Nancy Pelosi had Catholics exorcise her house after her husband was attacked

January 30, 2023 • 12:45 pm

I still think Nancy Pelosi was a terrific speaker and politically very astute, but when I hear things like this, it throws me into cognitive dissonance. Below is a headline and a short article from Business Insider, which drew from Mo Dowd’s piece in the NYT that I highlighted the other day.

What it says:

Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had Catholic priests perform an exorcism of her house after her husband was attacked by an assailant looking for her in October, her daughter told The New York Times.

“I think that weighed really heavy on her soul. I think she felt really guilty. I think that really broke her,” their daughter Alexandra Pelosi told the paper.

“Over Thanksgiving, she had priests coming, trying to have an exorcism of the house and having prayer services,”  said Alexandra Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi has spoken openly about her Catholic faith.

Paul Pelosi was hospitalized with a skull fracture after being attacked at the couple’s San Francisco home with a hammer.

And verification from the NYT, from Dowd’s profile. I can’t believe I read that so fast I missed this bit:

Alexandra, always the id to her mother’s superego, was more blunt: “I think that weighed really heavy on her soul. I think she felt really guilty. I think that really broke her. Over Thanksgiving, she had priests coming, trying to have an exorcism of the house and having prayer services.”

What am I supposed to think now? Not only is Pelosi Catholic and pious, which means she has unsubstantiated and delusional beliefs about religion, but she also seems to believe in either Satan or demons!

Well, so long as someone does a good job in Congress for the Democrats, I suppose I can let this slide, but it still freaks me out.

h/t: Fred

54 thoughts on “Nancy Pelosi had Catholics exorcise her house after her husband was attacked

    1. Judging from what was on public display during the 15 rounds of voting by the members-elect of the 118th Congress to confirm a new Speaker earlier this month, there appears to be no shortage of demonical members of the current House, including Gosar the Gozerian (R – Sumeria, ca. 6,000 BCE). 🙂

  1. My father-in-law received his PhD in inorganic chemistry from Yale where he studied with Lars Onsager. FIL a devout Catholic to the end of his days. I don’t know how he was able to hold such opposing systems in his mind, but he was a fine scientist and true to his church.

    1. Lars Onsanger visited Rockefeller University for some months and we had adjoining rooms sharing a bathroom. He complained because I had my girlfriend living with me and he found ladies’ undies in the bathroom. They kicked me out of the dorm for that! But I had to look at his false teeth in a glass over the sink every day!

      1. Personally, I’ve always found that some ladies’ undies in the bathroom improves a pad’s atmosphere — especially if there are some ladies around to whom the undies belong.

  2. Not only is Pelosi Catholic and pious, which means she has unsubstantiated and delusional beliefs about religion, but she also seems to believe in either Satan or demons!

    I have listened to many pious Catholics who believe in Satan and demons 🙂

    By the way, Satan is in Maguindanao, Philippines.

  3. When I was in college, I had a good friend who was also a flaming radical, back in the SDS days of late 60s. She also had grown up in a very Irish, very traditionally Catholic family. Her dad, a coal miner’s son, despised Vatican II. But she was an atheist when I knew her. We were at Ohio University, in SE Ohio.

    On Walpurgis-nacht, a terrific thunderstorm came up, making the country house we were in shake, lightning all around. Her dog became very agitated, got out the door, ran into the road, and was struck by a truck, killing him. At that point my friend became hysterical, got a candle and proceeded to put crosses from dripping wax on every window and door. Something her grandmother, born in the old country, did on that night every year. Many European readers here will know what that was about.

    1. Roger that Marilyn. Her religion or lack of same as it pertains to her private world is her business alone. As you say, as long as she does not impose it on anyone else, and I would add does not look to it for guidance in decision-making on policies that affect the rest of us.

      1. Well, I agree that it’s her own decision. But why should you come on here and tell me that I shouldn’t reassess what I think about Pelosi when I find out that she commissions exorcisms? It’s not like I’m preventing her from believing in her delusions, is it, now?

        1. I must admit that I am very confused. The last few times I have posted a comment your replies have come across as if I am insulting you. I do not understand why this happens. It has made me hesitant to post comments at all. It has hurt my feelings that I seem to be so misunderstood. I have always admired and respected you and your opinions. I just don’t get what the problem is?

          1. Hmmm Marilyn. (12 hrs later…hope you see this). By the indentation of the “reply”, It looks like the sanctioning is aimed at my comment rather than yours. I do not know why; neither of us suggested that he reassess; we just commented on her keeping her private religious beliefs separate from her actions as a constitutional officer. In any case, I surely appreciate your thoughtful comments…and hate the limited bandwidth of the written words versus an actual face to face or even zoom conversation. But the cost of a misunderstanding here and there is well worth the value of getting peoples’ thoughts and comments on the weit issues a public airing.

            1. (Also for Marilyn)

              Choice of brower may make a difference: WEIT via Safari allows me to see if comments are where I intended, and gives me 15 mins to format or edit. Comments made via Google Chrome weren’t showing up at all, or hours, or a day later (or never).

              But Google lets me see the visuals of Twitter links, Safari won’t. (IDK if it’s just a local problem, which is why I only use Safari for comments.)

    2. Yes, you make the key point. She probably suffers from cognitive dissonance while simultaneously claiming to be a devout Catholic and very pro-abortion, for example. But, who cares? She was a great Speaker and was instrumental in getting many Democratic bills passed in the House. This is all that counts. In other words, her understanding of the Constitution, which includes the right to an abortion, makes her personal religious beliefs irrelevant. The same thing seems to apply to Biden as well. This is what separates them from the Republican Party, teeming with Christian nationalists.

      1. Technically, I think Pelosi is, like other Catholic Democrats, pro-abortion rights, rather than pro-abortion. Most Catholic Democrats (including Pres. Joe Biden) are personally opposed to abortion, but don’t believe in foisting their religious views on others who do not share them.

        1. That is a good point, and an important part of such debates.
          It seems like a symptom of the times that people often think things should either be compulsory or forbidden, that not fighting to have something banned means you endorse it.

    3. So if she were a QAnon supporter you would feel the same?

      Exorcism is pretty extreme. We are entering Salem witch trial territory.

      1. Yes, the doublethink is strong here. If Donald Trump had an exorcism, I think the tone of some of the comments would be very different. There would be no “it’s his own business” stuff. People would be making fun of him and saying it shows what a loon he is.

        But suddenly everyone becomes all kumbaya when it’s Pelosi.

  4. This doesn’t sound like the kind of situation where the Church would approve an exorcism. I could certainly see her inviting a priest to her home to pray or give a blessing, though; she’s always been a fairly devout Catholic.


  5. First thing that occurred to me when reading this is that Pelosi having an exorcism performed is going to cause a lot of mental anguish for conservative religious Republicans. One thing they really, really love is when politicians do batsh*t religious rituals involving God & Jesus: it’s a great role model for the less devout & provides a comforting reassurance that our Nation is a Christian one. Pentecostal, Catholic, whatever — exorcisms show you know the real Enemy and the solution is God. How wonderful!

    But it’s… Nancy Pelosi.

    Oh. No. However will they decide what they should be feeling about this?

    1. Sastra, keep in mind that the conservative Evangelicals despise the Catholics, whom they abominate as the Scarlet Woman of the Book of Revelation.

    1. Why should you care what her personal religious beliefs are if, as Speaker of the House, she did not let those beliefs in any way prevent her from supporting legislation that she believed was constitutional and necessary, such as her support of legislation to make abortion legal nationwide? I couldn’t care less what her religious beliefs are. Her actions as a leader of the Democratic Party are all that matters to me. The same goes for Biden.

    2. I’m with you, Greg. I always lose a bit of respect for someone when I find out they are religious. I never say it out loud but I cannot help but think “Really? You believe in god? damn it, you’re an adult, how can you still believe in such stupid bullshit?!” I have a similar reaction when I find out someone votes republican. “Huh? But you seemed so nice.” Again, I don’t say it out loud. But what I will say, or type, out loud here is how odd that so many on this site are jumping to her defense. I mean, of course it’s her right, and of course as long as she doesn’t push her nonsense on anyone else, but really, how can she believe in such stupid bullshit?!

