The Public Scandal of Pro Abortion, Pro Gay Marriage Catholics in High Places

Cardinal Burke has issued a bit of advice to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: Don’t take communion.

His reason: Her “public support for abortion is grave sin.”

My guess is that there will be a flurry of blog posts and angry comments in com boxes about this advice, while Congresswoman Pelosi continues to take communion and her bishop says nothing. Then, everyone will go on to the next new thing.

Ta da.

Frankly, I think it’s time our leaders in the Church (the bishops) got their heads together and came up with some sort of consistent way of dealing with situations like this. The paradigm the Church is using is that Congresswoman Pelosi is under the spiritual guidance of her personal religious leader, which would be her pastor, who is acting through her bishop. They are supposed to make decisions such as whether or not she may take communion, I would guess because they are the ones who know her and understand her spiritual situation.

I would guess that things are done this way because the Church is a pastoral rather than a political institution. The purpose of excommunication is not to bash someone over the head and punish them. It is to save their souls by bringing them face to face with the gravity of their sins and giving them a shove to repent and change their ways.

Public admonishments to not take communion such as the one directed at Congresswoman Pelosi are rare, and they should be. I think it’s appropriate only when the person in question is doing what Congresswoman Pelosi is doing: Committing grave sin in a public manner that encourages other people to also commit this grave sin. This is called scandal, and it should be taken seriously.

There will always be temptations, but woe to those who do the tempting, Jesus said. Some translations use the phrase stumbling blocks. What it means is that there will always be people who lead others astray, who lead them away from following Christ, but that those people who do this are in even bigger trouble with God than those they lead.

Public figures of today have a mind-boggling arrogance about the way they tempt others away from following Christ. They assert that their sins are not sins. They proclaim themselves faithful followers of Christ even as they trample all over His teachings and commit the most vile sins in front of everyone. They even twist their sins around and proclaim publicly that these sins are righteousness and that those who disagree with this are the ones who are committing sin.

Whole denominations have thrown in the towel and forsaken the Gospels in their official teachings. They have themselves become tempters to sin.

The Catholic Church has refused to do this. But powerful members of its laity, as well as many of its priests, have joined the other side in the culture wars against the Church, while maintaining that they are, in fact, faithful Catholics. The Church has taken a wink-wink attitude toward this for decades, and now we are all paying the price.

No other denomination is so rife with this particularly egregious form of defiant public sinning as the Catholic Church. Prominent Catholics in all walks of life proudly parade their sins against human life and the sacrament of marriage before the public. They use the bully pulpit of their elected offices, media star positions and many-degreed professorships to proclaim an Anti-Christ Christianity that turns the Gospel on its head and makes it a teaching of death, debauchery and nihilism.

This is not just individual sin. It is a vast cultural rebellion against the Church led by Catholics who occupy positions of power in our society. I agree with Cardinal Burke. Congresswoman Pelosi should not take communion. However, I think that singling out one member of Congress and aiming the discussion at her alone flies in the face of the reality of the situation.

Catholics in public positions, including the clergy leaders of some of our Catholic Universities, are teaching an alternate form of the Gospels that conforms absolutely to the shifting paradigms of our deconstructing society and defies the teachings of the Church with equal absoluteness. This is not just one person, however prominent. It is a widespread, almost universal, defiance of the Church by those of her sons and daughters who sit in the seats of secular power.

These people refuse to humble themselves and follow Christ. They insist that Christ should follow them. They don’t leave the Church. They demand that the Church change its definition of sin to suit them. They admonish the Church with all the arrogance of self-made gods that it should change 2,000 years of consistent Christian teaching to conform to them and their newfound personally created gospels of self-worshipping narcissism.

They teach this to the whole society through their powerful positions in politics, media, education and science. They are as deadly for the soul of the Church as a basket of snakes.

The old paradigm of individual bishops dealing with individual sins does not address this new reality. The fact that every single one of these self-made gods has found a bishop who will support them in what they are doing is an indication of how seriously deficient the Church’s response has been.

We need consistent patterns of reaction from our bishops concerning this mass apostasy in the pews from prominent and powerful Catholics. They need to get together on this.

At the same time, they need to follow their own rules themselves. Catholic institutions should inspire us to follow the Church’s teachings by their faithfulness to those teachings. I have had it with hearing about Catholic organizations that pay for contraception in their insurance, Catholic hospitals that do abortions, Catholic universities that ban the Knights of Columbus, or yet another priest who was making passes at boys and it was overlooked.

We are entering tough times. The only way we are going to come through these times is if we begin by facing reality on reality’s terms. We need leadership in this from our bishops.

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  • Maggie Goff

    Yes! Thank you.

  • Dave

    Right…the norm is that the spiritual life of a person is between them and their pastor. But when they are causing public, national, worldwide scandal as in the example of Congresswoman Pelosi, then something needs to be done.

    As I see it, the Church has really two options:
    (1) Publicly admonish Pelosi against receiving Communion, and possibly excommunicate her.
    (2) Do nothing, and the faithful will get the message loud and clear that the moral teachings of the Church, even though a lot of noise is made about them, are really not critical and are optional for a Catholic to believe in.

  • Bill S

    Nancy Pelosi can’t impose the teachings of the Catholic Church on the American Public. She is just doing what she has been elected to do. There is no place for the Catholic Church in the U.S. Congress.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      You know you are lying and utterly misrepresenting the Hairy One, her views, her reasons to do what she does, and her position with respect to the American people. So why do you insist?

      • Bill S


        I haven’t lied or misrepresented Ms. Pelosi. All I said is that she is just doing her job as an elected representative.

    • Dale

      Bill, I disagree. Politicians are not mere ciphers who channel the latest polling results of their constituency. While not being oblivious to voters’ concerns, politicians are (or should be) leaders. This means they will try to shape public opinion and win the following of those who live in their district.

      Part of leadership is personally holding moral principles. Whether those principles are religious or secular, or a mixture of both, shouldn’t matter. What does matter is that the politician have courage of conviction. If the electorate decides they can not tolerate the values of a politician, then perhaps that person should step down. I don’t think it is necessary, or even prudent, for a politician to compromise on their core values. To do so would to become a jellyfish, spinelessly drifting with the currents of public opinion.

      • Bill S

        I don’t think it is necessary, or even prudent, for a politician to compromise on their core values.

        She is not compromising on her core values. Letting her religion interfere with here duty to her country would be a compromise of her core values.

        • Dale

          I guess that invites the question: What is her duty to our country? Clearly, the role of a legislator is to pass laws which will benefit her constituents and which will benefit the country as a whole. And, at least at the national level, there is a degree of responsibility for oversight of government agencies and the policies of the executive branch.

          But what does it mean to benefit her constituents and the country as a whole. By what standards is that measured? Who determines what those standards are? Ultimately, the final say is with the voters. But what of the day to day functioning of being a legislator?

          I don’t see how anyone but the individual legislator (with advice from others) can decide what benefits her district and country the most. Part of her decision-making will be based on her values and beliefs, perhaps a good part of it. The ongoing attempt to gut the food stamp program is an example.of those values and beliefs. Are such decisions any more valid when based on secular values than upon religious values?

        • perpper

          “She is not compromising on her core values.”

          Indeed this is so.

    • FW Ken

      The question is whether there is room for baby killers in the Catholic Church. If she wants to continue to support the murder of babies, that is between her and the people of her district. But honesty would lead her to renounce the Catholic Faith and proceed on her way.

      • Bill S

        But honesty would lead her to renounce the Catholic Faith and proceed on her way.

        Many Catholics don’t give 100% compliance without renouncing their faith. Why should she renounce what she believes?

        • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

          Because there is such a thing as integrity. And I have much more respect for someone who has never been a Catholic and has always supported abortion than for someone who thinks they can run with the hounds and hide with the fox. She is a repulsive hypocrite, and as it happens there is a good pun in Italian on her name.

          • Bill S

            There are many (probably most) Catholics who accept the most significant theological concepts of Catholicism but who disagree with certain political stands take by the Church. She appears to be one. My wife is one as well. These people have a right to receive the sacraments.

    • Michael Demers

      Well, good thing we got rid of slavery. Heaven forbids that the Catholic Church or any church should try to impose their morality on the “American Public.”

      • Elizabeth K.

        Yes, heaven forfend that Catholics or Christians try to influence public life the way those terrible abolitionists and civil rights workers did. Shudder. And all of those horrible people working for funding for the indigent and programs for the disenfranchised, trying to apply their Christian beliefs all over everyone! Oh, the humanity!

        • FW Ken

          Immigration reform, universal health care, poverty programs. The bishops need to shut up and read their copies of Rerum Novarum in private.

      • John Barba

        Well what do you think you’re doing? We all have our belief system grounded somewhere. Mine happens to be in my faith in Church teaching. If yours is a secular view bring it. While our views may differ they are not mutually exclusive of one another to be presented in the public square. Unless you prefer censorship.

