Fr. Pavone Just Confronted Nancy Pelosi – a Canon Lawyer's Opinion

by Steve Ray on June 21, 2013

I have some opinions on Fr. Pavone. I also have opinions on Pelosi. I think Pelosi is a fool and I think Fr. Pavone’s letter to her is brilliant and spot on!

I just spent a week with Fr. Pavone in Rome with 150 pilgrims, leading the Priests for Life and Footprints of God pilgrimage for the Day of Life in Rome with the new Holy Father. Having spent a week with Fr. Pavone, I have the right to say what I think.

Fr. Pavone was nothing short of stunning with his homilies. He was precise, accurate, fair-minded and clear. He was approachable, unswervingly orthodox and probably the best defender of the unborn on the planet today.

I can’t imagine spending a week with Pelosi. I think if I did it would be the cause of nightmares for years upon end.

Did Fr. Pavone call on Nancy Pelosi to renounce the Catholic faith?

by Dr. Edward Peters

According to a headline at The Daily Caller, Pavone did. I caution against that characterization of his words.

It would be a grave sin for any Catholic to urge another Catholic, for any reason and in any manner, to leave the Church; if the one doing such urging were a priest the viciousness of the sin would be magnified. So, to suggest that Pavone urged Pelosi to leave the Church is serious stuff. But having read Pavone’s open letter to Pelosi I do not see him doing that.

Scary Lady who is working to undermine the Pope and Western Civilization

The closest Pavone comes to saying anything like ‘leave the Church’ is when he tells Pelosi “Either exercise your duties as a public servant and a Catholic, or have the honesty to formally renounce them.” Now I take the referent for “them” in that sentence to be Pelosi’s “duties as a public servant and a Catholic”.

To be sure, any renouncing of duties is problematic, for as long as one holds an office one may scarcely renounce the duties attached to such office. But Pavone’s words here can, I think, be fairly interpreted as asserting Pelosi’s duty to resign not her duties but the public office that gives rise to those duties (for which office, I would agree, she is unfit).

I think one should take Pavone’s words to Pelosi as follows: if you (Pelosi) really can’t discuss abortion and infanticide competently, let alone recognize and act against the depravity of both, then have the honesty to admit your failing and resign your public office. To that I could only add Amen.

A heroic and eloquent defender of life and Western Civilization

My reading of Pavone’s words is, I grant, more strained when it comes to his perhaps implying that Pelosi should renounce her duties as a Catholic, for one can hardly do that without (sinfully) failing in one’s duties precisely as a Catholic (c. 209).

But, to borrow an insightful observation by a noted pro-life leader, one cannot practice vice virtuously, and so one cannot renounce one’s duties as a Catholic “honestly”. I simply doubt that Pavone is proposing that Pelosi perform the impossible.

Rhetoric sometimes gets in the way of precision but, in the absence of clearer evidence, I do think that Pavone has called upon Pelosi to cease her campaign against babies or, in the alternative, to leave the Catholic Church (honestly or otherwise) for that alternative would itself be a sin, and good priests don’t counsel others to sin.  Ever.



  • Peter says:

    How’s this for precise: Archbishop Cordileone, it’s time to excommunicate Mrs. Pelosi.

  • Ricardo Boncan says:

    Bravo Fr. Pavone! I suppose that is what Canon Lawyers do …over-think these things. It’s nice to hear the legal side of this once in a while though. But from a Catholic layman’s POV, it’s like me telling someone “if you can’t live by Catholic teaching, leave rather than drag other people out of it”, I believe Pope Emeritus Benedict said essentially the same thing sometime ago,
    “According to Human Life International Rome Director, Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro, the comments are very relevant to the current situation in the Catholic Church. Msgr. Barreiro, who holds a doctorate in Dogmatic theology, told LifeSiteNews that “for those Catholics who cannot bring themselves to believe the formal teachings of the Church on life and family matters it would be more honest to leave the Church rather than betraying Her.”

  • randy says:

    Peter. I wonder how many times Pelosi has been picked up for drunk driving? He is a joke?

  • David says:

    Why ruin two people’s lives, Catholic Church? Thou shalt not force other people’s children to have
    unwanted babies.

    I’ve chosen the church of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, and found a wonderful church home there.
    Interestingly, so have 23% of the congregation who were formerly Roman Catholics.

  • Bill912 says:

    So you found the Church of David? Was David crucified for you? Were you baptized in the Name of David?

    Or did you make the gutless choice to attend a “church” that just re-enforces your short-comings and prejudices (particularly your anti-Catholic bigotry so prominently displayed here) instead of challenging them and challenging you to improve yourself?

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