Pope Benedict XVI talks about respect for life with Speaker Pelosi

Pope Benedict XVI talks about respect for life with Speaker Pelosi February 18, 2009

Catholic News Agency has run a story, based upon a Vatican press release, indicating that there was no photo-op for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (closed meeting), and that Pope Benedict XVI addressed issues in natural law and respect for life that legislators ought to recognize:

Vatican City, Feb 18, 2009 / 10:18 am (CNA).- House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s photo-op with Pope Benedict XVI turned sour when the Pontiff used the 15-minute meeting to reaffirm the teachings of the Catholic Church on the right to life and the duty to protect the unborn.

No photo of Nancy Pelosi and the Pope will be forthcoming, since the meeting was closed to reporters and photographers. The two met in a small room in the Vatican just after the Pope’s weekly public audience.

Immediately after the meeting, the Holy See’s press office released a statement saying, “following the general audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.”

“His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in co-operation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.”


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Catholic
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • David Nickol

    I wish I could have been there to witness the encounter. It will be interesting to hear Pelosi’s statement.

    • “It is with great joy that my husband, Paul, and I met with his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI today,” Pelosi said in a statement released hours after the meeting. “In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church’s leadership in fighting poverty, hunger and global warming, as well as the Holy Father’s dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel. I was proud to show his Holiness a photograph of my family’s papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren.”
      http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/02/18/pelosi-pope-meeting-minds/

  • Kurt

    Not exactly the excommunication that had been demanded by the usual crowd.

    Like most people in public life, she has some positions in accord with the Church’s call to protect human life at ALL of its stages, and some positions that are not.

    Good for the Holy Father in ignoring the nasty comments from the right wing (not that I expect he every gave it a moment’s consideration).

    • Kurt — right! This is what I said elsewhere:

      “And all the people who made predictions have been wrong. Not only has the contents of the meeting been revealed, Benedict didn’t excommunicate her, just reminded her that her duty as a Catholic official is to help preserve and protect life at all stages. Now, Benedict is bright enough to know he is not an American to know the way one is to do that (and he knows there is more than one way to do so, as well). He just stood by basic Catholic teaching. But I do find it interesting to see how people are already reacting as if it were a “stern” response. I don’t see anything stern about it. He didn’t even indicate any possible future action will be taken against her. He was just being as he should — a shepherd BEYOND the American politcal agenda.”

  • Sweet!

  • David Nickol

    What a bizarre statement from Nancy Pelosi. I see this as a Saturday Night Live skit, with the pope speaking about the rights of the unborn for 15 minutes while Nancy Pelosi pays no attention, rattles on about what a fine job she thinks the Church is doing, and shows the pope pictures of her family.

  • David: hehehe

  • jonathanjones02

    George Weigel weighs in here:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=M2FmOTYwNDBiNjU4NWM0Nzg3NDMwZDBiNmI5MWUzZWY=

    that the Church’s opposition to the taking of innocent human life, at any stage of the human journey, is not some weird Catholic hocus-pocus; it’s a first principle of justice than can be known by reason. It is a “requirement of the natural moral law” — that is, the moral truths we can know by thinking about what is right and what is wrong — to defend the inviolability of innocent human life. You don’t have to believe in papal primacy to know that; you don’t have do believe in seven sacraments, or the episcopal structure of the Church, or the divinity of Christ, to know that. You don’t even have to believe in God to know that. You only have to be a morally serious human being, willing to work through a moral argument — which, of course, means being the kind of person who understands that moral truth cannot be reduced to questions of feminist political correctness or partisan political advantage.

  • I certainly hope the pope pointed out to Pelosi that her understanding of Church teaching on abortion was fundamentally flawed and politically opportunistic. And as for George Weigel, should he ever have a private audience with the pope, I hope he would be told that his understanding of just war theory was similarly fundamentally flawed and politically opportunistic.

  • blackadderiv

    as for George Weigel, should he ever have a private audience with the pope…

    Hasn’t he already had several?

  • Magdalena

    I know he had a TON with John Paul II, writing his “authorized” biography. Benedict, I don’t know…

  • Policraticus

    If I had to guess, I would say that the relationship between Pope Benedict XVI and the “neo-conservative” contingent of Catholic America amounts to very little (e.g., Weigel, Novak, and their disciples). I base this on my reading of Pope Benedict’s political and social writings, which are in stark contrast to the passing lights of neo-con Catholicism.

  • I fail to see the big deal. She’s already received communion at a papal mass. Clearly, there’s nothing really wrong with the Speaker’s public statements and actions, as far as the Church is concerned.

    The Holy Father did the minimum possible during the meeting to avoid the most obvious scandal to the faithful, but the Speaker will experience no public consequences for ignoring him.

    There’s certainly nothing really wrong with a politician supporting abortion rights, Catholic or otherwise, and we can support them for office for whatever reason our conscience finds sufficient.

  • blackadderiv

    If I had to guess, I would say that the relationship between Pope Benedict XVI and the “neo-conservative” contingent of Catholic America amounts to very little

    Maybe. Clearly they have their differences on matters of economics and things like the Iraq war. On the other hand, Benedict has had some of his stuff published in First Things, has spoken to Father Neuhaus’ Institute on Religion and Public Life, and had George Weigel write the preface to the American version of one of his books, so these disagreements don’t seem to have translated into a chilly personal reception.

    • And today, he spoke to Speaker Pelosi. I would say his speaking with anyone or working with them on an issue should not be seen as the same as an endorsement.

  • Nathan

    On the bright side, it looks the Vatican press office is being more timely and proactive with high-visibility events. It did a great job of setting the tone of the meeting by not allowing photos and making a statement very quickly before Pelosi’s team did any spinning. Maybe they are learning something from the SSPX media debacle.

  • jonathanjones02

    Catholics in positions of public responsibility who wish to claim the Catholic mantle should not hold the positions that Pelosi and many Catholic Democrats, and a fewer number of Republicans, take on the issue of abortion. I think the Bishops made that clear in their correctives to her and Biden last summer as a response to those misrepresentations.

    http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2008/08-131.shtml

    They are obligated to seek and support legal protections.