        • Michael Demers

          I think you misunderstand me. Read Elizabeth K.’s comment.

    • John Barba

      We bring our values to the public square, otherwise there is no public square.

  • Manny

    Very good points. I agree. And yes the burden is on the Bishops to be clear.

  • clingermanocds

    You cannot serve God and mammon. If Nancy Pelosi and the others were authentically Catholic and had to choose between that and serving a drooling pro-abortion constituency, the choice is clear for the good of the Church and for her immortal soul. The problem is, as the article has rightly put it, these people want to keep their jobs by spinning that evil is good. We all will have to stand before the Judgment Seat and give an account. She has time to repent of this slaughter of the unborn. As the Catholic Church is the Bride of Christ, She has a place everywhere.

  • Michael Demers

    Who, exactly, is her bishop? I’ve seen a lot of fuzzy nonsense on this very question.

    • Dale

      Nancy Pelosi’s district is entirely within the city of San Francisco. Since she is required to maintain a residence in her district, it would make sense to regard her as a San Franciscan. Moreover, according to the ever reliable Wikipedia, she home is in the Pacific Heights neighborhood and her husband owns a prosperous investment company which is based in San Francisco.

      As a San Franciscan, Archbishop Cordileone would be her shepherd. If she has a residence in the Washington DC area, I don’t know where it would be. However, the current archbishop of Washington DC has publicly stated that since she is a San Franciscan, he can not directly intervene.

      • Almario Javier

        Dale, actually, one is theoretically not required to actually live in one’s constituency, merely the state the district is in. For example, Tom McClintock from Thousand Oaks for a while lived in Thousand Oaks while his Congressional constituency was a few hundred miles to the north. But most, Pelosi included, live in their district because it looks bad to live outside the district.

  • John Barba

    We need to remember this – Excommunication is not a punishment, it is a correction and meant to bring the sinner back into grace. It’s more of a way to protect the sinner from being judged, see what Paul says to the Corinthians.

    • jenny

      The person excommunicated usually does not see this as a correction, but as a public embarrassment which leads to even more stubbornness.
      Many times, that person keeps acting as a 100% catholic while in church, while outside the church is doing exactly the opposite…very similar to a teenager caught smoking …..

  • Andrew

    What do you think of people like Senator Lisa Murkowski ((R) Alaska), who support civil marriage equality while still affirming Catholic orthodoxy on the marriage sacrament?

    • FW Ken

      Andrew, I don’t know who you are asking, but my objections to same-sex marriage aren’t religious or theological, so whether you call it “civil marriage” or “civil partnerships” or whatever is neither here-nor-there.

      That said, a lot of Christians are open to civil partnerships. I could nudged in that direction if two conditions were met:

      1.) these arrangements were divorced from sexuality. In other words, if two (or more?) people wished to enter into a permanent arrangement, sharing their lives and property whether or not they were sexual partners, that might be something worthwhile.

      2.) If these arrangements demontrated a stability equivalent to heterosexual marriage. In other words, do these relationships contribute to the common good?

  • Faithr

    I think it is too problematic to officially excommunicate anyone other than those working directly for the Church who openly advocate for things contrary to Church teaching. For one thing, it politicizes the Eucharist. I know that is an unfortunate byproduct of deciding someone should not receive Holy Communion. It should just be between their pastor and them, but in reality it isn’t. The burden really is on Nancy Pelosi to have the integrity and humility to obey her Church. But to force this act on the priest or the emhc, I think it will just further divide us and the ‘liberal’ Catholics vs. ‘conservative’ Catholics will fight even more about it. There will be even more protests and people acting out disrespectfully. It can’t make it better, I don’t think. Plus, it can never be fair. I mean Rick Santorum advocated for torture publicly. Should he also be denied Holy Communion? Why is it only abortion or gay marriage that might invite this? It will be seen as hypocritical and indeed, it might be. We are way too political about these issues. I think we defy Pope Francis’ call to be followers of Jesus all the time. We can’t just get caught up in certain issues, even though they are very important, we must live the Catholic faith in every aspect and not let ourselves be polemical about it. This would invite even more polemics. And goodness knows we are already up to our eyeballs in it! Also, I have been reading Medieval history. Excommunication (or just denying communion, I am not sure what the distinction is) never really worked well even back then when it was the time of “Christendom.” People were forever getting excommunicated and openly defying the Church and then years later getting the excommunication lifted only later to be excommunicated again. Even then, it was a really political thing. And now the Church has vastly less power (that is political, I think it has a tremendous amount of spiritual power, hence the media’s current fixation on the Pope). I am sorry for Nancy Pelosi. She is condemning herself to hell every time she receives, unless she repents. Maybe she’ll repent before she dies. I pray to God she does. God longs for her redemption more so than mine I think. She truly is the lost sheep. But I think the Church would cause more scandal and do less of the Lord’s work (that is evangelizing) by forcing an excommunication than otherwise, even though it is really hard to watch her and her blatant (almost insane) defiance.

