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Pelosi's archbishop says speaker's reaction to Vatican abortion letter 'raises hope' of progress

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, head of the archdiocese of San Francisco, stands at the site where Father Junipero Serra's statue once stood in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. |

The Archbishop of San Francisco has responded after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents the city in the U.S. Congress, declared that she could use her “own judgment” when assessing her worthiness to receive Holy Communion.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco said in a statement released Monday that he took Pelosi at her word that she approved of Cardinal Luis Ladaria's letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in response to the conference's stated intention to draft a national policy on whether to withhold communion from pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

Pelosi made the comments Thursday during her weekly press conference after a reporter asked her what she thought of the fact that the USCCB did not want her and other pro-choice politicians to be able to receive communion because of their abortion advocacy.

“I think I can use my own judgment on that,” Pelosi said.

Additionally, the speaker praised “what the Vatican put out on that subject,” referring to a letter from a high-ranking Vatican official, which she characterized as saying “don’t be divisive on the subject.” 

The topic has taken on renewed importance as President Joe Biden and Speaker Pelosi are pro-choice Catholics.

Ladaria is the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Catholic Church. His letter warned that establishing a national policy on the ability of pro-abortion Catholic politicians to receive communion could “become a source of discord rather than unity” in the Church. 

“I’m happy to know that Speaker Pelosi said she is pleased with the letter," Cordileone wrote. 

But he pushed back on the idea that Pelosi can use her “own judgment” to determine her worthiness for communion.

According to Cordileone, “in the last 50 years, in the United States alone, 66,000,000 babies have been murdered in their mothers’ wombs. This is not a matter about which one can use judgment."

"It is a fact,” the archbishop stated. 

The archbishop reiterated the contents of Ladaria’s letter, which advised U.S. bishops to “use as a guide in determining how to address this situation the principles laid out in a private letter in 2004 from the then-Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the CDF at the time, to the bishops of the United States.”

The following year, Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI following the death of Pope St. John Paul II. 

As Cordileone noted, Ratzinger’s letter “confirmed that consistently advocating for abortion and euthanasia constitutes formal cooperation in grave sin and that bishops must dialogue with Catholics prominent in public life who do so in order to help them understand the grave evil they are helping to perpetrate and accompany them to a change of heart.”

Cordileone contends that Ratzinger “goes on to say in the letter that, if these dialogues prove to be fruitless, then, out of respect for the Catholic belief of what it means to receive Holy Communion, the bishop must declare that the individual is not to be admitted to Communion.” 

The archbishop contends that “Speaker Pelosi’s positive reaction to Cardinal Ladaria’s letter ... raises hope that progress can be made in this most serious matter."

Ladaria’s letter was published less than a week after Cordileone weighed in on the intensifying debate about communion for pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Cordileone said to those politicians: “If you find that you are unwilling or unable to abandon your advocacy for abortion, you should not come forward to receive Holy Communion.” 

Additionally, Cordileone described pro-abortion Catholic politicians’ public affirmation of the Catholic faith “while at the same time publicly rejecting one of its most fundamental teachings” as “simply dishonest.”

In an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation, which took place after Ladaria’s letter became public but before Pelosi suggested that she could use her “own judgment” when determining her worthiness for communion, Cordileone stressed the importance of teaching Catholics “what it means to receive Communion.”

The Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law teaches that people who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” 

The archbishop elaborated on the Church’s teaching, explaining that “receiving the sacrament of Communion expresses the Communion one already has with the Church, that is that they accept Church teaching and are trying to live their life according to that Church teaching."

“If they reject many of those teachings or are living their lives not in conformity, in a serious way, such as advocating for a very serious evil, then they’re not properly disposed to receive communion," he continued.

Cordileone alleged that when American Catholics see pro-abortion politicians receiving communion, “they think ‘Oh, it must be okay for a Catholic to favor abortion.’” He insisted that such an idea could not be further from the truth.

The issue of whether or not pro-abortion Catholics should receive communion has caused division within the Catholic Church.

As he campaigned for the Democratic nomination for president, a priest in South Carolina refused to give then-presidential candidate Biden communion due to his abortion advocacy.

On the other hand, after Biden won the 2020 presidential election, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington said he would not deny Biden communion. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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