Are We Serious About Pluralism?
Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently spoke on faith and justice at Georgetown University. She talked about her Catholic upbringing and how she was raised to see that everyone has the spark of the Divine within. This was just days after Judge Kyle Duncan listened to Stanford Law students heckle him because, among other concerns, they disagreed with his Catholic beliefs.
If Pelosi is serious about everyone having the spark of the Divine, perhaps we could have a national intervention — starting with those law students. The problem is, I’m not sure the former speaker is serious. Not in such a way that we could honestly try to hash out what it means to live out Catholic social teachings in the world today. If she were, she would not dismiss her bishop’s concerns about her support for legal abortion and even its expansion.
We Need a National Intervention
Pelosi talked repeatedly about advocating for children during the Georgetown event. I honestly would like to find common ground with her there. Imagine if we could come together to help children who need families. What if we could actually help single mothers who want to raise their children but are facing pressure to abort? But Pelosi is derisive of anyone who talks about abortion, using her status as a mother and grandmother as a bludgeon.
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In the nine months since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, I’ve been rereading what Pope John Paul II wrote about human life. There is this beautiful paragraph where he addresses women who have had abortions:
I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly.
If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child.
He said that some of the most powerful leaders in helping women heal after abortions are women who have been there themselves. This is the mercy that the pro-life movement is about. It’s not just about prohibitions. It’s about life and hope and love.
Life and Hope and Love
Now that Roe has been overturned, there are states where unborn life is being protected, and some women have expressed relief. This is a chance to rethink our politics around abortion, including the laws around drug stores carrying abortion pills. That’s not privacy and compassion for women. That’s not women’s rights or freedom or health care. It’s cruelty.
I believe Nancy Pelosi reads Scripture and wants to live the Beatitudes. I do, too, and I know that I do so imperfectly. If Pelosi is serious about seeing the spark of the Divine in others, she could lead something different than anything we see in the public square today. She and her family have sacrificed and suffered. She does have credibility. Now she could take her Catholic faith and challenge us to actually see one another with dignity, even when we disagree. Even in politics.
My takeaway from Stanford and Georgetown is that we are not actually serious about pluralism. At the same time, both events can both be opportunities — catalysts for doing something different. Duncan and Pelosi are both people of faith — both Catholics. Maybe they can lead our much-needed national intervention. It’s worth a prayer.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review magazine and author of the new book A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living. She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan’s pro-life commission in New York, and is on the board of the University of Mary She can be contacted at [email protected]