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Denver archbishop: Cordileone 'made every attempt' to avoid barring Pelosi from Communion

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila says Mass for the Transitional Deacon Ordination in 2020. / Archdiocese of Denver, photography: A&D Creative LLC

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 14:41 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver released a statement Friday in support of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s decision to deny Communion to Nancy Pelosi because of her persistence in supporting abortion.

“I support and commend my brother bishop for making this courageous, compassionate, and necessary decision,” Aquila said. “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.”

Cordileone’s announcement came out Friday at 3 p.m. EDT and explained that the reasoning for his decision is ”purely pastoral, not political.”

Aquila says that Cordileone’s notification to Pelosi and his separate letter to the priests of the archdiocese “clearly articulates the Church’s teaching on abortion, details the extensive efforts he made to have dialogue with Speaker Pelosi, and explains the canonical and pastoral reasons for this decision.”

Aquila encouraged the faithful of his archdiocese to read the separate letters that Cordileone issued. 

Aquila quoted Cordileone saying, “conversion is always better than exclusion, and before any such action can be taken it must be preceded by sincere and diligent efforts at dialogue and persuasion.”

Cordileone “has made every attempt to try and avoid this step," the Denver archbishop added.

“As I have previously written and Archbishop Cordileone makes clear as well, this issue is not about politics or simply enforcing Church rules, but rather about love — love for the individual and love for the entire community,” Aquila wrote. 

Aquila continued: “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. Jesus as he begins his ministry, calls people to ‘repent and believe’ (Mk 1: 15).”

“And when that person is a public person,” he said, “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.”

Aquila added that he “would encourage the faithful of the Archdiocese of Denver, including our own political leaders, to read the letters written by Archbishop Cordileone, and to ask the Holy Spirit with an open heart to clear away any doubt or confusion you have about this issue, and lead you into a more intimate and full relationship with Jesus.”

“What Peter and the apostles told the authorities and those in power in their day, ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5: 29), is still valid today,” he said.

Aquila concluded by calling for prayer for “all political leaders, that they may govern in a way that promotes and protects the God-given dignity of every person, from conception until natural death.  And let us pray for our state and country, that we may once again view every precious life as a true gift from our heavenly Father.” 

BREAKING: Archbishop Cordileone bars Nancy Pelosi from Communion until she ends abortion support

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the U.S. Capitol on May 19, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (l), and Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Joseph Cordileone at St. Peter's Basilica on June 29, 2013, in Vatican City, Vatican (r). / Kevin Dietsch, Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 14:03 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone announced on Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should not be admitted to Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, nor should she present herself to receive the Eucharist, until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion.

Cordileone said on May 20 that the step was “purely pastoral, not political” and came after Pelosi, D-Calif., who has described herself as a “devout Catholic,” repeatedly rebuffed his efforts to reach out to her to discuss her abortion advocacy. 

Cordileone said that he sent the notification to Pelosi, “a member of our archdiocese,” on May 19. The Democratic leader did not immediately respond publicly to Cordileone’s announcement after it was released to the media Friday afternoon. In a 2008 interview with C-SPAN, Pelosi said being denied Communion would be “a severe blow,” describing herself at the time as a “regular communicant.”

Cordileone's instructions apply only within the San Francisco Archdiocese. Other bishops have jurisdiction over such matters when Pelosi is Washington, D.C., and other dioceses around the U.S. and abroad.

In a May 20 letter addressed to lay Catholics, Cordileone explained that he issued the instruction in accordance with canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which states that “Those … obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” 

“After numerous attempts to speak with her 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 the point has come in which I must make a public declaration that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion unless and until she publicly repudiate her support for abortion ‘rights’ and confess and receive absolution for her cooperation in this evil in the sacrament of Penance,” Cordileone wrote in the letter.

Separate letter sent to priests

In a separate letter to priests of the San Francisco Archdiocese also released Friday, Cordileone responded preemptively to criticism that he was “weaponizing the Eucharist.”

He insisted that his decision was “simply application of Church teaching.”

“I have been very clear all along, in both my words and my actions, that my motive is pastoral, not political,” he said in the letter.

In the same letter, the archbishop described his repeated attempts to meet with Pelosi — who represents San Francisco, California’s 12th District, in Congress — since she announced in September 2021 that she would seek to codify Roe. v. Wade into U.S. law. 

He said that he wrote to the Speaker in April this year, “detailing the extreme position to which she has moved on the abortion question and explaining the scandal that it is causing and the danger to her own soul.”  

“I asked her to repudiate this position, or else refrain from referring to her Catholic faith in public and receiving Holy Communion,” he wrote.

“I also advised her that if she refused to do this, I would be forced to make a public announcement that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” 

He said that he received no response, but contacted Pelosi again a month later when she described herself as a “devout Catholic” while explaining why she supported abortion, in the wake of the leak of a draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court could strike down Roe v. Wade.

“In consequence of all this and all that has led up to it,” Cordileone told priests, “it is my determined judgment that this resistance to pastoral counsel has gone on for too long, and there is nothing more that can be done at this point to help the Speaker understand the seriousness of the evil her advocacy for abortion is perpetrating and the scandal she is causing.

"I therefore issued her the aforementioned Notification that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion," he wrote.

A long-running impasse

Cordileone and Pelosi have clashed repeatedly over abortion since Benedict XVI appointed Cordileone to lead the San Francisco Archdiocese in 2012.

