|Speaker Nancy Pelosi
On Meet the Press, 24 August 2008,
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, was asked about her divergence from
the Catholic Church on the issue of when life begins. She responded 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."
Cardinal Justin F. Rigali and Bishop
William E. Lori
Cardinal Rigali, chairman of the
U. Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop Lori, chairman of the
Committee on Doctrine, responded to Speaker Pelosi, saying that she
"misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the
Catholic Church against abortion."
Cardinal Edward Egan
A statement by Cardinal Egan of New York, released on 26 August
2008, in response to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's remarks on Meet
the Press, 24 August 2008, regarding the impact of the Church's historic
uncertainty about when life begins in the womb on a "woman's right to
Cardinal Francis George
Here is the response of the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago to Speaker
Pelosi's comments on abortion. "The teaching that covers evils such as
abortion could not be clearer."
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
In an address to Catholics of the
Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado, dated 25 August 2008, Archbishop
Charles Chaput took exception to Speaker Pelosi's implication that the
Church's teaching was ever unclear on the impermissibility of abortion.
Archbishop Donald Wuerl
In a statement released on 25 August, Archbishop Wuerl, of the
Diocese of Washington, D.C., made clear that when life begins in the
womb is not an issue of controversy in the Church, as Speaker Pelosi
asserted, and he cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church
to that effect.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez,
STD, and Bishop Oscar Cantú, DD
During the week of August
25th Archbishop Gomez and Bishop
Cantu, of San Antonio, Texas, joined their voices to the other bishops of the United States
who have responded to House Speaker
Pelosi’s remarks concerning abortion.
On 5 September the Archbishop of San Francisco responded to the comments
of Nancy Pelosi, inviting her, as well, to speak with him about the
matter. On 9 September it was reported that she had accepted the
invitation of her archbishop.
Bishop Aquila, of Fargo, North Dakota, in an Aug. 26 letter to priests,
deacons, seminarians and others, noted that Pelosi's comments on
abortion and Catholic teaching, were misinformed and likely to lead to
confusion on Catholic teaching.
The Bishop of Brooklyn comments first on the importance of clarity in
the answers of those running for political office, then criticizes
Speaker Pelosi for professing to be an "an ardent and practicing
Catholic" while espousing views contrary to the teaching of the Church.
Bishop Richard G.
The Bishop of Cleveland, Ohio, responds to Pelosi's implication that
when life begins is still a matter of controversy in Catholic teaching.
In fact, there is no dispute: Human life begins at conception.
Bishop Jerome E. Listecki
The Bishop of the Diocese of LaCrosse,
Wisconsin, drew attention to the irony of Pelosi's recourse to theology,
in order to throw doubt on the findings of science, that life begins in
the womb at conception.
Bishop William Murphy
The Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville
Centre, New York, responded to Speaker Pelosi's comments by reiterating
that the taking of innocent human life is always wrong and has been
regarded by the Church as wrong since the First Century.
Bishop R. Walker
The Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, lists five universal, non-negotiable
principles, rooted in the teachings of Christ, all of which bear on
Bishop Glen John
The Bishop of Lake Charles, Louisiana, points out that St. Augustine,
holding there can be no conflict between faith and reason, would have
accepted today's scientific conclusion that human life begins at
Michael J. Sheridan
The Bishop of the Diocese of Colorado Springs observes that, from the
first century, "the Church has taught that abortion is gravely immoral."
Those who take a public stance contrary to this teaching "should not
present themselves for the reception of Holy Communion."
Bishop Robert Vasa
The Bishop of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, observes that Speaker
Pelosi bases her position on abortion on St. Augustine's outmoded view
of when life begins, while ignoring his statement that abortion is
always wrong, at whatever stage.
Bishop Thomas Wenski
The Bishop of Orlando reminds his readers that Bishops speak for the
Church, not politicians who happen to be Catholic. Bishops don't endorse
candidates, but they do insist that Catholics vote their consciences,
consistent with fundamental moral principles.
Bishop David A. Zubik
Bishop of Pittsburgh added his rejection of Speaker Pelosi's confused
summary of Catholic teaching on abortion, which has not changed from the
Senator Joseph Biden
On Meet the Press on 7
September, Senator Joseph Biden made a similar assertion as Speaker
Pelosi, instead calling St. Thomas Aquinas to witness to his
erroneous position that the question of when life begins is a
theological one of ensoulment, something he is “prepared as a
matter of faith to accept," but that he "would not impose that belief on
anyone through law."