    My very humble two cents.

    • FW Ken

      Well, the Eucharist is a “political” act, since it is embedded in a community of people that is embedded in a larger group of people. Religious and theological aspects aside (as though they could be set aside), receiving Communion is a public act, or at least, a corporate act, since I would argue that the Mass is a private, though not closed, event. Particularly in the world of mass communication, events take on public meaning not properly theirs.

      Okay, I think that’s all my caveats which lead to a single question: what should be done about a public figure who persistently, publicly resists a first-order principle of the natural law? Which abortion and same-sex, from the Catholic perspective, are.

      There is, of course, precedent for excommunication for political action in defiance of moral principles, that being the excommunication of three racist politicos in the 50s in Louisiana. Should they simply have been counseled ad infinitum as they sought legal recourse against the integration of Catholic schools?

      • Faithr

        I don’t know anything about the excommunication of the racists in La. Perhaps the circumstances made excommunication workable. But I guess my real issue is enforcement. If you can’t practically enforce a rule, it isn’t much of a rule. I just don’t know how the Church will go about making sure that Nancy Pelosi and her ilk never receive Holy Communion. Are they going to put up ‘wanted’ posters and warn every possible priest or EMHC? I think it just creates further scandal and further division. The better thing to do is to pray heartily for her, to always preach the Truth firmly but in love (I am sure she has been told plenty of times she should not receive Communion), and to know, frankly, that she has already condemned herself to hell, by her actions. That’s a pretty big punishment! Of course, we don’t know her heart, perhaps she is so confused and so incapable of self-honesty that she doesn’t know up from down. The Lord may have mercy on her. Or she may repent and change. We can only hope and pray. The truth is there are many Catholics who have had abortions, are currently taking the pill for birth control reasons, etc, etc who receive the Eucharist without a thought. They probably don’t even know that it is the real body of Christ. It’s just something they do. It is true they are not public like Pelosi. And as I said before there are supposedly ‘good’ Catholics who publicly promote sin, like torture. I like Pope Francis’ approach. Surprise them with love! With gentleness, with seeing them as a child of God who is worthy of compassion and mercy. And then when and if their souls wake up to the Truth, let them come to their own realization that obedience and humility are necessary prerequisites to loving God.

        • hamiltonr

          Just for the record, the Cardinal did not excommunicate anyone. He advised Minority Leader Pelosi to stop taking communion.

        • FW Ken

          FaithR -
          Thank you for the reply. We disagree, I hope not disagreeably.

          First, here’s a good article on the New Orleans situation, as well as a couple of others. In fact, excommunication, or the threat of it, worked effectively to squelch racist opposition to integration.

          My question then is will it work in the current hot button issues? I will say that enforcement doesn’t concern me much. The point is to respond publicly to a very public opposition to Church teaching. Rep. Pelosi has repeatedly and loudly rejected the Church’s teaching and even lied about historical facts.

          If she makes a public show of receiving Communion after being excommunicated, that’s on her, just as with those Catholics receiving communion while commiting various sins. Long ago I learned not to judge the state of my neighbor’s soul, but to question myself. The fact is that the family sitting in front of me in Mass today with the adorable fussy boy may be on the pill, or using condoms. It’s not my business, unless they are passing out leaflets advocating contraception, or on the news saying it’s ok. Did I mention that kid was cute?

          I agree with you about Catholics who promote torture, but that’s a more complicated subject than abortion. They should still called on it and a public debate conducted. But the public debates before us are abortion and same-sex marriage. We didn’t choose those.

          Again, thank you for a thoughtful reply. I’ll admit to thinking you might be a troll, but you aren’t and that makes me glad.

  • Zeke

    Rather than demanding that Bishops excommunicate all who disagree with every jot and title of Catholic teaching, why not take a cue from Pope Francis: “The Church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently”. The pews would be empty if the Church excommunicated every Catholic that holds views contrary to her teachings on abortion, contraception, and same sex marriage.