It's not that the Pope or the Archbishop don't like Ms. Pelosi. The Catholic Church has standards, and being an advocate for murder isn't regarded as compatible with receiving the Eucharist. (Catechism, 1355, 1385-1387, 1415, also see Article 8)
Unlike contemporary American law, the Catholic Church regards all human beings as people, with "human rights:" babies as well as members of Congress.
Supporting Human Rights Can be AwkwardNot being able to be 'broad minded,' 'compassionate,' or 'sensitive' by local standards can be awkward. I've had conversations with other Americans which were a bit tense in spots.
For example, there was the committed, and possibly ardent, pro-life campaigner who firmly felt that abortion should be illegal. Except in cases of rape or incest. He wondered how I could fail to care for the feelings of the woman, cruelly forced to carry an unwanted child.
Well, I care: but I also don't think that whacking a baby is going to make her feel all that much better in the long run. And, it's a little rough on the kid. That 'rape or incest' exception is one of the few cases in American culture, where otherwise very nice people sincerely feel that members of a criminal's family should be executed for the criminal's act.
Whaddaya Mean, "Human Rights?!" These are Babies/Embryos/Fetuses/Formless Blobs of ProtoplasmThe Catholic Church has a rather inclusive notion of who is 'human.' The Church says that we start being human when we are conceived, and keep on being human. Even if we're clumsy teenagers with zits, disgusting criminals, winners of beauty pageants, crippled, stupid, or members of Congress. It doesn't matter. We're human: and have certain rights.
That's counter-cultural, but that's the way it is.
It's not all that hard to find out what the Church's teaching on human rights is. I spent a few minutes, and made a sort of 'best of' list of resources that discuss the human rights of babies:
- "Respect for Unborn Human Life: The Church's Constant Teaching"
- "Catechism of the Catholic Church" (1930, 2306, 2273, and elsewhere)
Yeah, Those Catholics (or Whatever) Love Babies: but They Hate the MothersYou've probably met a vicious, vindictive, vitriolic Catholic or two. The Catholic Church takes all sorts in, and some of us are more obviously in need of redemption than others.
They're not running the Church, thank God.
Actually, charity is one of the requirements for a Catholic life: if you're trying to take the Church's teachings seriously. It's the 'love your neighbor as yourself' thing again. The Catechism goes into the matter of charity quite a bit, including "Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that "everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as 'another self,'..." (1931)
There's that "without any exception" idea again. I'm Catholic, so I have to help take care of babies whose fathers lost interest somewhere in the first nine months, and the mothers. There's a place in town that's doing a pretty good job: this household has given money when we can, as well as a crib and other material. It's not much, but I'm not exactly Bill Gates.
Back to Nancy Pelosi, the Ardent Catholic Who Supports Abortion RightsIn a way, it doesn't matter what the Archbishop of Denver says about Nancy Pelosi and receiving Communion. California isn't in his territory. Just the same, I think it would do Nancy Pelosi good to think about what he said.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver knows what he's talking about. So does the Pope.
I know that local Catholic authorities where people like the Pelosis and the Kennedys live appear to have what I'll politely call flexible standards: at least for the rich and famous. In today's America, that's one way to be called 'tolerant' or 'open minded.' It's certainly easier, in the short run, than following the teachings of the Catholic Church.
But, in the final analysis, I don't think that failure to correct serious misunderstandings of Church doctrine is a good idea: for the Church, or for the people who have decided to do things 'my way.'
Pelosi, the Pope, and an Archbiship, in the NewsHere's the first and last paragraph from a Catholic News Agency article:
"Denver, Colo., Feb 19, 2009 (CNA).- Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver is in complete agreement with the message that Pope Benedict XVI delivered to Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday. The archbishop also went so far as to say that since she disagrees with the Church on the 'black and white issue' of abortion, she should not present herself for Communion...."
"...Referring to the issue of abortion, Archbishop Chaput said, 'This is a human rights issue, from the point of view of the Church, and not a theological or religious perspective. Our religious perspective supports that, but that’s not the source of our belief about the sacredness of human life.' "
- "Pelosi and the Pope, Emotion and Beliefs"
(February 19, 2009)
- "Conservative? Liberal? Democrat? Republican? No, I'm Catholic"
(November 3, 2008)
- "Capital Punishment: Killing Those Who Deserve to Die"
(October 2, 2008)
- "Archbishop Responds to Pelosi-Pope Meeting"
Catholic News Agency, via EWTN (February 20, 2009)
- "Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado