Ultraconservative Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not be permitted to receive communion in his archdiocese due to her support for abortion rights.
Though there were reports that the Archbishop’s decision was related to the leaked Supreme Court decision to overturn the abortion precedent Joe vs Wade, Cordileone denied the reports and said his announcement was not related to the leaked Supreme Court’s opinion.
“The leaked decision and the Dobbs case really have nothing to do with the timing of it,” the Archbishop said on Friday.
He criticised Pelosi’s outspoken support for abortion and defended his decision to publicise the announcement.
Defending his decision in the letter, Cordileone said, “My action here is purely pastoral, not political.”
Cordileone said Pelosi did not respond to his requests to meet in the months after she pledged to codify abortion protections in federal law after lawmakers in conservative states passed near total-bans on abortions at the state level.
The Archbishop said he sent Pelosi a private letter in April, warning that he would bar her from communion unless she publicly repudiated her support for abortion rights or stopped referring to her Catholic faith in public.
“A Catholic legislator who supports procured abortion, after knowing the teaching of the Church, commits a manifestly grave sin which is a cause of most serious scandal to others. Therefore, universal Church law provides that such persons ‘are not to be admitted to Holy Communion,’” Cordileone said in the letter.
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,” the catechism says. “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,” it says, before calling abortion and infanticide “abominable crimes.”
It also declares that “Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.”
However, despite that clarity, liberal Catholic politicians have consistently attempted to try and align their Catholic beliefs with their support of abortion rights. Then New York Gov. Mario Cuomo famously declared himself personally opposed abortion in 1984 but said he could not impose that view on the country.
President Biden, a Catholic who once supported Hyde amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to abortion, switched the side during his presidential campaign in 2020 and extended support for abortion, saying, ‘a woman’s right to choose’.