Friday, August 29, 2008

How do you solve a problem like Pelosi?

Rachel Zoll, "Pelosi gets unwanted lesson in Catholic theology" (, August 28, 2008):
Politics can be treacherous. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked on even riskier ground in a recent TV interview when she attempted a theological defense of her support for abortion rights.

Roman Catholic bishops consider her arguments on St. Augustine and free will so far out of line with church teaching that they have issued a steady stream of statements to correct her.

The latest came Wednesday from Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, who said Pelosi, D-Calif., "stepped out of her political role and completely misrepresented the teaching of the Catholic Church in regard to abortion."

It has been a harsh week of rebuke for the Democratic congresswoman, a Catholic school graduate who repeatedly has expressed pride in and love for her religious heritage.

Cardinals and archbishops in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Denver are among those who have criticized her remarks. Archbishop George Niederauer, in Pelosi's hometown of San Francisco, will take up the issue in the Sept. 5 edition of the archdiocesan newspaper, his spokesman said.
One reader's email directed me to one of the more scathing fiskings of Pelosi I've seen, which comes from Rush Limbaugh, "The Arrogance of Nancy Pelosi" (August 5, 2008):
RUSH: Let's go to Pelosi. This was on Meet the Press yesterday. I want you to hear this, and we'll comment after it. Tom Brokaw said, "Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his 'pay grade,' when whether you're looking at it 'scientifically or theologically,' if he were to come and say, 'Help me out here Madam Speaker,' what would you tell him?"

PELOSI: As an ardent practicing Catholic, uh, 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, and, uh, Senator -- uh, I'm -- Senator -- Uh, St. Augustin' (sic) said at three months. We don't know. The point is is that it shouldn't have an impact on a woman's right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child -- uh, eh, er, first trimester, certain considerations second trimester, not so third trimester. The -- the -- there's very clear distinctions.

RUSH: You know, folks, this is just embarrassing. As I've often wondered, is she genuinely this uneducated, uninformed, silly, stupid, whatever -- and I've concluded there isn't a word to describe the status of her brain. The Catholic Church doesn't know? The Catholic Church hasn't stipulated? The "doctors" at the Catholic Church? You mean the pope goes and consults the doctors to find out when life begins? Really? The doctors have more to say than God-d? I mean, Nancy, cite anybody. Don't cite the Catholic Church. You're putting them in an untenable position. You're fixing it so every priest, no matter how wacko left the priest might be, cannot support you. Good grief, ladies and gentlemen! Life begins at conception. Where else can it begin?

Peggy Noonan had a great way -- I'm going to have to paraphrase what she wrote -- of reducing this to its most simple, its most elemental. If life doesn't begin at conception, then why the hell wear a condom? If life doesn't begin at conception, then why the hell take the pill? Well, the church doesn't allow the pill. I know the church doesn't allow the pill because life begins at conception -- and the church is not cool on condoms, either, logoed or otherwise. But that's the point. This is not something that we've been arguing about for centuries. St. Augustine said life begins at three months? St. Augustine knew that Roe v. Wade was going to come along and basically say the same thing? Ed Morrissey, writing at the Hot Air blog, has done yeoman's research into this.

He writes today: "The notion that the Catholic Church declared abortion a sin at the same time as the Pill is patently absurd, and shows that Pelosi has either lied about studying the issue in terms of Church history or lied about what she found. Church writings specifically naming abortion as murder appear as early as 70 AD in the Didache, the first written catechism of the Christian church: ... 'Tertullian, sometimes known as the Father of the Latin Church, wrote with equal clarity and force: "In our case, a murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from the other parts of the body for its sustenance.'" This is AD 179, the year 179, following year 70. "The Catholic catechism is extremely clear on the nature of its position on human life, and has been remarkably consistent on this point for almost 2,000 years, and it finds that position in the Old Testament. Human life begins at conception, not at birth, and not at some point consistent with Roe for convenience.

"In Psalm 51, David refers to his sinfulness beginning at the moment of conception, and sinfulness requires physical life and a soul to exist." So there you have it in the Old Testament. The Catholic Church has not thrown the Old Testament under the bus, the last time I looked. This is a giant embarrassment, or ought to be. Where's Brokaw? Where is the media on this? She got away with this kind of inane, insane rambling, trying to fit one of the most sacred religious beliefs held by Catholics all over the world into a political issue that would conform with a rogue Supreme Court decision called Roe v. Wade in 1973. Now, that is hubris. That is arrogance like I cannot believe. She has placed herself above the doctors of the church, above "St. Augustin," as she said. She has placed herself above the pope and everything the Catholic Church has ever said about this. And of course Brokaw just sits there, "Heh, heh, heh. Oh. Good." Well, that's not entirely true. Brokaw did challenge her on this. I have to be honest. It's with the natural gas business that he just sat there. He said, "But wait a minute, the Catholic Church at the moment feels strongly that life begins at the point of conception."

PELOSI: (mumbling) And this is, like, 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history, uh, of the church, this is an issue of, uh, controversy.

RUSH: No, it's not an issue of controversy in the church. It's an issue of controversy with the followers, with the parishioners, with the flock like you. Note the 50 years. I've always said, "A person's historical perspective begins with the day they were born." So her use of 50 years there, "Well, it's been a bone of contention, a controversy in the church for 50 years," meaning her adult life. That's what she is relating it all to. Th-th-th-- (sigh) I'm sorry to stutter, folks. I'm in stunned bewilderment and disbelief over what I consider to be not just stupidity and silliness but arrogance and hubris, and the ignorance that these people have over how this kind of comment is going to come back and bite her presidential nominee. I guess she thinks that she has to provide some sort of Democrat Party interpretation of Catholicism that permits Obama to get away with his infanticide belief.
[Hat tip to T.K.C.]

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