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Straight Guy with the Catholic Eye: Nancy Pelosi’s “Catholicism”

By Matt Abbott

I love the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights ( No other organization that I can think of has done more to expose and fight the anti-Catholic bigotry in our culture than this one. And its president, William Donohue, is not afraid to tell it like it is.

Consider the following news release from the Catholic League, dated April 29, 2004:

"Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, took issue today with those Catholics who are calling for sanctions against Catholic public officials who vote in favor of abortion rights. Pelosi, who is a staunch advocate of abortion rights, defended herself as follows: 'I believe that my position on choice is one that is consistent with my Catholic upbringing, which said that every person has a free will and has the responsibility to live their own lives in a way that they would have to account for in the end.'

"Pelosi, a California Democrat, also criticized those who differ with her position: 'I’m certainly concerned when the church comes together and says it’s going to sanction people in public office for speaking their conscience and what they believe.'

"Catholic League president William Donohue commented as follows:

“'It is one thing for Nancy Pelosi to defend the intentional killing of innocent babies, quite another to suggest that her view is consistent with Catholic teaching. She justifies her pro-abortion position by invoking freedom of conscience, arguing that this is what the Catholic Church teaches. While it is true that the Catholic Church honors the role of conscience in making moral decisions, it explicitly emphasizes the need for a ‘well-formed conscience.’ By this it means that Catholics are obliged to acknowledge the central role of Catholic teaching in arriving at a just decision. Absent such a condition, anything could be justified. After all, Jeffrey Dahmer invoked his conscience in justifying murder and cannibalism, yet no one thinks what he did was just.

“'Last year, the Vatican issued a Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding ‘The Participation of Catholics in Political Life.’ Pelosi would do well to read it. Speaking of Catholic lawmakers and the issue of abortion, it says that ‘a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.’

“'This leaves Pelosi with two choices: stop supporting abortion or stop misrepresenting the teachings of the Catholic Church.'”

And, since we’re on the subject of politics, I offer the following excerpt of an e-mail sent to me by the current executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee, Bill Beckman. Beckman is responding to a priest (and president of a prominent Catholic university) who, in a recent e-mail letter to a concerned pro-lifer, attempted to justify voting for pro-abortion Democrats, asserting, “if one approaches the whole issue of abortion as one of a number of very serious threats to life and the 'seamless garment' of life, while the Republicans have nicer words to say with regard to pro-life issues, they historically have been strong proponents of the death penalty and have in their most recent incarnation been the more hawkish, militarily aggressive of the two parties. So it is not as though they too cannot be subject to serious moral questioning”; and that “the Republicans talk a good game [in regard to furthering the pro-life cause] but in fact do next to nothing."

Beckman’s response to the priest (and to those of like-mind):

"[Bill] Clinton supported the death penalty (as did [Al] Gore?), Democrats blocked the ban on partial birth abortion as long as they could, Republicans are not in control of the Supreme Court -- judges are not elected (and Democrats have used the filibuster on an unprecedented basis to block Pro-Life judicial appointments to lower courts), the Republicans passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, and stopped funding UNFPA because of its support for forced abortion in China…recent polls demonstrate that the country is NOT 'pro-choice', and the Republicans have passed numerous Pro-Life bills through the House only to have them blocked by Democrats in the Senate, using every nasty procedural trick possible. These bills include: Child Custody Protection Act, Human Cloning Prohibition Act, and Abortion Non-Discrimination Act.

"Beyond that, in every state that has passed bills such as women's informed consent, parental notification or consent, abortion clinic regulations, etc., Republicans got the job done with opposition from Democrats. This situation at the state level demonstrates that the 'pipeline' of future Democratic candidates for national office is overwhelming pro-abortion, pro-human cloning, pro-euthanasia, etc. Additionally, those states where informed consent and parental notification laws were passed a number of years ago have experienced reduced abortion rates as high as 40%. So, while the Democrats claim they want abortion to be 'safe, legal, and rare,' the Republicans are working to make abortion rare since they have been prevented by the Supreme Court from making abortion illegal."

Good going, Bill!

(He can be reached at


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