The Catholic Thing
HOME        ARCHIVES        IN THE NEWS        COMMENTARY        NOTABLE        DONATE
A Galileo Moment for Nancy Pelosi Print E-mail
By Robert Royal   
Monday, 24 June 2013

The former Speaker of the House and self-professed “devout” Catholic, Nancy Pelosi, was queried by the press rather closely last week about late-term abortions (i.e., after 20-22 weeks) – which, two days earlier, the Republican-controlled House voted to ban. She refused to answer, a good tactic for her side. Because there is no plausible answer why viable children in the womb can be legally killed.

She was put on the spot over why what is done legally under current law is morally different than what was done illegally by Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the abortion/butcher of Philadelphia. All the rhetoric in the world about a women’s right to choose, about privacy between a woman and her doctor, about the “war on women,” about Pelosi’s loopy and oft-repeated line that her Catholic faith teaches that women have been endowed by God with the intellect and will to make their own choices, etc. does not take away anything from some plain scientific facts.

In the seventeenth century, Galileo was famously forced, after a complex process with fault on both sides, to recant his position, but is then said to have muttered, eppur si muove (“And yet, it [the earth] moves.” Nancy Pelosi and all like her who self-righteously have spoken of bringing back science-informed public policy have now reached a Galileo moment of their own. Party politics may dictate that you pretend the science is not indisputable, but we’re waiting now for someone prominent with a D for party affiliation to mutter: “And yet, it’s alive.”    

Actually, six virtually unknown House Democrats voted with the vast majority of Republicans last week to ban late-term abortions. But this is not, or rather should not, be a matter of partisan politics.

It’s just the facts, ma’am. Denying that a child in the womb is a human being at five or more months is about as obtuse as denying that the earth goes around the sun. If you’re going to get irate, as Pelosi did, about taking away food stamps from poor families with children, how about a little indignation about taking away the very lives of children.

As that witty gal Flannery O’Connor once put it in the title of one of her stories, “You can’t be any poorer than dead.”

Last week, before this whole fiasco occurred, I spoke at a conference in Rome and participated in a candlelight procession dedicated to Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical on the Gospel of Life -- the famous text in which he named the new offenses against human life in the bio-medical arena as a “culture of death.” The Pontifical Council on the New Evangelization sponsored the events and the other speakers were Cardinal Burke and TCT’s own Francis Beckwith of Baylor University.


By contrast with the tongue-tied, I’m-taking-the-fifth Pelosi, we laid out a rational, consistent case for a culture of life, one that we are all quite prepared to defend publicly as respectful of the proper findings of science, but also committed to preserving the very best in our Western tradition of respect for human persons – all persons, not the ones who happen to be favored by this or that political coalition. (You can read part of Professor Beckwith’s presentation here and you can watch Cardinal Burke’s keynote here.)

I myself focused on the new evangelization that now needs to take place, even of so-called Catholics like Nancy Pelosi. It’s curious, but she and a large swath of Catholics, insofar as they think about it – which is admittedly not much or very deep – really think they are the culture of life, much more so than Catholics and others who openly profess their reverence for life from conception to natural death.

To be quite blunt, what they mostly favor is maintaining an unruffled bourgeois life-style for the better off and eliminating troublesome burdens like children for the poor. They’ve talked themselves into this by various rationalizations, but the day is coming when the science won’t allow it any more.

We should be clear that this is not a matter of moral relativism either. Their view is incoherent and absurd on the facts. But the relativism applied to the older moral principles is merely the first phase in a two-tiered effort, which does not end in denying moral truths exist, but in the strict enforcement of a new sexual ethic about which there is to be no debate. It’s dogmatism disguised as pluralism and freedom. That’s why Pelosi, to the astonishment of many, pronounced a woman’s right to choose “sacred ground.” 

After my talk, an elderly Croatian came up and begin explaining to a small group of us who were continuing the conversation that it’s quite possible not only to teach people the facts about life in the womb, but to convince people to live by those truths. He and his wife had been engaged in pro-life education for years and claim that after Communism fell in the former Yugoslavia, Catholics and others helped reduce abortion from 45,000 annually to 3,500, fewer than a tenth of what they had once been.

Then he took out this coin. And we all kind of gasped in amazement.Description: http://rover.ebay.com/roverns/1/711-13271-9788-0?mpvl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&mpcl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fitm%2FCROATIA-25-kuna-2000-g-MILLENIUM-COIN-FETUS-BABY-COIN-UNC-%2F150904687374&mpt=1371928477804

It’s a normal 25 kuna coin, minted in 2000 specially for the new millennium, but you can use it as you use any other money to pay for something.  And it’s not merely meant to affirm the child in the womb, but all of humanity, radiating out, as you can see on the coin’s edge, from that beginning. 

