WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will no longer be able to receive communion in her hometown of San Francisco after the local archdiocese said her vow to make abortion legal crossed a line the Catholic church could not ignore.
In an announcement that he also tweeted out, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone notified Pelosi that her staunch support of abortion and her refusal to personally explain her position to him forced his hand.
“After numerous attempts to speak with Speaker Pelosi 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 she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion,” he said.
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Pelosi has been a vocal advocate of abortion rights for decades. But her decision in September to bring to the floor a bill making Roe v. Wade the law of the land following passage of a Texas law that effectively bans terminating pregnancies beyond six weeks proved a bridge too far for her local archdiocese.
“Every woman, everywhere has the constitutional right to basic health care,” Pelosi said at the time of the House vote. The Texas law “is the most extreme, dangerous abortion ban in half a century, and its purpose is to destroy Roe v. Wade, and even refuses to make exceptions for cases of rape and incest. This ban necessitates codifying Roe v. Wade.”
The Democratic-controlled House passed the measure 219-210 almost entirely along party lines.
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The archbishop’s decision comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the legality of abortion within the next few weeks. A leak of a draft opinion earlier this month indicated a majority of justices planned to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“His Holiness, Pope Francis, in keeping with his predecessors, has likewise been quite clear and emphatic in teaching on the dignity of human life in the womb,” the archbishop wrote to Pelosi. “Please know that I stand ready to continue our conversation at any time, and will continue to offer up prayer and fasting for you,”
A request for comment from Pelosi’s office was not immediately returned.
The archbishop’s decision comes months after President Joe Biden, a Catholic who also supports abortion rights, said that Pope Francis told him during a private meeting at the Vatican that he should continue to receive communion.
Biden’s comments at the time raised doubts about the future of a movement by some conservative bishops to punish politicians who support abortion rights.
Following a meeting at the Vatican in October, Biden told reporters that abortion, a subject on which he and the pope disagree, didn’t come up during their nearly 90-minute meeting. Instead, Biden said, “We just talked about the fact he was happy that I was a good Catholic, and I should keep receiving communion.”
Reaction from advocacy groups to the decision by the San Francisco archbishop was swift.
“For too long Catholic public officials have created confusion and disunity by advocating for policies that destroy innocent human life – in direct contradiction of the teachings of the Catholic faith,” CatholicVote president Brian Burch said in a statement. “The persistent disobedience of these public officials is a source of enormous sadness and scandal that begged for a response.”
“Speaker Pelosi is devoted to her Catholic faith, and it is not lost on me that, as a woman, she is being singled out in this continued battle,” said Jamie L. Manson, president of Catholics for Choice. “It is one more step in a long line of attacks that the Church hierarchy has waged on women and their reproductive rights.”
Contributing; Michael Collins