Archbishop Niederauer Instructs Nancy Pelosi on Free Will, Conscience and Moral Choice

Sunday, January 17, AD 2010

A few weeks ago I had posted my thoughts on Nancy Pelosi’s scadalous Newsweek interview, in which she chalked up her disagreements with the Bishops on Catholic moral teaching as a “difference of opinion.” At the time I had expressed my curiosity (and honest frustration) as to when her local bishop, George H. Niederauer, would be moved to respond.

He has, and I am thankful for it:

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7 Responses to Archbishop Niederauer Instructs Nancy Pelosi on Free Will, Conscience and Moral Choice

  • From the many times this professed Catholic has stated her views and had conversations with her Bishop as stated by her, when will she be asked to refrain and adhere to the tenets of the Church as she contiunes to embrassed the Church by her public statements and actions. She has been instructed enough. Is is time the Bishop ask her to refrain from the Eurchrist or leave the Church until she conforms to its teachings.

  • I wish this response could be published in Newsweek, or some place people would get to read it.

  • Enough! Without the use of Excommunication, the Bishops have become toothless watchdogs. The discussion devolves into opinion, with no authority to resolve or end it.

  • Unfortunately, I rather doubt that excommunication would mean much to Pelosi et al… her protestations to the contrary, she seems to have little taste for authentic Catholicism.

  • If your child was doing terrible things, drugs, stealing, etc. and you told him to stop and he refused and you did not give him/her a consequence, that would indicate to the child that what he’s doing is no big deal and so he would go right on doing it. Pelosi and other ‘Catholic’ pro-abortion politicians thumb their noses at the Bishops constantly and the Bishops still permit them to receive the Eucharist…this emboldens Pelosi and her colleagues to tell others that they are right and the Bishops just have another ‘opinion’ especially when the Bishops themselves do not agree with each other…

  • To be fair, this is the first I have heard of the Bp. making a clear public statement directed right at Pelosi. Perhaps this is the first step towards more concrete action should the public reprimand prove unfruitful.

  • I heard Nancy Pelosi speaking last night about her favorite word. I suspect you’ve heard or possibly seen the video, but in case you haven’t, you can find it at youtube and you particularly want to hear the question from one of the reporters in the audience. Ms. Pelosi basically said that “The Word” is her favorite ‘word’ and then went on to say and The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. The question was when did Jesus first come into the world made flesh; at the Annunciation, conception or at The Birth of Our Lord. Ms. Pelosi’s response was she would rather talk about that in church where we all bow our heads at these words, although she just talked about it from a podium in from of a roomful (at least with the exception of one) of secularists and had no problem with that. My point is that she’s making a mockery of the Catholic faith. If you haven’t seen the video, try to locate it. I believe the true Catholic Church is very strong and faithful. Its those that are pretending to be Catholic and using Her for political gain or otherwise that gives the Church the appearance of being split. We’re not. It’s as though we’ve been infiltrated by nonbelievers whose sole purpose is to create discension within the Catholic Church, to do nothing but harm the Church. History does have a tendency to repeat itself and I believe this has happened in the past. It will take great fortitude but I believe we can overcome this obstacle if we recognize it and act.

Are You Listening Madame Speaker?

Friday, January 15, AD 2010

Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco addressed on January 13, 2010 a free will defense of abortion by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House:

In a recent interview with Eleanor Clift in Newsweek magazine (Dec. 21, 2009), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about her disagreements with the United States Catholic bishops concerning Church teaching. Speaker Pelosi replied, in part: “I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have the opportunity to exercise their free will.”

Embodied in that statement are some fundamental misconceptions about Catholic teaching on human freedom. These misconceptions are widespread both within the Catholic community and beyond. For this reason I believe it is important for me as Archbishop of San Francisco to make clear what the Catholic Church teaches about free will, conscience, and moral choice.

Catholic teaching on free will recognizes that God has given men and women the capacity to choose good or evil in their lives. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council declared that the human person, endowed with freedom, is “an outstanding manifestation of the divine image.” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 17) As the parable of the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, makes so beautifully clear, God did not want humanity to be mere automatons, but to have the dignity of freedom, even recognizing that with that freedom comes the cost of many evil choices.

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5 Responses to Are You Listening Madame Speaker?

  • So what next? Nice statement and all, but what hapens, in the highly probable event that this goes in one Pelosi’s ear and out the other (there being nothing in between to catch it)? What will he do when she comes back with some form of I politely disagree but must follow my own reason and conscience which tells me campaign fund– I mean, a women’s right to choose, is an inviolable right necessary for her dignity?

  • To answer the question posed by the title of this post: No.

  • What a great statement by the bishop! And thanks for posting it in its entirety, Donald.

  • Thank you Pinky!

  • Even though Speaker Pelosi may not take the archbishops instruction, this is a positive sign that many bishops in America are finally defending life in a public manner in the correct circumstances.

