Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pelosi: St. Augustine Agrees With Me - That's My Story and I'm Sticking To It [UPDATED]

Despite admonishment from at least 6 different Catholic Bishops (including 2 Cardinals) regarding the Church's historic teaching against abortion since her Meet the Press appearance on Sunday, Speaker Pelosi appears prepared to stick to her discredited story that the views of St. Augustine and other Church Fathers on abortion match hers.

The following email was sent out from Speaker Pelosi's staff just a little while ago:

In response to questions, this is quote from me, Brendan Daly, spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in response to questions about her comments on Meet the Press on abortion on Sunday.

“The Speaker is the mother of five children and seven grandchildren and fully appreciates the sanctity of family. She was raised in a devout Catholic family who often disagreed with her pro-choice views.

“After she was elected to Congress, and the choice issue became more public as she would have to vote on it, she studied the matter more closely. Her views on when life begins were informed by the views of Saint Augustine, who said: ‘…the law does not provide that the act [abortion] pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation…’ (Saint Augustine, On Exodus 21.22)

“While Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception, many Catholics do not ascribe to that view. The Speaker agrees with the Church that we should reduce the number of abortions. She believes that can be done by making family planning more available, as well as by increasing the number of comprehensive age-appropriate sex education and caring adoption programs.

“The Speaker has a long, proud record of working with the Catholic Church on many issues, including alleviating poverty and promoting social justice and peace.”
My Comments:
Well, you gotta give her credit for her very public and obstinate persistence.


UPDATE
Fr. Z has an excellent round-up on the controversy.

And Thomas Peters provides a very helpful timeline.


UPDATE #2 (27 August)
The Curt Jester: "Nancy Pelosi Patristic Scholar"





UPDATE #3 (27 August)
In other theology-related news, Speaker Pelosi calls into question the Church's teaching on the Real Presence:
The issue of abortion is not the only significant issue Pelosi is in disagreement with her church on. In a book edited by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s daughter Kerry Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi contributes an essay in which she announces:
My granddaughter was getting ready for her First Communion. Around the time of the swearing-in, we were all just lying on the bed, after the tea or something, and she said to her mother, “I want to explain to Mimi” — that’s me — “that it is the body and blood of Christ. When we go to church, it is the body and blood of Christ.” So her mother, in the interest of trying to simplify, said “Yes, the host and the wine represent the body and blood of Christ.” And my granddaughter said, “Not represent. Is, it is the body and blood of Christ.” My granddaughter was buying into it, okay. But it is hard. Every Sunday for me it’s hard. Christ had died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Now think of it, we say that every week. Do I really believe he’s coming again? Yes, I believe he’s coming again. Christ died, Christ is risen, Chirst will come again. This is my body, this is my blood. They’re asking a lot. In my era, we didn’t question any of it.
If you believe Christ is coming again and died for our sins to give us eternal life, “they’re” not asking all that much.

UPDATE #4 (27 August)
Archbishop Wuerl responds (once again) to Speaker Pelosi's defiant insistence on misrepresenting Church teaching:
The public feud over abortion between the Speaker of the House and the archbishop of Washington intensified Tuesday as Rep. Nancy Pelosi responded to his recent criticism and the archbishop fired another salvo at the California Democrat.

The latest development came Tuesday evening, when Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl issued a statement to The Hill that brushed aside Pelosi’s explanation of her comments about conception on Sunday’s edition of “Meet the Press.”

... Wuerl swiftly denounced Pelosi’s statement, saying, “As the Catechism and early Church documents make clear, abortion is always an evil. That is an unchanging teaching. The question on when the soul enters the body was a philosophical question that grew out of a lack of scientific data at the time of St. Augustine. We have the data today which shows the embryo is human. There no longer is any discussion of whether the unborn is human and so the philosophical discussion of St. Augustine’s time is not relevant today.” (The Hill)
(emphasis added)

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11 Comments:

At 8/26/2008 5:31 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

I certainly am not saying this to let Pelosi off the hook because she deserves every bit of it. But WHY would St. Augustine have said that???

 
At 8/26/2008 5:51 PM, Blogger Katherine said...

The Speaker has a regretable position on abortion policy. However, evey point in her statement seems to be factually true.

The Speaker is the mother of five children and seven grandchildren

TRUE

and fully appreciates the sanctity of family.

Onl she can her confessor would know if this is untrue.

She was raised in a devout Catholic family who often disagreed with her pro-choice views.

TRUE

“After she was elected to Congress, and the choice issue became more public as she would have to vote on it, she studied the matter more closely.

