Nancy Pelosi Defends Abortion Comments After Catholic Leaders Rebuke Her

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 27, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Nancy Pelosi Defends Abortion Comments After Catholic Leaders Rebuke Her

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 27
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is responding to criticism from Catholic leaders who say she recently misrepresented the pro-life teachings of the Catholic Church in a recent interview. Pelosi said the Church did not have longstanding policies on abortion and the beginning of human life.

During a recent television interview, Pelosi claimed the Catholic Church only recently came to the conclusion that human life begins at conception.

In the interview with Tom Brokaw on the NBC program "Meet the Press," Pelosi admitted she didn’t know the answer to the question.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities criticized those comments as did a group of pro-life Catholic members of Congress.

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput and Cardinal Edward Egan of New York also released statements condemning the comments.

On Wednesday, Pelosi would not back down from her comments.

Her spokesman, Brendan Daly, released a statement saying she "fully appreciates the sanctity of family."

Daly said Pelosi based her views on conception on the "views of Saint Augustine" and added that not all Catholics agree with the Catholic Church’s position that life begins at conception.

He said Pelosi "agrees with the Church that we should reduce the number of abortions” — but not by actual legislation or policy that directly reduces abortion. He said Pelosi supports the promotion of birth control programs that have actually shown abortions increasing.

Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl responded to the statement, after initially rebuking Pelosi on Monday.

“As the Catechism and early Church documents make clear, abortion is always an evil. That is an unchanging teaching," he said.

"The question on when the soul enters the body was a philosophical question that grew out of a lack of scientific data at the time of St. Augustine," he explained. "We have the data today which shows the embryo is human. There no longer is any discussion of whether the unborn is human and so the philosophical discussion of St. Augustine’s time is not relevant today.”

Pelosi’s only defender came in the form of Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, a group that has been soundly condemned by Catholic groups and officials as out of step with the Church.

“Speaker Pelosi was correct in noting that Catholic teaching has changed over the years, even on the issue of when life begins," he claimed.


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