Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

The grim realities behind barring Nancy Pelosi from Communion

By Robert G. Marshall ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 02, 2022

In what is surely an American First, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, His Excellency, Salvatore Cordileone, informed Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and third in line to be President, that she is not to receive Communion, “until such time as you publicly repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance.”

The San Francisco Examiner, a very Leftist newspaper, editorialized, “In open defiance of Pope Francis, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone on Friday banned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from taking Holy Communion here in her home diocese. The reason? Her strong support of women’s abortion rights.”

Actually, Pelosi is more than just a strong supporter of abortion. Pelosi described herself at a “Catholic” Georgetown University meeting, “I am a rabid supporter of a woman’s right to choose.…” San Francisco Archbishop Cordileone had previously alerted House Speaker Pelosi (4/7/22) that she had crossed a line by announcing that she would support codifying the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision in Federal law, noting, “should you not publicly repudiate your advocacy for abortion ‘rights’ or else refrain from referring to your Catholic Faith in public and receiving Holy Communion, I would have no choice but to make a declaration, in keeping with canon 915, that you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

The timing was not political. Archbishop Cordileone had been in “dialogue” with the Speaker on the abortion question for at least ten years. The Archbishop said “I’ve been debating this within my own conscience for many years…. I’ve consulted with people...who would have different perspectives on the situation.... I’ve done a lot of prayer and fasting.... I really would prefer not to do this. But I cannot in my conscience allow the situation to continue and cause this scandal.…”

Pelosi Tries to Defend Herself

Speaker Pelosi was a guest (5/24/22) on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” TV program hosted by former Democrat Congressman Joe Scarborough and his wife, Mika Brzezinski. Joe Scarborough asked Speaker Pelosi, “...what do you say to Catholics who see what’s happening to you...why you have an archbishop taking a step like this?”

Pelosi claimed that Archbishop Cordileone, in denying her Holy Communion, was “not consistent with the Gospel of Matthew,” which she identified as “the agenda of the Church.” However, the Gospel of Matthew undermines Pelosi’s case as it states (18:15–17) “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church.”

Pelosi questioned the consistency of Archbishop Cordileone in denying Communion to Catholic public officials for abortion support, but not for death penalty support. “I wonder about death penalty, which I’m opposed to. So is the Church, but they take no action against people who may not share their view.” But in 2004, Cardinal Ratzinger , writing specifically on the question of Catholic politicians who support the death penalty noted:

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

When Pope Francis modified the Catholic Catechism to say capital punishment should not be used, he did not state that the death penalty was ever lacking in justice or that it was “evil in itself,” as popes have said about abortion for centuries.

Cardinal Ladaria, who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and therefore speaks for Pope Francis, sent a letter (8/1/18) to the U. S. Catholic Bishops explaining Francis’s death penalty change: “the death penalty...can be justified if it is ‘the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor,’ even if in reality ‘cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender today are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’” (n. 2267).

One commentator noted that while Pope Francis teaches the death penalty is, “‘no longer admissible’ as a general norm...it is not infallible; and therefore, it does not require the assent of divine faith on the part of the faithful....the new formulation of...the Catechism...desires...respectful dialogue with civil authorities, to encourage the creation of conditions that allow for the elimination of the death penalty where it is still in effect.”

Pelosi’s Catalog of Abortion Support

MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host, Mika Brzezinski referred to recent Senate action on the grossly misnamed Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) (S 4132) which most assume codifies Roe. Neither the Senate (S 4132) nor the House version (HR 3755) of the morally grotesque Women’s Health Protection Act merely “codify” the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Both versions of the bill expand abortion way beyond Roe.

The Catholic Bishop’s Secretariat for Pro Life Activities compiled a list of present federal court approved state or federal laws legal even under Roe v. Wade . All of these current state and federal provisions would be illegal under Pelosi’s WHPA pro abortion legislation:

  • Prohibit certain types of abortion, abortions done by non-physician; regulate or restrict telemedicine abortions, restrict tax funded abortion or the use of government facilities for abortion procedures or drugs;
  • Require parental notice or consent, informed consent, or waiting periods for abortion;
  • Require credentialing of abortion providers;
  • Establish minimum safety standards for clinics;
  • Provide conscience exemptions for health care personnel, institutions or individuals from having to provide or refer for abortions or to cover induced abortion in health insurance.

Nancy Pelosi—Abolishing Catholic-Christian Health Care

The Charlotte Lozier Institute notes that private Christian health care is especially undermined under the Women’s Health Care Protection Act from 2019, H. R. 2975. Law Professor and religious freedom expert Mark Rienzi points out that “virtually every state in the country has some sort of statute protecting individuals and, in many cases, entities who refuse to provide abortions and ‘[s]ome states expressly limit this protection to the practice of abortion, which is treated specially.’” Moreover:

  • “Federal law also provides protections to individuals and institutions that object to performing abortions.”
  • “H.R. 2975 poses a grave risk to those vital protections. Under H.R. 2975, doctors and nurses who conscientiously refuse to participate in abortion could lose their jobs and Catholic and other religious hospitals could be forced to provide abortions or lose public funds....”
  • “Similarly, laws that protect Catholic and other religious hospitals from providing abortion services would fail under H.R. 2975 if an individual doctor or nurse could show that such laws limit their ability to provide ‘immediate’ abortion services and they believe based on their good-faith medical judgment that delay would pose a risk to the patient’s ‘health.’”

H. R. 3755, the current House version of the Women’s Health Protection Act, could have been written by Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin. Pelosi’s bill states, “Abortion-specific restrictions are a tool of “gender oppression”. The “findings” section on page 3 of HR 3755, which judges are supposed to reference to determine the meaning of the text of the statute states:

Reproductive justice requires every individual to have the right to make their own decisions about having children.... Reproductive Justice is a human right...[of] all people, regardless of...gender identity, sex stereotyping, or sexual orientation, age...(or) have the economic, social, and political power and resources to define and make decisions about their bodies, health, sexuality, families, and communities in all areas of their lives....”

Pelosi’s affirmation that reproductive rights belong to all individuals “to define and make decisions about their bodies, health, sexuality,” will make statutory rape and consent laws illegal in all fifty states and US Territories. This is a goal of abortionists and transgender zealots. Pregnancy from artificial reproduction outside the womb or marriage will become a right of individuals, threesomes, etc.

Pelosi’s radical policy is miles beyond “codifying” Roe v. Wade and she certainly knows that. Under Pelosi’s bill, LGBTQ+ persons would have a right to an abortion and to demand under a “surrogacy pregnancy contract” that a “surrogate” mother would be required to abort a child for any reason if the “owners” of the “child” were not satisfied. Note also that while “Abortion services” is defined in Section 3 under definitions, “Abortion” is not defined anywhere in the bill. Section 3 on page 16 states, “The term ‘pregnancy’ refers to the period of the human reproductive process beginning with the implantation of a fertilized egg.” The end of “pregnancy” is not defined.

A legislator who wanted to authorize infanticide but who did not want use the word, could employ that verbal tactic. Further, H. B. 3755 (Section 7, page 24) contains a “Rule of Construction” which allows no government interference, “with a person’s ability to terminate a pregnancy, to diminish or in any way negatively affect a person’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.” Other “Findings” on page 2 state, “Since 1973, the Supreme Court repeatedly has recognized the constitutional right...to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability....”

The Church’s Response to Pelosi, and Pelosi’s Response to the Church

The San Francisco Examiner (5/21/22), eager to defend Pelosi’s self-affirming and contrived “Catholic” Faith, used inflammatory words to tag Archbishop Cordileone as an “insubordinate saboteur” acting “in open defiance of Pope Francis” for ruling that Speaker Pelosi is ineligible to receive Holy Communion.

But Cardinal Luis Ladaria , Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, suggested to Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez (5/7/21), President of the USCCB, that if the bishops wanted to establish nationwide standards relating to abortion-supporting Catholic politicians, the bishops should undertake a two-stage dialogue, “first among the bishops themselves, and then between bishops and Catholic pro-choice politicians within their jurisdictions.” Such a national policy on worthiness to receive Communion, should be applied to “all the faithful, rather than one category of Catholics….”

Pope Francis was cited in the Tablet (5/23/22):

One of the few times Pope Francis publicly addressed the issue of pro-abortion politicians receiving Communion was in 2021. He said that Communion is for those who are “in the community,” and that those who support abortion are “outside the community.” ...Then, “those who are not in the community, cannot receive Communion,” he said. “Out of the community: excommunicated. It’s a harsh word, but they don’t belong in the community, because they were not baptized, or because they are estranged from it.”

In many respects, the Pope’s actions regarding “Catholic” politicians Pelosi and Biden have been disappointing. U. S. Pro Life Bishop’s Chairman Archbishop Naumann (Kansas City, Kansas) stated that the Pope does not understand the Church in the United States, and he also noted that when the Pope publicly received Pelosi, the meeting “was politically exploited. In allowing this, Pope Francis is doing exactly what he warns others not to do.” During a recent papal interview with Spanish language Univision the Pope was asked about Nancy Pelosi’s “reportedly receiving Communion in Mass at St. Peter’s,” despite Archbishop Cordileone’s barring Pelosi from Communion. Pope Francis noted that Pelosi “continues to receive the Eucharist in Washington, D. C. as well.”

Yet during the interview, the Pope described Biden’s abortion position as an “incoherence” with the Catholic Faith. Archbishop Naumann commented in the National Catholic Register , “It’s very helpful because I think that’s exactly true, that his (Biden’s) position is incoherent with Catholic teaching. So I’m grateful for that clarification by the Holy Father.” We must pray that actions will follow the Holy Father’s words.

In June, 1990 the New York Times reprinted excerpts of comments made by John Cardinal O’Connor in his New York Archdiocese newspaper:

John Cardinal O’Connor warned Roman Catholic politicians yesterday that they risked being excommunicated from the Catholic Church if they were persistent in supporting a woman’s right to abortion. “For the common good...such Catholics must be warned that they are at risk of excommunication.” Those at risk...are Catholics who “are perceived not only as treating church teaching on abortion with contempt, but helping to multiply abortions by advocating legislation supporting abortion or by making public funds available for abortion. If such action persists...bishops may consider excommunication the only option.”