No evidence she did not study the matter closely.

Her views on when life begins were informed by the views of Saint Augustine,

If says they are so informed, it is hard to disprove it.

who said: ‘…

An accruate quote as far as I know. Maybe selective, but factually true.

“While Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception,...

True

many Catholics do not ascribe to that view.

Sadly true.

The Speaker agrees with the Church that we should reduce the number of abortions.

The church does so believe and i is a grace the Speaker also believes it.

She believes that can be done by making family planning more available, as well as by increasing the number of comprehensive age-appropriate sex education and caring adoption programs.

A matter of social analysis.

“The Speaker has a long, proud record of working with the Catholic Church on many issues, including alleviating poverty and promoting social justice and peace.”
true

 
At 8/26/2008 6:21 PM, Anonymous CourageMan said...

St. Augustine said what he did because he and everyone else in the 4th and 5th centuries was operating with a poor understanding of biology and no understanding of embryology.

It's darkly humorous that so many liberals deride the Church as the enemy of mankind, holding back science and thought, keeping the people ignorant, etc. (we all know the litany). And yet, speculative debates about ensoulment based on that supposed Theodoric of York Dark Ages Nonscience ... that gets dragged into debates about abortion in place of the plain pictures that modern science gives us.

 
At 8/26/2008 8:18 PM, Blogger Katherine said...

Courageman,

There are many of us liberals who never in our lives made such assertions about religion (I am a daily communicant myself).

And I have long hoped to see the social discussion on abortion move to issues of science. Some of our pro-life "friends" are the least helpful in this goal.

 
At 8/26/2008 8:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prediction, this is not going to go away the heat is going to be on Pelosi and by connection Biden and by connection Obama.

The key to this statement is is the phrase...

"She believes that can be done by making family planning more available, as well as by increasing the number of comprehensive age-appropriate sex education."

Pelosi screwed up royally even secular minded liberal people, if they are being fair, would say she crossed a line in terms of jurisdiction (and went beyond her "pay grade," as the democrats might say, in speaking for the Church.)

Now what the dems will do is try to make this about contraception and the 1968 Encylical. Now I know for most readers of this blog connecting abortion and contraception is not hard to do but the Dems are going to be able to confuse a lot of people and say, "well if the Church was really against abortion they would join speaker Pelosi in promoting contraception, contraception is something we can all agree on..." blah blah blah.

That is what they will make this an issue into and the media will quickly set this up as, right-wing Catholic fringe and a few crabby old Bishops vs. Nancy Pelosi and the great majority of US "Catholics."

Right now this is backfireing big time on Pelosi but rest assured the DNC will try to make this backfire on the Church. Right now though they are just to shell-shocked, if only she had said all this around All Saint's Day...

 
At 8/26/2008 8:50 PM, Anonymous courageman said...

Katherine:

I don't know you at all (nor you me), so I take you at your word about yourself.

But that many liberals hold some version of that narrative is simply a fact. I could start by pointing you here and here, which are unusually virulent strains admittedly.

As for science and abortion ... science can only tell us (and has told us) when life begins. The moral questions of what follows from that knowledge, though, is not something science can speak to.

 
At 8/26/2008 10:24 PM, Blogger James said...

Steve,
Augustine was distinguishing between homicide and contraception. From his Aristotelian point of view of life in the womb, he saw a difference between unformed and formed life. But he was NOT saying that it was all right to kill such life, regardless. The church has always opposed contraception.

Modern science would simply have me ask myself, "Is what is there unique and complete and non-mother?" I answer "yes." Science (nor Augustine) can answer the question of "ensoulment." I am not a Roman Catholic, but the Magisterium is right to stand in opposition to artificial abortion at any stage for whatever reason.

 
At 8/26/2008 10:29 PM, Blogger James said...

Point of clarification...When I say the Magisterium is "right," I'm not trying to sound presumptuous. What I mean is that it stands consistent with Augustine. There is no basis for Ms. Pelosi's assertion of controversy.

 
At 8/27/2008 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katherine:

You would be more helpful if you did not support a Pro-Abortion candidate.


OHIO JOE

 
At 8/27/2008 9:10 AM, Blogger Mark_McNally said...

So I take it speaker Pelsoi also believes that the soul infuses in the fetus at 40 days if he is a boy and at 90 days if she is a girl.

 
At 8/27/2008 2:26 PM, Anonymous Beate said...

I see what you're saying, but implying that wider use of contraception would lead to less abortions is even more historically inaccurate than her St. Augustine tribute.

 

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