  • I would also point to Life(Lie)Sitenews. Is that a doctored/created photo? Or did she get the dreaded “photo op”? Not that a picture next to the Pope means anything (as I’ve said before). But I think too many people have read into the photo op from reverse. People meet with him all the time. Sinners and saints alike.

  • They are obligated to seek and support legal protections.

    That can’t be right. If that were true, there would be consequences for going decades in the opposite direction.

  • Apparently, it is an old photo. But it still brings the question out in the open: what is this bit about a “photo-op” and “not having one” when a photo has already been done? It’s, I think, some people with an ideological bent reading what they want out of an event (or lack of one).

  • Harry

    This Lutheran says yea for the Pope.

  • S.B.

    Henry, what’s your beef with LifeSite, and why reserve that level of disdain for the people that you supposedly agree with?

  • LCB

    I would really enjoy a dedicated post dealing with the question: “What would be the most effective way to go about dealing with politicians, in both parties, who fail to live up to the fullness of Catholic teaching?”

    I think this blog could produce some interesting and productive ideas.

  • RCM

    Paul, you are going to have to wrap your head around the idea that the Church is really a hands off Church. It is extremely rare when the Church intervenes. The Church allows Pastors tremendous leverage in dealing with people. There is this strange belief in many circles that the Church is like the Military where the Top Guy will yank lower peons in line. It just. doesn’t. happen.

    When you finally accept this, you will have peace because you will realize so much is OUTSIDE of our control.

  • RCM

    One more thing, just because there is no pastor to smack Pelosi’s hands with a ruler or threaten her with hell, doesn’t matter. She condemns herself every single time she supports legal abortion and receives communion regardless of whether the Pastor is present or not. It is the Community’s job to tell her, like the Pope did, and then pray for her conversion.

  • Intervenes? The woman walks into a Catholic Church and presents herself for communion, and, in violation of Canon Law, receives it. Pelosi is the one intervening.

    I’m not asking for the pope to walk into the House Chamber and take the gavel away from her; but I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the Catholic clergy protect the sacraments for the good of Mrs. Pelosi’s soul, and to avoid scandal to the faithful.

    RCM, “no pastor”? She has the pope, the Archbishop of San Francisco, the Archbishop of Washington, the pastor of her parish at home, and the pastor of her parish in D.C. That’s a lot of people to drop the ball.

    The simple fact is, I could be the most famous Catholic in the world, and as long as I didn’t preach schism or discourage people from contributing money I could continue as a Catholic in “good standing” and never suffer a single earthly consequence, while preaching abortion, gay marriage, unjust war, and female ordination.

    And that scandalizes me, because it’s not what Canon Law says should be the situation.

  • M.Z.

    in violation of Canon Law
    This assumes facts not in evidence. There is a difference between making a case and a gratuitous assertion. If we were to assume the mode of some, roughly half of all Catholics would be violating Canon Law whenever they took communion. (Such is not to say that it would be impossible for half of all Catholics to be violating Canon Law when they take communion and Pelosi does so likewise.)

    The idea that any moral failing should exclude someone from the Sacraments is completely foreign in America today. I highlighted a case about a year ago where a guy killed 3 or 4 people, commited suicide, and people were arguing he should be granted a Catholic funeral. If the easy stuff isn’t being addressed, there is little shock that the targeting of political figures for remote (even if formal) cooperation with evil is going over like a lead balloon.

  • LCB

    MZ,

    You say:

    “. If we were to assume the mode of some, roughly half of all Catholics would be violating Canon Law whenever they took communion.”

    I reply:

    Well, a quick (or perhaps not so quick) stop at the Confessional ought to clear those nasty matters up rather quickly! Return for a follow up appointment with the spiritual physician one week later!

    Seriously, though, Pelosi’s sin is manifest, grave, and public. She shouldn’t present herself, and she should be denied Communion when she does. By presenting herself SHE politicizes the Eucharist.

  • Policraticus

    Maybe. Clearly they have their differences on matters of economics and things like the Iraq war.

    The differences run much deeper; it is a disagreement in terms of ethos, not merely in terms of policy positions.

    On the other hand, Benedict has had some of his stuff published in First Things, has spoken to Father Neuhaus’ Institute on Religion and Public Life, and had George Weigel write the preface to the American version of one of his books, so these disagreements don’t seem to have translated into a chilly personal reception.

    The First Things piece is a printing of a translations from one Benedict XVI’s books, not a piece he submitted. That’s simply an arrangement between the magazine and the book publisher. Same with Weigel’s preface.

    I didn’t mean to imply that there is personal animosity. Rather, I intended only to convey that their understanding of Catholics in the world is quite divergent. One only has to read one of the pope’s political books and compare it to one of Novak’s or Weigel’s political books.

  • grega

    Pelosi has five children: Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul, and Alexandra, as well as seven grandchildren.
    Next time pick a better target for your ‘outrage’ –
    at least the Pope knows better. The fine catholic mother and grandmother Nancy Pelosi does not make for a very good target to be lectured.
    The women walked the walk.

  • Kurt

    “What would be the most effective way to go about dealing with politicians, in both parties, who fail to live up to the fullness of Catholic teaching?”

    They same way we deal with any other person.

  • If the easy stuff isn’t being addressed, there is little shock that the targeting of political figures for remote (even if formal) cooperation with evil is going over like a lead balloon.

    M.Z., perhaps I’m misunderstanding you, or else you are misunderstanding me.

    Surely you’re not arguing that the Church should continue as it has simply because people are comfortable with the status quo?

    The people in your example are just the sort of people who are sincerely misled by the fact that they never see anyone suffer any consequence for any sin, neither pro-abort politician nor murderer. People are not taught that they should refrain from communion when they have a mortal sin on their conscience (I am fortunate in that my pastor, when I am in the confessional, will ask me directly, “and have you received the Eucharist since you committed that sin?” Having to once answer that with a “yes” was all it took for me).