Archbishop Charles J.
Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. and Bishop James Conley
In this statement, the bishops correct the
errors of teaching and fact in Senator Biden's comments that could give
rise to error and scandal among the faithful of the Archdiocese of
In Today's Catholic (10
October 2008), newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas,
Archbishop Gomez, clarified that though abortion is not merely a
Catholic issue or a matter of faith, but “a matter of fundamental human
Bishop W. Francis
The Bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, responds to
Senator Biden's remarks by quoting the USCCB response by Cardinal Rigali
and Bishop Lori.
Bishop R. Walker
The Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, discerns an incoherence in Senator
Biden's position that, while he believes with the Church that life
begins at conception, he may not impose his faith on others.
Supreme Knight's Letter
Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, of the Knights of Columbus, addressed
a letter to Senator Biden, regarding remarks made by the Senator on
Meet the Press. In particular Mr. Anderson observed that it was
faith that motivated leaders of the abolitionist and civil rights
movements, without which Senator Obama could not have run for President.
Other Statements and Resources
USCCB Fact Sheet on the Church’s constant teaching on Unborn Human Life
Catholic Bishops of New York State -
Our Cherished Right, Our
In every election year, the
Bishops of New York call all Catholics to vote thoughtfully, a
responsibility of faithful citizenship. Few candidates conform to
Catholic teaching on every issue, but not all issues are of equal
gravity. The right to life outweighs all other concerns, since it is
presupposed by all other rights.
Naumann & Bishop Robert Finn -
Responsibility As Catholic Citizens
In a joint pastoral letter, dated 12 September 2008, Archbishop
Naumann, of Kansas City, Kansas, and Bishop Finn, of Kansas-St. Joseph,
spoke of the many issues which should concern Catholic voters, while
distinguishing issues on which prudential judgments may differ from
those on which there can be no disagreement for a well-formed Catholic
Archbishop José H. Gomez, S.T.D. -
We Cannot Ignore the Life
In a column published in the San Antonio Express-News, 29 October
2008, Archbishop Gomez responds to the charge that a voter whose primary
concern is the right to life makes him a "one issue" voter.
Bishop Arthur J.
Serratelli - A
Politician's Promise: No Right to Life! No Freedom!
The Bishop of Paterson, New Jersey, warns U.S. voters of the
detrimental effect the so-called Freedom of Choice Act would have on
fundamental freedoms, and draws attention to a presidential candidate
who supports it.
Bishop Robert Hermann -
I Thought You Should
Know: Save Our Children!
The Archdiocesan Administrator of St. Louis, Missouri, makes a
pre-election appeal to save unborn children whose lives are at stake, by
voting for pro-life candidates. We should also pray for those "so-called
good Catholics," who, in voting, put selfish concerns ahead of the right
Kevin J. Farrell & Bishop Kevin W. Vann -
Joint Statement on
The Bishops of Dallas and Fort Worth address the obligation of Catholics
to vote with formed consciences. They review the teaching of the
document issued by the U.S. Bishops, Forming Consciences for Faithful
Bishop Samuel Aquila -
Bishop Aquila on the
Dignity of Life
Here is the text of a homily given Sunday by Bishop Samuel
Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota, at the Cathedral of St. Mary. Bishop
Aquila warns of the danger to the United States of putting a political
party before God.
Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ -
Statements a Scandal
During the EWTN program "Threshold Of Hope" host Father Mitch Pacwa
S.J. explained that Nancy Pelosi was in grave error about the teaching of the
Church fathers, summarized what other Church leaders are saying about
her public statements, and offered her this piece of advice:
“[A]s an ardent, practicing Catholic, you must conform your conscience
to the teaching of the Church that goes back [to] the very beginning of
the Church on this moral issue.”
Colin B. Donovan, STL -
Open Line: What Do We Know About When Life Begins?
Colin Donovan, Vice President for Theology at EWTN and host of Global
Catholic Radio's Friday edition of Open Line, sheds light on the
historical scientific, philosophical and theological discussions of when
life begins (science), and when ensoulment occurs (philosophy and