    Especially from this archbishop who is breaking the stereotype of a “personally orthodox” but “episcopally lax” mold a la Archbishop Wuerl of Washington DC.

"I agree with the Church in principle, but …"

Friday, January 8, AD 2010

Last week I posted a reaction to House Speaker Pelosi’s interview in Newsweek (cross-posted to First Things‘ “First Thoughts”). Perusing the comments, I discovered that the author of No Hidden Magenta — a blog with the daunting task of “bridging the gap between ‘Red and Blue State’ groupthink” — has responded with fury and dismay:

At least one reason why neither the Pope nor the Archbishop have denied Pelosi Holy Communion–despite having ample opportunity to do so–is because prudential judgments about how best to reflect a moral principle in public policy involved technical considerations of practical reason that do not go to the heart of what it means to be a Roman Catholic; in other words, they are not about the central value at stake. If Speaker Pelosi believes that abortion is a positive good that should be promoted by the state (rather than as a privacy right for all women) that is one thing (and her recent actions with regard to Stupak suggest that she doesn’t think this), but there are any number of good reasons for supporting less-than-perfect public policy as she claims to be doing in trying to reduce the number of abortions while not supporting an abortion ban. …

Now, we can and should have debate about this question–and I think Pelosi is profoundly mistaken in her position on public policy–but let’s be clear: both the Pope and her Archbishop do not think such a position puts her status as a Roman Catholic or as a communicant in jeopardy. And those who think it does would do well to follow their example in distinguishing between ‘moral principle’ and ‘public policy.’

I’m relieved that the author believes Pelosi is “profoundly mistaken” in her position on public policy. I’m less convinced, however, that “the Pope and her Archbishop do not think such a position puts her status as a Roman Catholic or as a communicant in jeopardy”, and the author’s explanation for why they allegedly do not think so.

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6 Responses to "I agree with the Church in principle, but …"

  • How could anyone say she accepts Church teaching on the matter?

    Pelosi: “I would say that as an ardent practicing Catholic this is an issue that I have studied for a long time, and what I know is over the centuries the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition. And St. Augustine said three months. We don’t know. The point is it that it shouldn’t have an impact on a woman’s right to chose.”

    Aside from her deficient understanding of Augustine and the Church(speaking as charitably as possible), she still negates her argument by the last line. “A women’s right to choose [killing her unborn child]” is not a Catholic concept and is clearly at odds with the Church (including Augustine and the other Doctors – not to mention that the Doctors aren’t the Magesterium either).

    Many bishops published corrections of Pelosi’s transparent theological hack job and there is nothing to indicate she was persuaded.

  • There may be several ways to exercise prudential judgment on how best to reflect the principle that abortion is evil in a specific public policy. But proposing and voting for legislation to keep it legal at all stages for any reason, refusing others to exercise their own conscience in opposing it, and getting it publicly funded ain’t one of them.

  • Public policy is crouched in the public good and unity. The good for the public could mean a need for euthanasia. We see these ideas put forth in the heathcare debate. Some illness are way too expensive at the end of life. So Ms Pelosi is saying she can separate ethical and moral discernment when it envolves public policy. What upsets me is that her ideas confuse her own beliefs in principle and she tell us we should follow her way.

  • W Posh,

    The public (common) good does not call for a moral evil. Euthanasia is such and is not consistent with the common good.

    Now it will in fact be that there will need to be limits on health care. Individuals will disagree with what should be covered for all and what some may pay for out of their own resources. These distinctions can be in concordance with the common good. But setting those limits is different that actively seeking to kill a person.

  • Pelosi, and others seem to be trying to justify themselves into Heaven. Isn’t this whole piece about relativism? 2 + 2 = 4, for ever and always – that’s a truth. God issued a COMMANDMENT, not a suggestion, which states (as near as we can tell) “thou shalt not murder” – that’s also a truth. No matter when you think life begins, if you plan and act to cause that life to cease, then you have committed a grave ( we used to use the more descriptive term “MORTAL”) sin. It doesn’t matter what your religion, it is STILL a Mortal Sin.

    Remember, God created us with free will. In the Garden, we exercised that free will, and turned our backs on God, chosing to follow the creator of lies. Why do we STILL follow those who justify their lies to us? At the end of our lives, and for all time, we will be in Heaven or Hell, Forever.

  • I agree with you marvin the only reason they changed the name to grave is people thought that mortal was to harsh… why is that so hard? dont like it? then don’t sin..

Nancy Pelosi to Bishops on Abortion: I practically mourn this difference of opinion

Wednesday, December 30, AD 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was interviewed in a recent edition of Newsweek, in which she had the opportunity to set the bishops straight on the participation of Catholics in public life.

I think you have had some brushes with [church] hierarchy.

