Bishops' Statements on Abortion

Author: EWTN

Bishops' Statements on Abortion


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 begins.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

On Meet the Press, 24 August 2008, Speaker of the House, NancyPelosi, 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 SenatorSt. 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."

1. Bishops Respond to House Speaker Pelosi’s 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."

2. Statement 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 choose."

3. On 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.

4. On the Separation of Sense and State: A Clarification for the People of the Church in Northern Colorado - 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.

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 Catechismof the Catholic Church to that effect.

6. In Response to House Speaker Pelosi's Remarks Concerning Abortion - Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, S.T.D., and Bishop Oscar Cantú, D.D.
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.

7. 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.

8. Statement on Speaker Pelosi's Comments on Abortion - Archbishop George H. Niederauer
This statement 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

12. 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.

13. Abortion and 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.

14. 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 life-issues.

15. 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 conception.

16. Regarding 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."

17. Modern 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.

18. Faithful Citizenship: 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.

19. Statement on Meet the Press Comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - Bishop David A. Zubik
The Bishop of Pittsburgh added his rejection of Speaker Pelosi's confused summary of Catholic teaching on abortion, which has not changed from the beginning.

Senator Joseph Biden

On 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 through law."

1. Senator 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.

2. Truth, Freedom and Abortion - Archbishop José H. Gomez
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 rights.”

3. 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).

4. 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.

5. 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.

Related Issues

Our Cherished 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.

Our 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 conscience.

We Cannot 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.

I Thought You Should Know: Save Our Children! - Bishop Robert Hermann
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 to life.

Joint 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 Citizenship.

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.