By Terrance Turner
May 20, 2022
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone stated today that he will ban Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion because of her pro-choice stance on abortion. Pelosi, an avowed Catholic, has long been a supporter of abortion rights and as House speaker oversaw the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify abortion protections in federal law. That bill failed to advance in the Senate last month.
A version of the bill by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), which recognizes the “statutory right” of women to have abortions, was introduced last September. After Pelosi announced the House of Representatives would vote on the bill, Cordileone released a statement attacking the legislation. He called the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 a “heinous evil” and “nothing short of child sacrifice.”
In April, Cordileone told Pelosi to repudiate her support for abortion rights or else stop mentioning her faith while discussing them, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Today he went even further. “After numerous attempts to speak with Speaker Pelosi to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking, I have determined that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion,” he tweeted today.
“As you have not publically repudiated your position on abortion, and continue to refer to your Catholic faith in justifying your position and to receive Holy Communion, that time has now come,” Cordileone wrote to Pelosi. “Therefore, in light of my responsibility as the Archbishop of San Francisco to be ‘concerned for all the Christian faithful entrusted to [my] care’ … I am hereby notifying you that you are not to present yourself for Holy Communion and, should you do so, you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, until such time as you publically repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance.”
“This is the fruit of years of prayer, fasting and consultation with a broad spectrum of Church leaders whom I respect for their intelligence, wisdom and pastoral sensitivity, and it continues my efforts to invite the Speaker down the path of conversion,” Cordileone wrote in a letter to priests. “I have debated within my conscience for years what the right thing is to do and, although unpleasant, I’m at peace in my conscience with this decision.”
The move comes amid an intensifying debate over abortion nationwide. Last week, an initial draft of a majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito was circulated inside the court and obtained by POLITICO. The draft indicates that the Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that ensured a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. Alito’s majority opinion (he was joined by Justices Thomas, Kavanaugh, Barrett, and Gorsuch) declared that the decision ”was egregiously wrong from the start” and must be overturned.
Cordileone’s move does not represent the views of most San Franciscans, who support abortion rights, and a Pew Research survey last spring found that 67% of American Catholics support pro-abortion rights politicians like President Joe Biden receiving Communion.
Communion, also known as the Eucharist, is one of seven Catholic sacraments; others include baptism, confession and marriage. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life,” and the church teaches that when the bread and wine of the Eucharist are consecrated by an ordained priest, they, “by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood.” The Catholic Church teaches that Christians “with whom we are not yet fully united” and Catholics who are “conscious of grave sin” should not receive Communion. Cordileone called Pelosi’s support of abortion rights a ‘grave evil’.
However, Cordileone appears not have extended this same treatment to Catholic priests who abuse children. In fact, in 2018, an attorney for a California clergy abuse survivor accused the leaders of three San Francisco Bay Area dioceses — including Cordileone — of engaging in an “institutional cover-up of an enormous magnitude” and released a list of 263 local priests whom they branded sexual predators.
According to NBC News, the law firm of Jeff Anderson has sued all 11 dioceses in California on behalf of Tom Emens, 50, who has said he was 10 years old when a priest who died in 2002 repeatedly molested him. Earlier this month, he released a separate 120-page report on clerical sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles that named more than 300 alleged clerical offenders.
Anderson said at a news conference that the new names were culled from publicly available documents. He said he believed the bishops had the names of other sexually abusive priests whom “they have not told the public about, that they have not told the public about.”
“There is a culture of secrecy, and every single bishop in California has made a conscious choice to keep the names that they know to be criminals, who are sexual predators,” he said.
There is no record of Cordileone denying Communion to pedophile priests who molest children — and Twitter took note of the dichotomy.