Nancy Pelosi deserves to be taken seriously. Very seriously.
In March 2010, I expressed the view that Nancy Pelosi’s protracted and public anti-life conduct, which she repeatedly justifies with (twisted takes on) the Catholic faith, sufficed, in my view, to bring about her debarment from the reception of holy Communion under Canon 915. If Pelosi’s “prolonged public conduct does not qualify as obstinate perseverance in manifest grave sin,” I wrote two years ago, “then, in all sincerity, I must admit to not knowing what would constitute obstinate perseverance in manifest grave sin.”
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.
Update, 8 feb 2012: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a major proponent of the Obama administration’s push to mandate contraceptive coverage regardless of religious conviction, is already barred from holy Communion as a result of her pro-abortion activities while governor of Kansas. Bishops in the Washington DC area declared their intention to honor Bp. Naumann’s 2008 directive, and I’ve not heard of any change in the situation. In other words, no reasonably well-informed Catholic believes that, in conducting herself as she does, Sebelius is acting as a Catholic entrusted with high public office ought to act. Thus, the scandal that Sebelius gives is significantly reduced.
The same cannot be said of Pelosi.