.- In a statement eloquently titled “On the Separation of Sense and State,” the Archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., and his Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley harshly criticized Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, for giving a confusing view of the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion, during a Sunday interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“Catholic public leaders inconvenienced by the abortion debate” –says the statement- “tend to take a hard line in talking about the ‘separation of Church and state.’ But their idea of separation often seems to work one way.”
“In fact, some officials also seem comfortable in the role of theologian. And that warrants some interest, not as a ‘political’ issue, but as a matter of accuracy and justice.”
Archbishop Chaput’s statement recognizes Pelosi as “a gifted public servant of strong convictions and many professional skills” but adds that “regrettably, knowledge of Catholic history and teaching does not seem to be one of them.”
During the Meet the Press interview on August 24, Pelosi responded to a question about when human life begins by saying 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 . . . 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.”
The Archdiocese of Denver argues that since Speaker Pelosi claims to have studied the issue “for a long time,” “she must know very well one of the premier works on the subject, Jesuit John Connery’s Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective (Loyola, 1977).
The statement recall’s Connery’s conclusion: “The Christian tradition from the earliest days reveals a firm antiabortion attitude . . . The condemnation of abortion did not depend on and was not limited in any way by theories regarding the time of fetal animation. Even during the many centuries when Church penal and penitential practice was based on the theory of delayed animation, the condemnation of abortion was never affected by it. Whatever one would want to hold about the time of animation, or when the fetus became a human being in the strict sense of the term, abortion from the time of conception was considered wrong, and the time of animation was never looked on as a moral dividing line between permissible and impermissible abortion.”