Bishop Slattery Issues Response to Pelosi's Controversial Abortion Comments

8/29/2008 - EOC Staff

I wish to join with the chorus of bishops, plus the many elected officials and citizens of good-will across the country who have reacted with astonished outrage to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments last Sunday in an interview with Tom Brokaw. In these confusing and scandalous assertions, Madame Speaker alleged that the Catholic Church's position on the morality of abortion has changed through the centuries. This is false.

This is not a private issue - 40 million babies have been killed since abortion became legal in this country. Nor is this a political or civil conversation from which the Church is excluded because of the constitutional separation of Church and state. Neither is the right to life a merely "Catholic position" which Catholics would legitimately refrain from imposing upon others.
Abortion is a moral issue, and the Church claims an unbridled right to speak on this issue and to remind those who will vote in the November elections that the intrinsic evil of abortion is determined - neither by law nor by man's decision - but by God Who has written this into the core of our human nature.

Beginning in the first century and in every epoch since, the Church has taught the sanctity of life in a consistent and unambiguous manner. In our own generation, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states it with succinct precision: "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception ... Direct abortion, that is, an abortion willed either as an end or as a means to an end is always gravely contrary to God's moral law."?(Catechism, 2270-2271)

Mrs. Pelosi claims to be an ‘ardent, practicing Catholic' who has ‘studied (the issue) for a long time,' but in presuming to articulate the Church's teaching, the Speaker of the House has seriously misrepresented the history and nature of the Church's moral stance. Perhaps her intention was to justify her long-standing position as a ‘pro-abortion' politician by claiming a non-existent ambiguity in the moral teaching of the Church. Perhaps her desire was to convince Catholics that the unjust taking of the life of an unborn child can be justified as long as it is handled "respectfully."

I pray that every Catholic will recognize the danger implicit in this kind of faulty reasoning and I want to take this opportunity to articulate simply and clearly the Church's unchanging position in this matter:

  • We believe that all human life is created by God as a positive good, having intrinsic value. This value is not diminished by the health of the baby, the future productivity of the child or the legal status of his or her parents;
  • Further, human life begins at the moment of conception in the creation of a unique person with his or her own distinct DNA;
  • Abortion whether it is procured to end the life of the unborn child or as the means to another end, such as to protect the health of the mother, is always gravely contrary to the moral law.

Let me take this opportunity to ask every Catholic voter to take his or her responsibility as a citizen seriously. You have the right to vote and with that right comes the enormous power to elect public servants who will protect the life of the unborn and help restore the sanctity of life to our nation's public life.

At present the moral danger posed to our nation by its callous disregard of human life threatens to destroy the foundations of our society. If the fundamental right of the unborn to life is disregarded, every other human right is at risk for all of us. This is clearly attested to in our own society where the legalization of abortion thirty-five years ago has so degraded our respect for human life that many situations which require respect for the person have deteriorated before our eyes, from war to health care, to women's rights, to violence on our streets and in our neighborhood, to infanticide and euthanasia.

This is not a private issue - 40 million babies have been killed since abortion became legal in this country. Nor is this a political or civil conversation from which the Church is excluded because of the constitutional separation of Church and state. Neither is the right to life a merely "Catholic position" which Catholics would legitimately refrain from imposing upon others.

Abortion is a moral issue, and the Church claims an unbridled right to speak on this issue and to remind those who will vote in the November elections that the intrinsic evil of abortion is determined - neither by law nor by man's decision - but by God Who has written this into the core of our human nature.

Do not be confused or misled. In the election ahead, the issue of pro-life vs. pro-abortion will be the highest and most critical issue facing the electorate, more important than the economy, terrorism or even the war in Iraq. I ask you to pray before you vote and to vote to preserve life.



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