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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Michael J. Gaynor
Bio: Michael J. Gaynor
Date:  December 30, 2009
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UCCB: Declare Speaker Pelosi's Claim to Be a Faithful Catholic a Public Scandal

The USCCB is not supposed to tolerate sacrilege and public scandal from the powerful as well as from the powerless. editor Steven Ertelt's December 28, 2009 article's title evidence how insidious pro-abortion self-described "Catholics" like Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi are and how counterproductive tolerance of them has been.

The title is "Nancy Pelosi: Free Will Trumps Catholic Church's Pro-Life Teachings on Abortion" (

Pelosi is publicly promoting dangerous nonsense and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is obligated to act to prevent sacrilege, public scandal and public confusion.

Ertelt: "The rift between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Catholic Church will likely grow thanks to new comments the abortion advocate made. Pelosi said in a new interview that the 'free will' of women wanting abortions outweighs pro-life Catholic teachings."

Free will is a prerequisite to sin, because sin is a choice. It is wishful thinking that free will can make a sin unsinful. {Note to Speaker Pelosi: Study "culpable ignorance.")

Ertelt was reporting on a year-end interview of Pelosi by Newsweek's Eleanor Clift.


"The conversation turned to the topic of abortion and health care and Pelosi blasted the Catholic bishops for their opposition to the pro-abortion bill.

"She tells Clift it was frustrating that Catholic bishops 'were not willing to accept what we know to be a fact' -- that the 'public option' would supposedly not violate a ban on federally-funded abortions."

It must be very frustrating for Pelosi that those bishops don't believe Pelosi is infallible and even more so that she is not.

Ertelt continued:

" Clift asks about her 'brushes' with the church, Pelosi drops a bomb.

"'I have some concerns about the church's position respecting a woman's right to choose,' Pelosi responds. 'I am a practicing Catholic, although they're probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith.'

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

God gave us free will, but that certainly does not make every exercise of it sinless.


"Pelosi also told Newsweek she doesn't appreciate being lobbied on abortion but understands her local Catholic officials will try to persuade her.

"'When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock,' she said. 'When they call me on the phone here to talk about, or come to see me about an issue, that's a different story. Then they are advocates, and I am a public official, and I have a different responsibility.'"

As America's Pledge of Allegiance acknowledges, America is "one Nation, under God."


"The comments will likely throw fuel on the fire of public opinion within pro-life and Catholic circles that Pelosi is well-outside the mainstream -- but she tells the pro-abortion Newsweek reporter she doesn't care.

"'I don't choose to spend my time countering perceptions and mischaracterizations that the other side puts out there. I choose to do my job. Because we are effective, I continue to be the target,' Pelosi contends."

Pelosi is the mischaracterizer. To avoid public scandal and confusion, should be declared to have excommunicated herself.

On May 23, 2004, in an article titled "Holy Communion Should Be Denied to Kerry," I wrote: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, an ardent abortion supporter and nominal Roman Catholic, 'fully intend[s] to receive communion, one way or another,' despite Vatican opposition to the receipt of Holy Communion by persons professing to be both Catholics in a state of grace and abortion supporters.

"Ms. Pelosi explained that receiving Holy Communion is 'very important' to her. ....Will America’s Catholic bishops cooperate or chastise America’s Nancy Pelosi's, Tom Daschle's, Ted Kennedy's and John Kerry's? ... [and] some nominally Catholic Republicans ... such as Maine Senator Susan Collins.

"Canon 915 provides that '[t]hose... who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.'

"Canon 915 protects the Holy Eucharist and prevents the public scandal that would result from ineligible persons receiving Holy Communion.

"Averting public scandal is vital. As St. Thomas Aquinas long ago explained, a distinction 'must be made' between secret and open sinners, and 'Holy Communion ought not to be given to open sinners when they ask for it.'"


"Pelosi also talked about how she discussed the abortion funding in the health care bill with a Catholic leader.

"'I talked to one of the cardinals. I said to him that I believe that what we are doing honors the principles we talked about: we want to pass a health-care bill, we want it to be abortion neutral, and we want it to [have] no federal funding [for abortion], which is the law. And we believe that our language does that,' she recounted. 'They said, "We believe that it does not." I said, let's sit down at the table and our lawyers can compare language.'

"For Pelosi, her motive appears to be more about winning than her reputation and standing.

