By Hilary White

  WASHINGTON, August 29, 2008 ( – Bishop Jerome E. Listecki of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and Archbishop John Nienstedt of Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis have added their voices to the growing numbers of her Catholic leaders telling Nancy Pelosi she will never qualify as a Catholic theologian. Bishop Listecki said her support for abortion and misrepresentation of Catholic teaching “gives scandal and misleads the faithful.”

  Last Sunday, U. S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, while insisting she is an “ardent, practicing Catholic” said in an appearance on Meet the Press that there is no settled teaching in the Catholic Church on the precise time when “life begins” and that this justifies unrestricted legal abortion. “The point is,” she said, “that it [when life begins] shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.”

  Bishop Listecki said that Pelosi’s assertion that there is ambiguity about when human life begins is “utterly and completely false.” 

  Pelosi, he said, “misrepresented both the writings of St. Augustine and the settled doctrine of the Catholic Church in an attempt to justify uncertainty about when human life begins and thus to defend a right to abortion.”

  The bishop reminds Pelosi that the issue of the beginning of life is “is science, not theology”. He cited “advances in ultrasound and other imaging technology”, that clearly show the unborn are human beings.   

“It is ironic,” he said, “that, in an age that prides itself on scientific knowledge, there are those whose agenda drives them to invoke misinformed theology to cast doubt on some of the most basic biological truths.”

“In such a politicized environment of self-serving skepticism and slogans about ‘choice’, the Church must tirelessly proclaim the truth about the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death. This is all the more urgent when innocent human life is threatened, as it is by abortion, as well as embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia.”

  Archbishop Nienstedt said in a media release, “On behalf of the 650,000 Catholics of this Archdiocese, I wish to reinforce what Cardinal Rigali, Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, Conn. and Archbishop Chaput of Denver have said about Speaker Pelosi’s misinterpretation on the question of when life begins.”

“The Church has taught for centuries that life begins at conception and there is no room for misrepresentation of that teaching. In addition, modern medical techniques have been able to confirm what the Church has already known.”

“Surely, there may be some Catholic politicians who will take a different interpretation of this Church doctrine during the coming election campaign, but Speaker Pelosi’s remarks underscore once again the need for Catholics, and especially Catholic politicians, to form their consciences according to the moral truths taught by the Catholic Church,” the archbishop continued.

  Bishop Listecki and Archbishop Nienstedt’s messages bring to nine the number of bishops, out of some 300 in the US Bishops’ Conference, to personally correct the Speaker of the House, in addition to a general statement by the Conference itself. Cardinal Egan, the Archbishop of New York, said that her position shows she is not worthy to “be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name”.

  Meanwhile nineteen Catholic members of Congress have written to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to “correct the public record” and asking Pelosi to “rectify your errant claims and apologize for misrepresenting the Church’s doctrine and misleading fellow Catholics.”

“As fellow Catholics and legislators,” the letter said, “we wish you would have made a more honest effort to lay out the authentic position of the Church on this core moral issue before attempting to address it with authority.”

  It continued, “Your subsequent remarks mangle Catholic Church doctrine regarding the inherent sanctity and dignity of human life; therefore, we are compelled to refute your error.”

  Read related coverage:
“Catholic” Speaker Pelosi Denies that Catholicism Condemns Abortion

  Cardinals, Bishops and Congressmen Slam Pelosi on Abortion