San Francisco archbishop Salvatore Cordileone issued a notice Friday that he would no longer allow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to receive Communion, an escalation of his feud with the Catholic Democrat over abortion politics. The Archbishop said that he had warned Pelosi in April that she must either repudiate her support of abortion rights or not refer to her Catholicism in justifying them.
I’m not Catholic, so I don’t know what Communion is or how big a deal not receiving Communion is. It must be serious though, because an article about it appeared on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle this morning.
But I do know that Nancy Pelosi is a United States Congressperson who holds the office of Speaker of the House of the U.S. House of Representatives. The people she represents are not all Catholics and the majority of her constituents support abortion rights. A Pew Research survey last spring found that 67% of American Catholics support pro-abortion rights politicians like Pelosi and Biden receiving Communion.
Pelosi is a politician whose job it is to represent the interests of her constituents. She is not a church leader. Archbishop Cordileone is a religious leader and is not a politician. Just as political leaders should not discriminate against or punish their constituents for their religious beliefs, church leaders should not discriminate against or punish their flocks for their political beliefs.
In fact, even Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, when asked about the effort by U.S. bishops to refuse Communion to public figures who support abortion rights, said that he never denies anyone Communion, and urged bishops to be pastors, not politicians.
And let’s not forget that one of the core principles of America is, as Thomas Jefferson wrote, the separation of church and state.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people, which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.
To the Archbishop of San Francisco and other members of the Catholic clergy who wish to punish members of their church who don’t oppose abortion rights, I suggest you at least heed the words of your own Pope, if not those of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson.