Denver Archbishop Chaput interview
Denver Archbishop Chaput was interviewed on Fox News about the situation with Nancy Pelosi. Archbishop Chaput is an eloquesnt speaker on this issue and manages to remain composed and intelligent while articulating the teachings of the Church.


AP religion writer gets it right
Pelosi gets unwanted lesson in Catholic theology

Aug 28, 3:13 AM (ET)


Politics can be treacherous. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked on even riskier ground in a recent TV interview when she attempted a theological defense of her support for abortion rights.

Roman Catholic bishops consider her arguments on St. Augustine and free will so far out of line with church teaching that they have issued a steady stream of statements to correct her. The latest came Wednesday from Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, who said Pelosi, D-Calif., "stepped out of her political role and completely misrepresented the teaching of the Catholic Church in regard to abortion."

It has been a harsh week of rebuke for the Democratic congresswoman, a Catholic school graduate who repeatedly has expressed pride in and love for her religious heritage.

Cardinals and archbishops in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Denver are among those who have criticized her remarks. Archbishop George Niederauer, in Pelosi's hometown of San Francisco, will take up the issue in the Sept. 5 edition of the archdiocesan newspaper, his spokesman said.

Sunday, on NBC's "Meet the Press" program, Pelosi said "doctors of the church" have not been able to define when life begins.

She also cited the role of individual conscience. "God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions," she said.

Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said in a statement defending her remarks 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.'"

But whether or not parishioners choose to accept it, the theology on the procedure is clear. From its earliest days, Christianity has considered abortion evil.

"This teaching has remained unchanged and remains unchangeable," according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. "Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law."

The Rev. Douglas Milewski, a Seton Hall University theologian who specializes in Augustine, said Pelosi seems to be confusing church teaching on abortion with the theological debate over when a fetus receives a soul.

"Saint Augustine wondered about the stages of human development before birth, how this related to the question of ensoulment and what it meant for life in the Kingdom of God," Milewski said.

Questions about ensoulment related to determining penalties under church law for early and later abortions, not deciding whether the procedure is permissible, according to the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Augustine was "quite clear on the immorality of abortion as evil violence, destructive of the very fabric of human bonds and society," Milewski said.

Regarding individual decision-making, the church teaches that Catholics are obliged to use their conscience in considering moral issues. However, that doesn't mean parishioners can pick and choose what to believe and still be in line with the church.

Lisa Sowle Cahill, a theologian at Boston College, said conscience must be formed by Catholic teaching and philosophical insights. "It's not just a personal opinion that you came up with randomly," she said.

Catholic theologians today overwhelmingly consider debate over the morality of abortion settled. Thinkers and activists who attempt to challenge the theology are often considered on the fringes of church life.

However, there is a rigorous debate over how the teaching should guide voters and public officials. Are Catholics required to choose the candidate who opposes abortion? Or can they back a politician based on his or her policies on reducing, not outlawing, the procedure?

The U.S. bishops addressed this question in their election-year public policy guide, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship."

They said that voting for a candidate specifically because he or she supports "an intrinsic evil" such as abortion amounts to "formal cooperation in grave evil."

In some cases, Catholics may vote for a candidate with a position contrary to church teaching, but only for "truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences," according to the document.

It is a complex discussion. The Rev. Thomas Reese, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, has some advice for candidates who seek to join the debate: Stick to politics - and support programs that truly help reduce the number of abortions. "It is a big mistake," Reese said, "for politicians to talk theology."
Doctors must be free to heed their conscience
by Andre Van Mol
Friday, August 22, 2008
as published in the Dallas Morning News

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt is proposing regulations reflecting both the First Amendment and three federal laws protecting the rights of conscience and non-complicity for pro-life health care professionals and institutions. My experience echoes Leavitt’s finding, “there’s a serious need for it.”

We need the protection from discrimination and retribution by ideologues who would subvert the First Amendment for sake of their pro-choice-only-for-our-way position, professional guilds bent on reframing accreditation requirements and distorting standards of care to reflect their dogma and punish those who protest, and organizations that would coerce us into practices we find ethically and morally unacceptable.

A recent survey found 40 percent of Christian Medical Association physicians have experienced pressure to compromise their ethical convictions, and 88 percent say it is getting worse. Medical students are already steering away from careers in obstetrics to avoid being forced into performing abortions or colluding through referral.

It is vital that the protections in HHS regulations specify the right to non-complicity, the liberty
to refuse being conscripted into referral of patients to third parties for the objectionable treatment. Moral complicity is prosecutable, leaving a conscientiously objecting professional at risk of a lawsuit for being forced to refer a patient should she/he later regret the results of their choice. We must preserve the right to recuse ourselves from all practices that violate conscience, including being made an accessory through referral.

This is not just about abortion and abortifacients. Ethically neutered professionals become vending machines to the detriment of all served. Do you want a physician, pharmacist or nurse who practices without moral integrity? That professional’s conscience might one day be all that separates you from an early death profiting government or an insurance agency. Exaggeration? Look north to Oregon.

Granted, sometimes rights conflict. When that happens, it is the more basic right, in this case the right of conscience, that needs more protection, not less. The inconvenience posed to patients by professionals who object in non-emergent circumstances is not the equivalent of denial or prohibition of care. Even the most rural patients can go elsewhere in short order. They often do. “I will not” does not mean “You cannot get anywhere.” Accommodations can be made without violating rights of conscience and non-complicity.

Secretary Leavitt is correct that we need this protection against the trampling of our rights, the criminalization of dissent and ghettoization of sympathizers, in the name of choice.

Andre Van Mol is a Redding physician.