Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., who has come under fire for failing to speak out against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s attendance Jan. 3 at a Mass at her alma mater, Trinity University, came to San Diego’s Kona Kai Resort the weekend of January 13-14 to speak at an international Communion and Liberation conference.
While in San Diego, Wuerl told California Catholic Daily reporter Allyson Smith that he has no plans to discipline the newly elected Democratic Speaker, who is now the most powerful Catholic in Congress -- and an ardent supporter of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and pro-homosexual legislation.
Smith: “Did you make any statement last week about Nancy Pelosi going to Mass at Trinity University?”
Wuerl: “That was a matter between the university and Nancy. They were offering their location, and the Mass was celebrated by a priest with faculties, and there was no reason to make any comment.”
Smith: “Do you intend to discipline her at all for being persistent and obstinate about her support for abortion and same-sex marriage?”
Wuerl: “I will not be using the faculty in the manner you have described.”
Smith: “Will you make a statement to your priests and deacons to warn her not to allow her to receive if she presents herself for Communion?”
Wuerl: “You’re talking about a whole different style of pastoral ministry. No.”
I hope the comments on this post are charitable and helpful in tone....
BTW. California Catholic Daily is a new online publication from Jim Holman, owner and publisher of the alt-press San Diego Reader, and apparently replaces the other (four? I think) similar Catholic publications he used to operate.
I think what Archbishop Wuerl and others fail to understand is the impact of things like this on the lay Catholic who is struggling to be a faithful disciple in the world. The message that is sent by silence is strong, in terms of the lay apostolate in the world, in terms of the unity of faith and life.
Nancy Pelosi is not "struggling" with the Church's teaching on abortion, trying to work for the protection of unborn human beings within the constraints of the current U.S. law. As we noted before, she is unapologetically, strongly supportive of abortion-rights and unborn children don't even enter into her radar (publicly, at least) as human beings. The same week she was sworn in as Speaker, NARAL issued this statement:
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, issued the following statement in commemoration of the historic swearing in of Rep. Nancy Pelosi as the first woman to serve as the Speaker of the House.
"Americans who value freedom and privacy have many reasons to celebrate as Nancy Pelosi takes the Speaker's gavel to make this historic move forward for our country. For her nearly 20 years in office, Speaker Pelosi has been an effective advocate for women's health and has championed her pro-choice values by consistently voting to protect a woman's right to choose. In November, voters across this country endorsed Speaker Pelosi's call for a change and new direction by electing 23 new pro-choice members to the U.S. House of Representatives. Today, we celebrate as Speaker Pelosi takes the reins; under her leadership Americans can expect a new focus on commonsense solutions, not the divisive attacks that marred the previous Congresses."
On January 4, NOW greeted Pelosi with an oversized congratulations card, on the way to a swearing-in brunch. On the way in, Pelosi greeted them:
When Speaker Pelosi passed by, she waved and exclaimed, "Thank you! NOW has always been there for me."
Nancy Pelosi is in a very powerful position, a Catholic, and is working in opposition to a fundamental, moral teaching of her faith: the preciousness of each human life from conception. She lives in a country in which unborn human beings are unprotected by the law, in which the culture, at every level, dehumanizes them, and she, who is in a position to do something about this, in word and deed, does nothing to help the cause of bringing greater awareness of the humanity of the unborn, and works against legal protection and is the hero of organizations that are the activist core arrayed against the humanity of the unborn. There is not a speck of ambiguity here.
Perhaps Archbishop Wuerl is catechizing and attempting to work with "Nancy" in private, and perhaps he didn't mention it because he and/or Archbishop Niederauer are engaged in this private outreach and the questions asked by this reporter did not directly ask him about that. That could well be the case. And certainly "refusing Communion" has become a flashpoint in this kind of situation which has a few alternative approaches. A real pastor takes every approach he can before getting to the point at which "discipline" is all that is left. Perhaps this is going on or is in the works.
