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Catholic Church Abuse of Pelosi's Religion Should be Condemned

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By Robert Weiner and Abby Paras

Priests in the Catholic Church are not allowed to marry or have children, yet choose to speak on the issue of abortion, and directly targeted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi is not only Catholic but also a mother and a grandmother, and an outspoken proponent of abortion rights. She is the latest among many Catholic politicians to be banned by a local clergy member from receiving Holy Communion for their pro-choice stances. Though she is not the first and will likely not be the last politician to receive this treatment from the Church, Pelosi made sure to point out the hypocrisy of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, saying that she is "opposed to" the death penalty, and "so is the church, but they take no actions against people who may not share their view." That is only the tip of the iceberg.

Pelosi was entirely right in pointing out the hypocrisy regarding the death penalty but should have taken it a step further and brought up the fact that several other Catholic politicians, like Texas Governor Greg Abbott, are anti-abortion but support the death penalty, and have not been subject to the same treatment by the Church. The Catholic Church opposes both abortion and the death penalty but clearly prioritizes one issue over the other. Additionally, Julie Moos, Director of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, pointed out at an NPC forum June 24 on titled "Covering Faith: How Journalists Can Build Trust," that 69% of Americans identify as Christian, and 22% of those say they are Catholic. The Catholic Church's influence over United States politics is significant.

Furthermore, Pelosi could have highlighted the sexual abuse of children and the subsequent coverups. The Catholic Church has had a long history of sexual abuse and covering it up, particularly those of young, male members of the Church. This has been an ongoing crisis, not just in the United States, but all around the world, including Vatican City. Due to the statute of limitations, most of these cases are wiped out of the justice system, as well as from the Church, including that by top cardinals in the Vatican. He also encouraged churches to declare bankruptcy to avoid being sued, which would in turn protect priests who abused children.

Archbishop Cordileone actively refused to release the names of clergy members who were accused of sexual abuse in his diocese and has previously claimed that the Catholic Church in the US is "oppressed". However, when it comes to the issue of abortion, he has no trouble speaking out and criticizing Pelosi and other politicians.

Even President Joe Biden has come under scrutiny from the Catholic Church for his pro-choice views, although most bishops eventually backed down under pressure from the Vatican. Pope Francis stated that priests should handle the issue in a "pastoral" manner rather than political. This statement needs to be taken one step further; Communion must not be used as a political weapon. It should not be a matter of Catholic canon but be at the discretion of the priest giving communion, as no physical crime has been committed by people who have chosen choice. You cannot withhold communion from the Speaker of the House of the United States, a dedicated, practicing Catholic mother and grandmother who is devoted to the Church, because your personal opinion is opposed to hers on a matter of legitimate national debate.

Pelosi's focus on the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church reveals a much deeper issue that goes beyond just abortion rights. Pelosi has historically supported more progressive policies such as welfare programs like the Affordable Care Act and bills supporting LGBT rights. Many Republicans, who are almost always the party backed by the Catholic Church, tend to vote against these policies that should adhere to the Catholic virtues of charity and kindness. While Pelosi's policies have generally taken moral positions regarding human rights and dignity, the Catholic Church, especially in the US, cannot say the same.

There are several solutions to help curb sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. These solutions, however, would require the Church to shift its focus away from the issue of abortion and put the spotlight on its internal problems, since it is difficult for the government to get involved in church matters. One important thing the Church can do internally is to stop using 'kick upstairs' promotions to protect clergy members who have abused children. Several cardinals have headed abuse coverups in their cities this way. Another option is to restore the marriage option for priests, which existed until 1139, because without that, they go after the most vulnerable contacts they have, including altar boys. Stronger background checks on clergy members and mandatory exposure of those who have been credibly accused of abuse would be an important start in not only acknowledging the victims but moving towards a better future in the Church.

Robert Weiner was a spokesman in the Clinton and Bush White Houses, the U.S. House Government Operations Committee, and senior staff for Cong. Conyers, Rangel, Claude Pepper, Ed Koch, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and Four-Star Gen. Barry McCaffrey. Abby Paras, a practicing Catholic and culture magazine editor at the College of William and Mary, is policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.

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