I have some concerns about the church’s position respecting a woman’s right to choose. I have some concerns about the church’s position on gay rights. I am a practicing Catholic, although they’re probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith. I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will.

Is it difficult for you to reconcile your faith with the role you have in public life?

You know, I had five children in six years. The day I brought my fifth baby home, that week my daughter turned 6. So I appreciate and value all that they want to talk about in terms of family and the rest. When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock. When they call me on the phone here to talk about, or come to see me about an issue, that’s a different story. Then they are advocates, and I am a public official, and I have a different responsibility.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf applies the necessary fisking and muses: “I cannot fathom why she hasn’t been told she must not receive Holy Communion. How much more public scandal does she have to give before the bishops of the places where she resides take concrete action?”

My thoughts exactly. Note that she has already received an admonishment from the Holy See and an invitation to “converse” from San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer.

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11 Responses to Nancy Pelosi to Bishops on Abortion: I practically mourn this difference of opinion

  • Can a person rise to a political position so powerful that Bishops are unable to preform as they should in fear of retaliation? Not just the House Speaker but all so called Catholic politicians. Even after much discussion by the Bishops with these persons, nothing is done other than rarely. . If so, are they not therefore condoning the acts of this person by omission of action, and putting politics ahead of their beliefs.

  • The Lying Worthless Political Hack before breakfast is a bit hard on the digestion. Seeing the look on her face after she is no longer Speaker of the House is all the inducement I need for all of my political activities and donations in the coming year.

  • “When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock.”

    At least she admits that much; which means that she would, logically, also have to admit that he would be within his bounds of “pastoral duty” to bar her from Communion. However this is not likely to happen since Abp. Niederauer seems not to be known for possessing an episcopal spine.

    Pelosi points out that she had five children in 6 years and “appreciates all that they (bishops) want to talk about in terms of family.” Does she bring this up in order to establish some kind of “pro-life” street cred — “Hey, I had lots of kids so I was really pro-life when it counted” — or as a subtle dig at the Church — “I kept myself barefoot and pregnant all those years because the Church demanded it and now look what they are doing to me.”

  • “I practically mourn”? What the heck is that? She does or she doesn’t. It means she doesn’t. What a wretched woman who has shipwrecked her faith.

  • St. Paul in 1st Timothy 1:19-20 shows our Bishops how to deal with this; why won’t they simply just do it?

    “Some, by rejecting conscience, have made a shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.”

  • TDJ Says: “I practically mourn”? What the heck is that?

    It means she mourns… right up to the point where the campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood and the gay brigades come in. Then the sack cloth and ashes turn into singing and dancing. Put another way…

    “I voted against abortion before I voted for it”

  • I echo the comment on Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s post. It is creepy that a woman who has five children is so adamant in supporting abortion.

  • Mrs. Pelosi is quite correct to say that she has free will. It has been the Church’s position since the beginning. It has been only the Church which has defended the free will of women, which is part of their dignity.

    Mrs. Pelosi fails, however, to acknowledge that women may also choose badly. They may talk themselves into hell.

  • Spot on, Gabriel. Pelosi is rated 100% by NARAL. She also voted against the partial birth abortion ban act. How dare Pelosi be a catalyst for the heinous sacrifice of infants when her Savior hung from a scaffold for her sake! She is trampling on the blood of Jesus. I would think she would tremble mightily when she hears the sound of the trumpet. Along with Ben Nelson.

    On a slightly different note, I was glancing through Good Housekeeping Magazine today and happened upon an eye-appealing ad reflecting a pretty American girl named Nina, from Chicago, aged 22, who wasn’t sure which job offer to accept. Contrasted was Wanjiru, 22, from Nairobi, who isn’t sure she can handle her fifth pregnancy. The ad states, “If you lived in a place like Kenya, chances are you’d have little say about when and how many children you’ll have. For these women and girls, life isn’t about choices.” This ad immediately gave me the willies, especially in this particular magazine. Unfamiliar with EngenderHealth, I did a little checking and found out that it was awarded the United Nations Population Award for its contribution to reproductive health care in resource-poor third world countries. I also discovered that EngenderHealth group was formerly the Steirlization League for Human Betterment. The pro-choice movement under the Obama administration has become very audacious in its ad campaigns. “Pro Choice” is simply a fashionable catch-all for eugenics, but since the Nazi regime, it’s uncool to use that terminology. Ironically, our secular world, oblivious to sin, but intent upon Utopia, is creating the very antithesis of a perfect society. They plot evil and they will perish in it. To create a perfect society, we must strive to emulate the sanctity of the Holy Family, and Our Lady, the most perfect of all mothers, is the premier example of every virtue. Perhaps Nancy Pelosi’s five children will pray for her salvation.

  • Oh, I get it. So for the BotoxBiddy it’s “MY will be done.” Not, “THY will be done.”
    Mmmmm ka-ay.

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