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San Francisco newspaper calls for archbishop's removal after barring Pelosi from communion

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol on August 25, 2021, in Washington, D.C. |

The editorial board of a major San Francisco newspaper is calling on Pope Francis to terminate the local archbishop after he instructed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to refrain from taking communion due to her support for abortion. 

On Thursday, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco sent a letter to Pelosi informing her not to present herself for Holy Communion until she "publicly repudiate[s]" her advocacy for "the legitimacy of abortion."

The San Francisco Examiner's editorial board, one of several newspapers based in the city, vehemently pushed back against Cordileone in an op-ed titled "Attack on Nancy Pelosi should be San Francisco Archbishop's final act here."

The editorial board claimed Cordileone's actions were in "open defiance of Pope Francis," citing a quote from a sermon the pontiff gave in June 2021 describing the Eucharist as "not the reward of saints, but the bread of sinners."

The op-ed also referred to a quote from leading Vatican official Luis Ladaria, who warned that a national policy on withholding communion from pro-abortion Catholic politicians would "become a source of discord rather than unity within the episcopate and the larger church in the United States."

One of the few times Pope Francis has spoken publicly on the issue, he described the communion sacrament as reserved for those "who are in the community," suggesting that pro-abortion Catholic politicians are "outside the community." 

Addressing the issue aboard the Papal Plane last September, the pontiff declared that "Those people who are not in the community cannot take communion because they are out of the community." He clarified that "it is not a punishment," adding "communion is linked to the community."

As the op-ed indicated, Cordileone's advocacy in favor of traditional Catholic Church teaching on the issues like abortion and same-sex marriage has led San Francisco Catholics to call for his termination in the past.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, head of the archdiocese of San Francisco, stands at the site where Father Junipero Serra's statue once stood in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. |

In 2015, more than 100 prominent Catholics based in the California city wrote a letter to the pontiff, urging him to "please replace Archbishop Cordileone." 

The letter followed Cordileone's request that employees of high schools in the Archdiocese of San Francisco "affirm and believe" that "homosexual relations," "birth control and masturbation" are "gravely … intrinsically evil."

The signatories contended that Cordileone "fostered an atmosphere of division and intolerance." They claim his "mean-spiritedness of his required language for the Archdiocese high school faculty handbook sets a personal tone that is closer to persecution than evangelization."

"The Archdiocese of San Francisco is threatened by Archbishop Cordileone's single-issue agenda and cannot survive, let alone thrive and grow, under his supervision. The City of Saint Francis deserves an Archbishop true to our values and to your teachings," the letter concluded.

The editorial board suggests that "Cordileone's chief loyalty is not to Christ, but to the cabal of far-right American bishops led by Raymond Leo Burke, a Catholic prelate who has led a continual campaign to undermine Pope Francis' authority."

The editorial board reiterated the demand from the letter written by San Francisco Catholics seven years ago: "We repeat the call for Pope Francis to remove [Cordileone] and replace him with a leader who can unify rather than divide."

"Cordileone's radical conservative politics might attract more people to the faith in places like Oklahoma or Texas, but his partisan pomposity will win no converts in San Francisco," the op-ed added.

"His placement here was a cruel strategy meant to bedevil our community and set up exactly the kind of destructive political games unfolding today."

San Francisco is known as a hotbed of cultural liberalism, specifically its support for the LGBT movement. The city voted for President Joe Biden by a margin of 73 points in the 2020 presidential election. Biden is another politician who has come under fire from Catholic Church leadership over his support for abortion as a practicing Catholic.

The editorial board praised Pelosi as one "who reflects the true spirit of Christian care in the City of St. Francis." They called Cordileone a "small-minded man who locks out his political adversaries."

The editorial board challenged Pope Francis to "send a clear message that he, not Cordileone, is the leader of the faith" by "relieving this insubordinate saboteur of his duties in San Francisco and putting an end to his political schemes."

Cordileone defended withholding communion from Pelosi as consistent with Catholic Church teaching.

He noted that the Roman Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law proclaims that "those obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion." Cordileone quoted from a letter written to top U.S. Catholic Church officials from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would later become Pope Benedict XVI, outlining how priests should deal with pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

"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," Ratzinger wrote. 

Ratzinger instructed ministers of communion to "refuse to distribute it" if the "precautionary measures have not had their effect," and the person continues to present themselves for communion while advocating for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws.

Cordileone has received praise and support from other Catholic bishops in the U.S. Bishop Michael Barber of the nearby Diocese of Oakland wrote on Twitter that he supports Cordileone's "heroic and compassionate stance" in "defense of human life." Bishop Donald Hying of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, had a similar reaction.

"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, and therefore is not to present herself for the reception of Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco," Hying said in a statement Friday. 

Other dioceses where bishops expressed support for Cordileone's decision include the Archdiocese of Denver, the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, the Diocese of Lincoln in Nebraska, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the Diocese of Tyler in Texas, the Diocese of Spokane in Washington and the Diocese of Green Bay

Other dioceses have made headlines for their refusal to provide communion to pro-abortion politicians. Bishop Peter Baldacchino of the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico, made headlines last year when he denied communion to a Democratic state lawmaker who supported an abortion bill. 

During the 2020 presidential election campaign, President Joe Biden was denied communion by a South Carolina priest. Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois has been denied communion in his home diocese for over 17 years because of his stance on abortion.   

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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