|In recent weeks Catholic politicians
have wrongly asserted the nature and history of Catholic teaching on
abortion, confusing it with philosophical theories based on pre-modern
biology. In various statements Catholic bishops and theologians have
refuted these claims that Catholic teaching regarding the evil of
abortion has evolved (it has been the same since the first century),
AND, that uncertainty as to when ensoulment takes place implies
uncertainty as to when life begins (modern embryology and genetics knows
exactly when human life begins, at conception). Below are
statements and resources on this controversy, so that Catholics are not
deceived about Catholic teaching on abortion, or, when human life
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
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."
Bishops Respond to House Speaker
Misrepresentation of Church Teaching
- 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."
on the Unborn - 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
Pelosi's Abortion Remarks - Cardinal Francis George
Here is the response of the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago to the recent
comments of Speaker Pelosi on abortion, Catholic teaching on the
beginning of life, and other life issues.
On the Separation of Sense and State: A Clarification for the People of
the Church in Northern Colorado - Archbishop Charles J. Chaput,
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.
5. On the
Church and 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.
In Response to
House Speaker Pelosi's Remarks Concerning Abortion - Archbishop Jose
H. Gomez, S.T.D., and Bishop Oscar Cantú,
Archbishop Gomez and Bishop
Cantu, of San Antonio, Texas, join the bishops of the United States in response to House Speaker
Pelosi’s remarks concerning abortion.
Statement Challenging Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Statement On Abortion -
Archbishop John C. Nienstedt
Archbishop Nienstedt reinforced the statements by Cardinal Rigali,
Bishop Lori, and Archbishop Chaput against Speaker Pelosi's
misrepresentation of when life begins.
Statement on Speaker Pelosi's Comments
on Abortion -
Archbishop George H. Niederauer
of 5 September, by the San Francisco Archbishop, included an invitation
to Speaker Pelosi to confer with him as her Bishop, which she is
reported to have accepted.
Nancy Pelosi's Misinformed Comments
- Bishop Samuel Aquila
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.
Judging the Candidates - Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
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.
11. Let us
Love One Another - Bishop Richard G. Lennon
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.
Response to Remarks of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -
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.
Other Issues in an Election Year - 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 of Sioux City Corrects Pelosi on
Church Teachings on Abortion - Bishop R. Walker Nickless
The Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, lists five universal, non-negotiable
principles, rooted in the teachings of Christ, all of which bear on
Catholic Church Clear on When Human Life
Begins - Bishop Glen John Provost
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
the Evil of Procured Abortion - Bishop 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."
Look at Abortion Not Same as St. Augustine's - 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.
Abortion - September 2008 - 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.
Statement on Meet
the Press Comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - 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
Meet the Press, 7 September 2008, Senator Joseph Biden took a
position similar to that of Speaker Pelosi. He appealed to St. Thomas
Aquinas to witness 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
Biden's Statements on Abortion and Pluralism - Archbishop Charles J.
Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. & Bishop James D. Conley
In this statement, the
bishops correct the errors of teaching and fact in Senator Biden's
comments that could confuse and scandalize the faithful of the
Archdiocese of Denver.
Freedom and Abortion -
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
Response to Pelosi, Biden
Abortion Remarks - Bishop Edward Slattery
The Bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma, addresses fallacious statements made on
Meet the Press by both Speaker Nancy Pelosi (that the tradition
is inconsistent) and Senator Joseph Biden (that, as a matter of faith,
it can't be imposed on others).
Statement on Senator Biden's Recent Comments
on Church Teachings on Abortion - Bishop W. Francis Malooly
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.
Thoughts on Life
Issues and Faith Education -
Bishop R. Walker Nickless
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.
Right, Our Solemn Duty - Catholic Bishops of New York State
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.
Moral Responsibility As Catholic Citizens - Archbishop Joseph
Naumann & Bishop Robert Finn
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
Ignore the Life Issues -
Archbishop José H. Gomez, S.T.D.
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.
A Politician's Promise: No Right to Life! No
Freedom! - Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli -
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.
Thought You Should Know: Save Our Children! - Bishop Robert Hermann
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 to life.
Statement on Faithful Citizenship - Bishop Kevin J. Farrell & Bishop
Kevin W. Vann
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 Aquila on the Dignity of Life - Bishop Samuel Aquila
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.