Pelosi's 'us' vs. 'them'

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Feb 14, 2011

In September 2008, Nancy Pelosi, then the Speaker of the House, announced that she had accepted an invitation to speak privately with Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco. The archbishop had issued that invitation after Pelosi, who identifies herself as a Catholic, grotesquely misrepresented the teaching of the Church on the issue of abortion.

Today, 41 months later, has the crucial meeting taken place? We don’t know. We do know that Pelosi—who is, thank God, no longer the Speaker, but remains in Congress—continues to represent herself as a Catholic while advocating unrestricted legal abortion. If her archbishop has rebuked her, he has done so privately—whereas her support for abortion, and other causes incompatible with Catholic teaching, is very public.

Her most recent outburst-- an attack on supporters of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act—is particularly instructive. Pelosi says that those who support the Act are “in a different philosophical place” from people like herself and her supporters. In a sentence that is grammatically incomplete but rhetorically clear, she continues:

So that’s why homosexuality, that’s why birth control, all these things that are not consistent with their beliefs that are all about procreation.

Notice the wording. Pelosi speaks about “their” beliefs. Who are “they”—these people who are “in a different philosophical place” from the former Speaker? They are people who oppose abortion, homosexuality, contraception, and embryo research. They are pro-lifers.

Not all pro-lifers are Catholic, but all Catholics are pro-lifers. For anyone who is in communion with the Church, it is morally obligatory to take the pro-life side. Pelosi doesn’t. 

The pressing question, in the case of Nancy Pelosi, is whether she remains a Catholic in good standing, or whether she has separated herself from the communion of the Church. Hasn’t she now answered the question herself? She thinks of loyal Catholics as “them,” her rivals. She is in a different place.  

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: impossible - Feb. 16, 2011 11:21 AM ET USA

    When Pelosi and other Catholic politicians remain in manifest heresy/grave sin and are considered by their bishops to have excommunicated themselves, why the reluctance to make the excommunication official? Why do their bishops refuse to obey the clean language of Canon 915? Why doen't the Pope issue a definitive statement on the subject - on the clear meaning of Canon 915? If anyone who reads this disagrees with 915 clearly forbidding giving Holy Communion to them explain it to me.

  • Posted by: sparch - Feb. 15, 2011 10:30 AM ET USA

    I think too she refers to the many Catholics that pick and choose what they beleive, beyond what the church teaches. What many of us choose to beleive, as you know, makes up a mosaic of many good, bad and ugly beleifs that do not always conform to the church. They act as an easy spiritual destination without the intellectual purity and rigor that the Church offers.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 15, 2011 1:05 AM ET USA

    I believe a few Easter Rites still have Anathema! I'm sure they would be more than happy...

  • Posted by: michaelwilmes - Feb. 14, 2011 4:48 PM ET USA

    AGAIN. Where is George?!?

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Feb. 14, 2011 3:02 PM ET USA

    What a pity that we no longer have the rite of Anathema!