Wisconsin Bishops Back San Francisco Archbishop Cordileone’s Ban on Nancy Pelosi Receiving Holy Communion

Wisconsin Bishops David Ricken of the diocese of Green Bay and Donald Hying of the diocese of Madison are among a growing number of Catholic bishops who have publicly expressed support for San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s declaration that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not be admitted to Holy Communion due to her continued “aggressive promotion of abortion.”

“I wish to express my strong support for Archbishop Cordileone’s decision stating he has publicly declared that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi not be admitted to Holy Communion,” Ricken posted to Twitter following Cordileone’s notification to Pelosi that she is not to present herself for Holy Communion.

“I fully support Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s prudent decision to recognize that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, has persistently taken public positions in support of legal abortion, contrary to her professed Catholic faith, choosing to separate herself from full communion with the Catholic Church,” Hying wrote in a statement.

The German-owned Politico reported Sunday, however, Pelosi was “spotted” at the 9 a.m. Mass at Holy Trinity Church in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., “where she was given communion.”

According to a report at the Washington Examiner Monday, D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory has refused to comment publicly on whether he supports Cordileone’s decision to ban Pelosi from Holy Communion.

In response to the Examiner’s request for comment, Gregory’s office apparently first mistakenly sent a “blunt” email stating such requests “will be ignored.”

According to the report:

Following email exchanges that seemingly attempted to delay publication while asking for a phone conversation, spokeswoman Patricia Zapor told the Washington Examiner via a phone call that there would be no direct response from the Archdiocese of Washington or Gregory. She sent a follow-up email, pointing to prior comments regarding his position on politicians receiving Communion.

“Cardinal Gregory has no new comment about the issue of Catholic politicians receiving Communion,” a follow-up email to the Examiner stated. “The actions of Archbishop Cordileone are his decision to make in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Cardinal Gregory has not instructed the priests of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington to refuse Communion to anyone.”

Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, posted to Twitter that priests who admit Pelosi to Communion “are just as guilty as she is.”

In September 2021, in an interview with Crux, Gregory said he thought Pope Francis’ characterization of bishops as “shepherds” when making decisions about pro-abortion politicians was “extraordinarily helpful.”

“[I]t reminded the bishops, all of us, that we’re not there as police, we’re there as pastors, and as pastors, we certainly have to teach the faith of the Church, we have to be true to the Church’s heritage of faith, but we also have to bring people along with us,” he said. “It is not simply a matter of pointing out their errors.”

Hying, however, stated Cordileone’s public statement “made it clear that this serious measure is ‘purely pastoral, not political’ in a further attempt ‘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.’”

“This is not a decision that was made rashly, but rather one made after almost 10 years of patient dialogue and repeated attempts at reconciliation with the congresswoman and the consistently held teachings of the Catholic Church,” the Madison bishop noted. “Please join me in prayer for Speaker Pelosi, that she may embrace the sacred truth and dignity of the human person, formed in the womb, in the image of God.”

Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, of the diocese of Oakland, California, tweeted his support of Cordileone’s “heroic and compassionate stance … in the protection and defense of human life.”

Barber cited Pope Francis’ words, “Every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ.”

As Catholic World Report noted, Bishop Robert Vasa of the diocese of Santa Rosa, California, also stated:

I have visited with the pastor at St Helena and informed him that if the Archbishop prohibited someone from receiving Holy Communion then that restriction followed the person and that the pastor was not free to ignore it.”

The new Canon (1379 §4) makes it clear that providing sacraments to someone prohibited from receiving them [has] its own possible penalties,” he said.

Other bishops who have publicly expressed support of Cordileone’s prohibition of Holy Communion to Pelosi include Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila, who described the archbishop of San Francisco’s decision as “courageous, compassionate, and necessary.”

“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.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the diocese of Springfield, Illinois, tweeted his support for the decision, stating, “All politicians who promote abortion should not receive holy Communion until they have repented, repaired scandal, and been reconciled to Christ and the Church.”

Bishop John Conley of the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska; Archbishop Paul Coakley of the archdiocese of Oklahoma City; Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas; and Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane also expressed support for Cordileone’s decision.

On Friday, Cordileone released the notification he sent to Pelosi, asserting he has not received any “accommodation” to his “many requests” to have a discussion with her since she “vowed to codify the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in federal law following upon passage of Texas Senate Bill 8 last September.”

“[B]y 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 publicly repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance,” the archbishop wrote, informing Pelosi he would continue to engage in “prayer and fasting” for her.

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “David Ricken” by Diocese of Green Bay. Photo “Donald Hying (Left)” by Donald Hying.




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