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Free Will & Freedom of Choice

Nancy Pelosi is one politician known to pontificate on subjects that are “above her pay grade.”

She was at it again in the days leading up to Christmas. This time her pulpit was Newsweek magazine. In a December 21, 2009, interview, the Speaker of the House was asked about her “brushes with [Church] hierarchy,” to which she replied: “I have some concerns about the church’s position respecting a woman’s right to choose. I have some concerns about the church’s position on gay rights.” Frankly, she feels that the Church is wrong on these issues, and she is “concerned” that the Church isn’t going to modify her perennial teachings to conform to Pelosi’s political positions.

Despite what she perceives as the Church’s shortcomings, the Madam Speaker made haste to proclaim, “I am a practicing Catholic,” though she figures that “they’re probably not too happy about that.” Wrong again. No one in the Church hierarchy would ever claim to be unhappy that Nancy Pelosi is a Catholic; what makes Catholics uncomfortable is that she doesn’t vote with a well-formed Catholic conscience, but freely lets politics override ethical judgment. What’s worse — and what has brought on her “brushes” with the bishops — is her habit of misrepresenting Catholic theology in order to justify her rejection of Catholic morality. (For the background, see our New Oxford Notes “A Lesson From the Past,” Nov. 2008, and “Return Volley,” Apr. 2009.)

She did it again in her Newsweek interview: “I practically mourn this difference of opinion” with Church teaching on abortion and homosexuality, she said, “because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will.”

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