    But just because our country has drawn the evil of abortion in all its forms into a loving embrace that will be more difficult to disentangle than anything since slavery is no reason for the Church to continue to draw unrepentant public proponents of abortion into its loving embrace, to the detriment — the scandal — of those who might be otherwise taught the relationship between right conduct and the reception of the sacraments.

  • The fine catholic mother and grandmother Nancy Pelosi does not make for a very good target to be lectured.
    The women walked the walk.

    Are you telling me that the Speaker of the House is not one of the nation’s foremost proponents of abortion rights?

    Would her office make such a claim for her?

    If that’s not your point, please don’t try to obscure the issue.

  • mary

    I’m an italian woman. Berlusconi, the prime minister (divorced and remarried) met several times the pope. He claims himself an ardent catholic. Berlusconi is a pro-choice and his wife had a partial birth abortion on the 7 month, because the baby was handicapped. The pope all the time praises Berlusconi. They are strongly allied.
    From Italy your discussion about Pelosi, Communion and the pope is a nonsense.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    Mary, that is what I am trying to tell Paul. He wants some sort of action or condemnation to happen and from what I can see it RARELY happens. Really the best way you can get yourself publicly condemned is to be a Bishop and publicly disobey the Pope. Other than that, what you wish would happen just doesn’t and I am not sure it is necessary? According to Scripture, anyone who is not worthy to receive Communion self condemns. We should be interceding for her.

    Paul, you are so stuck on the American issue of this, but if you look at other countries where serious atrocities occur, you have the same issue just as Mary states.

  • They same way we deal with any other person.

    Yes, that’s what I was thinking. They’re only politicians.

  • Paul can’t see beyond the narrow US way of thinking.

  • You’re both quite mistaken. If abortion — and public support for abortion — is really a mortal sin as the church states, then people who are publicly known to be in an unrepentant state of mortal sin should not be allowed to receive communion. I don’t believe that I am misstating Canon Law (915 and 916) here.

    I fail to see why this Canon Law is not applied equally to public figures worldwide, and no one has offered to explain it; you’ve only asserted that it doesn’t happen. Well I can see it doesn’t happen.

    The only conclusion one has left is that either abortion and public support for abortion (or insert your favorite intrinsic evil) is really not mortally sinful, or else the Church doesn’t care about abuse of the sacraments.

    Now can anyone explain to me what’s wrong (or uniquely American) about that chain of logic?

  • mary

    “I fail to see why this Canon Law is not applied equally to public figures worldwide”

    Paul

    This Canon law is never applied in fact. Only very few American bishops want deny Communion and sometimes deny Communion to politician pro-choice, all over the world nobody else, including the pope does this.
    The pope and other bishops never deny Communion to lawmakers pro-choice until a FORMAL excomunication act ( and I never saw this), until that point they give Communion because as Radicalcatholicmom says: “According to Scripture, anyone who is not worthy to receive Communion self condemns.”

    John Allen in an interview on 26 may 2004 to Card George asked him:

    “Let me bring some international perspective to this. It is striking that in Italy, in France, in Austria, in Holland, and many other parts of the world, there are Catholic politicians who attend Mass and who take positions on various issues that are not consistent with church teaching. I’m not aware of any other country in which bishops are talking about imposing sanctions on these people. Why do you think this question is coming up in the United States and not anywhere else?

    You can read the answer http://ncronline.org/mainpage/specialdocuments/george.htm

    I don’t think things have changed meanwhile.

  • As I said before Mary, I can see that. My question is, why not?

    Or should the Canon Law just be changed?

  • LCB

    I do not find European examples on how to build a healthy Catholic culture very compelling.

    Maybe if we imitated the European bishops a bit more, we too could have totally empty Churches and no place in the public square.

    If anything, the case is made to do the opposite of European bishops.

  • mary

    Paul

    because the Church applies the Canon law AND the Gospel, and the Gospel is far more important.

    Ans as Saint Paul says:”So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

    “Love is patient, love is kind….It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…..”

  • St. Paul also said that who ever eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks destruction upon himself. Is it loving to permit that?

    And Jesus said that it is better that a millstone be tied around your neck and flung into the sea than to cause scandal. Is it loving to permit that?

    You say the Church applies the Canon law and the Gospel. When does it apply the Canon Law?

    I can’t see by its actions that the Church really believes what it teaches about either abortion or the Eucharist.

    How many more millions of innocents have to die with the blessing of “ardent Catholics” before the Church will take action?

  • Harry

    S.B. Says:

    February 18, 2009 at 8:59 pm
    Henry, what’s your beef with LifeSite, and why reserve that level of disdain for the people that you supposedly agree with?

    i don’t have any problem with lifesite, I personally think that the Pope should have done more than talk to Pelosi. She is not a very good Catholic.

  • c matt

    Paul,

    There is a pastoral aspect of course to all this – would the public ex-communication do more harm than good at this point? Also, wrt the Pope, I think it would be up to Pelosi’s bishop(s) (SF or DC) to make that call at this point (she is not in the Diocese of Rome). I agree it is a puzzling situation. Kings have been ex-communicated before. But the mere fact that it is not done more often in light of the clear and persistent disregard of core Catholic teaching is puzzling to me. And yes, letting someone cut themselves off from saving grace seems pretty unloving to me (not to mention the admonition of allowing others to stumble – here, the Bps run a real risk of allowing Pelosi to stumble by not taking a stronger position).

    While I might do things differently were I her Bp (and thankfully I am not), they may be concerned that it would be seen as a purely political move, would alienate others, etc. At least they are talking to her, and in a way, this is very possibly a setup so to speak. I would guess they are taking a very slow and cautious approach to it (not surprising). If FOCA or something like that passes, perhaps they will then decide to take more forceful action.