But resting on Archbishop Wuerl's statements alone, which do not indicate that there's anything problematic about Nancy Pelosi's way of living a Catholic life, and which, I admit, simply might be an expression of a reticent style that only answers the questions posed, I'll just say this again.
If this woman, engaged in a public role, very publicly works against the teachings of the Church to which she professes a very public tie isn't publicly challenged by even one of the primary teachers of the Church - the bishops - the rest of us - lay Catholics, living and working in the world, every day facing decisions on how to be faithful disciples of Jesus in the midst of the complexities of our professions, some of us who really suffer because of the things they refuse to do because of their fidelity to Christ - we get a message.
And the message we get is that - it doesn't matter. Do whatever you want. Catholicism isn't about discipleship, about (among other things) living in the truth that every person God chooses to create - from conception to natural death - is our treasured brother or sister - I'm not sure what it's about, but it evidently isn't about that.
Note: for those of you with the desire to bring capital punishment and the war into this discussion, another thread will be provided for that. This thread is limited to discussions of this particular situation and the implications for laity living out their faith in the world.
Some words of wisdom: (Emphasis mine)
Every responsible person and each follower of Jesus Christ have an obligation to defend and protect innocent human life. This witness can take place in many ways: teaching, non-violent public demonstrations, the legislative process, preaching, outreach to those in crisis pregnancy, care for the disabled and the dying, as well as financial support, prayer and ministry to those who have had an abortion.
If we are to put an effective end to those things that threaten human life, we must work as good citizens in the area of public policy to change laws. But it is also necessary to change hearts and minds as well as laws. Pope John Paul II reminds us that a pro-life educational endeavor must have "as its goal that shift of perception and change of heart which accompany true conversion."
It is said that evil exists when good people do nothing. We must find a way to make our convictions known and effective. For Catholics, the parish community is an ideal context in which to do this and the role of the priest, as leader, places him in a perfect position to reiterate this most basic principle of respect for life. In particular, the homily at appropriate times can be an effective means for communicating this truth. Other opportunities include the regular intentions of the general intercessions, the use of the parish bulletin, parish newsletters and increasingly web sites. The United States bishops offer guidance and a starting point: "We must begin with a commitment never to intentionally kill, or collude in the killing, of any innocent human life, no matter how broken, unformed, disabled or desperate that life may seem."
The proclamation of the gospel of life is not reserved to the parish priest. All of those involved in parish activity and especially the parish staff must be both committed to the message and able to express it in a convincing manner. Given the importance of the gospel of life regular updating sessions to deal with current issues and to review the teaching of the Church would be a valuable resource for all involved in the life of the parish.
We must also incorporate the Church's teachings on social concerns and respect life issues into the mainstream of Catholic education. All those who teach in Catholic schools and religious education programs must become intelligent and clear voices in defense of life. The U.S. bishops remind us that this educational effort must be made at every level. "The commitment to human life and dignity, to human rights and solidarity, is a calling all Catholic educators must share with their students. It is not a vocation for a few religion teachers, but a challenge for every Catholic educator and catechist." Efforts should be made to integrate this teaching into the curriculum of our education programs at every level.
The U.S. bishops also urge parents, as the primary educators of their children, to give priority to the important areas of human sexuality and respect for all human life. The faithful not only have a responsibility to promote life issues in their homes but also in the workplace, the courts and the legislature. The lay faithful are called to give daily witness to respect for life, in family life, public education, government, institutions of health care, and the instruments of mass communication.
Only in this way can these fundamental human values which are rooted in our very nature as the fruit of God's loving creation make an impact on our growing secular world that seems all too comfortable disregarding human dignity and ignoring the basic truth about the true origins, nature and destiny of every human person.
As children of God we must pray and fast for an end to anti-life practices; be active in the political process and elect responsible leaders; assist women facing unintended pregnancies; support with compassion those who suffer from having had an abortion; affirm the lives of the elderly and the disabled; forgive those who have committed grave offenses, and tirelessly promote the truth about the importance of each human person.