1. Religion & Spirituality
Scott P. Richert

Nancy Pelosi Invokes Saint Joseph on Healthcare

By March 19, 2010

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This morning, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) held a press conference in which she called for a little divine intervention to aid the Democrats in passing their healthcare bill, which is scheduled for a vote this Sunday:

Today is the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, particularly significant to Italian-Americans. And it's a day where we remember and pray to Saint Joseph to benefit the workers of America. And that's exactly what our healthcare bill will do.

There's a bit of a problem, however. Speaker Pelosi is proud of her Italian heritage, and she likes to trumpet her Catholicism (particularly when there's an obvious political advantage in doing so). So she should know that today is not the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, but the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary. The Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker is May 1.

Italians (not just Italian-Americans) have a special devotion to San Giuseppe and celebrate his March 19 feast with Saint Joseph altars. But neither Italian-Americans or Italians in general attach particular significance to the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, probably because it's a relatively recent feast, instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1955 to provide a Catholic alternative to communist and socialist celebrations of May Day.

Invoking one's Catholicism (or one's ethnicity, for that matter) for partisan political purposes isn't exactly kosher. But if the Speaker of the House insists on doing so, she should at least make sure that she's got her saints and feast days straight.

March 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm
(1) Totu Tuus says:

While, yes, St. Joseph is the patron of the universal church, today is the feast day of “St. Joseph, husband of Mary” – and he is the protector of families and patron of the unborn!
Just as he did for unborn Holy Child.

March 19, 2010 at 3:45 pm
(2) Scott P. Richert says:

Very true—and another reason why it’s particularly grating that Speaker Pelosi invoked Saint Joseph for political reasons on this day, and on this bill.

March 19, 2010 at 4:11 pm
(3) Helen says:

As a Catholic and a Catholic school product,Nancy made a huge error about St Joseph. If she got that wrong just imagine how wrong she is about the health care biil!!!!

March 20, 2010 at 1:57 am
(4) Red says:

This article is a bit inaccurate. St. Joseph, father of Jesus and St. Joseph the Worker are one and the same and therefore it is somewhat appropriate for Ms. Pelosi to invoke his name. She made the mistake of misnaming the celebration. However, St. Joseph, in his role as a carpenter and bread winner for the family of Jesus, has always been the Patron saint of workers among other things. The May first feast is an additional and optional celebration of the same man. It is not as if she spoke of a different St. Joseph, such as St. Joseph of Cuppertino.

March 20, 2010 at 7:04 am
(5) Tood says:

How ironic that Speaker Pelosi, a pro-death “Catholic”, is paying homage to the Protector of the Unborn.

We have lost our way as a Faith.

CCC, 2270-2275

March 20, 2010 at 8:38 am
(6) Scott P. Richert says:

Red, the article is not “a bit inaccurate.” Speaker Pelosi, in her eagerness to use Saint Joseph to score political points, made three very specific claims, all of which were untrue:

“Today is the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker”: It is the Feast of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary; the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker is May 1.
The Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker is “particularly significant to Italian-Americans”: The Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker has no particular significance to Italian-Americans; the actual feast celebrated yesterday does.
“And it’s a day where we remember and pray to Saint Joseph to benefit the workers of America”: May 1 is a day in which we pray to Saint Joseph for workers; March 19 is a day in which the universal Church commemorates Saint Joseph’s acceptance of God’s plan and his protection of the Holy Family. For Italians, and Italian-Americans, March 19 is additionally a day in which they commemorate Saint Joseph’s intercession to end a severe drought in Sicily, which is the origin of the tradition of Saint Joseph altars.

You might wish to say that all of these errors are unimportant, but you cannot say that point them out is “a bit inaccurate.” The Catholic Church venerates certain saints under different titles on different days for different reasons. Speaker Pelosi, who went on to tout her own Catholic education to try to score further political points, has no excuse for making these three major errors.

March 20, 2010 at 10:43 pm
(7) Red says:

Fair points Mr. Richert. I concede that you are correct on all of them. The only thing that still strikes me about your article, is that to the unfamiliar it makes it seem that it is referring to two completely different St. Josephs. I, having grown up heavily involved in the church, know that they are one and the same. However, I think that the casual reader will get he sense that Pelosi was completely wrong and confused. Still, she definitely stretched the matter to make a political point and that, on principal, was probably wrong and uncalled for.

March 20, 2010 at 11:09 pm
(8) Pam says:

Pelosi should leave any saints and ALL saints out of politics. They aren’t going to intervene and sway the votes. And as far as I can see, she will NEVER become St Nancy. Egad! WWJD? Sorry Joe, got your day wrong, but be sure to vote for Obamacare?

March 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm
(9) klincoln says:

Despite my many disagreements with Speaker Pelosi on public policy, I was touched by her public statement connecting of the lives of the saints with every one’s daily struggles. I wish you had added an enlightening post on the reason beloved St. Joseph has two feast days. Instead what I’ve read here made me sad. I’m surprised you don’t proceed with some humility in pronouncing judgment on another’s heart and faith. How can anyone but God be certain of her motives? Is weeding out “major errors” like Pelosi’s what you mean to show the Church on earth is all about in your blog?

If this were a parable, wouldn’t you worry you’d playing the part of the Pharisee?

March 23, 2010 at 2:19 pm
(10) Scott P. Richert says:

klincoln, I didn’t “pronounc[e] judgment on another’s heart and faith,” or even speculate about her “motives.” I discussed her actions and her words, both of which everyone could see.

March 23, 2010 at 2:53 pm
(11) Rosalee Adams says:

I find this laughable given how she supports abortion and gay marriage. Therefore, it must be like a talisman invoking St. Joseph?

May 12, 2010 at 12:03 am
(12) Devon says:

well at least miss (pitiful phony) Catholic Pelosi wasnt as wrong & fraudulent about what our Catholic
Faith teaches about St. Joseph
as she was when she so diabolicaly and deceitfully attempted to publicly spew regarding her lying rhetoric about America’s slaughtering of its youngest brothers & sisters in the womb….

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