All right, so Nancy Pelosi was on Meet the Press, speaking with Tom Brokaw. Among other things, she said:
MR. BROKAW: Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you’re looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, “Help me out here, Madame Speaker. When does life begin?” what would you tell him?
REP. 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 Senator–St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child–first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There’s very clear distinctions. This isn’t about abortion on demand, it’s about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and–to–that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god. And so I don’t think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who’ve decided…
MR. BROKAW: The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it…
REP. PELOSI: I understand that.
MR. BROKAW: …begins at the point of conception.
REP. PELOSI: I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy. But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions. That’s why we have this fight in Congress over contraception. My Republican colleagues do not support contraception. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, and we all do, we must–it would behoove you to support family planning and, and contraception, you would think. But that is not the case. So we have to take–you know, we have to handle this as respectfully–this is sacred ground. We have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it, as it has been–and I’m not saying Rick Warren did, because I don’t think he did, but others will try to.
(First, I want to point out that Warren did not ask Obama when human life begins. Here’s what he asked:
So the question was not about ensoulment or the beginnings of a unique biological entity, but about rights. Questions of rights are not above a president’s pay grade. And if Obama supports Roe and related decisions, that would indicate that a baby gets human rights at birth. If that is what he believes, then let him say so, openly.)
Anyway, back to Pelosi.
I’m not going to parse her answer – I’ll point you to someone else who will in a moment, but what I want to focus on are the bishops.
Over and over we are told – by bishops themselves – that their primary role in contentious situations like this is to teach.
Here you have a very prominent American Catholic, going on the record with her purported studiousness on this issue, authoritatively declaring something false about the teaching of the Catholic Church.
This is what we call a teachable moment. Monday morning, the USCCB should have a press release, accompanied by a real human being – preferably a bishop – maybe even a Colorado bishop, given the location and the proximity of the press – giving a short, succinct correction of Pelosi’s statement. It wouldn’t take long. Do it right in front of where the convention is meeting.
No 501(c)(3) worries. No threats of endorsement or condemnation. Just…
Do it over and over and over – do not let this moments pass by and the deceptions continue to rule.
Along with the excellent witness of presence – such as Archbishop Chaput’s attendance at a prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Denver tomorrow night –
That the doctors of the church have not been able to decide when life begins. But if she’d really studied the issue (as she expressly claims), she would know that no doctor of the church in particular and no orthodox father of the church has ever said abortion is OK, as we’ll see at great length. It’s true that some doctors and fathers and theologians of the Church raised the question of “ensoulment,” asking when an unborn baby receives a soul, and given different answers. But in Christian (as opposed to Gnostic) tradition, humans are not only souls but also bodies. And thus no Father ever, ever used the idea of later ensoulment (often borrowed from Aristotle) to excuse or permit abortion. Contrary to what Pelosi expressly says, Augustine never ever said life begins at three months. In Christian tradition, until the 1960s, life was thought to begin at conception, regardless of the details certain thinkers put forth about speculative embryonic anthropology.