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Brokaw Gives Pelosi a Chance to Help Obama on Question of When Life Begins

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who described herself as an “ardent and practicing” Catholic, told Tom Brokaw on Sunday's broadcast of Meet the Press that the Catholic Church – like Senator Barack Obama – has “not been able” to determine conclusively when life begins.


The statement came after Brokaw played for Pelosi the now-famous clip of Obama saying, during the Saddleback Civic Forum on the Presidency hosted by Pastor Rick Warren on August 16, that determining when babies get human rights is “above my pay grade” Brokaw set up the clip, and his question, by stating that “the right” has been giving Obama's response “a lot of attention.”


Brokaw: There was a very well publicized and very effective interview by the Pastor Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church in California of the two candidates recently. And on the right especially, response from Senator Obama to the question of when life begins has been getting a lot of attention. We want to just share with you how that went. And then you can take a look at it and respond to it for us.


VIDEO CLIP Rick Warren: At what  point does  a  baby get human  rights in your view?


VIDEO CLIP Barack Obama: Well, I think that whether you're looking at it from the theological perspective or scientific perspective,  answering that question with specificity, you know,  is -- is  above my   pay grade.


Brokaw: Senator Obama saying  the question of when life  begins is above his  pay grade, whether you're  looking at it  scientifically or  theologically. If he were to come to you and say, “Help me out here, Madame Speaker, when does life begin?” What would you tell him?


Twice Speaker Pelosi said the Catholic Church had not come to a firm conclusion on the issue. Twice she was wrong.


1) Pelosi: I would say that as an ardent practicing Catholic this is an issue I have studied for a long time, and what I know is over the centuries the Doctors of the Church have not been  able to make that definition.  And as Senator…uh… senator…   St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know.


2) Pelosi: I don't think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this and there are those who've decided  --


Brokaw: Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it begins at the point of conception.


Pelosi: I understand that, I understand that …and this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the Church this is an issue of controversy.


The only “controversy” that exists is that created by liberal Catholics who want to pretend that Church teachings aren't clear.  Pelosi's use of St. Augustine – whom she stumblingly called Senator first – is a common ploy by left-leaning Catholics trying to justify their support of abortion. They often quote from Augustine's work On Exodus in which the saint was writing about when a soul infuses a body and therefore makes it “fully formed.”  However, in another work, On Marriage and Concupiscence, Augustine condemned both abortion and contraception as immoral.


Pelosi's statement about the church being conflicted about this issue “for centuries” is also false.  If she is an “ardent” Catholic then she should know that the teachings of the church have been consistent on abortion since before 80 A.D.  According to The Catholic Catechism: A Contemporary Catechism of the Teaching of the Catholic Church:


The Roman Empire into which Christianity was born practiced abortion and infanticide on a wide scale. … From the outset, therefore, the Christian religion was confronted with a society in which abortion was the rule rather than the exception.  The Church reacted immediately and vigorously.  The Didache (composed before A.D. 80) told the faithful what they must not do: 'You shall not procure abortion. You shall not destroy a newborn child.' … On the level of morality, Roman Catholicism has always held that the direct attack on an unborn fetus, at any time after conception, is a grave sin. (pp. 334-335) 


It is probably too much to ask Tom Brokaw to be familiar with the history of the Catholic Church's teachings on the subject of abortion.  He gets a small amount of credit for challenging Pelosi about the Church's stance “at the moment,” but Brokaw completely ignored – as have all of the mainstream media – the glaring issue of Obama's deception on the issue of infanticide.  As CMI documented last week liberal media have averted their gaze from Obama's real record on the fight he led against an anti-infanticide bill in the Illinois state senate from 2001- 2003 and the fact that he has misled the public about it for five years.


One wonders how Pelosi would have reacted to this question: “Madame Speaker, how do you justify the deception your candidate has practiced concerning his record on infanticide?”


What is clear from Brokaw's question is that the media elite know Obama blew it at the Saddleback forum.  As he enters Convention Week look for the media to do their level best to mitigate his failures, flaws and shallow resume by giving his supporters and surrogates every opportunity to make the case for his election.


Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.