Just imagine, such things are still possible in the modern world. Sad that self-styled sophisticated San Francisco and power-drunk Washington have lost sight of the fundamentals of respect for human life. And still developing places like Croatia have to preserve those deep human things and remind the rest of the world about them. Because you can say what you will, “And yet, it’s alive.” 

 
Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, now available in paperback from Encounter Books.
 
 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Rules for Commenting

The Catholic Thing welcomes comments, which should reflect a sense of brevity and a spirit of Christian civility, and which, as discretion indicates, we reserve the right to publish or not. And, please, do not include links to other websites; we simply haven't time to check them all.

Comments (22)Add Comment
0
...
written by Ib, June 24, 2013
That evangelisation about the culture of life should be from an unlikelier place than an ex-communist region, from a nation reduced to serfdom by one of the most evil empires in history, from a people long oppressed by militant atheism, is EXACTLY fitting. The small ones of the world do the Lord's great deeds, while the great come to naught. That's one of the critical lessons of the Holy Mother of God's sublime Magnificat.

It's also one of the ways that our Lord ensures that the Gates of Hell will never prevail against his Holy Roman Catholic Church.
0
...
written by Ib, June 24, 2013
That evangelisation about the culture of life should be from an unlikelier place than an ex-communist region, from a nation reduced to serfdom by one of the most evil empires in history, from a people long oppressed by militant atheism, is EXACTLY fitting. The small ones of the world do the Lord's great deeds, while the great come to naught. That's one of the critical lessons of the Holy Mother of God's sublime Magnificat.

It's also one of the ways that our Lord ensures that the Gates of Hell will never prevail against his Holy Roman Catholic Church.
0
...
written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, June 24, 2013
The Pro-Abortion argument has moved on. In his 1995, “Rethinking Life and Death.” Peter Singer says quite explicitly, “The argument that a fetus is not alive is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognise that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being's life.”
0
...
written by debby, June 24, 2013
how much more BLOOD must be shed until this debt is paid? until this sin is purged?
the coin is a beautiful tribute to the Creator; i wonder if it could have been minted in "pink gold" to remind the world of the blood that was shed before the waking-up to this truth.

i know that the Most Precious Blood of Jesus spilled to the last drop has in fact redeemed all sin.
that fact is my only HOPE.

i have no "optimism" in any political system, which does not translate into my "doing nothing". i just don't believe "in anyone" (beautiful NJ Rep Chris Smith included - i believe in Who he believes in).
every time the likes of pelosi and biden receive the Eucharist, more condemnation is heaped upon their personal eternal souls - and what of the priests and bishops (cardinals!) who are complicit in this condemnation? - and the consequences of this grave sin must be paid for. i am struggling in my "faith" in any American priests elevated higher than "Pastor" as well. my heart aches for the devotion of St. John Fisher to come among us.
exactly who are we kidding?
whose blood do we think is being shed on behalf of these sins?

Yes, our only Hope is in God and Him Crucified. St. John Fisher, Pray for us.
0
...
written by Dave, June 24, 2013
Bob's "to be blunt" paragraph hits the nail right on the head. You won't find it said publicly in Washington, state capitals, and country clubs all that often, but there are those who will say, and many more who believe, that abortion is a cheap solution and an end to the costs of maintaining the poor -- paying for education, welfare, health, incarceration, rehabilitation, etc. Something about "heading it off at the pass" comes to mind (and our policies toward Native Americans actually quite nicely set the framework for most of our national policies regarding the poor). Not long ago at a major gathering of philanthropic executive directors, I heard a prominent thought leader speaking, not so much about abortion, but rather engagement with the poor, and heard her say it was about helping the poor finds lives of self-sufficiency so that they would be less of a burden to themselves "and, frankly, to us as well." The logic of Planned Parenthood is right at the heart of that statement, and it contrasts nicely with St. Paul's command in Galatians, that we "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." And so now it falls to us to figure out how, precisely, best to bear this particular burden, with faith, hope, charity, dignity, elegance, kindness, and grace.
0
...
written by Emina Melonic, June 24, 2013
This is a very interesting fact about Croatia. I had no idea about the coin, and it is certainly nice to see. To be sure, there are still remnants of Communism, whether in people's behavior or leaders that are still in power using political affiliations that are not directly Communist. However, the Catholic presence is much stronger, in my opinion. In Bosnia too, there is a similar situation. The protection of life (as well as charitable organizations focusing on helping the poor) is present in both Muslim and Catholic communities in Bosnia. In Bosnian Catholic community, this is seen particularly in a strong Franciscan presence in Sarajevo and other cities in Bosnia.
0
...
written by Jacob, June 24, 2013
Great article. You could even just leave it the same "eppur si muove".

