Nancy Pelosi receives communion, speaks out against archbishop who banned her from eucharist

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol on August 25, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol on August 25, 2021, in Washington, D.C. | Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reportedly took communion at a Catholic church in Washington, D.C., Sunday and spoke out Tuesday after Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco barred her from receiving communion in the California city.

Two days after receiving communion at a Catholic church in Washington, D.C., Pelosi appeared as a guest on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" to question Cordileone barring her from receiving communion over her stance on abortion.

She wondered why the archbishop hadn't taken similar stances on other issues that violate church teachings, like banning politicians who support the death penalty from receiving communion. 

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"I wonder about the death penalty, which I am opposed to," Pelosi, 82, said. "So is the church, but they take no action against people who may not share their view."

Pelosi's continued endorsement of policies advancing abortion access conflicts with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The church has "affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion" since the first century. 

In a Friday letter, Archbishop Cordileone warned Pelosi to "repudiate" her "advocacy for abortion 'rights'" or "refrain from referring to your Catholic faith in public and receiving Holy Communion."

The archbishop quoted the Roman Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law, stating, "those obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion."

According to Politico's Playbook, Pelosi attended mass on Sunday at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, a Jesuit congregation, and took communion there.

Holy Trinity did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment.

As Cordileone oversees the Archdiocese of San Francisco, his orders don't apply to other Catholic dioceses, such as the Archdiocese of Washington.

"What is so sad about it ... I think back on other discussions I've had with members of Congress over time, what is important for women to know and families to know is that this is not just about terminating a pregnancy," Pelosi said. "Some of these same people are against contraception, family planning, in vitro fertilization. It's a blanket thing, and they use abortion as the frontman for it while they try to undo so much."

She referenced the Gospel of Matthew, calling it the "agenda of the Church" that is "rejected by many who side with them on terminating a pregnancy."

"We just have to be prayerful and we have to be respectful. 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," she added. "The archbishop has been vehemently against LGBTQ rights. In fact, he led the way with an initiative on the ballot in California. This decision taking us to privacy and precedent is very dangerous in the lives of so many of the American people and not consistent with the Gospel of Matthew." 

Citing the Catechism, the Catholic News Agency reports that to receive communion, one must be in a "state of grace," meaning they are free from mortal sin. Mortal sin includes abortion, murder, adultery, pornography, and missing Sunday mass.  

"A person who is conscious of a grave sin is not to … receive the body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing; in this case the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible," the 1983 Code of Canon Law reads. 

President Joe Biden, another Catholic whose views on abortion put him in conflict with Catholic teachings, has also attended mass at Holy Trinity.

In 2019, Father Robert E. Morey of Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, South Carolina, denied communion to then-presidential candidate Biden due to his position on abortion. 

The rebuke came after Biden objected to proposed laws banning nearly all abortions in the state after six weeks of gestation. He also promised to push to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law if elected president. 

Holy Trinity's pastor, Rev. C. Kevin Gillespie, said in an interview with American Magazine last July that he would not deny Biden communion. Gillespie contended that while he disagrees with most politicians' views, he would not "weaponize" the Eucharist.

"Everyone is welcome," he continued. "[Biden's] a man of faith, and I would give communion to him like any other Catholic coming up for the Eucharist." 

In October, Cordileone released a statement calling on "all Catholics and others of goodwill" to fast and pray for Pelosi so that she would change her "heart" on abortion. The archbishop claimed that the House Speaker "speaks fondly" of her five children when discussing her family and that she has a "maternal heart."

The call for prayer came after the House of Representatives passed the Women's Health Protection Act, also called H.R. 3755, which Pelosi supported. The bill would have codified the right to abortion into federal law but failed to garner enough votes in the Senate.

"Abortion services are essential to health care and access to those services is central to people's ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the United States," the bill reads.

"Reproductive justice requires every individual to have the right to make their own decisions about having children regardless of their circumstances and without interference and discrimination."

In a September statement ahead of the House vote, Pelosi said the legislation is "about the freedom of women to have choice about the size and timing of their families." 

"Not the business of people on the Court or Members of Congress, about themselves," she said. 

Cordileone called the WHPA "nothing short of child sacrifice" in a September 2021 statement. In May 2021, he released a pastoral letter for Catholics who support abortion, recommending that they not receive communion. 

"Your Catholic ideals inspire you in your work to help those who experience discrimination, violence, and injustice, and you deserve the gratitude of your fellow Catholics and our nation for this service. But we cannot empower the weak by crushing the weakest," he wrote. 

"If you find that you are unwilling or unable to abandon your advocacy for abortion, you should not come forward to receive Holy Communion. To publicly affirm the Catholic faith while at the same time publicly rejecting one of its most fundamental teachings is simply dishonest."

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