Nancy Pelosi Continues to Defy Church Authority
Attempts to Speak for the Roman Catholic Church by Dismissing the Apostolic Successors
(CNSNews.com) - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said on Thursday that the 43 Catholic institutions—including the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Archdiocese of New York--that are suing the Obama administration over its regulation mandating that all health-care plans must cover sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients are not speaking for the Catholic Church.
If Catholic Bishops do not speak for the Catholic Church then who does? Nancy Pelosi? Former Speaker of the House must be feeling left out of the limelight. By going to the press and calling the Catholic Church reaction to the White House's attack on religious freedom "a fraud" and now this, Nancy Pelosi must be expecting Americans to believe that she is the Speaker for the Catholic Church.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis spoke at a press conference, giving a quite different impression . . . "The Catholic Church, led by the U.S.C.C.B. [U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops], has pursued every imaginable avenue to correct this problem without litigation," said the archbishop. "But in a few short months, the federal government will force Catholic institutions to choose between violating the law and violating our moral convictions. Right now, the future is unclear, and any scenario that forces us to violate our moral convictions is unacceptable."
“Ex cathedra” refers to the infallible authority that Catholics believe the pope exerts when he makes a formal and solemn declaration on matters of faith and morals. It is not a term to describe lawsuits the church files in civilian courts.
It is unclear why Pelosi would have pointed out that when an archbishop—such as Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. or Archbishop Carlson of St. Louis—sues the federal government in actions designed to protect the First Amendment rights of American Catholics he is not speaking "ex cathedra."
In a 1993 audience, Pope John Paul II quoted the first Vatican Council in explaining the Catholic understanding of the “ex cathedra” authority of the pope.
“When the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in exercising his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians he defines with his supreme apostolic authority that a doctrine on faith and morals is to be held by the whole Church, through the divine assistance promised him in the person of St. Peter, he enjoys that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished to endow his Church in defining a doctrine on faith and morals,” said the Vatican Council.
The Catholic teachings that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are morally wrong—the basis for the suits that the archdioceses, dioceses, universities, schools and charitable organizations have brought against the Obama administration--are in fact inalterable teachings that the church says are rooted in natural law.
The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., states in its lawsuit: “The Catholic Church views abortion, sterilization, and contraception as intrinsically immoral, and prohibits Catholic organizations from condoning or facilitating those practices.”
“The Government may not interfere with or otherwise question the final decision of the Catholic Church that its religious organizations must abide by these views,” says the lawsuit. “Plaintiffs have therefore made the internal decision that the health plans they offer to their employees may not cover, subsidize, or facilitate abortion, sterilization, or contraception. The U.S. Government Mandate interferes with Plaintiffs’ internal decisions concerning their structure and mission by requiring them to facilitate practices that directly conflict with Catholic beliefs.”
When CNSNews.com tried to ask Pelosi if she agreed with her church’s teaching on sterilization--which is one of the moral issues at the center of the church’s lawsuit against the Obamacare regulation--Pelosi cut the question off.
“You know what, I do my religion on Sunday in church, and I try to go other days of the week. I don’t do it at this press conference,” she said.
On other occasions, Pelosi has volunteered opinions about her religious faith and how it impacts her legislative agenda.
In 2010, speaking at a conference at the Capitol, Pelosi said the her favorite word was “the Word,” namely, Jesus Christ, and that she believed she had an obligation to “give voice to what the means in terms of public policy.”