Now that the USCCB and dozens of bishops have sounded off against the Obama administration's outrageous contraceptive mandate, I think it's safe to say that the question on the mind of many Catholics is: "When will the bishop—any bishop!—deal directly with the donkey in the room?"
If you just returned from a vacation in northern Iceland or just awoke from a post-Super Bowl coma induced by an overdose of overly spicy chicken wings and ten gallons of Mountain Dew, here's the latest: Nancy Pelosi, self-described "serious Catholic" and the House Minority Leader, said the following last week about the contraceptive mandate: "I am going to stick with my fellow Catholics in supporting the Administration on this. I think it was a very courageous decision that they made, and I support it..."
The chutzpah of the woman would be astounding except this is how she has acted for years. And, besides, she has yet to be taken to task publicly for her open and arrogant disdain for Catholic doctrine and Church authority. She is the bratty, snotty seven-year-old daughter of your second cousin and his wife who tears your house to shreds, terrorizes your pets, and verbally abuses your kids while his parents sit and talk with a maddening obliviousness about the weather, their second house on the beach, and the price of green tea at Trader Joes. But, of course, this is far, far more serious as Pelosi's brazen disregard for truth and clear Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life is beyond angering or even scandalous; it is downright evil.
Yes, I'm very happy to see the long list of bishops (almost 170 so far) who have made statements—most of them remarkably pointed and firm—against the mandate. Fabulous. But I'm convinced that all of these responses and strong rhetoric will be dry grass in the blowing wind if some concrete actions don't take place. And a public reprimand and excommunication of Pelosi would be a big, necessary step in the right direction—not as a "political statement" (as such an act would undoubtedly be portrayed by the media), but, first, as the proper and legitimate means of showing her the need to repent of her blatantly sinful stance on abortion and, secondly, to really show the faithful that a real stand is actually going to be made. Finally. Dr. Ed Peters makes the case well, as he has many times before:
It’s now February of 2012, and nothing in Pelosi’s conduct over the last 23 months suggests any emendation of her attitudes toward killing unborn babies, etc., etc., etc. Indeed her recent call for Catholics qua Catholics to unite behind, of all things!, President Obama’s plan to impose immoral policies on private medical insurance plans—which call provoked this moving cri de coeur from Fr. Zuhlsdorf—suggests that Pelosi’s views, like Pharaoh’s heart, have only hardened with time.
Canon 915, as I and others have explained many times, is not about impositions on individual conscience, it’s about public consequences for public behavior. It’s about taking people at their word and acknowledging the character of their actions. It’s about not pretending that people don’t really mean what they repeatedly say and what they repeatedly do.
Nancy Pelosi obviously means exactly what she says, and she regularly backs up her words with deeds. She deserves to be taken seriously. Very seriously.
As a canon lawyer, my view is that Nancy Pelosi deserves to be deprived of holy Communion as the just consequence of her public actions; as her fellow Catholic, my view is that Nancy Pelosi deserves to be deprived of holy Communion to bring home to her and to the wider faith community the gravity of her conduct and the need to avoid such conduct altogether or, that failing, at least to repent of it. Quickly.
Pelosi, as a highly public figure, there are few more visible. She is committing the mortal sin of scandalizing the faithful in a matter which unquestionably grave matter. There has been all manner of discussion concerning her and the issues of abortion, contraception, when life begins, etc. She can’t plead ignorance of the Church’s teachings. She continues to be openly, publicly, scandalous in these matters.
Now, she is taking an open stand against the American bishops in favor of a manifest attack on the Catholic Church by the most aggressively pro-abortion President we have ever seen.
Your Excellency? Your Eminence? How much longer does this have to go on? What else does she have to do?
Exactly right. If the bishops do not stand up to Nancy Pelosi soon, I can only conclude that they will not, in the end, really stand up to the unjust actions of the HHS and the entire Obama administration. You cannot talk about clearing the room of unjust laws and immoral coercion while leaving the donkey in the middle, tearing the furniture to shreds. Oh, and let's not forget the other key Catholic in this most serious drama (as reported today by Bloomberg):
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic and a two-term governor of Kansas, was joined by several female Obama advisers in urging against a broad exemption for religious organizations. To do so would leave too many women without coverage and sap the enthusiasm for Obama among women’s rights advocates, they said, according to the people, who spoke about the deliberations on condition of anonymity. ...
Sebelius was backed by adviser Valerie Jarrett, Tina Tchen, the first lady’s chief of staff, and Melody Barnes, then director of the Domestic Policy Council, the people said. Among the ideas considered and discarded because of legal objections was an option modeled on a Hawaii law that provides broad exemptions for religious agencies while requiring private insurers to offer contraceptive coverage to the employees.
Read the entire piece. And stay tuned. Much, much more to follow, without a doubt.