  6. Please don’t be too surprised as at your age ( which is the same as mine) you should sadly submit that our species is still rather stupid and insecure. But maybe I’m being too harsh; perhaps it’s just that it is so much easier to let others do the heavy lifting. Actually, I’m adjusting to the reality that most educated professionals do not read your books and have only the most superficial and cursory interest in Dawkins, Pinker, Hitchens and my personal favorite, Daniel Dennett. Rest assured that Nancy, our brilliant former speaker, is no admirer of how Darwinian Natural Selection is indeed a ”universal acid” and that religion ( any religion) is oh so comforting.

    I do see you personally as a prophet, enlightening critical thinkers across the intellectual spectrum to always keep an open mind. Who was it who said the real meaning of life is looking forward to a delicious lunch with a good friend? No demons allowed.

  7. I can just about deal with Pelosi being a committed Catholc. The one who REALLY freaks me out is Stephen Colbert.

  8. blows my mind. 2023 and there are still people who take exorcism seriously out there. I hope I don’t meet any. 🙂
    NYC (FL)

    1. There are psychiatrists who believe in demonic possession. A shrink named M. Scott Peck claimed to have participated in exorcisms and wrote a best-selling book “People of the Lie” describing his experiences.

  9. Fear. She must have done this because of fear. Even people who are rational in everyday matters may behave differently when confronted with a traumatic event. The exorcism won’t be substantively helpful, but it probably soothes her mind. She was an extraordinary Speaker of the House, despite her imperfections.

  10. I actually think it’s pretty inappropriate that a lot of these posts are challenging the beliefs of a high ranking member of our government. Maybe you forgot, but you could’ve easily helped her. *play tune* “If there’s something strange, in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!”

  11. If a doctor privately believes demons cause seizures yet treats the seizures with modern medicine, I’d still have to switch doctors. Believing in demons to the point where you are acting on those beliefs is like believing in Dracula and stashing wooden stakes in your underwear drawer. You can do it, but it will bring your sanity into question.

    1. Switching doctors is available, Brian, only if you live somewhere that has an abundance of doctors. In real life you may have to tolerate doctors who have odd personal beliefs if you want free medical care.

      But how would you know if a doctor had only a private belief that demons cause seizures? Doctors and patients don’t normally engage in religious discussions — it’s a boundary violation –, particularly not while one of them is having a seizure. After all, if a doctor is seen coming out of a church as the service ends, it can be assumed that he believes in God. He may even believe that God somehow guides his hands. (Many do in fact believe that.) Would you fire him for confessing his faith in church?

      Literal belief in superstitions is not considered mental illness if it’s culturally appropriate, whether it’s voodoo or a Judeo-Christian God. I really did work with a educated Romanian immigrant who said with a straight face that she believed in vampires and did not seem to be insane in any way relevant to her work.

      1. Many fair points Leslie. Thank you for the reply.

        Correct, doctors don’t normally discuss religious beliefs. Likewise, I’m guessing Nancy didn’t make a habit of discussing her religious beliefs at work, especially a belief in demonic activity. It came out for Nancy, and if it came out for my personal doctor, I’d be tempted to make a switch. 

        It feels strange to say, but I’m not sure all religious beliefs are equal. I don’t think attending a church service compares to ordering up a demonic exorcism. Believing in an unknown creative force called _________ is not the same as believing a factory-made wafer miraculously transforms into the literal flesh of Jesus. There is a cultural form of religion that is on a completely different level than anointing someone with oil and praying for their physical healing.

        If you are asking a priest to make a special trip to exorcise your home (Because God refuses to do it without the ceremony?), you’ve made a clear mental shift from entertaining ideas to actionable beliefs. If your Romanian friend started keeping sharpened stakes at her work desk, security or HR might get involved. Beliefs are different than actions.

        I have students that believe they are called by their deity to protect all people from harm. I also have students that believe the exact same thing and therefore wear a religious knife under their clothing at all times. You can bet HR is involved with only one set of those students.

  12. From the Catholic News Agency

    Pelosi’s office did not respond to CNA’s request for comment by publication. According to the exorcist for the Archdiocese of Washington, any priest can “expel demons” from a house.

