Free Will, Defined by Nancy Pelosi

by Edwin Faust
January 11, 2010

St. Augustine tells us not to be concerned if we be constrained, so long as we be constrained to the good.

Such advice, so ancient and yet so timely, illustrates that our desire for freedom is as constant as our misunderstanding of it. And to avoid any misinterpretation of St. Augustine’s counsel, let us also remember that it was he who also said: “Love, and do what you will.”

So the great saint and Doctor of the Church is neither suggesting that we be forced to do the right thing, as though moral acts could be coerced; nor is he saying that we should do whatever we choose, as though love could grant total license.

St. Augustine is telling us precisely what Our Lord tells us; that the love of God should govern our actions; that freedom is given us so that we might choose the good, as intelligence is given us so that we might know the truth.

Should I be concerned if I am constrained from committing murder? Should I regard such constraint as a violation of my freedom? Who would argue in favor of such an absurd proposition? Or rather, who has so argued publicly and quite recently?

No one less than the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

In a Newsweek interview, the California Democrat proclaims that her pro-abortion position is consistent with the Catholic Faith because the Faith teaches that one has free will. And when it comes to abortion, “women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will.”

At the risk of intellectual vertigo, let’s brace ourselves and try to follow this self-proclaimed Catholic through the twists and turns of her illogic. Pelosi maintains the Catholic Church teaches that man (including woman) has free will. To Pelosi, this means that the Catholic Church teaches that a woman should be free to choose an abortion. To deny such freedom, according to Madame Speaker, would be to deny free will. So, a woman’s choosing to have her unborn child dismembered is an exercise of free will consistent with Catholic doctrine.

Pelosi is being subjected to some well-deserved mockery for her lack of intellectual grip. There is little point in adding to it. The more pressing question raised by this astounding display of mental confusion is to what extent her reasoning represents that of the Catholics who elected her and her like-minded colleagues.

To date, not one supposedly Catholic official in the United States has been excommunicated for publicly opposing the Church’s teaching that abortion is murder. Some prelates, such as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, are on record saying that they do not even feel comfortable in going so far as to deny Communion to those who support the legalized slaughter of unborn children. Pelosi’s position is thus relatively understandable, if absolutely absurd.

She maintains that the Church has no definitive teaching on abortion; that it remains an open and debatable moral issue. As ill-informed as Pelosi’s position may be, it is not without de facto support in light of the absence of any consistent disciplinary action on the part of the Catholic hierarchy.

A law, moral or civil, prescribes a punishment for its violation. So long as public support for legalized abortion incurs no punishment, the issue appears to fall outside the moral law of the Church. So Pelosi and others can with impunity proclaim themselves both practicing Catholics and pro-abortion.

When she shuffles off the mortal coil, Pelosi’s death will likely be marked by the sort of liturgy afforded her late colleague, Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose obsequies were presided over by no one less than the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, Sean O’Malley.

After Ted Kennedy’s “canonization” by the Catholic clergy who officiated at his very public funeral Mass, one might even say that the pro-abortion Catholics have their patron saint. When will faithful Catholics have bishops with backbone?

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