"'I don't care how popular I am. I'm not putting myself out there to run for higher office. I just [want to] make sure that we win the election next year,' she said."

So Pelosi admittedly is all about secular success.

The Second Vatican Council urged all Christians "to fulfill their duties faithfully in the spirit of the Gospel" and warned that "[i]t is a mistake to think that, because we have here no lasting city, but seek the city which is to come, we are entitled to shirk our earthly responsibilities; this is to forget that by our faith we are bound all the more to fulfill these responsibilities according to the vocation of each...."

"The separation between faith and life" enthusiastically embraced by Ms. Pelosi was condemned by the Second Vatican Council as “among the more serious errors of our age."

The Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life. It stressed that “[t]here cannot be two parallel lives…the so-called 'spiritual life', with its values and demands; and…the so-called 'secular' life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social responsibilities, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture.”

The Doctrinal Note emphasized that lay Catholics, in fulfilling civic duties, are to be “‘guided by a Christian conscience,’ in conformity with its values,” and that “their proper task [is] infusing the temporal order with Christian values, all the while respecting the nature and rightful autonomy of that order, and cooperating with other citizens according to their particular competence and responsibility.”

The Doctrinal Note categorically rejected the claims that citizens have “complete autonomy with regard to their moral choices and lawmakers…are respecting this freedom of choice by enacting laws which ignore the principles of natural ethics and yield to ephemeral cultural and moral trends, as if every possible outlook on life were of equal value.”

The Doctrinal Note distinguished legitimate and illegitimate freedom. It explicitly respected “the legitimate freedom of Catholic citizens to choose among the various political opinions that are compatible with faith and the natural moral law, and to select, according to their own criteria, what best corresponds to the needs of the common good.”

“Political freedom is not – and cannot be – based upon the relativistic idea that all conceptions of the human person’s good have the same value and truth,” the Doctrinal Note warned.

The Doctrinal Note rejected moral relativism and related the essential basis of democracy in the clearest terms: “If Christians must ‘recognize the legitimacy of differing points of view about the organization of worldly affairs,’ they are also called to reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism. Democracy must be based on the true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society.”

The late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, emphasized that Canon 915 obligates those who dispense Holy Communion not to do so blindly:

“[I]n cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved. The Code of Canon Law refers to this situation of a manifest lack of proper moral disposition when it states that those who 'obstinately persist in manifest grave sin' are not to be admitted to Eucharistic communion.”

Under Canon 915, politicians like Ms. Pelosi must be denied Communion, not indulged.

As John-Henry Westen stated on October 24, 2006 in "Cardinal McCarrick and the Concealing of Rome's Position on Denying Communion" at, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops "never contravened" now Pope Benedict XVI's and then Joseph Cardinal "Ratzinger's insistence that obstinately pro-abortion politicians after being duly instructed and warned 'must' be denied communion."

Mr. Westen:

"On the question of Holy Communion, the USCCB document stated: 'The question has been raised as to whether the denial of Holy Communion to some Catholics in political life is necessary because of their public support for abortion on demand. Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness, we recognize that such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action. Nevertheless, we all share an unequivocal commitment to protect human life and dignity and to preach the Gospel in difficult times.'

"Of critical importance in that passage is the stipulation that actions are undertaken by bishops 'in accord with the established canonical' principles. The Catholic Church in its code of canon law sets out in canon 915 that 'Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.'

"Thus, with that stipulation in the USCCB document, it was 'very much in harmony' with Cardinal Ratzinger's guidelines on 'Worthiness to Receive Communion'."

As Mr. Westen explained, Cardinal McCarrick misinterpreted then Cardinal Ratzinger's letter:

"Cardinal McCarrick...seems to have another interpretation.

"'What was essential to me,' he explained of the USCCB document, 'was that whereas the Conference was clearly willing to respect the right of individual Bishops to make decisions in their areas, it also made clear - and the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger reinforced this - that a Bishop could not be accused of being unfaithful to his pastoral responsibility if he did not enforce a more restrictive policy.'

"In saying this, Cardinal McCarrick was referencing this specific line in the USCCB document: 'Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action.'

"One interpretation of the USCCB document would see it as natural that Catholic bishops may legitimately take different judgements since they are dealing with different Catholic politicians. However, Cardinal McCarrick seems to suggest that bishops may take different actions dealing with the same cases, which would preclude criticizing a bishop who would opt not to deny communion even to the likes of John Kerry.

