Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pope Benedict Explains

So Nancy "Ardent Catholic" Pelosi got her meeting with Pope Benedict today at the Vatican. If she was hoping for some sort of dispensation, she didn't get it. The ever-observant (in both senses of the term) Rocco Palmo has the skinny from the Vatican:

Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

The statement from the Vatican doesn't leave a lot of room for ambiguity. If Catholic legislators are enjoined to develop a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development, that wouldn't leave a lot of room for Pelosi's pro-choice record.

A lot of people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, misunderstand the role of the Pope in the Church. He isn't an avenging angel who strikes down heretics. This will disappoint some who would love to see Pelosi publicly rebuked or even excommunicated for her role in keeping the abortion industry rolling in this country. Benedict simply wasn't going to take Pelosi to the woodshed. While he rightly expects Pelosi to change her ways, his primary concern is doing what he can to help all who hold the Catholic faith to gain salvation. And that decidedly includes Nancy Pelosi.

It's not up to Benedict, or to me or any other Catholic, to judge the condition of Nancy Pelosi's soul. Anyone who presumes to know such things is wrong. All Benedict can do is to teach the tenets of our faith and minister to those who need guidance. That is what Benedict did today. Nancy Pelosi's fate is in her own hands.

8 comments:

Gino said...

some things the pope neednt say. a pro-death record such as nancy's already precludes her from the sacraments. she knows this, if she chooses to acknowledge it.
he neednt say it. what she does with the info is up to her, and her soul.

but notice: there were no cameras allowed. Papa knew what he was doing when he denied her a photo-op.

contrast to the meeting he had with W: cameras,reporters,etc... as he met with Papa to discuss embryonic stem cell research policy.

admonition of politicians is rarely done in public, but it is done.

kingdavid said...

I hope he put her in "the comfy chair"

Mark Heuring said...

but notice: there were no cameras allowed. Papa knew what he was doing when he denied her a photo-op.

Indeed, Gino. I did notice that. It was quite purposeful.

John Bunch said...

Hi Mark, I read your blog at least once a week, and am always informed by it. I do take a bit of exception to your notion that the Catholic Church is against abortion. I read the original Roe v. Wade decision (how many people who debate this issue have read it ?). There is an interesting footnote to the the effect that the Roman Catholic Church (full disclosure: I am not a practicing Catholic), following Aquinas, who followed Aristotle, divided pregnancy into trimesters, and the first trimester did not have a soul infused by God. Thus, "The Good Doctor" would have supported the trimester system (and he would have opposed 2nd and 3rd-term abortion, which is also my exact position on abortion.

- John Bunch

Mark Heuring said...

Hi John,

Great to hear from you! In re Aquinas, I would suggest this: yes, he wrestled with that question pretty extensively. Having said that, Catholics are bound by current Church teaching on the subject. While what Aquinas thought about these matters has significant historical value, it's a dead letter because Catholics today follow Humanae Vitae.

And don't you suspect that it's quite possible that Aquinas, if he were living today and had access to what we now know about embryology, might come up with a different conclusion?

As for Roe itself, well, that's another post.

Best,
Mark

John Bunch said...

Hi Mark,
That seems like a slippery slope for Catholics: if Aquinas were alive today, maybe he would be a humanist, who knows ! What would he have made of the theory of relativity, Charles Darwin, or chaos theory ? What would he have thought of DNA or modern neuroscience, and would he still be able to reconcile it with his Church teachings ? Maybe he even would look back and think that Martin Luther had it right (now I will surely be struck by lightning !), or Freud. Are you sure you want to "go there" ?

- John

Mark Heuring said...

Don't know, John. I look to Humanae Vitae and what I know from my own experiences and education. I don't think any of the things you've mentioned necessarily are antithetical to what I believe. The formula for Catholics is Faith + Reason. I have to rely on both and I try my level best to do so. Chaos theory, DNA and neuroscience are necessarily mechanistic things. They answer the how question, but don't necessarily touch on the why question.

As for Martin Luther -- well, some of my very best friends are Protestants. We may disagree about doctrine, but we all follow Jesus, or at least try to, given the limitations that we all have in terms of understanding. Which brings me back to faith. :)

Best,
Mark

John Bunch said...

Hi Mark,
Yes, we need some of that "Reason + Faith" down here in the Bible Belt (the Jesuits were never against reason or science, for instance). But on the other hand, I read that the school I teach at, Southern Methodist U, is now more Catholic than Protestant (in terms of numbers of students), so maybe it is getting that way.

- John