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Your thoughts on Cordileone preventing Pelosi from Communing

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San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said May 20 that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should not “be admitted” to communion unless and until she publicly repudiates her position on legal abortion. Two days late, Pelosi reportedly received the sacrament at a Catholic church in the nation’s capital. And three other bishops from the conservative wing of the American Catholic Church have followed Cordileone’s lead, barring Pelosi from receiving communion in their respective jurisdictions. Here are NCR readers’ responses to the news. Letters have been edited for length and clarity.


Suppose an archbishop prevents a Catholic politician from receiving Holy Communion because he supports a doctrine contrary to official Catholic teachings. Some might suggest that such an action is a rather confusing and possibly incorrect application of Church law and an apparent contradiction of the United States Constitution.

First, politicians are sworn to represent their constituents. If a politician ignored such an important electoral preference, he could be removed from office in the next election. Yet the Catholic Church says that supporting such a position will result in the loss of reception of a sacrament. In the refusal of communion, it is judged that a mortal sin has been committed. However, one of the three conditions of moral sin is the full consent of the will. This is a classic moral dilemma for the politician: such a person is under duress and cannot make a decision entirely freely.

Second, a person who “supports” a non-Catholic doctrine has not actually promulgated the particular doctrine in question. Another requirement for a mortal sin is called “sufficient matter.” The anti-Catholic doctrine already exists. The politician does not have the power to support or eliminate the doctrine. The Supreme Court is apolitical.

In addition, God has granted each person free will. The mere fact that another person favors/supports a certain measure does not guarantee that another citizen will follow or follow the advice. Thus, one could argue that the proposed scenario fails because it is unable to assure guilt beyond a reasonable doubt – since a politician has no position in such matters.

MICHAEL OSLANCE
St. Louis, Missouri

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The Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone should obey the pope and enter into communion with his brother bishops at the American episcopal conference before he causes a schism. Most American Catholics believe in allowing abortion in certain situations.

He could pay some attention to the social justice teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the equality of all people created and loved by God. He could look at some of the big business activities funding the movement leading the church to a possible schism.

JAMES CORR
Cleveland, Ohio

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Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone and former President Donald Trump have at least one thing in common. They know how to exploit a power vacuum. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and “drain the swamp” were messages that resonated with millions of white Americans in fear of “losing their country.” Likewise, Cordileone has taken the lead against Pope Francis and what the Archbishop sees as the pope’s lukewarm stance toward U.S. Catholic politicians, particularly President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and their refusal to support the abolition of abortion in this country.

To Francis and his advice that the Eucharist not be drawn into the politics of abortion, the Archbishop challenges Francis to “resign himself or shut up.” Cordileone is doing what many right-wing Catholics have wanted to do, but no one else has committed to doing it. It’s about condemning what the Catholic right sees as their support for abortion and bringing the ultimate punishment to the only person Cordileone can punish, Pelosi.

Francis is a wonderful human being and a hero to many. But if he refuses to stand up to Cordileone and his politicization of the Eucharist, he will be seen as a weak leader and a man who talks more than he does. And if Cordileone gets away with his power play, who and what are next to erode Francis’ authority and leadership?

Bill Kristofco
Parkville, Maryland

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Doesn’t the Archbishop of San Francisco know that the Eucharist is nourishment for the community rather than a reward for good conduct?

Ed Hoeffer
Cincinnati, Ohio

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I am saddened that Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone does not see the shining example of Jesus living his own global message through the act of sharing his body and blood with his betrayer. No clearer demonstration of “love your enemies” can be found. No more specific act of sharing the Eucharist with the unworthy can be named. We don’t need to ask, what would Jesus do? The answer is there, in the synoptic gospels.

WILLIAM H. MCANALY
Granbury, TX

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I am a catholic cradle. Please explain to me why the National Catholic Reporter objects to a bishop teaching someone to follow God’s command, “thou shalt not kill”?

Our bishops are the shepherds of the flock of God. For bishops, cardinals, priests or any religious, to remain silent while a public figure denounces the law of God would be a sin on their part. It is their calling and duty to help guide us to our own salvation through their leadership.

If a bishop cannot denounce a sin, then in the same way he cannot hear confessions and do penance. The same is true in both cases.

NANCY-BRADY
Ankeny, Iowa

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Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone is presumptuous and mean-spirited in asserting the power to deny Holy Communion to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, until Pelosi votes as the Archbishop wishes on abortion as a civil law issue.

This is presumptuous on the part of the Archbishop, because in leaving us the Holy Eucharist, Jesus said: “Take of this all and eat of it, for this is my body”.

The Archbishop wants to rewrite the words of consecration to add a clause saying “all of you except Pelosi”.

This is right in the teaching of Jesus.

It is also cruelly hurtful to Pelosi, a lifelong practicing Catholic and mother of five, and her family.

FRANK LINDH
San Rafael, California

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So where are we?

If you don’t like this bishop, cardinal, priest, you can go to another bishop, cardinal, priest and get the answer you want. It’s not new, of course, but as in this example, it’s being broadcast.

Who does or does not receive communion seems to depend on the reigning diocesan hierarch. So regardless of my state of being (i.e. sinner, repentant, etc.) and my relationship to Christ, it is up to someone else to know if I am worthy to receive Christ. And somebody else is not Christ.

I admit that I don’t know of a solution to this. There are different standards in different dioceses, parishes, ministers and laity within the church. This may be the only way to do it since we are all different and have different layers of faith, religiosity, understanding and belief. I once experienced three adjoining dioceses with three different programs, processes and ages for confirmation. Each bishop, of course, knew “best.” Then, when the bishops changed, the programs, the processes, the ages changed as well.

So what else can a person do but follow his own conscience? Or perhaps, as Buddhists humbly point out, everything is impermanent.

DAVID MURRAY
Cedarville, MI


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