06 February 2007

The Question of Pelosi's Catholicness

Nancy Pelosi is being criticized for the supposed incongruence between her self-professed "conservative Catholic" faith and her voting record.

Fr. John Malloy wrote an open letter to Pelosi in which he writes:

You are simply not in sync with the Catholic Church. Until you change your non-Catholic positions, you should stop calling yourself Catholic. Your record shows that you support embryonic stem cell research, Planned Parenthood, contraception, family planning funding, allowing minors to have an abortion without parental consent, and are against making it a crime to harm a fetus, etc. etc.

The fact that you favor married priests and women priests certainly would not classify you as conservative....

Fr. Malloy quotes Pelosi in his letter as saying, "God has given us a free will. We’re all responsible for our actions. If you don’t want an abortion, you don’t believe in it, [then] don’t have one. But don’t tell somebody else what they can do in terms of honoring their responsibilities."

This conception of private vs. public duty and obligation bears a striking resemblance to Jimmy Carter's give-unto-Caesar-what-is-his-and-give-unto-God-what-is-God's religio-political sentiment but somewhat less fleshed out as Mario Cuomo's view of his role as governor with respect to abrotion (in 1984, there was a confrontation between N.Y. Cardinal John O'Connor over Cuomo's refusal to veto a bill permitting a state fund for abortions).

Fr. Malloy continues:

Do we not elect politicians to make laws that help people honor their responsibilities, such as protecting life itself? Can politicians not tell someone else not to kill? If you can kill a baby in the womb, Nancy, why not outside of it? Oh wait, you are in favor of partial birth abortion, so-called because the baby sticks out of the “mother” about halfway, while the “doctor” sucks out the baby's brain. That seems comparable to the choice the Nazis made killing six million Jews. (Italics mine.)

Fr. Malloy's math does not compute with me. 6,000,000 murdered Jews is commensurately evil to the "murder" of one "baby"?

Of course the obvious choice would be to vote and legislate against abortion if her entire constituency, or even a sizable majority thereof, assumed a priori along with Fr. Malloy that life begins at conception.

The fact is that, as of 1999, 48.5% of Catholics believe that the individual has "the final say" in making the choice to have, or not to have, an abortion. 27.8% of those Catholics surveyed in the same poll said that both Church leaders and the individual together had the final say. 53.4% said that a person could be a good Catholic without obeying the Church hierarchy's teaching on abortion. 64.1% of Catholics polled supported the idea of women priests. 71.8% believe that it is possible to be a good Catholic without obeying the Church's teaching on birth control. The majority of Catholics at least somewhat support the idea of a married priesthood.

Michael Hurley of the Catholic Accountability Project responds to the controversy:

The resounding silence of the "Pro-Life" camp, the Catholic Bishops and clergy in the face of daily horrendous violence in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine is a scandal beyond belief. Massacre of innocent civilians, women and children, use of cluster bombs to kill, dismember and mutilate, and now even torture, continue without a murmur of protest or discernable [sic] concern.

He certainly has a point. Why doesn't EWTN, always so in line with Church teaching, include issues like torture, indefinite imprisonment, "rendition," war, slave-trafficking, etc. under its banner of the Fight for "Life"? Why don't "orthodox" pro-lifer Catholics speak out against anything besides abortion and, when convenient, euthanasia?

Fr. Malloy seems to be in the same camp as that peculiar brand of conservative Catholic who sees anything less than complete conformance with Vatican doctrine as apostasy. The irony is that this religious creature may be in line with Rome, but is anything but indicative of the "actual" Church, that is, parishioners and everyday believers.

Note The Tablet has recently had a discussion regarding this very issue.

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