All the political conventions have now ended and our nation moves toward the general election in the fall.
Our political parties, each in their own ways, seek to address the concerns and needs of the people of this great nation.
However, in the course of these political debates, there sometimes arises and apparent contradiction between faith and politics - a "contradiction" with is neither appropriate nor intended by our founding fathers.
Catholic public leaders who feel inconvenienced by the debate about abortion tend to take a hard line when talking about this "separation of church and state." But their idea of separation often seems to work one way. In fact, some officials seem comfortable in the role of theologian. And that warrants some interest, not as a "political" issue, but as a matter of accuracy and justice about the teachings of the Catholic church.
Quoting a letter Archbishop Chaput, the Archbishop of Denver, sent to his people, and with his permission, I feel it imperative to speak out on a recent event in order to teach clearly what the Catholic church teaches.
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. Interviewed on "Meet the Press" on Aug. 24, Speaker Pelosi was asked when human life begins.
She said, "I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that 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 - St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose."
If Speaker Pelosi has, in her words, studied the issue "for a long time," she must know very well that ardent, practicing Catholics learn from the historical record that from the time of the Apostles, the Christian tradition overwhelmingly held that abortion was grievously evil.
In the absence of modern medical knowledge, some of the early fathers held that abortion was homicide; others that it was tantamount to homicide; but none diminished the unique evil of abortion as an attack on life itself, and the early Christian church closely associated abortion with infanticide.
In short, from the beginning, the believing Christian community held that abortion was always gravely wrong.
Of course, we now know with biological certainty exactly when human life begins - at conception. Thus, today's religious alibis for abortion and so-called "right to choose" are nothing more than that - alibis that break radically with historic Christian and Catholic belief.
Abortion kills an unborn, developing human life. It is always gravely evil, and so are the evasions employed to justify it. Catholics who make excuses for it - whether they're famous or not - fool only themselves and abuse the fidelity of those Catholics who do sincerely seek to follow the Gospel and live their Catholic faith.
The duty of the church and other religious communities is moral witness. The duty of the state and its officials is to serve the common good, which is always rooted in moral truth. A proper understanding of the "separation of church and state" does not imply a separation of faith from political life. But of course, it's always important to know what your faith actually teaches.
Speaker Pelosi obviously does not know what the church teaches on the intrinsic, moral evil of abortion and she has caused much confusion among Catholics and other people of faith.
The Christian church has always taught that abortion is morally wrong - and as the people of this nation, we must work so that our faith informs our laws and truly works for the common good of ALL.
The Rev. John Bateman is pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Lewistown, and St. Jude Thaddeus, Mifflintown.