Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota has joined several other U.S. Catholic bishops in refuting Nancy Pelosi’s recent comments that confuse the Church’s teachings about when life begins and abortion. Rep. Pelosi, meanwhile, said through her spokesman that she stands by her comments.
This past Sunday in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Nancy Pelosi told Tom Brokaw that "Doctors of the Church" have not been able to define when life begins and that because St. Augustine said life begins at three months, the viability of a child at that stage “shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose.”
Bishop Aquila did not refute Pelosi at length since he said that the statement issued by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver was "excellent" and he didn’t need to add to it.
However, the bishop did offer his take on the Speaker of the House’s comments saying, “People of good will who have studied the present day Catholic teaching as given in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, John Paul II's Encyclical, The Gospel of Life, and have read the fathers of the Church, can easily recognize the flaws in her remarks on the teaching of the Church concerning when human life begins. The right to life from conception is the pre-eminent social justice and human right’s issue of our time.
“As your bishop,” Aquila continued, “I have the responsibility to present to you the authentic teaching of the Church, to correct the misinformation she has given, and finally to warn you that those who oppose the true teaching are not in good standing with the Church.”
Noting that “The Christian teaching on abortion throughout history is unchanged,” the Bishop of Fargo called for human life to be respected from the moment of conception, be treated with dignity and protected.
Aquila also addressed the issue of Catholics who support “so-called abortion rights.” These Catholics, he said, “support a false right, promote a culture of death, and are guided by the ‘father of lies’ rather than by the light and truth of Jesus Christ.”
Aquila also stressed that Catholics who support these “rights” have “placed himself or herself outside of visible unity with the Church and thus should refrain from receiving Holy Communion” out of respect for the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Church.
On Tuesday, in an interview with the Associated Press, Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said that she "fully appreciates the sanctity of family" and based her views on conception on the "views of Saint Augustine, who said: '... the law does not provide that the act (abortion) pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation ...'"
While Daly could not deny that Catholic teaching is unambiguous about life beginning at conception, he tried to bolster Pelosi by saying that many Catholics do not agree with the Church’s teaching.
He also added that Rep. Pelosi "agrees with the Church that we should reduce the number of abortions" by increasing the availability of family planning such as comprehensive age-appropriate sex education and adoption programs.
CNA contacted the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the archdiocese to which Nancy Pelosi belongs, to determine whether or not Archbishop George Niederauer will issue a statement about the Speaker’s comments.
Maurice Healy, the Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, said that the archbishop will be addressing Pelosi’s comments in his September 5 column in the archdiocesan newspaper.
Late on Wednesday afternoon the number of bishops criticizing Nancy Pelosi's comments grew as Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio and his auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu added their voices.
"We agree whole heartedly with the statement issued by Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Bishop William E. Lori of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine," their statement said.