If Speaker Pelosi had any real honest belief that she was able to call herself an ardent practicing Catholic while supporting abortion rights, that belief must now go where all other delusions go to die. She may be able to ignore the numerous documents and statements of the Church on the evils of abortion throughout the centuries; she cannot ignore Pope Benedict’s statement today (02-18-09), nor can she try to spin it away.
The Church has always taught that every procured abortion is intrinsically evil. If you want to be in full communion with the Church, you must accept this teaching as true. Further, you must not act in any way that facilitates abortion. If you do, you, by your own actions, put yourself outside of the Church.
There is, however, nothing that requires anyone to be a Catholic. Don’t argue infant baptism, in which the baby has no choice; continued participation as an adult is up to each individual. The Church is a voluntary association and, as such, has the right to make and enforce the rules for full participation.
I know analogies aren’t perfect (if they were, would they be digital?) but I think I have come up with one that works, at least for me.
I am a lawyer. I chose to go to law school, earn my degree and to take and pass the bar exam. In order to practice law in my state, I had to agree to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct. Now, as a government lawyer, I am exempt from some of the rules. I don’t maintain a client trust account – the police evidence facility takes care of “client” property for me. However, I cannot decide that I don’t agree with that pesky conflict of interest rule or run around talking to represented defendants without their lawyer’s permission. If I violate any of the rules I will not be an ardent practicing lawyer for very long. The bar association and the State Supreme Court will see to it that I am no longer allowed to call myself a lawyer, especially if I flout those rules in a very public fashion. Substitute the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the Rules of Professional Conduct, the local bishop for the bar association and the Vatican for the Supreme Court and, well, you all can do the math.
So, although I think she is absolutely wrong to support abortion, clearly today in America Speaker Pelosi can choose to do so. What she cannot do is choose to support abortion and continue to hold herself out as a faithful Catholic. I hope and pray that she will at least have the integrity to find another ecclesial community. Sadly there are plenty out there that will allow her to support the evil of abortion to her heart’s content.