Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, took issue today with those Catholics who are calling for sanctions against Catholic public officials who vote in favor of abortion rights.  Pelosi, who is a staunch advocate of abortion rights, defended herself as follows: “I believe that my position on choice is one that is consistent with my Catholic upbringing, which said that every person has a free will and has the responsibility to live their own lives in a way that they would have to account for in the end.”

Pelosi, a California Democrat, also criticized those who differ with her position: “I’m certainly concerned when the church comes together and says it’s going to sanction people in public office for speaking their conscience and what they believe.”

Catholic League president William Donohue commented as follows:

“It is one thing for Nancy Pelosi to defend the intentional killing of innocent babies, quite another to suggest that her view is consistent with Catholic teaching.  She justifies her pro-abortion position by invoking freedom of conscience, arguing that this is what the Catholic Church teaches.  While it is true that the Catholic Church honors the role of conscience in making moral decisions, it explicitly emphasizes the need for a ‘well-formed conscience.’  By this it means that Catholics are obliged to acknowledge the central role of Catholic teaching in arriving at a just decision.  Absent such a condition, anything could be justified.  After all, Jeffrey Dahmer invoked his conscience in justifying murder and cannibalism, yet no one thinks what he did was just.

“Last year, the Vatican issued a Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding ‘The Participation of Catholics in Political Life.’   Pelosi would do well to read it.  Speaking of Catholic lawmakers and the issue of abortion, it says that ‘a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.’

“This leaves Pelosi with two choices: stop supporting abortion or stop misrepresenting the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

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