|Pope Benedict XVI (vested in white) greets then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (ironically dressed in purple), on the Papal pilgrimage to Washington, DC in 2008|
House Minority Leader (and former Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 8th) prides herself on being an ardent Catholic but she seems quite confused about her faith, yet she continues to foist her heresy in the realm of politics.
A couple of years ago, at a Capitol Hill conference, Rep. Pelosi offered that her favorite word was “The Word” and stressed how it was crucial to give voice to that scriptural word when conducting public policy. However, when a reporter during the former Speaker’s weekly press gaggle followed up on when the Word became flesh, suddenly the concept was only fit for church. Perhaps Pelosi did not want to reconcile her beliefs with the inconvenient truth that her faith teaches about human life beginning at the moment of conception.
After then Senator Obama’s (D-IL) appearance at the Saddleback Civil Forum where the successful Presidential candidate deflected a question about abortion as being “above my pay grade”, Pelosi was pressed about abortion, she insisted that the doctors of the Church had been unable to make that definition.
Maybe Nancy was relying too much on Senator Augustine, uh Saint Augustine's, 4th Century notion of quickening instead of acknowleding Pope Paul VI's Encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968 which makes it quite clear that the Catholic Church believes that life begins at the moment of conception. It might give context as to why the American Catholic Sees are seething about the contraception mandate embedded in Obamacare.
Minority Leader Pelosi dismissed American Bishops objecting to the HHS mandate as imposing on religious freedom, noting that she respects her pastor not when these Shepherds of the Faith act as lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Instead of confining herself to be a hypocritical politico, Pelosi has annointed herself as a theologian. Pelosi pontificated that it was not entire Catholic Church was against the HHS mandate, just 43 Catholic organizations, such as the Archdiocese of Washington. Pelosi embellishes her bull by noting that they had not spoken ex cathedra.
So by Pelosi's train of thought, the Cardinal Bishop in her Archdiocese between the beltways is not speaking authoritatively on matters of faith for Catholic Church or she bears false witness about respecting her pastor.
But to correct the record as either Pelosi's religious education at Trinity College was inadequate or it was an instance of invincible ignorance, ex cathedra statements are solemn and formal papal pronouncements on matters of faith and morals. Before the Congresswoman from California takes solace that the Humanae Vitae encyclical was only a papal teaching, she should consider what Pope Blessed John Paul II stated in a 1993 papal audience:
When the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in exercising his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians he defines with his supreme apostolic authority that a doctrine on faith and morals is to be held by the whole Church, through the divine assistance promised him in the person of St. Peter, he enjoys that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished to endow his Church in defining a doctrine on faith and morals.But the lawsuits from 43 Catholic institutions protesting forced participation in contraception, sterlizations and abortion are rooted in natural law hence it is part of the unaltered Magesterium (teaching) of the Catholic Church. The same is true for the Catholic Church's opposing same sex so called "marriage". The same is true of opposition to homosexual "marriage", which trumps Pelosi's puerile justification supporting same sex marriage as her Catholic faith (allegedly) teacher her that that she must oppose all forms of discrimination.
Faithful critics both instead and out of the Catholic Church grumble that former Speaker Pelosi should be excommunicated for her beliefs. Excommunication should never be used in a punitive secular sense, as it is intended to save the soul from eternal damnation. However, excommunication proclamation need not be issued by an ecclesial court under canon law ( ferendae sententiae). A Catholic's very actions may ipso facto result in a latae sententiae excommunication, which can include an apostate, a heritic or a schismatic. Often a bishop will convey this warning in private. For all we know, this may have already happened.
When former Speaker Pelosi visited the Vatican in 2009, she was granted a fifteen minute meeting with the His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, with no press or photographers present. Pelosi issued a press release which complimented the Roman pontiff for standing for religious freedom and praised the Church's leadership for fighting poverty, hunger and global warming. The Vatican press office had a chillier characterization of the brief greeting. The papal statement indicated:
His Holiness took the opportunity [of the brief greeting with Mrs. Pelosi -ed] to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoins all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.
It sounds like the Supreme Pastor of the Catholic flock was pretty clear about when life begins. This comes on top of the 2002 doctrinal note "The Participation of Catholics in Political Life," which states rather succinctly that politicians who profess to be Catholic have a "grave and clear obligation" to oppose any law that attacks human life. The brief greeting might have sotto voce also been a word to the wise.
Well, Mrs. Pelosi persists in purusing a public policies that is anathamatic to Catholics. Worse, the House Minority Leader justifies her progressive political positions in faith while misrepresenting the Magesterium. In this environment, Canon 915 seems applicable to this layman which denies the Eucharist to someone who obstinantly persists in grave sin. Even though Washington's Archbishop Donald John Cardinal Wuerl has recently been appointed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Wuerl seems chary about keeping pro-abortion Catholic politicians from participating in Communion. Based on Monsignor Charles Pope's recent reflection, it is dubious that such action would be applied.
It is galling that a Cafeteria Catholic extols spiritual junk food for mass consumption instead of the Divine Feast under the illusion of obeying "The Word". In a pluralistic representative Republic, it is not uncommon for a politician to promote positions which an individual finds repugnant. What seems unjust is that leader lying about the moral underpinnings of these positions when it directly contradicts clear tenants of Catholic faith. If she wants to rationalize her positions on abortion, contraception and same sex "marriage" through a veneer of religiosity, she would do well to swim the Tiber in reverse, as her secuclar humanist progressive political positions would be welcomed with open arms among most Episcopalians or even Unitarians. But such a principled act would fail to pander to a large voting bloc of Catholics.