Some troubling catholic thought masquerading as Catholic thought…
U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), has all but declared war on the authority of the Catholic Church to teach its faith and morals.
Telegraphing a “message” to the hierarchy last week, Ms. Pelosi said that the Church’s teaching on birth control “isn’t even accepted by the laity churchgoing people themselves.” She noted that “an overwhelming number” of American Catholic girls from age 14 “or younger” use birth control.
Evidently, the Minority Leader would prefer a more democratized Catholic Church, where decisions are made by taking votes or, perhaps, hiring Gallup to do some public polling.
(The relevant remarks begin at 51:40, although the entire video is worth watching.)
Representative Pelosi had called a Georgetown Law School student, Sandra Fluke, to testify concerning the Sebelius’ regulations that will compel all healthcare plans—including those provided or purchased by Catholics and Catholic institutions—to cover sterilizations, contraceptives, and abortifacients. Fluke, the former President of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice, had complained that Georgetown did not cover contraceptives in its student health insurance plan.
Interrupting Ms. Fluke, the Ms. Pelosi said:
…it also speaks to the fact that this is what the practice is in our country. If an overwhelming number of Catholic women of childbearing age—and stretch that from 14 to 50 or however older or younger you want to go—are practicing birth control, then that has to be some message to the church that please don’t expect employers and insurance companies to enforce an attitude that you have that isn’t even accepted by the laity churchgoing people themselves.
So, we have a problem here, which you have really clearly presented an answer to: A voice of a young woman in an institution of higher learning that is Catholic, I always thought with a capital C and a small c. Let’s hope that that is the case.
As a Catholic, The Motley Monk must note two problems with Ms. Pelosi’s analysis:
- Truth is determined by popularity: The Motley Monk would suggest that Ms. Pelosi rethink this. After all, just because a majority of the citizens of the South in the 17th century believed that slavery was moral didn’t make enslaving human beings moral. In the 20th century, just because the majority of Nazis believed the extermination of the Jews was moral, didn’t make exterminating them moral. Even if 99% of humanity believed that contraception and abortion were moral, doesn’t make either moral.
- “Catholic” means different things to different people: The Motley Monk would suggest this assertion turns a fact—yes, different people believe the word “Catholic” can mean different things—into a principle, one that ultimately means “nothing can mean anything.” Why? Anyone is free to believe anything, whether true or not! In contrast, The Motley Monk would argue that “words have meaning.” Accordingly, a Catholic university would present the teaching of the Catholic Church by engaging it in principled discourse with other non-Catholic ideas so that students would, as Blessed John Henry Newman wrote, “think about these matters as Catholics do.” A catholic university would discuss what catholics think the Catholic Church should teach, informed by the current Zeitgeist and supported by the magisterium of public opinion. (In some circles, catholics are called “Catholics-in-Name-Only” [CINO’s]. As this phenomenon impacts the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges, The Motley Monk calls it the “Georgetownization” of U.S. Catholic higher education…to wit: Ms. Fluke.)
If all of that isn’t troubling enough, Representative Pelosi also said that preserving the Sebelius regulations was about protecting the “God-given free will” of women. Of the Chairman, Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ms. Pelosi asked mockingly:
- Does that person, or that Chairman of Committee, have any judgment on what it means to a family to personally and religiously make decisions about the size and timing of their family?
- Does that person have any knowledge, is he qualified to talk about the danger to women’s health, and therefore the care of the family, to a Mom if she and her husband, their doctor and their God cannot make those decisions?
- Is that committee chairmanship and leadership of the Congress qualified to make a decision about how people exercise their God-given free will to take their responsibility and to answer for how they exercise that God-given free will?
Whew! Where is one to start?
For Catholics, The Motley Monk notes three problems with the line of argumentation inherent in Ms. Pelosi’s questioning:
- The “if you don’t have it, you have nothing to say about it” argument: Just just because a member of the U.S. Congress is a male and Chairman of a committee, does not ipso facto render that man incapable of making a judgment or render him unqualified to speak about women’s “health” issues. According to Ms. Pelosi’s reasoning, would the fact that she is not a Catholic theologian render Ms. Pelosi unqualified to render a judgment or unqualified to speak about Catholic teaching?
- It is up to individuals to determine what their God requires: This argument is to the heart of the Protestant Reformation. The Motley Monk would note that the Protestant reformers argued that they didn’t need an intermediary—a priest, a bishop, or a Pope of Rome—to tell them what the Scriptures taught. Ms. Pelosi sounds more like a Protestant than a Catholic. (Or, is that a protestant rather than a catholic?)
- Human feelings trump God’s rights. Ms. Pelosi failed to address the Creator’s “rights”…from which are derived all other rights and “human rights,” in particular. Neither did Ms. Pelosi discuss the “right” of those who will be compelled to pay for “healthcare” practices and procedures that violate their consciences. Also left out of Ms. Pelosi’s discussion were the Church’s rights to teach about the faith and morals as She (meaning the Church, not Ms. Pelosi) sees fit.
Ms. Pelosi is engaging in this discourse for strictly political purposes. It is part of the overall Obama re-election strategy: To divide U.S. Catholics in order to shore up just enough votes to ensure re-election.
If The Motley Monk’s analysis is accurate, the House Minority Leader is selling her Catholic faith for political expediency.
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