US Archbishop bars Pelosi from communion over abortion stance

The Catholic church explicitly opposes abortion, which it considers among the gravest sins. PHOTO: I SUPPORT ARCHBISHOP SALVATORE CORDILEONE/FACEBOOK

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - An ultraconservative archbishop in San Francisco said on Friday (May 20) that Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California would not be permitted to receive Communion in his archdiocese because of her support for abortion rights.

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, who has repeatedly confronted Pelosi over abortion, said in a letter on Friday that until Pelosi was willing to "publicly repudiate" her position defending the "legitimacy of abortion", she would be banned from the sacrament, a central element of Catholic worship.

"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", Cordileone said on Twitter on Friday.

A spokesman for Pelosi, a practising Catholic who often mentions her faith in advocating for her progressive views, did not respond to a request for comment.

In a 2008 interview with C-SPAN, Pelosi described herself as a "regular communicant" and said that if she were ever denied Communion, "that would be a severe blow to me".

The Catholic church explicitly opposes abortion, which it considers among the gravest sins. Cordileone is an outspoken critic of abortion and same-sex marriage, and he has also said he did not get vaccinated for the coronavirus.

In the summer, he objected after Pelosi referred to herself as a "devout Catholic" in a news conference during which she expressed support for efforts to allow federal funding of abortions.

"No one can claim to be a devout Catholic and condone the killing of innocent human life, let alone have the government pay for it," he said at the time.

He also threw his support behind an earlier attempt to bar President Joe Biden, the country's second Catholic president, from receiving Communion because of his support for abortion rights.

That effort failed, after Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington said he would not bar the president from receiving Communion.

The Vatican has warned against denying Communion to politicians supportive of abortion rights. Pope Francis has preached that communion "is not the reward of saints, but the bread of sinners".

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