most powerful woman in the nation, she must "make sure not that there are few and rare abortions, but that there are zero abortions and that you would do everything you can to protect life. This is the duty of us all," he said.
Chaput said there are two truths to remember. Society has an obligation and Christians have a Gospel duty to help the "unwed and abandoned mothers, women facing unintended pregnancies; and women struggling with the aftermath of an abortion ": and "Killing an unborn child is NEVER the right answer.... "[Emphasis added].
* * * * *Recent Announcements by American Bishops on the Question of When Life Begins
Archbishop Nienstedt Issues Statement Challenging Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Statement on Abortion.
"On behalf of the 650,000 Catholics of this Archdiocese, I wish to reenforce what Cardinal Rigali, Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut and Archbishop Chaput of Denver have said about Speaker Pelosi's misinterpretation on the question of when life begins. The Church has taught for centuries that life begins at conception and there is no room for misrepresentation of that teaching. In addition, modern medical techniques have been able to confirm what the Church has already known.
"Surely, there may be some Catholic politicians who will take a different interpretation of this Church doctrine during the coming election campaign, but Speaker Pelosi's remarks underscore once again the need for Catholics, and especially Catholic politicians, to form their consciences according to the moral truths taught by the Catholic Church."
* * * * *Pelosi Not Worthy of "Providing Leadership in a Civilized Democracy"
By Tim Waggoner from LifeSiteNewscom
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York, has [joined] his voice [to those of] fellow clergymen and Catholic congressmen, in condemning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments made on an August 24 episode of NBC's Meet the Press.
In short, Pelosi told moderator Tom Brokaw that as an "ardent" and "practicing" Catholic and as an individual well-instructed on the Catholic Church's teaching on [when] human life [begins], [she can say that] no one knows "when life begins." She falsely claimed that the issue of human life has been a topic of "controversy" for the Catholic Church in order to support her advocacy of abortion and contraception.
Cardinal Egan explained how Pelosi has failed to defend the inherent right to life of all and said that her belief that confusion among Church theologians warrants abortion is erroneous.
"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," stated a "shocked" Cardinal Egan.
Pointing to the fact that modern technology allows one to view a human baby in the womb, he continued by saying, "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."
The Cardinal went on to strongly denounce Pelosi's pro-abortion position: "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 "
"Anyone who dares to defend [the proposition] that they may be legitimately killed because another human being 'chooses' to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not he providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name," concluded Cardinal Egan.
* * * * *Finally, let me cite the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church with respect to abortion and the scandal attendant upon its public promotion.
* * * * *Section 2319: EVERY human life, from the moment of conception until death, is SACRED because the human person has been willedfor its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God.
Section 2320: The murder of a human being is GRAVELY contrary to the dignity of the person and the holiness of the Creator.
Section 2322: FROM ITS COVCEPTION, the child has the RIGHT to life (cf. Gaudium et Spes 27§3). Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a "criminal" practice, gravely contrary to the moral law. The Church imposes the canonical penalty of excommunication for this crime against human life.
Section 2323: Because it should be treated as a person from conception, the embryo MUST be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed like every other human being.
Section 2326: Scandal is a grave offense when by deed or omission it deliberately leads others to sin.