San Francisco archbishop denying Pelosi Communion over abortion rights

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The Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone, the Catholic archbishop of San Francisco, said Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will be denied the sacrament of Holy Communion because of her vocal support for abortion rights.

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

Democrats and abortion rights advocates have responded with alarm in recent weeks following the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the right to abortion established in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Cordileone last year called for Communion to be withheld from public figures who support abortion rights but did not mention Pelosi by name at the time.

“After numerous attempts to speak with her 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 the point has come in which I must make a public declaration that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion unless and until she publicly repudiate her support for abortion ‘rights’ and confess and receive absolution for her cooperation in this evil in the sacrament of Penance,” Cordileone said Friday in a letter to members of his archdiocese.

“I have accordingly sent her a Notification to this effect, which I have now made public,” he added.

In a separate letter to Pelosi, Cordileone ordered the House speaker “not to present yourself for Holy Communion” and warned that if she does, she will not be given the sacrament.

A Pelosi spokesman 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 said to be transformed into his flesh and blood.

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

Last September, Pope Francis said the decision about granting Communion to politicians who support abortion rights should be made from a pastoral point of view, not a political one. He told reporters: “I have never refused the Eucharist to anyone,” while adding that he has never knowingly encountered during Communion a politician who backs abortion rights. Francis, however, reiterated that abortion is “murder.”

According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released earlier this month, 55 percent of Catholics in the United States want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe. Catholic teaching opposes abortion, however, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last year debated the meaning of Communion and whether it is appropriate to withhold the sacrament from Catholic politicians such as Pelosi or…



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