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Pelosi's communion ban by San Francisco archbishop over abortion rights support prompts sharp reactions

Business Insider logo Business Insider 5/21/2022 insider@insider.com (John L. Dorman)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a weekly press conference. Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images © Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a weekly press conference. Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images
  • After a San Francisco archbishop barred Pelosi from receiving communion, reaction from advocacy groups was swift.
  • Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone wrote that Pelosi needed to "publicly repudiate" her support for the procedure.
  • The Catholic Church has been unwavering in its opposition to abortion, which it deems a "grave sin."

After a conservative archbishop in San Francisco told priests in the local archdiocese to bar House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving communion due to her support for abortion rights, reaction from advocacy groups was swift.

Jamie L. Manson, the president of Catholics for Choice — a nonprofit organization that pushes for reproductive freedom — decried the move as one rooted against reproductive rights.

"Speaker Pelosi is devoted to her Catholic faith, and it is not lost on me that, as a woman, she is being singled out in this continued battle," she said in a statement. "It is one more step in a long line of attacks that the Church hierarchy has waged on women and their reproductive rights."

In a letter disclosed on Friday, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone wrote that until California Democrat seeks to "publicly repudiate" her stance regarding the "legitimacy of abortion," she would be blocked from the sacrament of Holy Communion, a core rite of Catholic worship.

" ... 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," the letter states. 

Pelosi's office did not immediately respond to Insider's request to comment. 

Cordileone on Friday also tweeted that Pelosi is "risking" a "danger to her own soul" by supporting abortion.

"After numerous attempts to speak with Speaker Pelosi 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, I have determined that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion," he said.


Video: Pelosi banned from receiving Holy Communion over abortion rights (TODAY)

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Brian Burch, the president of the conservative advocacy group CatholicVote, lauded the decision made by the archbishop.

"For too long Catholic public officials have created confusion and disunity by advocating for policies that destroy innocent human life – in direct contradiction of the teachings of the Catholic faith," he said in a statement. "The persistent disobedience of these public officials is a source of enormous sadness and scandal that begged for a response."

He added: "The Church has no choice but to protect itself and to encourage all of its members to live in communion with its teachings."

Cordileone's action comes as the nation grapples with the fallout of a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, which suggested that the nearly 50-year-old ruling legalizing abortion rights would soon be overturned.

Pelosi — a lifelong Catholic who has spoken openly about how her faith has shaped her worldview — said in a 2008 interview on C-SPAN that being denied communion would be a difficult proposition for her.

"Fortunately ... it has not been withheld and I'm a regular communicant so that would be a severe blow to me if that were the case," she said at the time.

The Catholic Church has been unwavering in its opposition to abortion, which it deems a "grave sin."

The Vatican has not been warm to the idea of church leaders denying communion to politicians over their stance regarding abortion rights.

Pope Francis said last June that communion "is not the reward of saints, but the bread of sinners."

However, many conservative bishops have pressed forward, while also amplifying their frustration with President Joe Biden — the nation's second Catholic president — over his stance on abortion rights.

Biden at one time supported the Hyde Amendment, but reversed course during the 2020 presidential campaign.

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