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Archbishop of San Francisco says Pelosi can’t receive communion over efforts to protect abortion rights

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The archbishop of San Francisco said Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is Catholic, can no longer receive the sacrament of communion because she has declined to back down from her push for abortion access.

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone wrote in a public post Friday that his “many requests” have not been accepted to speak with Pelosi, who is from San Francisco, since she vowed to keep Roe v. Wade. The archbishop said he communicated to Pelosi on April 7 that, should she not publicly repudiate her “advocacy for abortion ‘rights” or refrain from referring to her faith in public, he would have no choice but to deny her communion. The archbishop’s reprimand is the latest development in political and religious debate as some leaders in the Catholic Church speak out against Catholic politicians who support abortion. 

The archbishop referred to the Catholic Church’s Cannon 915, which says that, “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” The Chatecism of the Catholic Church is against abortion. 

“As you have not publically repudiated your position on abortion, and continue to refer to your Catholic faith in justifying your position and to receive Holy Communion, that time has now come,” the archbishop wrote. “Therefore, in light of my responsibility as the Archbishop of San Francisco to be ‘concerned for all the Christian faithful entrusted to [my] care’ … by means of this communication I am hereby notifying you that you are not to present yourself for Holy Communion and, should you do so, you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, until such time as you publically repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance.”

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House Democrats Hold Press Event To Discuss Leaked Supreme Court Draft Of Abortion Opinion
U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks in front of the steps to the House of Representatives with congressional members to speak on the Roe v. Wade issue May 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. 

Win McNamee / Getty Images


The archbishop simplified his position in a follow-up tweet: “After numerous attempts to speak with Speaker Pelosi to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, an the danger to her own soul she is risking, I have determined that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion,” he wrote.

The archbishop’s public post comes as the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade sparked renewed attention over the abortion debate, and a flurry of proposed laws both from those who support and oppose abortion. 

But Pelosi isn’t the first politician to be reprimanded by those in the Catholic Church over abortion — bishops have debated whether President Biden, who is also Catholic, should receive communion as well. Pope Francis last year said he has never denied anyone communion, and encouraged Catholic leaders to avoid aligning themselves with politics. 

Ultimately, in November 2021, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to approve a document that fell short of refusing communion to Mr. Biden or others who advocate for widespread abortion access. 

Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report

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