Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Archbishop Niederauer Teaches It!

Today, His Excellency responded to Nancy Pelosi's crazy statement of December 21, 2009. Pelosi was asked about her disagreements with the United States Catholic bishops concerning Church teaching. Speaker Pelosi replied, in part:

“I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have the opportunity to exercise their free will.”

The Archbishop reponded, in part:

"Embodied in that statement are some fundamental misconceptions about Catholic teaching on human freedom. These misconceptions are widespread both within the Catholic community and beyond....

However, human freedom does not legitimate bad moral choices, nor does it justify a stance that all moral choices are good if they are free: “The exercise of freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything.” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1740)...

While we deeply respect the freedom of our fellow citizens, we nevertheless are profoundly convinced that free will cannot be cited as justification for society to allow moral choices that strike at the most fundamental rights of others. Such a choice is abortion, which constitutes the taking of innocent human life, and cannot be justified by any Catholic notion of freedom."

It's obvious, but (to paraphrase Eric Voegelin) with someone as confused as Pelosi it becomes necessary to elaborate the obvious.

His Excellency's full statement can be found here.

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney


Anonymous said...

Part of the education of conscience is the Church's teaching that "Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it." (CCC#2478) It is perhaps an uncharitable (and absurd) reading of Mrs. Pelosi's statement to believe she was claiming that free will "justifies" immorality or that everyone has a "right to say or do everything". After all, Mrs. Pelosi herself legislates laws based on limited rights and does not legislate "anything goes". But it would seem that she was indeed saying, to use the Archbishop's words, that free will "allows moral choices that strike at the most fundamental rights of others". However, to be fair to Mrs. Pelosi, the Church teaches likewise, teaching that "Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself" (CCC#1861) and "God permits evil because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it" (CCC#311). Mrs. Pelosi's word "opportunity" is a synonym for the word "possibility" in CCC#1861. In other words, with human freedom there is the opportunity/possibility for mortal sin, and/or for love. If women do not have the opportunity/possibility to choose wrong, then they also do not have the opportunity/possibility to choose right. As Augustine said, "God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil to exist," perhaps Mrs. Pelosi might say, "I was taught that it's better that women have the opportunity to exercise their free will than to suffer that they have no opportunity to abuse their freedom."

Gibbons in SF said...


But to have the opportunity to choose wrong, one must first have the opportunity to live. It is abortion, which Pelosi supports, that radically denies women's right to choose.

Car Parts said...

Archbishop Niederauer Teaches,It is entirely incompatible with Catholic teaching to conclude that our freedom of will justifies choices that are radically contrary to the Gospel—racism, infidelity, abortion, theft. Freedom of will is the capacity to act with moral responsibility; it is not the ability to determine arbitrarily what constitutes moral right.