Tensions rose notably in 2021 as the push to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision reached the Supreme Court and the U.S. bishops engaged in a heated discussion over whether pro-abortion politicians should be denied Communion.

In May 2021, Pelosi said that she was “pleased” with a Vatican letter to the U.S. bishops addressing the debate. She claimed that the Vatican had instructed the bishops not to be “divisive” on the issue.

In response, Cordileone said the Vatican was in fact promoting “dialogue” between bishops and pro-abortion politicians, “to help them understand the grave evil they are helping to perpetrate and accompany them to a change of heart.”

In July 2021, Cordileone sharply criticized Pelosi after she cited her Catholic faith while defending efforts to permit federal funding of elective abortions.

The archbishop launched a prayer campaign in September 2021 aimed at inspiring “a conversion of heart” among politicians supporting abortion, “beginning with the leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”

Cordileone urged Catholics to sign up for the “Rose and Rosary for Nancy” campaign, which delivered thousands of roses to the speaker as a symbol of prayer and fasting for the 82-year-old mother of five.

In October 2021, Pelosi met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Commenting on the audience, Cordileone said that “popes meet with everyone” and that the encounter didn’t signal a papal endorsement of the Speaker’s views on abortion.

Warning about reprisals

In his letter to priests, Cordileone acknowledged that his decision could lead to an increase in attacks on Catholic churches.

“Our churches are already being targeted for violence, and our worship services are being disrupted, which motivated me to send you the memo last week asking you to be more attentive to security measures on your property. These attacks may now likely increase. I realize this,” he said. 

“But for us, as faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, this is a cause for rejoicing, for the only reason this is happening is due to the Catholic Church’s consistent defense of the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions, and especially at its beginning in the womb of the mother.”  

Cordileone continued, “I am convinced that this is a time that God is calling us to live the last beatitude: ‘Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven’ (Matthew 5:11-12).”

This is a developing story.

10 times Nancy Pelosi supported abortion while citing her Catholic faith

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks before a meeting with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister of Sweden Magdalena Andersson at the U.S. Capitol May 19, 2022 in Washington, DC. The leaders of Finland and Sweden are visiting Washington, DC and meeting with President Biden and Congressional leaders after the two nations submitted formal applications to become members of NATO. / Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 13:48 pm (CNA).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may no longer receive Holy Communion in her home archdiocese of San Francisco after publicly supporting abortion as a Catholic politician. The Catholic Church considers abortion — the destruction of a human person — a grave evil.

The archbishop of San Francisco, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, announced his decision Friday after spending months trying to contact and meet with the California Democrat. His decision, he says, is a pastoral one and not a political one.

Over the years, Pelosi has defended abortion while citing her Catholic faith. Here are 10 examples.

1. May 15, 2022

Pelosi spoke about the likelihood of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Dana Bash.

“We'd rather have it resolved, rather than an issue for a campaign, because we're talking about a woman's decision-making, her family, her God, her doctor, her own decision-making,” she said. “So we have to fight the fight on the issue now. I think that it would have an impact on the elections. But right now, I want everyone to just focus, just focus on what this does and what this means to you.”

“And I say this as a practicing, devout Catholic: five children in six years and one week,” she added. “I don't disrespect people's views and how they want to live their lives. But I don't think that it's up to the Donald Trump appointees on the court or any politicians to make that decision for women. And I just do — I will just say what I have been saying for decades. Understand this. This is not just about terminating a pregnancy. This is about contraception, family planning.”

2. May 4, 2022

While speaking with The Seattle Times editorial board, Pelosi said, “The very idea that they would be telling women the size, timing or whatever of their family, the personal nature of this is so appalling, and I say that as a devout Catholic.” She added, “They say to me, ‘Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the pope.’ Yes I do. Are you stupid?”

3. March 22, 2022

Pelosi spoke about her support of legalized abortion and argued that the Supreme Court should not overturn Roe v. Wade at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.

“It isn’t about what is your religious belief,” she said. “It’s what is the right of people to make their own decisions about the sizing and time, or if they’re going to have a family. This really gets me burned up, in case you didn’t notice, because, again, I’m very Catholic — devout, practicing, all of that. They would like to throw me out, but I’m not going, because I don’t want to make their day.”

4. Dec. 2, 2021

Speaking about the Supreme Court considering its former decision in Roe v. Wade during her press briefing, Pelosi said: “As I say to my colleagues, ‘When you have five children in six years and one week, we can discuss this issue.’ That was great for me; that's not necessarily great for other people. And it shouldn't be up to any of us to decide what a woman and her family, her husband and her partner decides is right for them and their family and their future child-bearing possibilities. So, it's scary. It's really scary.”

She added, “And I say that as a practicing Catholic. Again, this shouldn't even be a political issue. Look at Ireland. Is there a more Catholic country? Look at Ireland and how they pass legislation respecting, respecting women, respecting women.”  

5. Sept. 24, 2021

Pelosi brought her Catholic faith as she expressed support for a radical abortion bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act.

“For years, radical restrictions on women's reproductive health freedoms have been pushed across the nation, with 2021 on track to be the worst legislative year for women's health rights,” she told the House of Representatives. “I come to this as a Catholic mother of five in six years and one week and with the joy that all that meant to us. But with the recognition that it was my husband and I — our decision. It was our decision. And we should not, in this body or in that Court, be making decisions for the women in America.”

6. July 22, 2021

Pelosi cited her Catholic faith while defending taxpayer-funded abortion at her weekly press conference.

“As a devout Catholic and mother of five in six years, I feel that God blessed my husband and me with our beautiful family, five children in six years almost to the day,” she said, adding, “it’s not up to me to dictate that that’s what other people should do, and it [funding of abortion in Medicaid] is an issue of fairness and justice for poorer women in our country.”

7. April 24, 2018 

While speaking to students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Pelosi addressed criticism of supporting abortion as a Catholic.

“I know this is touchy on this campus — on all Catholic campuses. … And it’s an issue in the diocese,” she said. “But the fact is, God gave us all the free will [and] our sense of responsibility to answer for that. So I am a rabid supporter of a woman’s right to choose and a similar issue of the LGBT community, because they are connected.”

8. Jan. 13, 2016

In a comment responding to her opposition of a 20-week abortion ban, Pelosi cited her faith.

“Let me say this; I’m a Catholic, a devout, practicing Catholic. I take great comfort in my faith, come from a very Catholic family, largely pro-life. I’ve had five children and the day my fifth child was born, my oldest turned 6, so I’m with the program in terms of the Catholic Church. However, if there’s one issue that really — I try to be dispassionate about how we find solutions — if there’s one issue that really is almost inflaming  to women, is when politicians say we will influence the size and timing of your family; we will  decide what is right for you.”

9. June 13, 2013

Pelosi opposed a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation and said, at a press conference, that the bill was an effort to ensure that "there will be no abortion in our country."

"As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this," she said. "I don't think it should have anything to do with politics."

10. Aug. 24, 2008

When she was ssked when life begins on "Meet the Press,” Pelosi brought up her Catholic faith.

“I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time,” she said. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition….  St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know.” 

“The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose,” she added. “This isn’t about abortion on demand, it’s about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and—too—that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god [sic]. And so I don't think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins.”

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Catholic Church’s pro-life position has remained consistent from the beginning.

“In the 5th century AD this rejection of abortion at every stage was affirmed by the great bishop-theologian St. Augustine,” who taught that “we cannot assume that the earliest aborted children will be excluded from enjoying eternal life with God," the USCCB states.

Here's what to know about Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone attends the Mass and imposition of the pallium upon new metropolitan archbishops held by Pope Francis for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul at Vatican Basilica, June 29, 2013. / Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Denver Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 13:33 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco is in the news for saying that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat and professed Catholic, may not receive Holy Communion because of her staunch, obstinate political support for abortion.

The response of Catholic bishops to politicians who promote legal abortion has long been a topic of discussion. Cordileone’s action comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to overturn precedent that mandates legal abortion across the country.

Where is the archbishop coming from?

The 65-year-old archbishop has headed the San Francisco archdiocese since 2012, after four years as Bishop of Oakland across the San Francisco Bay. The San Diego native was an auxiliary bishop for the San Diego diocese for ten years.

It will be hard for Pelosi’s defenders to say he doesn’t know Catholicism. Cordileone’s educational background includes seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, an undergraduate degree in sacred theology, and a doctoral degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Before he was named a bishop, he spent seven years in Rome as an assistant at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s “supreme court” on matters of canon law.

In Italian, Cordileone’s last name means “Heart of a Lion.”

While the archbishop is outspoken on pro-life concerns, he has also focused on San Francisco’s homeless population. He has offered a requiem Mass for homeless people who have died.

He has also focused on beauty and music in the Catholic liturgy, launching the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship in 2014. When vandals and protesters toppled statues of Catholic missionary St. Junipero Serra, he performed an exorcism at one vandalism site.

Is Cordileone’s move against Pelosi political?

The archbishop’s previous words on abortion politics declare a higher purpose:

“It is souls that are at stake, not elections. Lost sheep are to be lovingly called to return to the fold, not angrily denounced in the way that would imitate so much of the animosity of our political culture.”

As an authority, he cited Pope Francis, who reminds bishops “to think and speak as pastors, not as politicians.”

And in a letter to priests of his archdiocese explaining his action, he said, “I have been very clear all along, in both my words and my actions, that my motive is pastoral, not political.”

“This is simply application of Church teaching,” he added. “One would have to demonstrate that a person’s actions in following Church teaching is explicitly for a political purpose in order to justify the accusation of ‘weaponizing’ the Eucharist.”

Cordileone previously gave Pelosi thousands of roses to try to sway her heart.

The archbishop led a pro-life campaign to collect thousands of roses for Pelosi. On the Dec. 12 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, campaign leaders placed 7,700 roses outside the U.S. Capitol.

“This is what equality means: Every human life is equally sacred,” Cordileone said at the time. “Speaker Pelosi, we love you. It is not too late: choose life.”

More than 10,000 roses were dedicated to Pelosi through the campaign, called "Rose and a Rosary for Nancy Pelosi."

Why does the archbishop link the Eucharist to politicians’ actions on abortion?

Cordileone sees an “intimate connection” between reverence for the Eucharist and “reverence for human life where it is most vulnerable and defenseless,” as he explained in an October 2021 column.

“When politicians pontificate about abortion as a choice or even a human right, do we see beyond the rhetoric to the ugliness of what they propose: the deliberate snuffing out of innocent lives, each one of them unique, irreplaceable, and loved by God?” he asks.

