When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appeared on Meet the Press a few weeks ago, she was asked about her consistent approval of abortion. Repeating her frequently stated stand, she insisted that she is “an ardent, practicing Catholic” and then claimed that no one knows when life begins. Moderator Tom Brokaw promptly told her that the Catholic Church holds that “life begins at conception.” Her response to that included her contention that such a position had only been uttered for “maybe 50 years or something like that.”
Ms. Pelosi needs to know that the very first catechism compiled by the Catholic
Church, the Didache, issued in 70 A.D., forbade abortion by name. Also Tertullian, one the earliest Fathers of the Catholic Church, wrote at length about the horror of destroying life in the womb in the year 197. Numerous other individuals throughout the ages, not all of them Catholic, though they surely agreed with the Catholic Church on the matter, have also condemned the practice.
Even though most Catholic leaders don’t use the following argument, a hugely important definition of when life begins came from heaven itself. Any “ardent, practicing Catholic” like Ms. Pelosi surely knows that one of the great feasts Catholics celebrate each year makes note of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Always believed by Catholics from apostolic times, this dogma concerning Mary’s exemption from any sin was formally and infallibly defined by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854. He thereby settled the matter for all questioning Catholics even though some theologians in that period expressed their unhappiness that the Pope had used the unique power of his office to do so.
If Mary was free of the stain of original sin from the moment of her conception, the matter of when life begins can no longer be disputed by “an ardent, practicing
Catholic.” Mary’ s life surely began at her conception in the womb of Saint Ann, not at a later point when existence outside the womb began. She was free from sin at the very moment of conception. And the Catholic Church indirectly, though positively, thereby rendered its view that conception is when life begins.
Four years later, when some skeptical theologians were still expressing doubt about the Pope’s declaration, the Blessed Mother appeared to Bernardette Soubirous at Lourdes in France. When the 14-year-old girl asked the apparition to identify herself,
Mary responded, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The many miracles continually occurring at Lourdes have always supplied unquestionable testimony that the Blessed
Mother did appear and did cause the miraculous spring to begin flowing. The Church later elevated Bernardette to sainthood.
While the preponderant majority of medical authorities supports the belief that life begins at conception, there’ s no need for a Catholic to rely only on them. Life begins at the very instant of conception with the infant growing for nine months (or fewer) before birth and eventual separation from its mother. A Catholic has the infallible statement of a Pope and, even more, a statement from heaven itself that life begins at conception.
Speaker Pelosi, vice presidential nominee Biden, Massachusetts senators Kennedy and Kerry, and many others in public and private life repeatedly claim to be Catholic and yet tolerate and even promote abortion. They should be told by Catholic prelates that they have separated themselves from the Church. Abortion is the taking of innocent life, an unconscionable crime. A babe in the womb is the most innocent of all human beings.
That Catholic prelates do not make the heaven-confirmed point that life begins at conception and do not remind pro-abortionists that they have separated themselves from the Church is a deficiency long needing correction.