Wis­con­sin bishop joins crit­ics of Bi­den, Pelosi

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY JU­LIA DUIN

An irate Bishop Robert C. Mor­lino joined a grow­ing num­ber of Catholic prelates bent on crit­i­ciz­ing pro-choice politi­cians when he charged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Demo­cratic vice- pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Sen. Joseph R. Bi­den Jr. on Sun­day with “vi­o­lat­ing the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state” and “tram­pling on the pope’s turf.”

Just be­fore the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Pa­trick Catholic Church in Madi­son, Wis., Bishop Mor­lino hap­pened to watch Mr. Bi­den be­ing in­ter­viewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The bishop then an­nounced dur­ing his ser­mon that he was toss­ing his pre­pared notes to preach against “con­fu­sion” caused by the two politi­cians.

“This [ser­mon] is not be­cause they are Democrats,” he told con­gre­gants, “it’s be­cause they claim to be Catholic.”

The two politi­cians “ are step­ping on the pope’s turf and mine,” he con­tin­ued, “and they are vi­o­lat­ing the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state . . . con­fus­ing God’s good peo­ple.”

Both politi­cians, he said, were schooled in pre-Vat­i­can II Catholic churches, where “abor­tion was al­ways wrong. There was noth­ing else avail­able in Catholic re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion in those days.”

The Vat­i­can II coun­cil in the early 1960s mod­ern­ized the church by chang­ing some of the cer­e­monies and re­lax­ing its mes­sage.

To­day, “Speaker Pelosi and Se­na­tor Bi­den are Catholics and they are on tele­vi­sion and they are giv­ing their ideas to Catholic peo­ple and they are caus­ing con­fu­sion,” he said. He would be equally crit­i­cal, he added, if pro-choice Repub­li­can Catholic politi­cians made sim­i­lar re­marks.

Mr. Bi­den told NBC’s Tom Brokaw that even though he be­lieves life be­gins at con­cep­tion, he does not think abor­tion should be crim­i­nal­ized.

“I voted against telling every­one else in the coun­try that they have to ac­cept my re­li­giously based view that it’s a mo­ment of con­cep­tion,” the Delaware se­na­tor said.

Re­fer­ring to a the­o­log­i­cal trea­tise by 13th cen­tury the­olo­gian Thomas Aquinas, “There is a de­bate in our church, as [New York] Car­di­nal [Ed­ward] Egan would ac­knowl­edge, that’s ex­isted,” the se­na­tor con­tin­ued. “ When Thomas Aquinas wrote ‘Summa The­olo­gia,’ he said there was no — it didn’t oc­cur un­til quick­en­ing, 40 days af­ter con­cep­tion.”

In an Aug. 24 in­ter­view with Mr. Brokaw, Mrs. Pelosi said that St. Au­gus­tine, a third-cen­tury the­olo­gian, did not be­lieve life started at con­cep­tion. The Catholic Church only de­cided on con­cep­tion as the start­ing point about 50 years ago, she added.

For the next two weeks, she was chas­tised by 11 bish­ops, in­clud­ing her own pas­tor, San Fran­cisco Arch­bishop Ge­orge H. Nieder­auer, for bad the­ol­ogy. Re­ly­ing on the scanty bi­o­log­i­cal in­for­ma­tion avail­able at the time, Au­gus­tine was won­der­ing when the soul en­tered the body, not whether life had be­gun, they said.

“Al­though NBC prob­a­bly didn’t in­tend it, ‘Meet the Press’ has be­come a na­tional win­dow on the flawed moral rea­son­ing of some Catholic pub­lic ser­vants,” said a let­ter is­sued Mon­day by Den­ver Arch­bishop Charles J. Cha­put and Aux­il­iary Den­ver Bishop James D. Con­ley.

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