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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

To quote Keanu: "Whoa."

Archbishop Niederauer to speak with Nancy Pelosi about whether she should continue to receive communion.

As Mark is wont to say: "Episcopal Spine Alert!"

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has accepted an invitation from San Francisco’s archbishop to discuss whether she should continue to receive communion at the Catholic Church in the wake of comments she made about abortion.

San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer requested the meeting after receiving letters and e-mails from “many Catholics” expressing dismay over Pelosi’s remarks that the question of when life begins remained controversial within the church. He said many of those writing questioned whether Pelosi should be able to receive communion.

Pelosi made the remarks in an Aug. 24 interview with “Meet the Press” host Tom Brokaw. In response to Brokaw’s question, “When does life begin?” Pelosi answered, “We don’t know. The point is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.” She went on to say, “I don’t think anyone can tell you when life begins — when human life begins.”

After Brokaw said that the Catholic Church believes strongly that life begins at conception, Pelosi said, “I understand,” but went on to say it had been an issue of controversy within the church for the past 50 years.

Her comments have been criticized by several Catholic Church officials, and Niederauer described them as being “in serious conflict” with the church in the Sept. 5 issue of Catholic San Francisco. Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl issued a separate statement the day after Pelosi’s “Meet the Press” appearance, criticizing the comments as “incorrect.”

Niederauer concluded that, based on Catholic Church statements, it is up to him as Pelosi’s pastor to address whether she may continue to receive communion.

“Accordingly, as her pastor, I am writing to invite her into a conversation with me about these matters. It is my obligation to teach forthrightly and to shepherd caringly, and that is my intent.
“Let us pray together that the Holy Spirit will guide us all toward a more profound understanding and appreciation for human life, and toward a resolution of these differences in truth and charity and peace,” Niederauer wrote.

Exactly the right action, with exactly the right genuinely pastoral tone. Bravo to the Archbishop, who has taken a lot of flak and has been accused of inertia on the issue. Definitely not the case now.

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