Pelosi responded: “There is no desire to fight with the cardinals or archbishops.... But it has to be clear that we are elected officials, and we uphold the law and we support public positions separate and apart from our Catholic Faith.” Yet, she also claims that her abortion votes are compatible with her Catholic Faith.

Some of Pelosi’s Faith-based claims about abortion being consistent with her Faith are linked below:

After one of Speaker Pelosi’s “I am a Catholic and support abortion” interviews on Meet the Press with Tom Brokaw (8/24/08) Speaker Pelosi was rebuked by Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput: “Catholic public leaders inconvenienced by the abortion debate...seem comfortable in the role of theologian.... The Christian tradition from the earliest days reveals a firm anti-abortion attitude… The condemnation of abortion did not depend on and was not limited in any way by theories regarding the time of fetal animation.”

Pelosi Claims to Not Impose Her Views on Others

Nancy Pelosi claimed on the “Morning Joe” program (5/24/22) that, “I come from a largely pro-life, Italian-American, Catholic family, so I respect people’s views about that. But I don’t respect us foisting it onto others.”

However, Speaker Pelosi foisted her pro-abortion views on others by strongly supporting and voting for H. R. 5, the so-called “Equality Act,” promoted by homosexual activists who seek to impose their radical demands on individuals and institutions governed by the morals of Moses and Jesus. Pelosi’s misnamed “Equality Act” will compel doctors and health care institutions to perform abortions and “sex-change” operations, and furnish puberty blockers for minors or lose their medical licenses or accreditation.

Private conscience and religious rights are presently protected under various Federal and State conscience laws which exempt doctors, nurses and health care establishments from having to comply with such immoral practices, but Speaker Pelosi wants to strip away all conscience and privacy protections for girls and women, and destroy female sports. Under Pelosi’s alleged Equality Act, a person, business, church, private school or religious group that does not comply with or support the LGBTQ+ agenda will be charged with “discriminating” under the Civil Rights Act, equal to violating the civil rights of African Americans. Fines can be $500,000 per incident depending upon the size of the organization accused of “discriminating.”

Background Resources

Archbishop Cordileone wrote a succinct, well-reasoned letter to Speaker Pelosi. The Archbishop’s second letter explains to Catholics in the San Francisco Archdiocese (and beyond) how he reached his decision. His third letter was sent to priests in which he details the Canon law background for his decision, with which priests and deacons must comply. Interestingly, the very liberal Jesuit America magazine had an excellent, thorough interview with Archbishop Cordileone hosted by Gloria Purvis, available as a podcast and a shorter print version.

Bishops honoring Archbishop Cordileone’s Communion directive regarding denial of Holy Communion for Speaker Pelosi include as of May 24, 2022 (source: National Catholic Register):

  • Michael Burbidge, Arlington, VA
  • Michael Barber, Oakland, CA
  • Robert Vasa, Santa Rosa, CA
  • Samuel Aquila, Archdiocese of Denver, CO
  • Thomas Paprocki, Springfield, IL
  • Joseph Naumann, Kansas City, KS
  • James D. Conley, Lincoln, NE
  • Paul S. Coakley, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Liam Cary. Baker, OR
  • Joseph Strickland, Tyler Texas
  • Thomas Daly, Spokane, WA
  • David Ricken, Green Bay, WI
  • Donald Hying

Recent Abortion Votes in Congress

To find out which Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate voted for the their respective versions of the Women’s Health Protection act, go the following links.

Did your “Catholic” member of Congress vote in favor of this abortion legislation? St. Paul (1 Timothy 2:1–4) urges us to pray for those in authority. In addition to praying, we should make immoral positions known to others, and vote in every special, primary and general election only for pro-life candidates. Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe we must work to convince state legislatures to pass legislation to secure legal protection for the lives of all innocent children before birth.

Bob Marshall served 26 years in the Virginia House of Delegates and was the chief House sponsor of the 2006 voter-approved Virginia Marriage Amendment and a ban on late term abortion. He recently wrote Reclaiming the Republic: How Christians and Other Conservatives Can Win Back America (TAN Books). Previously, he co-authored Blessed are the Barren, a social history of Planned Parenthood (Ignatius Press). Finally, don’t miss Bob’s Civics Lesson for Catholics in the Catholic Culture Podcast Episode 17. See the full bio.

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  • Posted by: miketimmer499385 - Aug. 03, 2022 5:14 PM ET USA

    I think what is lost in the glaring apostasy of Biden and Pelosi is that there is a legion of back benchers who are every bit as rabid as their leaders. By my count 15 of the 25 Catholic senators are Democrats who vote in lockstep with the abortion lobby and are worthy of all anathema rightly heaped on the infamous two. Because there are lesser lights in the culture of death and they are legion in our Church, perhaps it's time to consider a blanket excommunication ala the communists of yore.