Humans that aren't alive don't move.
0
...
written by Dan, June 24, 2013
The coin verges on the unbelievable. I never would have thought such a thing possible in a 21st Century European county. Think of a what a profound impact such a coin would have on our American culture if it were issued in place of, say, the dime: a constant reminder that our government values human life. (Of course for the message to be consistent it would have to be accompanied by the outlawing of abortion.)
0
...
written by Tony, June 24, 2013
That coin is the most beautiful thing I have seen from this world of ours in a long time! Thank you, Bob.

Imagine, having to look up to the moral example of the former communist states. The Lord works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.
0
...
written by Manfred, June 24, 2013
The main difference between Pelosi and Galileo, Robert, is that Galileo was EXCOMMINICATED, not because his scientific findings were wrong, but that he published them in an act of disobedience as the Church was not ready for the laity to know that the sun did not come up in the East and decline in the West. Copernicus stated the same truths later and received no criticism from the Church.
Also, Galileo, as far as I know, was never responsible for killing an unborn child. On the other hand, Pelosi, Biden, the Cuomos, the Kennedys, et al are certainly very responsible for the deaths of millions of unborns. There is not a whiff of an excommunication in the air for any of them. Of course if Nancy were found to have used the "N" word or perhaps an anti-semitic utterance, why her career would be finished. Cdl Dolan just recently assured that Andrew Cuomo is a "Catholic in good standing". If Cuomo is, then obviously I, and many like me, are not.
0
...
written by ron a., June 24, 2013
In time, the truth will out. Yet--no fear--they're comfortable in believing what they believe and acting as they do (and THAT sustains them). They have their fall back position: they meant well. Subjectively speaking, there's no responsibility. And so millions die.
0
...
written by Dan Deeny, June 24, 2013
If Cardinal Dolan says that Gov. Cuomo is a Catholic in good standing, then I'd like to read an article at The Catholic Thing explaining how Cardinal Dolan makes that evaluation.
0
...
written by Layman Tom, June 24, 2013
Wow. I love coins. There is something special in the way they feel in your hand, the way they sound clinking together. The way you feel when you get some pseudo-rare coin back in change at the 7-11, is exhilarating. I still have every silver, (pre-1964), quarter or dime I've ever gotten by serendipity and can remember each instance clearly. I still get excited by the occasional wheat-penny and can spot one from 10 ft. away. Those coins are always more meaningful to me than the more valuable ones I've bought or traded for, because they have an intrinsic, intangible quality by being married to the emotions of finding something special when least expected.

I feel exactly the same way about this Croat coin. I know i will have to buy it if i want it, but here I sit at my computer feeling the same little boy sense of wonder at a treasure found. Thank you Bob!

-Cheers
0
...
written by Grump, June 24, 2013
As sympathetic as I am to the "pro-life" position, I found it puzzling that Chelsea Clinton bemoaned the fact that her grandmother did not have access to Planned Parenthood and was forced to bear a child out of wedlock. Thus, had granny been able to have an abortion, there not only would have been no Chelsea -- no great loss -- but no Hillary, which would have been most fortuitous for posterity. Hence, I remain conflicted. It seems that it would be much better if some people had never been born.

0
...
written by Jack,CT, June 24, 2013
Mr Royal,
Great read and I enjoyed and read
every comment.
0
...
written by vera malivon, June 25, 2013
All of which is quite wonderful, but begs the question. Are these issues that are rightfully the subject of coercive legislation, or should they be dealt with by the woman and her doctor.
0
...
written by Sara Tenini, June 25, 2013
I am confused as to why Ms. Pelosi has not been excommunicated by her local priest/Bishop. Can someone please enlighten me. At the very least, shouldn't she be branded a heretic for publicly speaking out against a foundational precept of the Church?
0
...
written by Layman Tom, June 25, 2013
Vera, this may be quibbling, but in the common parlance, I don't believe legislation proscribing abortions are truly coercive. They would not be coercing anyone to perform an action. Coercive laws would be those forcing you to commit an act such as paying taxes, wearing a seatbelt/helmet, registering for the draft or social security, licensing your car/boat/gun/motorcycle etc, or vaccinating your children.

They should more properly be called "restrictive" laws as they prevent one from committing an action. Such restrictive laws exist as well, such as laws against burglary, vagrancy, assault, illicit drug use, etc. The law against murder, for instance, is meant to restrict one from taking the life of another and is oddly similar in nature.

Coercion has a faintly more sinister feel to it than restriction, which is probably why it is often used to describe the supposed intentions of those on the "wrong" side of this and other issues. I know an argument can be made that a law restricting an action is coercing one to refrain from taking action, but I really don’t think that is what is truly meant when the word gets thrown around.

