During a July 2013 interview, Pope Francis offered one of the defining comments of his papacy.
Asked about gay priests, Francis answered, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
That question became the focus of pondering whether the pope was overhauling 2,000 years of Catholic doctrine regarding homosexuality. But that missed the point. His intent was to emphasize that only God can judge homosexuals - or any of us, for that matter.
Francis’s remark came back to me when I watched House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s finger-wagging lecture of a reporter who had dared ask whether she wanted to impeach President Donald Trump because she hated him.
“I don’t hate anybody,” Pelosi scolded Sinclair Broadcasting’s James Rosen. “I was raised in a Catholic house. We don’t hate anybody, not anybody in the world. Don’t accuse me of hate.”
“As a Catholic, I resent your using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me,” she continued. “I don’t hate anyone.”
Pelosi added, “I still pray for the president. I pray for the president all the time.”
Pelosi blew the matter out of proportion, as Rosen did not accuse her of hate; he asked a question. And of course, regarding Trump, we don’t know exactly what Pelosi prays for. Perhaps it’s for shorter neckties.
Nonetheless, liberals hailed Pelosi’s indignation, and many applauded her invoking a religion they themselves - I would say hate, but let’s say... - despise.
As a Catholic, as Pelosi would say, I appreciate the speaker standing up for her (our) faith. Too often we Catholics are easy targets for - well, I would say hate, but... - derision, ridicule and loathing.
Yet my problem with Pelosi and her defenders is that they really don’t care about Catholicism in totality.
First and foremost, Pelosi supports abortion. According to the church’s catechism, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely (emphasis added) from the moment of conception.” Pelosi obviously does no such thing.
A few weeks ago a brave priest in South Carolina denied Joe Biden holy communion - which Catholics know is the consecrated body of Christ, and is the “source and summit” of the Catholic faith. Explaining his stance, the Rev. Robert Morey of Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Florence noted, “Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching. ... I will keep Mr. Biden in my prayers.” Perhaps Fr. Morey can pray for Pelosi as well.
The speaker also supports same-sex marriage. As the catechism explains, “Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. ... Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another ... is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death.” Meanwhile, it says, “Homosexual persons are called to chastity.”
Pelosi is from San Francisco, a notorious sanctuary city for illegal immigrants, and she is a staunch opponent of Trump’s immigration reforms. The catechism says wealthy nations “are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin.” But, it adds, “Political authorities... may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.” In other words, we should welcome newcomers, but we can require assimilation and limit how many enter and under what conditions.
Lastly, during their frequent spats, Pelosi has called Trump “a coward,” “cruel,” an “imposter” and a Russin asset, by suggesting that with him “all roads lead to Putin.” Such retorts stand in contrast to the catechism, which offers, “Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor... and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect.”
When asked whether Trump derangement syndrome is driving her to overturn the last election, Pelosi conveniently played the Catholic card - which conflicts with almost every position she holds.
I’d say she also was playing politics - but then again, who am I to judge?
Bill Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the editorial page editor of The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida.