San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who announced Friday that he would bar House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion due to her stance on abortion, said that the timing of his announcement had “nothing to do” with the leaked Supreme Court opinion overturning the abortion precedent Roe v. Wade.
“With all that’s going on right now – with Dobbs v. Jackson and the leaked opinion [suggesting] that Roe could be overturned – why make this decision now?” Gloria Purvis asked Cordileone in an interview for America, the magazine of the Jesuits of the United States.
“The leaked decision and the Dobbs case really have nothing to do with the timing of it,” the archbishop responded Friday.
He noted that Pelosi had spoken with him “a couple of times” over the years, but he lamented, “more recently, her advocacy for codifying the Roe decision into federal law—it’s becoming more and more extreme and more and more aggressive.”
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“I’ve been trying to speak with her about this,” Cordileone added in the America interview. “I’ve been debating this within my own conscience for many years, actually. So this is not something that has just come up recently. I’ve been discerning this.”
The archbishop insisted that he was following the advice of Pope Benedict XVI – who sent a letter to bishops on this issue in 2004 when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“He gave us advice on how to approach this, specifically with politicians, Catholic politicians, and specifically on the two issues of abortion and euthanasia,” Cordileone said. “He said we need to meet, to dialogue, to try to move them down the path of conversion. And if after several attempts it comes to the point where it’s clear [that] this is not going to happen, then the bishop or the pastor, [Ratzinger] says, is to declare that the person is not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
The archbishop defended his decision to make the decision public, saying, “If she’s not to be admitted to Holy Communion, our priests and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, all those who are Communion ministers need to know that.”
He also described Pelosi’s outspoken support for abortion as a “scandal.”
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“Scandal is an action that would lead others into error or into sin,” Cordileone said. “So the scandal here is that someone who is strongly advocating for something as evil as abortion and taking Communion creates confusion among people. And they can begin to think that it is acceptable for a Catholic to believe this.”
The archbishop said he cannot judge Pelosi’s conscience.
“I think her faith really is important to her. It really is important to her to be Catholic, and she feels devotion in her heart,” he admitted. “Which makes me perplexed at why she would be so forceful on this issue as a politician.”
“It’s very tricky as a politician; there are so many issues to balance out and trying to come to some kind of consensus and compromise and all that,” Cordileone noted. “But to be so aggressively promoting it—that’s not what a devout Catholic does.”
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The San Francisco Examiner’s editorial board urged Pope Francis to remove Cordileone for this. The editorial board blasted the archbishop for “punishing” Pelosi, instead of “right-wing politicians” who “[vote] against health care or funding for the poor.”
“Cordileone’s chief loyalty is not to Christ, but to the cabal of far-right American bishops led by Raymond Leo Burke, a Catholic prelate who has led a continual campaign to undermine Pope Francis’ authority,” they wrote, before demanding the Pope remove the “radical conservative” from San Francisco.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is unambiguous on the question of abortion, both in procuring one and assisting in the practice: “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.”
“Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law,” the catechism says, calling abortion and infanticide “abominable crimes.”
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It also declares, “Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.”
Democrats have full-throatedly supported abortion following the leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – the draft that overturns Roe. Although Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that the draft is genuine, it dates back to February, and it does not represent the current or final opinion of the Court.
Activists targeted Roman Catholic churches for protests on Mother’s Day.
Vandals also targeted a church in Boulder, Colorado, earlier this month, spray-painting “bans off our bodies” and “my body my choice” on the building.
Protesters have also picketed Pelosi’s home, despite her 100% rating with the pro-choice activist group NARAL Pro-Choice America.