Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone issued a statement on Friday announcing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may not be admitted to Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. She was also told that she should not present herself to receive the Eucharist until she makes a public repudiation of her support for abortion.
The Archbishop said that his decision was “purely pastoral, not political.” The announcement came after Pelosi’s repeated public claims that she is a “devout Catholic” while rejecting Cordileone’s repeated efforts to have discussion with her about her advocacy for abortion.
He said that he began serious attempts to meet with Pelosi after her announcement last year that she would seek an act of Congress to codify Roe v. Wade as part of official federal law. He said that he warned her in writing that if she refused to repudiate her support for abortion, she should stop describing herself in public as a member of the Catholic faith or presenting herself to receive Communion.
He said that he did not receive any response from Pelosi to that letter or his other efforts to reach out to her.
The archdiocese sent formal notification to Pelosi on Thursday of the archbishop’s decision. The speaker did not make any statements immediately after the announcement was made public on Friday. She did say in a 2008 interview that being denied Communion would be a “severe blow” to her.
Cordileone’s ruling only applies within the San Francisco Archdiocese. When Pelosi is in Washington or other locations in the U.S. or abroad, local bishops have the authority to decide on Pelosi’s eligibility to receive Communion.
Cordileone cited in his letter canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law as support for his decision. That rule provides that a person “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” is not to be admitted to Communion.
He went on to say that he had engaged in numerous attempts to speak with Pelosi to “help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating.” He also said that he wished to discuss with the speaker “the scandal she is causing and the danger to her own soul she is risking.”
Cordileone also said that Pelosi could again be admitted to Communion if she publicly repudiates her advocacy for abortion “rights.” She would also be required to confess and receive absolution for “her cooperation in this evil in the sacrament of Penance.”
The Archbishop wrote separately to the priests of his Archdiocese, telling them that he was making the decision not because of politics, but as a “simple application of Church teaching.”