WASHINGTON – Anti-abortion advocate Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Tuesday for controversial statements she made over the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion.
In an interview with FOX News, McCotter said Pelosi is "free to join other faiths" if she disagrees with the church.
Pelosi said Sunday that "doctors of the church" have not been able to define when life begins and that "over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy" in a televised appearance on NBC's Meet the Press.
McCotter, who is Catholic, told FOX News that he and other House Republicans penned a letter to the Speaker, saying she should have made a "more honest effort to lay out the authentic position of the church."
McCotter suggested that the House Speaker is trying to have it both ways because of her political base. He added that if Pelosi is a practicing Catholic, she should "know better" when it comes to understanding the church's position on abortion.
"I'm going to assume from her remark that she had a fundamental misunderstanding of the Catholic opposition to abortion as a fundamental teaching of the church," McCotter said.
"I hope she understands this is not an historical controversy recently settled but a long-standing, fundamental teaching of the Catholic Church that abortion is inherently immoral. And perhaps it will help open her heart," he continued.
McCotter, who said he used the word "scandal" in his letter, told FOX News that "'scandalous' is the word that many Catholics use when they feel that a Catholic, elected official of the highest rank fundamentally is erroneous about what is Catholic teaching or not."
On Monday, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl also responded negatively to Pelosi's remarks by issuing a statement that read, in part: "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable."
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput and his auxiliary bishop, James Conley, issued a statement posted on the archdiocesan Web site: "Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a gifted public servant of strong convictions and many professional skills. Regrettably, knowledge of Catholic history and teaching does not seem to be one of them."
Abortion "is always gravely evil, and so are the evasions employed to justify it," the statement reads.
In response to the barrage of criticism, Pelosi's spokesman Brendan Daly issued a statement Tuesday, saying: "Her views on when life begins were informed by the views of Saint Augustine, who said: 'the law does not provide that the act [abortion] pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation.'"
"While Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception, many Catholics do not ascribe to that view," Daly said.
FOX News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.