People judge too much by appearances when they dismiss the humanity of other people, whether they are the unwanted unborn child or the homeless person.

“As political issues, homelessness and abortion are treated as separate things,” the archbishop has said. “But with the Catholic sacramental sense we can see that whether we are speaking of the unhoused or the unborn, the underlying issue is the same: Can we see beyond the merely material to the deeper spiritual reality?”

Has abortion has become a parallel religion? The archbishop thinks so.

At a January 2022 Mass for the Walk for Life West Coast, he said that abortion has become an inverted “blessed sacrament.” For some of its supporters, it has become “what they hold most sacred, the doctrine and practice upon which their whole belief system is built.”

This is why, he explained, “we see such visceral and violent reaction to any even minimal regulation of abortion in the law.”

Christians who back abortion rights, he said, have been “mindlessly co-opted by the new secular religion and its false blessed sacrament,” comparing them to the ancient Israelites who worshipped Moloch, an idol whose devotees engaged in human sacrifice.

“But there is only one Blessed Sacrament; to live as if there were two brings desecration of what is sacred on both fronts: the Bread of Life on the altar and human life in the womb.”

Cordileone and Pelosi have clashed on pro-abortion rights legislation

In September 2021 he had warned that proposed pro-abortion rights federal legislation called the Women’s Health Protection Act was “nothing short of child sacrifice.”

The bill aims to override prohibitions on “pre-viability” abortions and would also allow for late-term abortions without “meaningful” limits, the U.S. bishops’ conference has warned, calling it “the most radical abortion bill of all time.”

“A child is not an object to be thrown away, and neither is a mother’s heart,” Cordileone said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the answer to a woman in a crisis pregnancy is not violence but love. This is America.  We can do better.”

Pelosi sought to bring the bill up for a vote.

She was dismissive of her archbishop’s comments, saying, “it’s none of our business how other people choose the size and timing of their families.”

“The archbishop of the city of that area, of San Francisco, and I had a disagreement about who should decide this (family size and timing). I believe that God has given us a free will to honor our responsibilities,” she said Sept. 23 in response to a question from Erik Rosales, Capitol Hill correspondent for EWTN News Nightly.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 218 to 211, largely along party lines. The same act faced a recent procedural vote in the U.S. Senate, where it failed to advance.

It is clear some influential Catholics don’t like Cordileone

Before he was named Archbishop of San Francisco, a longtime center for LGBT politics, Cordileone had served as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ point man on efforts to preserve legal marriage as a union of one man and one woman. In 2008, California voters had passed Prop. 8, which legally defined marriage as only a union of one man and one woman, though the U.S. Supreme Court later mandated that all states recognize same-sex unions as marriages.

In early 2015 he announced changes to archdiocesan high school teachers’ handbooks intended to clarify Catholic religious and moral teachings on several controversial topics, including religious teaching, sexual morality, and the ethics of assisted reproductive technologies. also proposed a clause to Catholic high schools’ teacher contracts outlining a ministerial understanding of their role – a proposal he later withdrew.

Some high school students, teachers, and parents publicly protested the archbishop’s proposals.

In 2015 a group of prominent Catholics paid for a full-page newspaper advertisement asking Pope Francis to remove Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, claiming that he had fostered “division and intolerance.” The archdiocese responded that the ad does not represent San Francisco Catholics and misrepresents the facts.

Among the signers was Clint Reilly, a businessman and former political consultant who is a past president of Catholic Charities CYO's board of directors and has been a major donor to Catholic Charities.

Another signer, Brian Cahill, is a former executive director of the local Catholic Charities affiliate. He has been an outspoken critic of Catholic teaching on homosexual relationships.

Their ad also objected to Archbishop Cordileone's selection of a pastor at Star of the Sea Parish who decided only to have altar boys and not female altar servers.

Some foes of Cordileone had hired Sam Singer of the public relations firm Singer and Associates to back their cause. On Twitter, Singer published or re-tweeted over 40 tweets highlighting the anti-Cordileone ad. In one of his own social media posts he contended that “everyone is praying that the Pope will remove the San Francisco Archbishop.”

Singer told the National Catholic Reporter he had been hired by alumni, parents, and their supporters involved in a dispute over Star of the Sea Catholic School, a K-8 institution connected to the parish of the same name. Cordileone had allowed the priests of the parish and school to set their own policy on various topics, including limiting altar servers to boys.

The campaign against the archbishop intimidated some Catholics who supported him.

Some did speak out, like Eva Muntean, an organizer of the group SFCatholics.org.

“It's truly astonishing that a group of self-proclaimed 'prominent Catholics' has become so self-absorbed that they believe they can demand that the Holy Father remove an Archbishop because he refuses to sacrifice teaching Catholic values to children in our Catholic schools,” she said at the time.

What have popes and the Vatican said about Catholic politicians, abortion, and Holy Communion?

Nancy Pelosi. / Brian Birzer via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 13:10 pm (CNA).

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has instructed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not to be admitted to Holy Communion, should she present herself. In letters to priests and laypeople issued on May 20 explaining his decision, he cited papal teaching. 

Here’s what popes and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have said about Catholic politicians, abortion, and Holy Communion.