"However, the latter interpretation is at odds with St. Louis Archbishop Burke who in an interview with Catholic writer Barbara Kralis was asked about that very question. Asked, 'Does this mean that one Bishop can deny Senator John Kerry Holy Communion and another Bishop can give Kerry Communion and both Bishops are correct?,' Archbishop Burke replied, 'No, in fact, Canon 915 must be applied. It does not give an option. Canon 915 says that those persons who obstinately persist in grave manifest sin must be denied the Eucharist. I strongly believe that if a bishop has spoken to someone who obstinately persists in grave manifest sin and he still presents himself for Holy Communion, he should be refused.'

"Kralis persisted in questioning, 'Can one bishop admit and another bishop not admit? Is this teaching clear? Is it not a contradiction of Canon 915, for one bishop to refuse John Kerry the Eucharist in one diocese and for another bishop to give John Kerry the Eucharist in another diocese?'

"Burke answered, 'Yes, it would be a source of confusion. I have refused to talk about individual candidates, but when a "Catholic" pro-abortion politician knows the actions he has taken are gravely sinful in a public matter like supporting abortion, the only way to uphold church teaching is to withhold Holy Communion. It is not right for one "minister of Holy Communion" to give the Eucharist and another not to.'"

On October 21, 2006, in "US Bishops Set to Tell Catholics Opposed to Teaching on Abortion or Homosexuality not to Receive Communion," at, Mr. Westen reported that the Catholic bishops of the United States " will vote on a proposed document, 'Happy Are Those Who Are Called To His Supper: On Preparing To Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist' during their annual November meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 13-16."

It is unfortunate that the meeting (and the vote) follows instead of precedes Election Day 2006.

Mr. Westen:

"The document, addressed to all the faithful, points out that Catholics may not receive communion if they are do not accept Church teaching on matters such as abortion and homosexuality. Catholics should refrain from Holy Communion, says the document, 'when they lack adherence to what the Church authoritatively teaches on matters of faith and morals.'

"The document is designed to help Catholics properly prepare to receive Holy Communion. It is organized as a series of questions and answers, and explores topics such as what the Catholic Church believes about the Eucharist, who may receive Holy Communion, and how Catholics can prepare to receive the sacrament more worthily."

The Catholic Bishops should make it clear to all that politicians who, for example, obstinately support abortion as a civil right, like Ms. Pelosi, not only reject fundamental Catholc teaching, but behave sacrilegiously and scandalously when they present themselves for Communion.

In his letter to the Cardinal McCarrick, then Cardinal Ratzinger stated: "Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person's formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church's teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist."

"When these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible," concluded then Cardinal Ratzinger,"and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it." (see the full letter from then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI)

Ms. Pelosi should not be presenting herself for Communion unless and until she repents. And if she does, she should be refused.

Even Cardinal McCarrick, who has publicly stated that refusing Communion would make him uncomfortable, should acknowledge that.

Mr. Westen:

"Canadian Bishop Fred Henry, the fearless Bishop of Calgary in Alberta. Bishop Henry, who has stated publicly that he would deny communion even to the (former) Prime Minister because of his obstinate support for abortion and homosexual marriage, pressed Cardinal McCarrick on the issue during a question period following the Cardinal's address.

"In a very pointed question, Bishop Henry asked 'What do you do when you have politicians who refuse to the invitation to dialogue, and act rather contemptuously with regard to Catholic teaching?' It was at that point that Cardinal McCarrick, for the first time, publicly seemed to indicate Rome's constant direction on the matter.

"'You have no choice in the matter. That person should not partake of communion. Sometimes you just have to do it,' he replied, according to press reports."

Mr. Westen continued: " However, there is some notable ambiguity in McCarrick's answer in that he still did not explicitly respond that communion must be denied. It could be taken that he was indicating that the person must be told that he should not receive communion which leaves it up to the individual, rather than the particular pastor, to determine the outcome of the situation."

That construction seems forced and obviously would be wrong: Canon 915 does not make Communion distributable upon demand.

The USCCB is not supposed to tolerate sacrilege and public scandal from the powerful as well as from the powerless.

Michael J. Gaynor

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Biography - Michael J. Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.

Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.

The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.

Gaynor currently contributes regularly to,,, and and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.

Gaynor's email address is

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