Two prominent Roman Catholic archbishops say House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic Democrat, misstated church teachings about abortion in a recent television appearance, the latest sign that the U.S. Catholic hierarchy will not stay silent about politics this election year.
In an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Pelosi said "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."
Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, citing the teaching responsibility entrusted to bishops, issued a statement late Monday 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, said in 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 continued.
Over the weekend, Chaput said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that Democratic vice presidential nominee-in-waiting Sen. Joseph Biden should refrain from receiving Communion because of his abortion stance.
A Pelosi spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.