    Its funny – you are accused of taking the “American view” of all this b/c you believe stronger action should be taken. The really American view, given the past inaction over decades, seems to be to do nothing. Heck, you can count on one hand the number of American Bishops that would even consider withholding communion – where are the other 150 or so?

  • Not even talking about excommunication. Canon 915 deals with withholding the Eucharist.

  • c matt

    And yes, quite possibly half, if not more of Catholics are violating the Canon law. But not so many make it publicly known or visible.

  • c matt

    Sorry – yes, withholding communion (sub that in for ex-comm).

  • mary

    c matt

    It is an American view because in Europe nobody, lay conservative people or bishops, ask or consider witholding Communion. Absolutely nobody.
    And the pope, bishop of rome, gives all the time, visiting roman parishes, Communion to politicians pro-choice.

  • So Mary, is it only Americans who read Canon Law? Only Americans who think the Church ought to be governed according to its own by-laws? Just me and Archbishop Burke?

    Do you, Mary, think that Canon 915 should be repealed? Or just ignored?

    Once upon a time the notion that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed was a uniquely American idea. I don’t think that turned out so badly.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    Paul, just my thought here, I think the reason Americans care about Canon Law more than other countries is because we do value the rule of law. And I think because culturally we value the law, many American Catholics bring that to the faith and want to apply Faith like the Law; a set of objective rules that are very black and white. As a priest once told me, anyone can read the rules, easy Google searches. But what they cannot do and do not have is the pastoral aspect. Each pastor HAS the FREEDOM to decide how to apply the law according to Church Law. It is Pelosi’s pastor’s job to decide HOW to apply the rule. And he will be responsible for whatever or however he counsels her.

  • David Nickol

    Do you, Mary, think that Canon 915 should be repealed? Or just ignored?

    Paul,

    Mary is telling you (and accurately, I believe) how the pope himself interacts with Italian politicians, including those that would be called “pro-choice” in the United States. She is not advocating anything. Assuming she is correct, do you feel Benedict XVI and his predecessors don’t understand what canon law says? Are you criticizing the pope for his lack of regard for canon law? Do you feel Archbishop Burke, Archbishop Chaput, and you are more Catholic than the pope?

  • Paul simply doesn’t understand the applicable canon law.

  • Michael Maedoc

    MM,How does Paul’s view of things differ from Archbishop Burke’s? Isn’t Paul’s position reasonable?

  • Michael Maedoc

    Okay here’s Burkes words suggesting that canon 915 is not just for excommunication and canonical penalty.

    “The denial of Holy Communion can be the effect of the imposition or declaration of the canonical penalties… but there are other cases in which Holy Communion must be denied, apart from any imposition or declaration of a canonical penalty, in order to respect the holiness of the Sacrament, to safeguard the salvation of the soul of the party presenting himself to receive Holy Communion, and to avoid scandal.”

    Generally, as I understand it, this application of 915 requires pastoral dialogue with the politician and conscience formation followed by the witholding of communion. The pastoral process can account for some of the confusion with the Pope not refusing communion to some politicians. Would the Pope have appointed Archbishop Burke to the AS had he been so wrong on this issue?

  • I think the reason Americans care about Canon Law more than other countries is because we do value the rule of law.

    Was it Americans who wrote Canon Law? Or was it written by Europeans with the intention that it should be ignored? I wouldn’t have expected either to be the case.

    Each pastor HAS the FREEDOM to decide how to apply the law according to Church Law.

    I wouldn’t have it any other way. But with all the thousands of pro-abortion (to use a single example of a popular but intrinsically evil practice) Catholic politicians, and their thousands of pastors and bishops, why is it that we can count on the fingers of one hand (I can think of two who were denied communion by their own bishops) those who have been denied communion in the last 40 years. Is it really that all those people — in all those countries — are going to confession before every mass, sincerely repenting of their public support for abortion, being absolved, receiving communion, and then changing their minds that afternoon? Until the following weekend? Or is it that what the Church teaches about abortion — and the Eucharist — is neither believed nor taught in the parishes and chanceries?

    She is not advocating anything.

    I did not suggest that Mary was advocating anything; clearly, she was attempting to convey information — information of which I was already well aware. The pope and nearly all the bishops don’t do what I think they should. My question is, why not?

    I asked Mary’s opinion because I could not discern an opinion in what she was saying.

    Do you feel Archbishop Burke, Archbishop Chaput, and you are more Catholic than the pope?

    I can’t speak for the bishops you mention. I can only say that I, a poor, uneducated layman, one of the sheep, am scandalized. You know what scandal is, don’t you? That’s when the faithful are led to believe that sinful actions are not sinful, but permissible. I think I know what the Church teaches, and I give it the assent of faith and I try to live it out in word and action, but I don’t see the bishops — nor the Holy Father — acting publicly as though they believe it.

    Perhaps my understanding is wrong. Maybe you can be a leading pro-abortion politician and still a good Catholic. Maybe you can endorse pro-abortion candidates publicly, never write a word against their pro-abortion actions and still receive private revelations from God. I don’t know.

    Paul simply doesn’t understand the applicable canon law.

    Easily possible. Especially in light of the fact that no one, anywhere, at any time, has made any attempt to explain to me a different interpretation than the one I learned reading Archbishop Burke’s article.

    You are all telling me simply, denial of communion to obstinate public abortion supporters doesn’t happen, I shouldn’t expect it. Well, that still leaves me two questions: Is it OK to publicly support abortion, and not mortally sinful after all? And if not, then why is Canon 915 there?

    These are the two questions that no one here is attempting to answer.

  • Kevin
  • Kurt

    An unjust law should not be obeyed.

  • An unjust law should not be obeyed.

    Are you referring to Canon 915?

  • Michael Maedoc

    An unjust politician and supporter of killing unborn children should not be given communion. Now, back t the point of the argument.