John Paul II

In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae, Pope John Paul II wrote: “In a democratic system, where laws and decisions are made on the basis of the consensus of many, the sense of personal responsibility in the consciences of individuals invested with authority may be weakened. But no one can ever renounce this responsibility, especially when he or she has a legislative or decision-making mandate, which calls that person to answer to God, to his or her own conscience, and to the whole of society for choices which may be contrary to the common good.” 

“Although laws are not the only means of protecting human life, nevertheless they do play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behavior. I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person’s natural right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law.” 

“For this reason, I urgently appeal once more to all political leaders not to pass laws which, by disregarding the dignity of the person, undermine the very fabric of society.”

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

In its 2002 Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and approved by John Paul II, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recalled “some principles proper to the Christian conscience, which inspire the social and political involvement of Catholics in democratic societies.”

It said that when legislative proposals are put forward which “attack the very inviolability of human life,” Catholics have “the duty to recall society to a deeper understanding of human life and to the responsibility of everyone in this regard.”

The note referred to John Paul II's reiteration in Evangelium vitae of the Church's constant teaching that legislators have a grave and clear obligation to oppose laws attacking human life, and added: “For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.”

The congregation went on to say that “When political activity comes up against moral principles that do not admit of exception, compromise or derogation, the Catholic commitment becomes more evident and laden with responsibility. In the face of fundamental and inalienable ethical demands, Christians must recognize that what is at stake is the essence of the moral law, which concerns the integral good of the human person. This is the case with laws concerning abortion and euthanasia … Such laws must defend the basic right to life from conception to natural death.”

Benedict XVI

Before he was elected pope in 2005, taking the name Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote a letter to the U.S. bishops.

In the 2004 letter, the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that “when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.”  

“When ‘these precautionary measures have not had their effect …,’ and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, ‘the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.’”

Benedict XVI was asked during a flight to Brazil in 2007 whether he agreed with the excommunication of deputies in Mexico City for supporting abortion.

He replied: “Excommunication is not something arbitrary but a measure prescribed by the Code [of Canon Law]. Thus, it simply states in canon law that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with going to Communion, where one receives the Body of Christ.” 


“Consequently, nothing new, surprising or arbitrary, has been invented. Only what is prescribed by Church law has been recalled publicly, a law that is based on the doctrine and faith of the Church, on our appreciation of life and of the human individual from the very first instant.”

Pope Francis

Months after his election in 2013, Pope Francis said: “In a frail human being, each one of us is invited to recognize the face of the Lord, who in his human flesh experienced the indifference and solitude to which we so often condemn the poorest of the poor, whether in developing countries or in wealthy societies.”  

“Every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who even before he was born, and then just after birth, experienced the world’s rejection.”

In his 2015 encyclical Laudato si’, he wrote: “When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities — to offer just a few examples — it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected.”  

“Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for ‘instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature.’”

Speaking to reporters on a flight from Slovakia in 2021, Pope Francis said that “abortion is murder,” while urging priests to be pastoral rather than political when faced with the question of who can receive Communion.

“What should the pastor do?” he asked. “Be a shepherd, do not go around condemning, not condemning, but be a pastor. But is he also a pastor of the excommunicated? Yes, he is the pastor and he has to shepherd them, and he must be a shepherd with God’s style. And God’s style is closeness, compassion, and tenderness. The whole Bible says that. Closeness. Already in Deuteronomy, He says to Israel: What people have gods as close as you have me? Closeness. Compassion: the Lord has compassion on us. We read Ezekiel, we read Hosea, right from the beginning. And tenderness — just look at the Gospel and the works of Jesus.”

“A pastor who does not know how to manage with God’s style slips and he adds many things which are not pastoral. For me, I do not want to particularize [...] the United States because I do not know the details well, I give the principle.”

“You can tell me: but if you are close, and tender, and compassionate with a person, you have to give Communion — but that’s a hypothetical. Be a pastor and the pastor knows what he has to do at all times, but as a shepherd. But if he stops this shepherding of the Church, immediately he becomes a politician. And you will see this in all the denunciations, in all the non-pastoral condemnations that the Church makes.” 

“With this principle, I believe a pastor can act well. The principles are from theology, the pastoral care is theology and the Holy Spirit, who leads you to do it with the style of God.”

Archbishop Cordileone tells priests that Nancy Pelosi Communion denial is ‘pastoral, not political’

"Those who live among us without a permanent home, then, provide us a powerful reminder that we are people on pilgrimage, that this is not our true home," said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone during a homily in a Requiem Mass for the homeless on November 6, 2021. / Dennis Callahan

Denver Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 13:04 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone took extra pains Friday to explain to priests of the Archdiocese of San Francisco his decision barring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Communion because of her advocacy of abortion.

In a May 20 letter addressed priests of the archdiocese, Cordileone explained that his instruction is nothing but the application of the Church’s teaching. The archbishop addressed a separate letter to the laity.

“There are those who speak of such actions as I am taking as ‘weaponizing’ the Eucharist.  However, this is simply application of Church teaching.  One would have to demonstrate that a person’s actions in following Church teaching is explicitly for a political purpose in order to justify the accusation of ‘weaponizing’ the Eucharist,” the archbishop wrote. “I have been very clear all along, in both my words and my actions, that my motive is pastoral, not political.”

He added “that one can also violate Church teaching and take Holy Communion for a political purpose as well, thus ‘weaponizing’ the Eucharist for one’s own ulterior motives.”

Cordileone had notified Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a resident of the archdiocese, May 19 that because of her obstinate support for legal abortion she is not to present herself for Communion, and that should she do so, she is not to be admitted.

Cordileone’s instruction applies only within the San Francisco archdiocese.

The archbishop explained to his priests that since September 2021, he has made several attempts to have a dialogue with Pelosi about her support for legal abortion. His efforts, he said, were met either with no response or “that the Speaker was unavailable due to her schedule.”

“In consequence of all this and all that has led up to it, it is my determined judgment that this resistance to pastoral counsel has gone on for too long, and there is nothing more that can be done at this point to help the Speaker understand the seriousness of the evil her advocacy for abortion is perpetrating and the scandal she is causing. I therefore issued her the aforementioned Notification that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

His notification added that she may be admitted to Communion after having publicly repudiated her advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and having received absolution.

Cordileone pointed out that the law he is applying in this situation, Canon 915, is found in the book of canon law that deals with the Church’s sanctifying office, rather than in “Book VI, which is the Church’s legislation on penal law.”

“Thus, this is not a sanction, or a penalty, but rather a declaration of fact: the Speaker is ‘obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin’ (canon 915). A sanction, on the other hand, such as excommunication, has its own particular process and reasons for being applied. This is quite distinct from the application of canon 915,” he explained.

The archbishop went on to note that the promulgation of Pope Francis’ recent revision of penal law described “three pastoral motives that have also guided my discernment here: responding to the demands of justice, moving the offending party to conversion, and repairing the scandal caused.”

He observed that “Pope Francis’ purpose in issuing this revision of the Church’s canonical legislation on penal sanctions is clearly motivated in large part by the commitment to insuring the integrity of the Church’s sacramental life.”

“It is for this reason,” he added, “that there is now a canon which punishes by suspension, to which other penalties can be added, one who ‘administers a sacrament to those who are prohibited from receiving it.’”

Cordileone added that his decision had not been made lightly, but is “the fruit of years of prayer, fasting and consultation with a broad spectrum of Church leaders whom I respect for their intelligence, wisdom and pastoral sensitivity, and it continues my efforts to invite the Speaker down the path of conversion.”

With regard to the sanctity of life the Church is in a spiritual battle, he maintained: “It is not poetic rhetoric to call the proliferation of abortion demonic.”

Because of this, he asked of his priests three things: to preach about the topic; to promote living the consecration of the archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to pray the St. Michael prayer after Mass.

“This is no time to be intimidated into silence,” he urged. “Do not dodge addressing the grave evil of abortion, but do so, obviously, with great pastoral sensitivity, recognizing that many of your people in the pews listening to you have been personally affected by this terrible scourge.”

Cordileone added that the archdiocese is “fully committed to assisting women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies, both during the pregnancy and for years after the birth of the child.”

“Ask your parishioners to help in our efforts as a Catholic people to be truly pro-life: both pro-child and pro-woman,” he exhorted the priests.

The archbishop recommended the following ways to live out the consecration to the Immaculate Heart: pray the rosary daily; fast on Fridays and perform other acts of penance; go to confession more frequently; and regularly adore the Blessed Sacrament.

“In closing, allow me to observe that what we are facing in this particular moment of history is a powerful reminder to us that the Priesthood is not for the faint-hearted. Of course, it never was.  But for a long time, up until recently, we lived in a society that allowed us to imagine that it was.  Let us not fool ourselves any longer,” he said.

“And know how deeply grateful I am to you,” he concluded, “for being with your people, shepherding them, challenging them, and leading them to the green pastures that are deeper life in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Vatican foreign minister meets Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv

Archbishop Paul Gallagher meets with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv on May 20. / null

Rome Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 11:32 am (CNA).

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States met with the Ukrainian foreign minister in Kyiv on Friday, offering the Holy See’s aid in enabling a negotiation process to end the Russia-Ukraine war.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s equivalent of a foreign minister, said that his meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on May 20 focused on “pondering the restoration of peace.”

“The Holy See reaffirms, as it has always done, its willingness to aid a genuine negotiating process, seeing it as the just route to a fair and permanent resolution,” Gallagher said at a press conference following the meeting in the Ukrainian capital.

Gallagher arrived in Ukraine on May 18 for a visit that included stops in Bucha, Vorzel, and Irpin, settlements near Kyiv that suffered devastation under occupation by Russian troops.

In Bucha, the 68-year-old archbishop prayed at the site of a former mass grave and was shown photographs of the exhumation, remarking afterward: “This is truly a horror.”

“We are witnesses of this, of the sufferings and martyrdom of this country,” he told Vatican News, the Holy See’s online news portal.

In the press conference, the English archbishop said that his meeting with Kuleba and his visit to the three “most martyred cities” enabled him to “touch the wounds of the Ukrainian people and hear their passionate plea for peace.”

“My visit is intended to demonstrate the closeness of the Holy See and Pope Francis to the Ukrainian people, particularly in light of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Gallagher said.

“And I assure you that both the Holy Father and his closest collaborators, including myself, suffer greatly from the many deaths, violence of all sorts, the devastation of cities and infrastructure, the separation of so many families, and the millions of displaced people and refugees.”

Gallagher is the third papal envoy to travel to Ukraine at Pope Francis’ request. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, brought an ambulance blessed and donated by the pope to Lviv, western Ukraine, in March. Cardinal Michael Czerny, the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, made multiple visits to meet with refugees on the Ukrainian border.

According to Gallagher, his trip had been planned for some time to mark the 30th anniversary of the Holy See’s diplomatic ties with Ukraine. The archbishop’s first scheduled visit was postponed when he tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

In an interview with Vatican News published on May 20, Gallagher was asked how to achieve peace in Ukraine after it has seen so much suffering.

“Ukrainians will find peace among themselves, but the wounds are deep and it will take much, much longer to find peace with Russia, with the people who have been involved in this terrible conflict, in this war,” he replied.

“The wounds are deep: it is difficult to talk now about peace, about reconciliation, because in people’s hearts the suffering, the wounds are so deep that you have to give time. You have to give time, you have to let people talk, express even so many negative feelings towards others.”

“So you have to pray a lot, that the Lord, who is really the only salvation, will give us the grace to heal these wounds and that people can move on.”

Witness thrown out of courtroom as Cardinal Becciu cross-examination continues

A hearing in the Vatican finance trial on May 20, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 20, 2022 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Cardinal Angelo Becciu refused to answer any questions not related to his charges during a continuation of his cross-examination in the Vatican finance trial on Thursday.

The 73-year-old Italian cardinal said on May 19 that he would not respond to questions about the Italian bishops’ conference because it is unconnected to his charges of embezzlement, abuse of office, and witness tampering.

Except for witness tampering, the accusations against Becciu date back to before he was elevated to the College of Cardinals, when he was the Sostituto, or second-ranking official, in the Secretariat of State.

During Thursday’s hearing, Becciu complained of being humiliated by certain lines of questioning the day prior, accusing the prosecuting attorney of asking questions that “injured my priestly dignity.”

Judges ruled on May 19 that accusations connected to the Italian bishops’ conference were not part of the trial, but the prosecuting attorney was nevertheless allowed to ask questions about it.

During the cross-examination, the cardinal again pointed to his faith in what he was told about investments by former Secretariat of State officials Monsignor Alberto Perlasca and Fabrizio Tirabassi.

A judge asked Becciu in what way then he exercised his powers as Sostituto, to which he responded: “If I had realized there was something wrong, or had insights to go another way, or better to invest elsewhere, I could have told them differently, I had not had opportunities and they never offered me opportunities to go against their proposals.”

While Becciu was speaking about his lack of suspicion of Perlasca at the time of the investment in the London building at the heart of the trial, the former head of his administrative office entered the courtroom from a side door.

Prosecutor Alessandro Diddi immediately pointed out that Perlasca’s presence could be a problem, given that he is a witness in the trial. Perlasca is also seeking damages as a victim in the trial over Becciu’s witness tampering charge.

Perlasca was asked to leave the room by court president Giuseppe Pignatone.

Thursday’s hearing also included the filing of a written defense on the part of another defendant, Cecilia Marogna, a self-described “security consultant” who has been accused of misappropriating 575,000 euros (around $607,000) of Vatican funds she spent on luxury goods.

In the 23-page statement, which judges told Marogna’s defense lawyers could not be read in court, the 40-year-old Sardinian woman provided her own account of her dealings with the Vatican, including claims that she was a go-between for a request for relics of St. Nicholas of Bari from emissaries of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Marogna also recounted in detail her dealings with Italian intelligence agents and secret service chiefs in Colombia, Burkina Faso, and Mali.

Explaining her role in the operations to free Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti, a missionary abducted in Mali, Marogna said Becciu’s claim that Pope Francis green-lighted spending a million euros to free the nun “does not correspond to the truth.”

She said that in addition to the 575,000 euros paid to her, the Secretariat of State also paid the Inkerman Group, a British intelligence firm, approximately 589,000 euros, for a total of 1.16 million euros (around $1.2 million) — not for Sister Gloria’s ransom, but for “management of the case.”

There is no independent corroboration of Marogna’s claims since, according to the defendant herself, “no contract was signed between the companies and the Secretariat of State.”

Marogna said that “there was never a requirement for accountability and an obligation to manage the funds received by the companies on the part of the sender who, like other institutional structures, simply hired corporate entities to carry out certain operational activities of its interest.”

According to Marogna, these activities “should have remained discreet and shielded even within the Secretariat of State’s own administrative management, according to specific orders given by Pope Francis.”

Becciu confirmed in his cross-examination on Thursday that Marogna was brought in to work with the Secretariat of State after she introduced herself to him via email.

The three days of back-to-back hearings concluded on May 20 with the first part of the interrogation of Fabrizio Tirabassi.

Tirabassi was a senior lay official working in the Secretariat of State’s general affairs section from 1987 until his suspension in 2019. From the 1990s on, Tirabassi oversaw the Secretariat’s financial affairs, including investments and movements of the Vatican’s accounts in Swiss banks.

During a cross-examination on Friday, Tirabassi explained the circumstances around the Secretariat of State’s consideration of a proposal in 2012 and 2013 to invest in oil in Angola, and why the idea was eventually abandoned — including that the investment would have been made at the same time that Pope Francis was writing his 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato si’.

The former official underlined that the Secretariat of State had, until a few years ago, its own budget completely separate from the rest of the Roman Curia and not under the supervision of the Secretariat for the Economy.

Tirabassi also provided an explanation for how the Secretariat came to work with Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione, Tirabassi’s co-defendant, who was a top client of the Swiss bank Credit Suisse, also involved in the Angola oil proposal.

