It wasn’t the volume of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments on
“Meet the Press” Sunday that projected them so far and stung ears. It
was the tenor and text (see post below).
She called herself “an ardent practicing Catholic” who believes the
question of when life begins (which NBC’s Tom Brokaw had just asked
her) was a long standing controversy in Church that even St. Augustine
couldn’t answer and it “shouldn’t have an impact on a woman’s right to
choose.” When Brokaw followed up saying “The Catholic Church believes
at this moment that life begins at conception”… Pelosi said yes,
“that’s been in the last 50 years or so.”
Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’
Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman
of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, have issued the following
In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other
public issues on August 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented
the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church
In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Since the
first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured
abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.
Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a
means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (No. 2271)
In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about
embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human
life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few
weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a
distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the
Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any
stage of development.
These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years
ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into
being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with
this modern understanding, the Church teaches that from the time of
conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be
given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect
for the fundamental right to life.
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