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A very Pelosi newsletter (and some other stuff too)

Hey everybody,

It’s a pretty cold day here in Colorado, and this is The Tuesday Pillar Post.

There’s a lot to talk about - namely, Nancy Pelosi and Archbishop Sal Cordileone, so let’s get to it, shall we?

San Francisco news

You know, or most of you do, that on Friday Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone announced that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi may not be admitted to Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

We emailed you about that on Friday, and lot of you read our report already, but in case you didn’t, here’s our initial report on that announcement.

The archbishop’s move was an application of canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which says that Catholic “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin should not be admitted to Holy Communion.”

Perhaps you’ve got questions about how exactly that canon works, what happens if San Francisco priests ignore Cordileone’s decision, or how it applies in other dioceses. Or perhaps you’ve found yourself in some kind of social media discourse about all this, and you’re really not sure if your interlocutor’s claims are quite right:

Don’t worry friends, we’ve got you covered — This morning we published a “Pelosi prohibition primer” with answers to all your pressing technical questions.

Read it here.


And yesterday, Ed looked at some of the arguments made against Cordileone’s decision, to take a look at what ongoing debate about all of this might look like. Read that here.

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For a lot of people, a particular question of interest is whether Archbishop Cordileone’s decision applies in the other dioceses where Pelosi spends time. 

Well, on Friday we asked two bishops in places where Pelosi has homes — Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC, and Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa, California. 

Bishop Vasa told us that in his diocese, which includes the Napa Valley community where Pelosi has a vineyard, he’s instructed pastors to respect and uphold Cordileone’s decision

Cardinal Gregory did not respond to our questions. In fact, the Archdiocese of Washington didn’t respond to questions Friday, or over the weekend, from any journalists. 

Yesterday we learned why.

When the Washington Examiner sent a media request to the ADW, a staffer inadvertently sent as a reply a message she’d meant to forward to another colleague. The reply, sent right to the Washington Examiner, indicated that the Archdiocese of Washington would not be responding to their press enquiry, and was committed to a plan of ignoring all media enquiries related to Pelosi!

Journalists have popped up to say that they been often ignored by the Archdiocese of Washington. We at The Pillar have had that experience for the past few years as well.

It seems that “ignore” is a fairly common media strategy for the Washington archdiocese, even while its archbishop pledged a new path of transparency under his leadership.

But I digress. 

After its mistaken email, the ADW told the Washington Examiner that it was ignoring journalists because Cardinal Gregory’s approach to questions about canon 915 had not changed — the cardinal has previously said he has no intention of denying anyone the Eucharist, and he apparently intends to stick to that plan.

So we now know that the Cordileone decision will not apply in Washington, D.C.

This might be something of a sea change from the approach of Cardinal Wuerl, Gregory’s predecessor, who said in 2009 under slightly different circumstances that he would generally observe the decisions of politicians’ local bishop on matters like this. 

Ed wrote an analysis this morning on the implications this for ecclesiastical communion among the bishops, which you can read right here.

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And finally on Pelosi, we’ve been keeping a list of the bishops who have responded to Archbishop Cordileone’s decision or made statements on it. You can see what bishops are weighing in, right here.

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In other news

Believe it or not, there is other news going on in the life of the Church.

Our Ukrainian correspondent filed Monday a report on the state of the Moscow-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has been losing parishes quickly in recent weeks, is facing legal sanctions in Ukraine, and has scheduled a major meeting of clerics and laity scheduled for later this week

This story involves politics both secular and ecclesiastical, and is a major religious shake-up — in fact, it evokes the very rapid religious changes which occurred in Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

If you want to follow the ecclesiastical situation in Ukraine’s war zones, you can only do so right here.

Cardinal Joseph Zen pleaded not guilty in a Hong Kong courtroom today, on charges of failing to register a legal assistance fund with police — a charge that could lead to a fine, but no jail time. 

The cardinal was arrested last week on much more serious charges, namely the charge of colluding with foreign agents, which under HK’s national security law could lead to life in prison. To date no formal charges have been filed on the serious collusion charge, and it is not clear when Zen will be charged with that crime.

Like a lot of people, we’re still reading a 300-page report published this weekend on sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, a 13 million-member Protestant denomination. It’s not easy reading.

The report contains familiar themes to those who have followed the Catholic clergy abuse scandal: obfuscation, insufficient investigations, and, as the investigators put it, “resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility” toward alleged victims.

We’ll look in the weeks to come at how the SBC is responding, and whether the Catholic scandals of the last 20 years might offer lessons for the SBC.

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When did the Lord ascend, exactly?

The Ascension, Dosso Dossi, 16th century. Public domain.

If you live in the metropolitan provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, or Philadelphia, or if you’re a member of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, you’ll observe the Ascension on Thursday — and it will be a holy day of obligation. 

If you live elsewhere in the United States, you’ll celebrate it on Sunday.

[Editor’s note: The province of Newark decided in March to transfer the Ascension to Sunday. The inclusion of Newark has been corrected.]


The Code of Canon Law gives episcopal conferences the freedom to transfer holy days of obligation to a Sunday. In 1999, the conference delegated that authority, only when it came to the Ascension, to metropolitan provinces — groupings that consist of an archdiocese and the surrounding “suffragan” dioceses. 

To transfer the Ascension to a Sunday, a province needs the vote of two-thirds of its diocesan bishops. While most provinces have elected to do so, the ones listed above retain the Thursday observation of the Lord’s ascension into heaven. 


If you want to read even more about Nancy Pelosi, I had a short column in the subject in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, and Ed and I had another column in Reason magazine. I also thought this column in the Washington Post, from my friend Mary Eberstadt, was worth reading.  

We’ll have more news, on Pelosi and much more in the life of the Church, this week, so stay tuned.

And if you celebrate the Ascension on Thursday, I hope it’s a great one.

Be assured of our prayers, and please continue to pray for us — we’re counting on you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

JD Flynn
The Pillar

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