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US bishops respond to Pelosi being barred from the Eucharist

On Friday afternoon, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco released a statement announcing that U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is barred from receiving the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, due to her efforts to codify federal protections for abortion.

Numerous U.S. bishops have responded to Cordileone’s statement. The Pillar will compile those responses here, and update as statements become available.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco. Credit: Steubenville Conferences (CC_BY_3.0).


Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC:

“Cardinal Gregory's position has not changed from what he has said in the past. Cardinal Gregory has no new comment about the issue of Catholic politicians receiving Communion. The actions of Archbishop Cordileone are his decision to make in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Cardinal Gregory has not instructed the priests of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington to refuse Communion to anyone.”

— May 23 statement from Archdiocese of Washington. [Link added for background information.]

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Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver:

I know Archbishop Cordileone to be a shepherd with the heart and mind of Christ, who truly desires to lead others towards Christ’s love, mercy, and promise of eternal salvation…He has made every attempt to try and avoid this step… 

[T]his issue is not about politics or simply enforcing Church rules, but rather about love – love for the individual and love for the entire community.  

Church teaching is clear that people endanger their souls if they are separated from God because of grave sin and then receive the most Holy Eucharist in an unworthy manner. If the Church truly loves them, as she does, then it is more than appropriate to call them back to an intimate relationship with each person of the Trinity through repentance before receiving the body and blood of Jesus in a way that risks their eternal salvation…

And when that person is a public person, love for the community means guarding against scandal and confusion and allowing others to be led into sin if they don’t see the issue addressed in an appropriate and compassionate manner.  

-May 20 statement, excerpt

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Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City:

Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque:

We readily identify things like abortion and capital punishment as life issues, which Catholic teaching identifies as absolutely wrong under any circumstance.

But protecting the earth, our common home, or making food, water, shelter, education and health care accessible, or defense against gun violence… these are life issues too.

Some people want to repair the scandal of pro-choice Catholic politicians by refusing them the Eucharist. But that’s a misguided response for at least two reasons:

As Jesus said, it’s the sick people who need a doctor, not the healthy, and he gave us the Eucharist as a healing remedy; don’t deny the people who need the medicine.

Also, to be consistent, to repair the scandal of Catholics being indifferent or opposed to all those other life issues, they would have to be denied Holy Communion as well.

Better, I think, to put the Eucharist in the hands of such Catholics in hopes that one day soon they would put their hands to work on behalf of life, in defense of all life.

-May 25 statement, excerpt

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas:

I applaud Archbishop Cordileone’s patient and persevering efforts to
enlighten Speaker Pelosi about the moral gravity of her extreme efforts to
promote, to advocate and to initiate legislation to enshrine legalized abortion into
federal law. I fully support the both pastoral and courageous actions that
Archbishop Cordileone has now taken in an effort to awaken Speaker Pelosi’s
conscience and at the same time to protect Catholics in the Archdiocese of San
Francisco and throughout the country from being confused by Speaker Pelosi’s
radical support for abortion, while claiming to be a faithful Catholic. I pray that
Speaker Pelosi will have a change of heart.

-May 20 statement

Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland:

Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland:

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington:

I know Archbishop Cordileone very well, I know that he is a pastor. He loves the Lord, he loves the Church, and he loves his people. And I think we can commend Archbishop Cordileone for the careful way he announced this, as well as giving a full context of what transpired up until this point.

Speaker Pelosi has been actively pro-abortion for years and years and years, so for the archbishop to make this decision now demonstrates that he did what he could, but felt that she had no desire to align with Church teaching. I trust that he did everything possible. 

And we should bear in mind - this is important - he has offered Speaker Pelosi a path back to the Church. There’s a beautiful path back to the Church, it’s to come to understand what is true, to embrace the Church’s teaching that the unborn need to be protected — all of life is sacred, and is to be treasured and cherished and welcomed. 

[Pelosi is able] to embrace that, and to express sorrow as we all need to, when we fail to uphold that which we profess, our faith, and to know God’s mercy, and to find that path back to union with the Church, and thus to the reception of Holy Communion. And so those doors are open to her — to any of us who wander away from the Lord, and from what he teaches.

Asked whether he would uphold the decision of Archbishop Cordileone in the Diocese of Arlington:

Yes, I would. I would respect — he is her bishop, and as that bishop, the direction and guidance he provides is not limited to a geographical area. So in short, yes, I would respect the decision of Archbishop Cordileone and be consistent with that decision here in the Diocese of Arlington, should that situation occur. 

excerpts from May 25 podcast.

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Bishop Liam Cary of Baker, Oregon:

Representative Nancy Pelosi proudly combines “devout” practice of Catholic faith in her personal life with high-profile promotion of legalized abortion in her political life. The scandalizing gap between belief and behavior on the part of the Speaker of the House grievously misleads her fellow believers about Catholic teaching on social justice and seriously handicaps Catholic efforts to defend unborn life in the womb.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has repeatedly brought these sad facts to Representative Pelosi’s attention and called her to repentance. In response, the Speaker has defiantly doubled down on her uncompromising advocacy for unlimited abortion, thereby proposing herself as an exemplar for Catholic politicians who deliberately distance themselves from the saving clarity of the Gospel of Life. At the same time, in choosing to ally herself actively with abortion’s most extreme proponents, Representative Pelosi has unilaterally broken communion with Archbishop Cordileone and the flock he shepherds. She has withdrawn herself from communion with the Church. 

-excerpt from May 20 statement

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Bishop James Conley of Lincoln:

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Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, with a 🧵:

Bishop Donald Hying of Madison:

I fully support Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s prudent decision to recognize that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, has persistently taken public positions in support of legal abortion, contrary to her professed Catholic faith, choosing to separate herself from full communion with the Catholic Church, and therefore is not to present herself for the reception of Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Archbishop Cordileone’s public statement made it clear that this serious measure is ‘purely pastoral, not political’ in a further attempt ‘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…’ This is not a decision that was made rashly, but rather one made after almost ten years of patient dialogue and repeated attempts at reconciliation with the congresswoman and the consistently held teachings of the Catholic Church. Please join me in prayer for Speaker Pelosi, that she may embrace the sacred truth and dignity of the human person, formed in the womb, in the image of God.

-May 20 statement

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois:

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Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, with a 🧵:

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas:

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence:

“Archbishop Cordileone has written a thoughtful, well-reasoned and compassionate letter that accurately reflects the teaching and the law of the Church. I fully support the Archbishop’s statement.

Any contacts I’ve had with Catholic leaders in Rhode Island about this issue over the years have been personal, pastoral and confidential, and for now I prefer to maintain that approach.

It is a good moment to recall, however, that all Catholics need to be in union with the Church, spiritually prepared, and in the state of grace, before they presume to approach the Table of the Lord to receive Holy Communion.”

May 23 statement

Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa (where Rep. Pelosi has a vacation home):

I have visited with the pastor at [Pelosi’s parish] and informed him that if the Archbishop prohibited someone from receiving Holy Communion then that restriction followed the person and that the pastor was not free to ignore it.

-Statement to The Pillar

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