Pelosi: Catholic Archdioceses Not ‘Speaking’ for Catholic Church When They Sued Administration
by ELIZABETH HARRINGTON
June 7, 2012
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said on Thursday that the 43 Catholic institutions-including the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and the Archdiocese of New York--that are suing the Obama administration over its regulation mandating that all health-care plans must cover sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients are not speaking for the Catholic Church.
CNSNews.com asked Pelosi, who is Catholic, whether she supported her church in the lawsuits it has filed, which argue that the administration's regulation violates the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.
"What about the 43 Catholic institutions [that] have now sued the administration over the regulation that requires them to provide contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacients in their health care plans?" CNSNews.com asked. "They say that violates their religious freedom. Do you support the Catholic Church in their lawsuits against the administration?"
"Well, I don't think that's the entire Catholic Church," Pelosi responded. "Those people have a right to sue, but I don't think they're speaking ex cathedra for the Catholic Church.
"And there are people in the Catholic Church, including some of the bishops, who have suggested that some of this may be premature," Pelosi said.
It is unclear why Pelosi would have pointed out that when an archbishop-such as Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York or Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.-sues the federal government of the United States in actions designed to protect the First Amendment rights of American Catholics he is not "speaking ex cathedra" for the Catholic Church.
"Ex cathedra" refers to the infallible authority that Catholics believe the pope exerts when he makes a formal and solemn declaration on matters of faith and morals.
In a 1993 audience, Pope John Paul II quoted the first Vatican Council in explaining the Catholic understanding of the "ex cathedra" authority of the pope.
"When the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in exercising his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians he defines with his supreme apostolic authority that a doctrine on faith and morals is to be held by the whole Church, through the divine assistance promised him in the person of St. Peter, he enjoys that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished to endow his Church in defining a doctrine on faith and morals," said the Vatican Council.
The Catholic teachings that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are morally wrong-the basis for the suits that the Archdioceses of Washington and New York have brought against the Obama administration--are in fact inalterable teachings that the church says are rooted in natural law.