  • mary

    Kevin

    Berlusconi doesn’t receive Communion because he is divorced and remarried not because he is pro-choice!
    And on that article BTW you see the Berlusconi’s photo-op with Pope Benedict XVI.
    The “father” of the italian abortion bill, the former mayor of Rome, receives Communion without any problem.

    Paul

    I think radicalcatholicmom is right.
    You American people are the “any law must be obbey” people.
    But Canon Law is a Code law and as any other code law need to be carefully interpreted by the competent authority. So in the Catholic Church ” each pastor has the freedom to decide how to apply the law according the church law”.

  • LCB

    Kurt, you can’t possibly be referring to Canon 915?

  • mary

    Paul

    my opinion is that Communion is not a political weapon and nobody must be denied Communion, because anyone who is not worthy to receive Communion and do this self condemns anyway.

    And my opinion is the opinion of allthe bishops, including the bishop of Rome,of the catholic church, and only 5 US bishops think otherwise.

  • mary

    And Michal Maedoc says:” would the Pope have appointed AB Burke to the AS had he been so wrong on this issue?”

    I think, IMO, AB Burke was promoveatur ut amoveatur because he was too divisive about this issue among his brother Bishops. And he knows very well Canon law but he is “without” pastoral skills.

  • Michael Maedoc

    Mary said Archbishop is “without pastoral skills” – thats a bold claim and one that serves the purpose of dismissing the Pope’s affirmation of Burke’s appropriate application of the code. I live in St. Louis and he may well have been the best pastor bishop around. Besides, is not being an advocate of abortion grave matter? Is it somehow less grave than divorce and more of a scandal?

    For the sake of productive conversation, please stop making this an “American” thing. We have all had enough of this attempt to bypass of the issue at hand and the substance of Paul’s argument. There is a pastoral dimension to the application of Canon 915. This dimension can be found in Archbishop Burke’s description of the canon. Lets talk about that.

    The opposition to Archbishop Burke’s argument claim that he and others want things to black and white. But, by dismissing arguments from Burke and folks like Paul they are more guilty of a black and white view on this issue. Lets be honest, Paul’s view is more nuanced than Mary’s.

    By the way, you do not have the Pope on your side on this matter, his lketter to McCarrick is proof of that.

  • Mary, thank you for clarifying your opinion for me. May I ask one more question regarding your opinion? Is it correct to surmise that you do not view public promotion of abortion rights to be mortally sinful?

    Michael, thanks for your views, but I disagree with you that Mary hasn’t the pope on her side, as evidenced by the fact that Pelosi, Biden, Kennedy, Giuliani and other well-known pro-aborts received communion at papal masses during the Holy Father’s visit to the U.S. last year. Pope Benedict could have prevented it with a single spoken sentence.

    Perhaps the Holy Father also does not view public advocacy for abortion rights to be mortally sinful.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    “Mary, thank you for clarifying your opinion for me. May I ask one more question regarding your opinion? Is it correct to surmise that you do not view public promotion of abortion rights to be mortally sinful?”

    Paul, it is not up to us to make that judgment. Period. It is up to our Pastors and the Church. You sound like you would have been first in line to ensure that Adulteress would have got what she had coming. And yet Our Lord showed us a different way. Focus on your own sins and pray for those who cannot see they are in sin.

  • kurt

    Trust me, a blind sow has more pastoral skills than Burke. It think it is widely understood that his promotion (“kicked upstairs”) was to the mutual pleasure of his detractors and admirers.

    He now gets to hear appeals from people who don’t like the penance a priest gives them in the confessional. Given 99% of Catholics had no idea they could appeal their penance, it sounds like a fine way to move him out of his disasterous attempt to be a pastor of souls in St. Louis.

  • Michael Maedoc

    Once again, that’s quite a blind opinion of Burke as pastor. Perhaps, you are judging based on media reports. What do you know of life in St. Louis?

    Once again, can’t we address the substance of Archbishop Burke’s argument or must we ignore it with boring dismissals and poorly argued criticisms of Archbishop Burke’s pastoral ability.

    So, he’ll only hear trials about the penance given to the faithfull… that’s quite a reduction.

  • Michael Maedoc

    The spkesman for the Vatocan had this to say: “that the politicians who voted for abortion had automatically excommunicated themselves by their actions.”

    An Pope Benedict has said regarding the Mexican bishops “Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by Canon law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion”

    Would not this suggest the importance of immediate spiritual direction, and call back to full communion, and withholding communion? The truth on this issue is that action is required and withholding communion must come if a breaking point in dialogue is reached. But this must be determined by those who know the heart and knowledge of the politician, their priest and/or bishop.

  • Paul, it is not up to us to make that judgment.

    I’m not asking anyone to make a judgment. I’m asking if Mary — and you — accept the clear teaching of the church. Thanks for your clear answer.

    Focus on your own sins and pray for those who cannot see they are in sin.

    Oh, believe me, I do that.

    No doubt you’d hold that Lincoln should have done the same, instead of arguing against slavery.

  • mary

    Michael Maedoc says “please stop making this one an “”American” thing”. Sorry Michael but this IS an American thing, also card George thinks this.

    And btw the pope can write letter to card McCarrick ( evidently he too thinks this as an “American” thing ) but as bishop of Rome he acts otherwise.
    About Mexican politicians, after that words Fr Lombardi said: “they should refrain to receive Communion” but nobody spoke about to deny Communion and I didn’t hear a Mexican bishop to act so.

    I’m afraid you overrate the importance of AS in the catholic church.

  • Michael Maedoc

    Once again Mary you don’t address the issue and the argument presented by Archbishop Burke. This is a doctrinal issue brought to international attention because of the American debate.

    Here’s a quote from CNS in 2004:
    “Cardinal Ratzinger outlined a process of pastoral guidance and correction for politicians who consistently promote legal abortion and euthanasia. That process could extend to a warning against taking Communion, and in the case of “obstinate persistence” by the politician, the minister “must refuse to distribute” Communion, he said.”

    Must is strong wording, as for a minister of communion Ratzinger said he “may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute holy Communion to someone…those cases include people whom the church has declared excommunicated”

    Yet, there was not a strong objection to the US Bishops’ statement.

    “Cardinal Ratzinger was not trying to dictate a policy to the bishops. “It is right to leave a margin for prudential judgment in these cases,” said one Vatican source.” From CNS 2004.

    Cardinal Ratzinger outlined how it is a pastoral process and denying communion may end up being part of that pastoral process:

    “In the case of abortion or euthanasia… the cardinal said, the politician’s pastor should “meet with him, instructing him about the church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.”

    Consideration of the above makes for interesting debate. The Vatican has called pedophilia the “American problem” but we all know the problem exists elsewhere and in the same way but in many cases to less magnitude. Having a highly publicized debate does not negate the worthiness of the doctrinal discussion.

    Source for quotes: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0403722.htm

  • kurt

    Michael,

    I’m very well informed as to the pastoral failure Burke was both in St. Louis and LaCrosse. Fortunately, the Pope gave LaCrosse a successor to Burke who has been able to undo most of the damage he caused and who has kicked out the truly freak-cases Burke brought in. I hope St. Louis recovers as quickly.

    My hope is that his new assignment doesn’t give him much ability to continue the rampage of damage he is known for on pastoral matters and lets him focus on his one strong point, raising big bucks for the Church from a certain well off circle of friends he maintains.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    Paul, interesting that you assume we don’t think people should be against abortion. You are confusing two issues. We are dealing with a woman who clearly supports abortion. Mary and I are arguing that the Church very clearly–with a couple of Bishops out of the many in the Church–does not deny people communion. Does this mean our Church doesn’t care about abortion? Puh-lease. We have Zero knowledge of what she has been told by her pastor. It is her pastor’s job AND his moral authority. We do not have it and it is beyond presumptuous of us to demand something that is not in our right to demand. We are NOT Protestants!

  • mary

    Michael
    on 17 june 2007 in Assisi BXVI himself gave Communion to Prodi, the prime italian minister pro-choice. On 21 october 2007 in Naples again. Prodi is the former President of the European Union . And several times he stated: ” the european abortion laws have been an important achievement”.

    The Pope’s vicar bishop of Rome gave many times Communion to Prodi, and to Rutelli, former mayor of rome pro-choice, so you know, what BXVI writes is worthless, he acts otherwise.

    and sorry Michael you says “this is a doctrinal issue brought to international attention because of American debate”. These is untrue. There isn’t “international attention”. Here in Europe, nobody cares about this “doctrinal issue”.

  • kurt

    John Paul II also gave communion, very publicly, to Rutelli. Then, of course, there is Tony and Cherie Blair.

    Of course, few of this people have publicly stated “I am in favor of abortion.” That is the characterization of their position by their political opponents. And even the most respected and ardent pro-life person in public life has likely voted at some time in their career against a “pro-life” bill.

  • mary

    Kurt

    They are against abortion, but in favour to keep it legal,free,and rare as the wide majority of Italian Catholics.
    They also voted to legalize abortion on 1978, and to confirm the law on 1981.

  • mary

    Sorry Kurt

    They voted only on 1981, the referendum.

  • Paul, interesting that you assume we don’t think people should be against abortion.

    Not true; I made no assumption, I asked directly. And, interestingly, you haven’t answered. Certainly, support for abortion rights wasn’t a barrier on your choice of candidate to endorse for president.

    You are confusing two issues. We are dealing with a woman who clearly supports abortion.

    Is that so clear? Earlier in this thread someone wrote: Pelosi has five children: Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul, and Alexandra, as well as seven grandchildren. Next time pick a better target for your ‘outrage’ –
    at least the Pope knows better. The fine catholic mother and grandmother Nancy Pelosi does not make for a very good target to be lectured. The women walked the walk.

    Some people seem to doubt Pelosi’s support for abortion.

    Mary and I are arguing that the Church very clearly–with a couple of Bishops out of the many in the Church–does not deny people communion.

    Yes, I can see the truth of your assertion, as I’ve many times stated. But what about Canon 915? It states that the Church does and that it must withhold communion from public unrepentant sinners. No one has offered me an alternative interpretation of this canon, despite Morning’s Minion’s suggestion that I don’t understand it properly.

    So we’ve either got a Canon law that should be deleted, or we’ve got a Church that needs to follow its own laws better. Frankly, at this point, I’d take either of those choices. Do you have a preference? Because the conflict between the two is causing me no small amount of stress.

    Does this mean our Church doesn’t care about abortion? Puh-lease.

    If you have a law that says that people in a publicly-visible state of mortal sin must be denied communion, and under this law people are denied communion because of divorce and remarriage, but not because of support for abortion, it begins to appear that public support for abortion is not viewed as being mortally sinful. Can you explain this to me another way?

    We have Zero knowledge of what she has been told by her pastor.

    We know this much: her spokesman stated bluntly following her meeting with Archbishop Niederauer that her position on abortion has not changed.

    So what will her bishop do? What will the pope do? When Speaker Pelosi next expresses her strong and unwavering support for “a woman’s right to choose,” thereby publicly ignoring both her own pastor and the Universal Pastor, will there be a consequence?

    I say there won’t be, but there should be. You and Mary agree (if I understand you both aright) that there won’t be any consequence, be believe there shouldn’t be.

    We do not have it and it is beyond presumptuous of us to demand something that is not in our right to demand.

    I’m not “demanding” any specific action, but I would like some reassurance either that Canon 915 will be followed, or else some correction about the meaning of Canon 915. The last thing I saw on the topic was written by someone who was subsequently promoted to be Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, which suggests to me that he understands Canon Law, at the very least.

