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Fr. Frank Pavone, Nancy Pelosi, a Deformed Conscience and Causing Scandal

By Deacon Keith Fournier
June 28th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Fr Frank Pavone was not acting hysterically, he was acting pastorally. Nancy Pelosi is wrong about the teaching of the Catholic Church. Fr. Frank Pavone was acting to help Ms. Pelosi - and to prevent her from causing further scandal to the Church which she purports to represent when she makes such reprehensible comments to the public. We must educate our consciences in order to ensure that they conform to the truth as revealed in the Natural Law and expounded upon in Revelation. Consciences are good when they are properly formed in the truth which then leads the person to do what is good.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - My long time friend, Fr. Frank Pavone, received a lot of Press lately because of his open letter to Nancy Pelosi. Thus far, I have stayed out of the fray. I have written extensively about the Congress woman in the past and felt no need to jump in.

But when I read an article entitled House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Warns the War on Women Isn't Over  by Aviva Shen of Think progress, I could no longer remain silent. She offered the following quote from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

"My faith is very deep and has been my whole life. I love my faith and my faith has nothing to do with whoever he [Father Frank Pavone] is. The arrogance of it all! It's like something ancient, medieval. The Church taught me as I was growing up that every person has a free will and has the responsibility to live up to a moral standard. And I respect women's judgment and values to do that. Whether this priest thinks his judgment should be another woman's judgment is absolutely ridiculous to me. But nonetheless it's what they say."

"I grant the Church where they are on abortion. That's where they are, that's where they have to be. But my faith isn't about what their position is. My faith is about, Christ is my savior, the church is his church, and has nothing to do with Priests for Life. I wouldn't even dignify whatever it is they said. It was a highly emotional statement that they made. If it were more intellectual I might have paid attention to it. He was acting hysterically."

No, Fr Frank Pavone was not acting hysterically, he was acting pastorally. Nancy Pelosi is wrong about the teaching of the Catholic Church. Fr. Frank Pavone was acting with a desire to help Ms. Pelosi - and to prevent her from causing further scandal to the Church which she purports to represent when she makes such reprehensible comments to the public.

Over the years Nancy Pelosi has intentionally misrepresented to people that her position opposing the fundamental human right to life for children in the womb fell within the prerogative of a Catholic exercising what she refers to as her conscience. She has also misrepresented the unbroken teaching of her own Church, held for over two millennia, concerning its opposition to all procured abortion.

She was corrected by her Bishop, reminded of the true teaching of the Church by the Pope himself, and has been repeatedly exposed in these errors by other Catholics. Her incorrect claims concerning Church history and overt dissent from the teaching office of the Catholic Church is irrefutable. Yet, she persists.

She has the arrogance to pretend that in so doing she is acting as a faithful Catholic. She disparages the claim of conscience exemptions for those who refuse to perform abortions or dispense contraceptives - but then tries to take refuge behind the same claim when she opposes the Right to life.

She intentionally confuses the public about what the Catholic Church teaches concerning conscience. Consciences are only good when they are properly formed in the truth which leads the person to do what is good. Freedom perfects a human person only when it is exercised in accordance with what is true and good. Not only do our consciences need to be formed, they can become deformed and need to be re-formed.

That is all too evident when we look at the way in which some Catholics like Nancy Pelosi, approach their political participation and public service. They use words like 'intention' to attempt to justify their errant behavior in supporting intrinsically evil acts such as procured abortion.

St Paul addressed the early Christians in Rome concerning the implications of misusing the concept of intention in the process of making moral choices. He cautioned them about an approach which argues that evil may be done as long as there is a good intention. "There are those who say: And why not do evil that good may come? Their condemnation is just' (Rom 3:8)

Catholics are called to form their consciences in accordance with what is true and then to act morally, that is to act in accordance with that truth. Nancy Pelosi supports policy positions which are directly at odds with the teaching of her Church and the Natural Law on the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death.

People like Nancy Pelosi pretend to take refuge behind the claim that they support the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church. However, social Justice is an expression of social charity. It affirms the truth concerning our obligations in solidarity to one another. 'One another' must include the littlest human persons, children in the womb. There is nothing just about legalized abortion, period.

The Catechism summarizes the duties of both civil authorities and of good citizens in its Section entitled "Life in Christ" at Sections 2234-2246. There has been some poor teaching in the arena of moral theology which left the faithful confused on subjects of profound importance to living as Christians. It has led to people like Ms Pelosi speaking as though our conscience equates with our feelings or is an aspect of our own opinion.

It is time for Nancy Pelosi to come to understand what she called that "conscience thing" in 2011. We must educate our consciences in order to ensure that they conform to the truth as revealed in the Natural Law and expounded upon in Revelation. Consciences are good when they are properly formed in the truth which then leads the person to do what is good. Freedom perfects a human person only when it is exercised in accordance with the truth and furthers what is truly good. 

Finally, it is also time she stopped causing scandal. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the compilation of teaching which the speaker purports to embrace by virtue of her claim to be in communion with the Church, addresses the subject of scandal with these words:

RESPECT FOR THE DIGNITY OF PERSONS: Respect for the souls of others: SCANDAL

"Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.

"Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep's clothing.

"Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion. Therefore, they are guilty of scandal  who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to "social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible." This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.

"Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!" (CCC #2284-2287)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi intentionally misstates the truth concerning the Catholic position of the necessary unequivocal opposition to abortion as the taking of innocent human life. She misstates the teaching of her Church concerning conscience.  She also commits scandal - and should be exposed when she does.

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