Archbishop of San Francisco refuses Pelosi communion for abortion rights

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The Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, said Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) will be denied the sacrament of Holy Communion because of her vocal support for the right to ‘abortion.

The edict of Cordileone, one of the country’s most conservative Catholic leaders, represents an extraordinary rebuke to Pelosi’s Catholic faith, which the 82-year-old speaker frequently invokes when discussing his family, politics and of his policy.

Democrats and abortion rights advocates have reacted with concern in recent weeks to the leaking of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would strike down abortion rights established in the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision. Last year, Cordileone called for Communion to be withheld from public figures who support abortion rights, but did not mention Pelosi by name at the time.

“After many attempts to speak to her to help her understand the grave harm she is doing, the outrage she is causing and the danger she is risking to her own soul, I have determined that the time has come when I must make a public declaration that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion unless and until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion “rights” and confesses and receives absolution for her cooperation in this evil in the sacrament of Penance,” Cordileone said Friday in a letter to members of his archdiocese.

“So I sent him a notification to that effect, which I have now made public,” he added.

In a separate letter to Pelosi, Cordileone ordered the Speaker of the House “not to appear for Holy Communion” and warned that if she did, she would not receive the sacrament.

A spokesperson for Pelosi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Holy Communion is the central sacrament of Catholicism and the centerpiece of the Catholic Mass – a ritual memorial of Christ’s death on the cross in which bread and wine are believed to be transformed into his flesh and blood.

Catholic archbishops have vast power within their dioceses, and a reversal of Cordileone’s decision would require Vatican intervention, which is unlikely. The order to deny Pelosi communion applies only to Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of San Francisco under Cordileone’s jurisdiction, including the speaker’s home church.

Last September, Pope Francis said the decision to grant communion to politicians who support abortion rights should be made from a pastoral, not a political, perspective. He told reporters: “I have never refused the Eucharist to anyone,” while adding that he had never knowingly met during Communion a politician who supports abortion rights. Francis, however, reiterated that abortion is “murder.”

According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published earlier this month, 55% of Catholics in the United States want the Supreme Court to uphold deer. Catholic teaching opposes abortion, however, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops debated last year the meaning of communion and whether to deny the sacrament to Catholic politicians such as Pelosi or President Biden who support abortion rights.

After a storm of debate, the bishops have clarified that there will be “no national policy of denying communion to politicians”. They then released a document on communion but declined to name politicians who support abortion rights.

In a statement, Jamie L. Manson, president of abortion rights group Catholics for Choice, said Cordileone was “waging a culture war that the bishops have already backed out of.” He called on church leaders to “stop stigmatizing and start listening to Catholics who are pro-choice.”

“We ask Archbishop Cordileone and those who share his crusade to heed Pope Francis’ call to meet,” Manson said. “Remember that the Pope himself, just six months ago, sat down with President Pelosi at this table, and he said definitively that he never refused Communion to anyone. is.”

Anti-abortion group American Life League, meanwhile, applauded Cordileone’s decision and lashed out at Pelosi for his stance on deercalling her “the great deceiver”.

“The American Life League is now calling on Cardinal Wilton Gregory to immediately deny Holy Communion to fake Catholic Joe Biden,” Hugh Brown, the group’s vice president, said in a statement, referring to the Archbishop of Washington.

Pelosi often references her own prayers and her religious responsibility to seek the greater good. When asked in 2018 why she entered politics, she cited growing up in a politically observant family in Baltimore.

“We were always taught in our family that we had a responsibility to others, that our sense of community said that if we could be of service to them, that was our responsibility,” she said. “It was also part of our Catholic faith that we had responsibilities to each other.”

Pelosi is occasionally challenged about her views on abortion at press conferences and in other forums. Her frequent response is to recount her own experience as a mother of five children, all born within the span of six years.

In 2015, a reporter asked Pelosi if an “unborn baby with a human heart and a human liver” was a human.

“I am a devoutly practicing Catholic,” Pelosi replied. “A mother of five children.”

“I think I know more about this subject than you do, with all due respect,” she added. “I don’t intend to answer your question which has no basis in the public policy we do here.”

After Cordileone last year condemned a bill codifying constitutional protections for Roe vs. Wade in federal law as an “atrocity” and “nothing less than child sacrifice,” Pelosi acknowledged a “disagreement” with the prelate.

“I believe God has given us agency to honor our responsibilities,” she said, before speaking again about her own family.

“For us, it was a complete and total blessing, which we enjoy every day of our lives,” Pelosi added. “But it’s none of our business how others choose the size and timing of their family.”

In a letter to members of his archdiocese on Friday, Cordileone said he finds “no pleasure in fulfilling my pastoral duty here” in refusing Pelosi Communion. The speaker “has been at the forefront of my prayer intentions since becoming Archbishop of San Francisco,” he added.

“President Pelosi remains our sister in Christ,” Cordileone said. “His advocacy for the care of the poor and vulnerable arouses my admiration. I assure you that my action here is purely pastoral and not political.

Cordileone also sent a letter to priests in his archdiocese on Friday in which he outlines actions since September, when the House passed legislation codifying deerknown as the Women’s Health Protection Act.

Cordileone sent a letter to Pelosi at the time, requesting a meeting and warning the speaker that she was inviting a public rebuke. Around that time, he said, he also started a prayer campaign, “Rose and Rosary for Nancy,” aimed specifically at Pelosi.

Twice more in the following months, Cordileone said, he requested meetings with Pelosi, which were denied by the speaker’s staff. And in April, he said, he sent Pelosi a second, harsher letter specifically threatening his ability to receive Holy Communion.

Again he said, “I got no response.”

Cordileone said he contacted Pelosi’s office again on May 4 – immediately after the Supreme Court opinion was leaked – seeking “urgently” to speak to him. He did so, he said, after Pelosi invoked his religion to defend abortion rights.

“The very idea that they would tell women their family size or timing or anything, the personal nature of that is so appalling, and I say that as a devout Catholic,” Pelosi told the committee. editorial staff of the Seattle Times that day. “They tell me, ‘Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the Pope.’ Yes. Are you stupid?”

In his Friday letter, Cordileone told the priests that Pelosi was giving him no choice. He mentioned Pelosi’s ‘resistance to pastoral councils’, which appeared to be a reference to Pope Francis’ warning to bishops last year to ‘pastorate and not condemn’ in the face of politicians who support the right to abortion.

Michelle Boorstein and Chico Harlan contributed to this report.

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