There is an unfortunate assumption made by the general public, encouraged ever more so by the mainstream press; that just because a political or other public figure is Catholic, they are necessarily astutely trained, perhaps an expert, on matters of the Faith. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Unless a voice of sanity is provided for counterpoint, creatures of this ilk are free to run loose and unchallenged across the airwaves. Indeed, yesterday's edition of NBC's "Meet the Press" provided a case in point:
PELOSI: I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator–St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose. Roe v Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child–first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There’s very clear distinctions. This isn’t about abortion on demand, it’s about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and–to–that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god. And so I don’t think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who’ve decided...
BROKAW: The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it...
PELOSI: I understand that.
BROKAW: ...begins at the point of conception.
PELOSI: I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy. But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions. That’s why we have this fight in Congress over contraception. My Republican colleagues do not support contraception. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, and we all do, we must–it would behoove you to support family planning and, and contraception, you would think. But that is not the case. So we have to take -- you know, we have to handle this as respectfully -- this is sacred ground. We have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it, as it has been -- and I’m not saying Rick Warren did, because I don’t think he did, but others will try to.
Madame Speaker's gross misrepresentations of Church teaching, never mind the writings of St Augustine (which I doubt ever took up any space on her nightstand), have been brought to light throughout the Catholic blogosphere within the same day. The condemnation of abortion, regardless of any speculation over "ensoulment," is older than the Church Herself. In the Old Testament, God tells His people that "before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." The earliest apostolic writings confirmed this, including the first known catechism, the Didache, or The Teaching of the Apostles:
The second commandment of the teaching: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a newborn child. (2:1–2)
(Potions? Seduce boys?? Whatever could this mean???)
Tertillian, near the end of the second century, wrote in great detail in his Apology of the horrible procedures used by abortionists. (Read the gory details here.) In the early third century, Hippolytus was equally forceful in his Refutation of All Heresies. On and on the condemnations have been brought forward, until the present day. Obviously we're going back more than fifty years.
And by now, we've heard of how Obama thinks that any speculation of when life begins is "above my pay grade." Curiously, the highest office in the land is not. This election is becoming harder for the mass media to manipulate, so long as those whom they lionize insist on making fools of themselves. The conventions are coming up. It's time for the voter to get past the glitter and the soundbites, and examine closely the character of those who would lead this Republic.
[THIS JUST IN: Father Z brings us the straight talk from Archbishop Chaput of Denver (who looks like a Capuchin, but argues like a Dominican -- how does he do that???), as well as the ancient wisdom of the Roman poet Ovid.]
[THE PLOT THICKENS: Pelosi does Augustine... very badly!]