    Have you thought about it this way? If support for abortion rights is mortally sinful, Teddy Kennedy is shortly about to depart on an express trip for Hell, unless he repents his support for abortion rights. Now, I don’t honestly expect to hear that he has done so. But if I had his ear, I would certainly think that it was the loving thing — the pastoral thing, if you will — to try to move him to repent of his support for abortion rights before his cancer cuts him short. And I would think that any course, including denying him communion or even excommunicating him to get his attention would be worthwhile. But perhaps no one around him loves Teddy Kennedy enough to get him to understand the truth. Or maybe they know better than me, and public support for abortion really isn’t mortally sinful, and you can support abortion rights for decades, even smearing peoples’ reputations in the service of the cause, and still get to heaven without repentance.

    I don’t want this to be about politics. Perhaps my question boils down to this: if somebody spends decades defending abortion in the the public square and then dies without repentance for it, does he get to Heaven?

  • kurt

    Paul,

    You have hit the nail on the head. People are denied communion for divorcing and remarrying. I am unaware of anyone being denied communion for supporting legal divorce.

    I will say I am not in favor of excommunicating people for their position on a point of law, however strongly I disagree with it and however much I think that position is sinful if the person is fully informed. The law is lay matter.

    Historically, neither has the Church, save the rare exception of direct attacks on her freedom of action.

    The current calls for excommunication are novel in the legal history canon law.

  • Kurt, excommunication and denial of communion are two very different things. My understanding of Canon 915 calls for denial of communion — not excommunication — for people who are publicly and unrepentantly in a state of mortal sin.

    I’m sure that a position on a trivial point of law, like tax policy or a speed limit, could be held in a sinful fashion, and I agree that the Church should not involve itself.

    But on such a basic issue as abortion — the nature of what constitutes a human person — involving respect for the dignity of human life, and especially on the scale that abortion is carried out in the world today, the Church must be involved.

    The day will come, as it did for slavery, as it did for Nazism, as it did for racism, when every right-thinking person in the world will recognize that not only is abortion an unmitigated evil, but that everyone today should have known it at the time. How much understanding will people then for the Church’s reticence today to take the action needed to bring a speedy end to abortion? Will they be any more forgiving than people today are of the Church’s involvement in the fights against slavery, Nazism, and racism in the past?

  • grega

    “The day will come, as it did for slavery, as it did for Nazism, as it did for racism, when every right-thinking person in the world will recognize that not only is abortion an unmitigated evil, but that everyone today should have known it at the time.”
    You might be right here – my money is also on the question of people starving to death today while we (government supported) partly utilize our most fertile soil to grow corn (and sugar cane in Brazil’s case) for our precious cars and trucks.

    I by the way was fully aware of Nancy Pelosis support of choice for women.
    As Kurt mentioned there is a difference between personal conduct and opinion.

  • mary

    Paul

    the point is: we catholics strongly believe that nobody can be sure if another pearson is in state of mortal sin. We can speak only about ourselves. Are you sure Paul to be Catholic?

    Do you remember Mt 21,28-31? Maybe Teddy Kennedy, Pelosi will go to heaven before you and me.

    As Kurt says to divorce and to remarry are facts, done against a sacrament, to support positions against church teaching aren’t.

    And now I stop Paul because this discussion is pointless.

  • Kurt

    Paul,

    Again you have hit the nail on the head.

    While I know the Church has her critics and will not argue that she upheld the standards expected by her Head, overall I believe she acted in a positive and helpful but imperfect way in the fight against slavery, Nazism, Communism and racism. And she did it without denying the sacraments to those not following her policy positions.

    The Church could have denied Von Papen communion and prevented the Catholic Party alliance with the SPD on the grounds it was pro-abortion, paving the way even earlier for Hitler’s ascension. She did neither of these things and, in my mind, was not incorrect in doing so.

  • And yet in the fight against racism in the U.S., the Archbishop of New Orleans did threaten to withhold communion from some Louisiana legislators, and received a great deal of praise in the northern press for doing so.

    The Church could have denied Von Papen communion and prevented the Catholic Party alliance with the SPD on the grounds it was pro-abortion, paving the way even earlier for Hitler’s ascension.

    And what Hitler-like person do you fear ascending to power in the U.S. if Nancy Pelosi is brought to heel — or at least made to stop falsely claiming to be an “ardent, practicing Catholic”?

  • Michael Maedoc

    Mary said “to divorce and to remarry are facts, done against a sacrament, to support positions against church teaching aren’t… And now I stop Paul because this discussion is pointless.” – Perhaps to receive communion when committing acts that are materially grave is against the sacrament. Your statement does not explain the difference between the two.

    Pointless when one dismisses the key points made by Ratzinger over and over and over. I suppose we will have to know every conversation Pope Benedict has had with politicians, whether they were told not to present for communion… doesn’t it hit you that maybe you’re oversimplifying this with your “out of sight, out of mind” argument – if I don’t see it happen it doesn’t happen.

    I don’t believe the Church is fond of the idea that abortion should be safe and legal. Perhaps, if that’s what you gleam from their perceived inaction then maybe it has become a scandal far greater than your willing to admit.

  • Kurt

    Paul,

    Catholics who were actually active in the civil rights movement will tell you that you are misinformed as to the Rummel case. You also missed my subtle caveat above in which I stated that the Church has historically not used denial of the sacraments except in a direct attack on the Church’s freedom of action.

    Rummel was quite more conservative than Ritter and O’Boyle. He left the Catholic school system segregated until he deemed the time was ripe. When he did move, he was not shy about speaking of the sin of racism, promoting policies against racism, criticizing those who did not, and working in pastoral and spiritual ways for the conversion of hearts.

    He may not have moved as fast as some would like, but he did a lot to achieve integration without violence.

    As Catholics who actually supported civil rights will tell you (though maybe not the ill-informed Catholics who sat on the sidelines), Rummel was quite clear that excommunication was not a tool for those who opposed any civil rights legislation per se. Rummel would grant the Eucharist to those who said civil law should require the separation of the races in all public and commercial accommodations. Rummel would give communion to those who said in public and even forcefully that the Church should continue her practice of segregating her faithful by race and continue to have Blacks receive communion after whites.

    Where he drew the line was with those who tried to use the force of law to deny his right as Archbishop to run the church as he saw fit. He went to great lengths to make the point that it was for this reason and not that he was using excommunication for any other reason that motivated his action.

  • mary

    Michael Maedoc

    excuse my poor english: ” to divorce and to remarry are facts, done against a sacrament..” I meant the sacrament of marriage.
    To divorce, and to remarry are acts against the sacrament of marriage, so easily and with objectivity punished by the Church.To support positions against the church’s teaching are opinions.

    I live in Italy so I’m very cynical about the church attitude.
    I know very well, don’t worry, that the church isn’t fond on the idea that abortion should be safe and legal.
    But I know too that Card Bertone, the present vatican number 2, when he was Bishop of Genova was president of an hospital linked to the public health care, the “Galliera”.
    And under the tenure of card Bertone his hospital allowed 400 abortions a year to be performed (by visiting non-Catholic doctors); his successor, Bagnasco, has stopped this.

    BXVI chose card Bertone as segretario di Stato, so do you really think he cares about some politicians pro-choice, here in Italy?

  • BXVI chose card Bertone as segretario di Stato, so do you really think he cares about some politicians pro-choice, here in Italy?

    Mary, I’m pleased to see that we’ve reached agreement. Despite nice words to the Speaker of the U.S. House, the pope — and the large majority of bishops who follow the same practice — doesn’t seem to consider support for legal abortion to be a barrier to receiving communion.

    Given that Canon 915 holds that mortal sin is a barrier to receiving communion, we may conclude that support for abortion rights is not mortally sinful.

    Senator Kennedy can rest easy.

  • mary

    Paul

    I state this from my post number 1! Everyone (card Bertone too) must examine his conscience before receives Communion, and Bishops and priests cannot deny Communion to anybody for this reason.
    And from post number 1 too, I state that the pope writes whatever and he acts otherwise.

  • But Mary, I believe that it was you who pointed out that they do deny communion to people who have divorced and remarried outside the Church.

    To divorce and remarry outside the Church places one in a public state of mortal sin, and communion is routinely denied for this reason. Even in Italy. Even for public figures. As you reminded me.

    This is required by Canon 915.

    But communion is not denied to politicians who publicly support abortion rights (with very rare exceptions).

    I started from the premise that the two situations, remarriage outside the church and public support for abortion rights, were both likewise mortally sinful.

    But Canon 915, it has been argued here, does not and should not apply in the case of pro-abort politicians.

    The only resolution I can find for this apparent conflict is that public support for abortion rights (unlike remarriage outside the church), does not place one in a state of public mortal sin.

    This is simply a more straightforward formulation of what you just restated above, that everyone must examine his conscience before receiving communion. A politician who supports abortion rights may or may not be in a state of mortal sin, and we can never know, because standing up in the legislature and voting to expand access to abortion is a public act that does not in itself entail mortal sin.

    Thanks for helping me come to this understanding! It really amazing what one can learn at Vox Nova when one keeps an open mind.

  • Michael Maedoc

    Brilliant, support for abortion rights is not mortal sin because it does not APPEAR to be treated as such by the bishops and Pope. Perhaps, there’s more to the story as I have been arguing? Since supporting abortion rights is a mortal sin then the logic here simply does not hold.

  • Brilliant, support for abortion rights is not mortal sin because it does not APPEAR to be treated as such by the bishops and Pope.

    That’s exactly what I’m saying. Is this what scandal looks like?

  • mary

    MM

    Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was clear and trenchant dealing with this issue. He was the faith’s guardian.
    Then he became pope. He could make a “Summorum pontificum” about this issue: bishops must deny Communion to politicians pro abortion.Period.
    Instead he became nuance, careful in his papal statements. Pastor should…., if…..
    Interesting change. Now he is a pastor.

  • JB

    Performing an abortion is to divorce and remarriage as
    being pro-choice is to voting for the legality of 2nd and subsequent marriages.

    We are conflating performing a mortally sinful act with civic law regarding said act.

  • We are conflating performing a mortally sinful act with civic law regarding said act.

    Close; we are conflating being in a state of public mortal sin (divorce and remarriage) with supporting a legal regime in which people are supposed to have a “right” to perform a mortally sinful act — but not just mortally sinful, one that is objectively evil in that it involves a human victim whose life is lost.

    It sounds though, JB, as if you agree with my conclusion that being a legislative defender of abortion “rights” is not mortally sinful.

    Because after all, when Teddy Kennedy or Nancy Pelosi speaks in defense of our abortion culture, no one dies as a direct result of that speech.

    Therefore, you really can support abortion (or torture, slavery, murder, unjust war, etc.) and still be a Catholic in Good Standing.

    I feel filled with the Spirit of Vatican II.

    And here’s the test to check if I’m right about this: If I were wrong, the Church would invoke Canon 915, as it does against divorced Catholics.

  • Michael Maedoc

    Yes Mary, as Pope he must be more pastoral but I think just as clear. That’s why I think as Pope he is communicating the importance of the pastoral process in his actions, so your points about his actions are helpful, however there must be real substance to the process.

    I guess the annulment process is supposed to be the pastoral process in divorce and re-marriage. A divorced Catholic in a relationship and seeking relations outside of his marriage won’t be told to refrain from communion unless perhaps he has a close confessor willing to say so. For example, Catholics who are divorced and just sleeping around won’t be denied communion but if they remarry then its publicly clear they have crossed the line. I’ve seen this scenario before.

    I still think there is a pastoral process at play here requiring clear knowledge of the circumstances… There are too many politicians whose circumstances are far too serious, such as Sebelius’s friendship and support of Tiller. She’s been told not to present, does that mean she won’t elsewhere? Since one in mortal sin eats and drinks condemnation on him self perhaps withholding communion, as opposed to being told not to present, has more to do with the scandal involved. I believe that the Pope has done the former but maybe not the latter.
    * important note: Naumann told Sebelius publicly because of the scandal involved – he clarified this on EWTN.