The ex-Secretariat official said that the Vatican did due diligence on Mincione before purchasing from him the building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London, indicating that the Secretariat took about a year to vet the investment manager.

Tirabassi’s defense lawyers issued a brief statement after the hearing in which they praised the “excellent questioning in which our client lucidly explained the reality of the facts: there is no crime behind the Sloane Square affair and there is no rot in the Secretariat of State.”

“The only mystery in this story is why someone wanted to hold a trial in an affair that the Holy See leadership wanted to close with an agreement,” attorneys Massimo Bassi and Cataldo Intrieri said.

Pope Francis sends condolences after death of UAE’s Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed

Pope Francis became the first pope to visit the Arabian peninsula when he landed in Abu Dhabi on Feb 4, 2019. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, May 20, 2022 / 08:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has sent condolences following the death of the United Arab Emirates’ president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“I offer Your Highness my heartfelt recognition and the assurance of my prayers for his eternal rest. I likewise join the people of the Emirates in mourning his passing and paying tribute to his distinguished and far-sighted leadership in the service of the nation,” Pope Francis wrote in the message sent on May 17.

“I am particularly grateful for the solicitude shown by His Highness to the Holy See and to the Catholic communities of the Emirates, and for his commitment to the values ​​of dialogue, understanding, and solidarity between peoples and religious traditions solemnly proclaimed by the historic Abu Dhabi Document and embodied in the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.”

Sheikh Khalifa died on May 13 at the age of 73. He had been in ailing health after suffering a stroke and undergoing surgery in 2014.

The pope addressed the message to Khalifa’s successor, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who had been the de-facto ruler of the country since Khalifa’s health worsened.

He has led the country’s foreign policy, which has included deploying warplanes in Libya in 2017 and joining the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen before withdrawing its forces in 2020.

Sheikh Mohammed, the Abu Dhabi crown prince often also referred to as MBZ, officially became the president of the UAE on May 14.

Pope Francis is welcomed to the United Arab Emirates by Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, at the presidential palace, Feb. 4, 2019. .  Vatican Media.
Pope Francis is welcomed to the United Arab Emirates by Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, at the presidential palace, Feb. 4, 2019. . Vatican Media.

In the message, Pope Francis offered his prayers for Sheikh Mohammed in his new official role as ruler.

Pope Francis wrote: “In commending His Highness prayers to the eternal mercies of the Most High God, I assure you also of my prayers as you enter upon the responsibilities of your lofty office.”

“Upon you, the members of your Family, and upon all the beloved people of the United Arab Emirates, I cordially invoke an abundance of divine blessings.”

The Vatican has maintained close ties with the UAE since the pope’s trip to Abu Dhabi in 2019.

Cardinals and Roman Curia officials, including Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, and Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, have made trips to the peninsula in the past year as the Vatican and the UAE collaborated on several events and initiatives, including the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity.

Vatican officials traveled to the UAE last July to honor Sheikh Mohammed with the “Man of Humanity” award from the Vatican Congregation for Education at a ceremony held in the Emirates Palace.

This week, a press conference at the Vatican was canceled in light of the president’s death. The press conference, scheduled for May 17, was due to present the “Interfaith Meeting in Abu Dhabi on Religion, Ethics and Artificial Intelligence.”

The UAE has announced a 40-day mourning period following Sheikh Khalifa’s death.

“May his legacy continue to inspire the efforts of men and women of good will everywhere to persevere in weaving bonds of unity and peace between the members of our one human family,” Pope Francis said.

Vatican hosts synod listening session with disabled Catholics

People from more than 20 countries take part in a video call hosted by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life on May 19, 2022. / Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life Flickr photostream.

Vatican City, May 20, 2022 / 05:15 am (CNA).

The Vatican hosted a virtual listening session with Catholics with disabilities on Thursday as part of the Synod on Synodality process.

People from more than 20 countries participated in the video call hosted by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life on May 19, with some expressing concerns about experiences of discrimination and exclusion.

A participant from France with Down syndrome shared on the call: “At birth, I could have been aborted. I am happy to live.”

“I love everyone and I thank God for creating me,” she added, according to the dicastery.

Other participants from Mexico, Liberia, Ukraine, and other countries also took part in the discussion of some of the synod’s preparatory questions, including: “How are we walking with Jesus and our brothers and sisters to proclaim Him? For the future, what is the Spirit asking our Church to grow in our journey with Jesus and with our brothers and sisters to proclaim Him?”

Accommodations were made so that people with sensory, physical, or cognitive disabilities could express themselves in their own languages, including sign language.

Father Alexandre Awi Mello, the secretary of the dicastery, said that one of the challenges posed by the global synodal process is to “overcome any prejudice of those who believe that those who have difficulties in expressing themselves do not have a thought of their own, nor anything interesting to communicate.”

Participants in a video call hosted by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life on May 19, 2022. Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life Flickr photostream.
Participants in a video call hosted by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life on May 19, 2022. Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life Flickr photostream.

According to the Vatican dicastery, the 30 participants in the video call were invited to offer further contributions to a document in the coming months that will be delivered to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops as part of the synodal process.

Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, spoke to the participants at the beginning of the call.

“I’m in debt to people with disabilities. One of them led me on the path of a priestly vocation,” Grech said.

“If the face of the disabled brother or sister is discarded, it is the Church that becomes disabled,” he said.