In reality, both types of legislation are well established. The public accepts both coercion and restriction by the government. Even in the “sacred realm” of what a person does with his/her body, the government has a long history of coercing certain actions and restricting others. This is not improper. Why is it that a “woman’s right to choose” what to do with their body with respect to reproduction is somehow more unassailable than anything else? Why is it superior to the right of the populous to decide whether that right should be subjugated by any other right or proper interests of society? Why are we so sure that a mother’s future lifestyle is important enough that we should risk committing murder, should we be wrong about when life is actually life? These are the questions being begged in my view.

Peace.
0
...
written by Kevin Hart, June 25, 2013
Pelosi's problem (and the problem with many, if not most) elected leaders (especially the members of the House of Representatives), is that our elected leaders have to take the positions they take to get elected in the first place, and have to keep them to be able to be re-elected. In non-competitive Congressional Districts (which represent more than 95% of congressional districts in the US), the representatives have to worship the Party Platform in order to get past the Primary elections. If they do not, they are likely to lose in a Primary election to someone even more extreme. Pelosi represents one of THE most liberal constituencies in the nation - San Fransico, CA, and if she didn't claim to support the most extreme planks of the Democratic Party, her constituents would find someone else who did.

I do not know whether Pelosi actually agrees with all the stances that she is forced to take to represent her constituency, just as I do not know whether Rush Limbaugh truly believes all the stuff he says to keep his ratings high. It's quite possible that if Pelosi was representing a Congressional district in Oklahoma, she would be professing a pro-life view; and if Liberal talk radio netted better ratings than Conservative talk radio, it's possible that Limbaugh would be begging for a single-payer health system.

I do know, however, that the Primary system has effectively made Congressional Democrats take more and more "Liberal" views and has made Congressional Republicans take more and more "Conservative" views just in order to stay in office. Both views present a grave danger to our religious freedom [for a Conservative example, look at the draconian Alabama law (which has been partially blocked) which forbid even giving an undocumented immigrant a ride to the hospital or allowing priests to hear their confessions] and the country as a whole.

In fact, the teachings of the Catholic church are extremely conservative on some issues and extremely liberal on others. This is probably why the Catholic vote was split about 50/50 in 2012. Neither major party represents the whole of the Catholic faith well at all. As such, as Catholics, we must be remain vigilant, yet understand the grave situations many of our politicians are in.
0
...
written by ron a., June 25, 2013
Kevin---You speak of possibilities. And you speak well. But, in so doing, you give Ms. Pelosi, I think, way too much slack and open her up to a credibility which she doesn't deserve. There is far too much evidence in the way she acts and in what she says to allow one, paying attention, to deny that she is a committed ideologue. She is a radical feminist and a blatant materialist. That IS her "sacred ground".

The opportunities for orthodox Catholics, in union with the Magisterium, to get elected to National office in today's United States is certainly something open to question and the advisability of 'compromise' to improve that opportunity open to debate.
0
...
written by Kevin Hart, June 26, 2013
My real point was that we need Catholics in elected office that represent TRUE orthodoxy in the church - that is, standing by all the positions of the church whether those positions are seen as "right" or "left" by society at large. We need people whose platform is, unapoligetically, the Catechism. And my point was that our elected leaders have almost ALL made their party platforms their idols. And their constituents demand this. And this is true of the Democrats and the Republicans, many on both sides who claim to be Catholic, yet spurn Catholic teaching when it clashes with their parties' platforms. The Democratic Party believes that most intrisic evils (most notably abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality) are intrisic goods. The Republican Party commits intentional sins of omission - and forgets duty toward neighbor, especially of those in most dire straits (the poor, the immigrant, and the disabled).
Both roads lead to destruction of souls, to the "other" being marginalized, and both are leading to the country's destruction.

I agree - there can be no compromise with evil - but we must not only refrain from doing evil or compromising with evil. We are asked to do good. In fact, true faith in Jesus crucified and risen compells the believer to do good works powered by the Holy Spirit. The Democrats promote intrisic evils along with some good. The Republicans don't promote intrinsic evils, but also refuse to promote good. We need leaders who have the backbones to buck their own parties and TRULY promote God's plan - to promote good and refuse to promote intrinsic evils.
0
...
written by Joseph Dooley, June 28, 2013
It's not that they don't think the unborn baby is human life. It's that they don't care. They view abortion in the context of the Marxist power struggle between the bougousie and the proletariat (in this case, men and women). Women should be "free" from the "oppression" of biology.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

security code
Write the displayed characters


busy
 
CONTACT US FOR ADVERTISERS ABOUT US
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner