Rocco has an excellent summary of the story surrounding House Speaker Pelosi's interview on Meet the Press and the response thereto from Catholic bishops. Here's an excerpt from the complete post at Whispers in the Loggia:
Hours into a week the Democratic leadership's sought to script down to its most minute detail, the party's "Catholic problem" roared to the fore today as, in an unprecedented move, the opening of the Blue bloc's Denver convention saw four senior hierarchs publicly blast the event's chair -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- for "misrepresent[ing] the history and nature" of the church's teaching on abortion in the California congresswoman's latest defense of her pro-choice stance.
Barely a day after presidential nominee-in-waiting Barack Obama tapped another pro-choice Catholic, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, as his running mate, and as the party approved a platform declaring its "unequivocal" support of abortion rights "regardless of [a woman's] ability to pay," church pro-lifers launched into action following this exchange between Pelosi and Tom Brokaw on yesterday's Meet the Press:MR. BROKAW: Senator Obama [said] the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you're looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, "Help me out here, Madame Speaker. When does life begin?" what would you tell him?In response, late today the following statement was released in the name of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops by the chairs of the body's Committees for Pro-Life Activities and Doctrine, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport:
REP. PELOSI: I would say 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. And Senator--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. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child--first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There's very clear distinctions. This isn't about abortion on demand, it's about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and--to--that a woman has to make with her doctor and her God. And so I don't think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who've decided...
MR. BROKAW: The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it...
REP. PELOSI: I understand that.
MR. BROKAW: ...begins at the point of conception.
REP. PELOSI: I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy. But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions. That's why we have this fight in Congress over contraception. My Republican colleagues do not support contraception. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, and we all do, we must--it would behoove you to support family planning and, and contraception, you would think. But that is not the case. So we have to take--you know, we have to handle this as respectfully--this is sacred ground. We have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it, as it has been--and I'm not saying Rick Warren did, because I don't think he did, but others will try to.In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.In addition to the conference's pamphlet on "a pro-life church," the USCCB release included as supplemental documents its prior statements on the responsibilities of Catholics in public life and, even more notably, the worthy reception of the Eucharist.
The Church has always taught that human life deserves respect from its very beginning and that procured abortion is a grave moral evil. In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.
These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church has long taught that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.
(For more, read the complete post at Whispers in the Loggia)