It was the English poet William Congreve, in his play “The Mourning Bride,” 1697, who first penned the line “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” After last week, we must update the warning: “Hell hath no fury like a Catholic woman scorned.”
Even veteran Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor Panic begins to creep into Democratic talks on Biden agenda MORE (D-Calif.) watchers told me they’ve never seen the Speaker explode like she did. Usually, no matter how ugly the taunts, she holds her cool. Tough, but restrained. But when James Rosen of Sinclair shouted out his impertinent question — “Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?” — Pelosi fired back with both barrels.
On one level, Pelosi was destroying one of the cheapest shots in politics: If you disagree with someone, it must be because you hate them. We hear it all the time, from members of both parties. When I opposed former President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, I was accused of being a “Bush hater.” When millions of Democrats supported Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Manchin fires warning shot on plan to expand Medicare Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor MORE (I-Vt.) in the 2016 presidential primary, they were derided as “Clinton haters.” President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE himself tweeted that the FBI investigation into his ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign was triggered by “Trump haters.”
But Pelosi was responding to something much more sinister in that question. Deliberately or not, Rosen had crossed the line. He wasn’t just questioning her politics, he was questioning her faith. And anybody who knows Pelosi knows that is forbidden territory. She’s totally transparent. Yes, she’s a political animal. Certainly the smartest, most effective Speaker of the House in our lifetime, and probably ever. But there are two things that guide her: her family and her unshakeable Catholic faith, which she learned, growing up in Baltimore, from her daily communicant mother.
It is true that Catholics come in many different political stripes. Just look at prominent American Catholics. They include politicians from former Speaker Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE (R-Ga.) to Pelosi and Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroOn The Money — Democrats rush to finish off infrastructure Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Defense bill takes center stage House Democrats introduce B stand-alone bill for Israel's Iron Dome MORE (D-Conn.). Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorWill the DOJ manage to protect our constitutional rights now that the Supreme Court refuses to? Supreme Court trashed its own authority in a rush to gut Roe v Wade Supreme Court's abortion ruling amplifies progressives' call for reform MORE. Columnists E.J. Dionne and Pat Buchanan. There are pro-choice and anti-abortion Catholics, pro-death penalty and anti-capital punishment Catholics, pro-gun control and anti-gun control Catholics, Democratic and Republican Catholics.
On political issues, Catholics are all over the map. They could differ on the time of day. But there are two bedrock principles, central to the gospel, that unite them all: a commitment to the Social Gospel and a rejection of hate for love.
The Social Gospel very simply holds that we’re not on earth merely to get ready for the next life, we have a duty to do the best we can, helping others, in this life, following the dictate of the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Catholics recognize a moral obligation to apply Christian ethics in solving everyday problems such as poverty, education, housing, economic inequality, racism and nuclear proliferation.
And, in so doing, they’re motivated only by love. Again, following Christ’s dictate in the gospel: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those.”
That’s a central tenet of Catholicism. Catholics even count hatred as a sin. Which is why Pelosi told Rosen with such fury: “As a Catholic, I resent your using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone.”
Pelosi’s leading the impeachment inquiry, not because she hates Trump, but because she loves this country. And, yes, she prays for him every day — probably to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.
Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”