    “A priest can only conduct a solemn exorcism of a person with the direct permission of his bishop,” Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, who is also a research associate professor at the Catholic University of America, told CNA Jan. 23.

    “However, to expel demons from a place does not require any special faculties for a priest. As with any ministry of a priest, discretion and protecting the confidentiality of his people involved is expected and important,” Rossetti said.

    1. Thanks for this link (and the links within it). It shows that this was not an “exorcism” in the usual sense, which involves a possessed person, a specially trained priest, and permission of a bishop, and is called the “Rite of Major Exorcism” (think The Exorcist). It was a set of prayers for a place (essentially blessing the house) that constitutes a form of “minor exorcism”, found in an appendix to Exorcisms and Related Supplications. Baptism, it turns out, includes some of these “minor exorcism” prayers. Having gone to Catholic schools grades 1-12, and been the head altar boy, that these latter prayers even bore the title of “minor exorcism” came as a surprise. That the diocese said it was “unaware” of an exorcism confirms that there was not an “exorcism” as most people conceive it.


    2. As I understand the theory, somewhat tongue in cheek, a personal exorcism is when an evil spirit enters a person, metaphorically like a bacterial illness. A trained professional is then called in to administer the equivalent of spiritual antibiotics to the afflicted one. But this is more like someone tramps into a house with manure-covered shoes. A lower-level practitioner then goes around applying spiritual bleach or similar sanitizer to clean out any bad spiritual stuff that may have gotten into the floor or such. This doesn’t require nearly as high a level of skill as treating a person.

      I suppose it makes sense on its own terms.

  13. I suppose one way to relieve your cognitive dissonance might be to realise that this isn’t really much more insane than other beliefs that religious people harbour and sometimes act on (e.g., transubstantiation), just that this one happens to be less commonly acted on, so we’re less desensitised to its absurdity.

  14. In my country, sometimes after someone (usually, but not always, a child) suffers a great scare, he is led to a person – typically a minority member with some claim of supernatural abilities – to “mould a bullet”, i.e. pour molten lead into cold water and it, solidifying, would presumably absorb the fear. People treated by this ritual as children have later told me that it has helped them, while admitting that there is no rational basis in it. Humans are not entirely rational beings (no matter how hard they try), and they invent unrelated rituals to cope with problems. The attack on Pelosi’s home and husband must have been extremely traumatic. If Catholic “exorcism” has helped the family mentally reclaim their home from the attacker, I don’t find it a big deal.

  15. This calls to mind the New York magazine interview with Antonin Scalia, a Catholic who was always held up as veritable giant of conservative jurisprudence. ( He believes in the Devil, he offers absurd reasons for why the Devil isn’t right out in the open like the good ol’ days, and when the interviewer seems surprised at the his antedelulian views on all of this, he offers the lamest appeals to popularity and authority imaginable as his defense for his idiocy.

    Pelosi or Scalia are exhibits for the argument that Jerry and the ‘New Atheists’ have been making for a long time now: the so-called ‘sophistication’ modern theists are supposed to possess is mostly BS. When it comes to religion, even ‘sophisticated’ believers have transparently stupid reasons for believing.

  16. The argument that people can believe anything they want as long as they don’t foist their opinions on others leaves me cold. Mostly because it is not possible to have such beliefs not inform every other belief you have, one way or the other. Cognitive dissonance may help us out but I don’t want to rely on that feature in a person if there is a better candidate around.
    When I see things like this I just think that we are doomed to decades more superstitious gibberish dominating large parts of the world’s powers.
    Her beliefs form part of a solid grounding of general acceptance that such nonsense is valid and even the norm as such propping up every other extreme religious belief floating around.
    As such her beliefs do hurt others.

    I am going to try a different email address with this comment to see if I get a notification of further comments.

  17. First, it was being told that parents shouldn’t be able to teach their religious faith to their own children in their own home (as my wife and I did), and that doing so was “brainwashing” and “child abuse.” Now, Nancy Pelosi (after a lifetime of promoting lots of political causes dear to the hearts of “nones”) is attacked for having the temerity to actually act on the tenets of her Catholic faith in her own home after a horrifying experience by asking a priest to come and bless their home.
    I guess online atheists really are a bunch of creeps.

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