San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said recently that priests should deny communion to pro-abortion Catholic public figures who “are unwilling or unable to abandon” their “advocacy for abortion.”
“If you find that you are unwilling or unable to abandon your advocacy for abortion, you should not come forward to receive Holy Communion,” the archbishop told Catholic public figures. “To publicly affirm the Catholic faith while at the same time publicly rejecting one of its most fundamental teachings is simply dishonest.”
Cordileone’s rebuke of public figures who support abortion came in a 17-page letter on Saturday titled Before I Formed You in the Womb I Knew You. He did not name any such figures, though one of the archdiocese’s most famous parishioners, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is a longtime abortion advocate. President Joe Biden also calls himself a pro-abortion Catholic, despite the church’s teachings on the issue.
“If their participation in the evil of abortion is not addressed forthrightly by their pastors, this can lead Catholics (and others) to assume that the moral teaching of the Catholic Church on the inviolate sanctity of human life is not seriously held,” Cordileone wrote. “The constant teaching of the Catholic Church from her very beginning, the repeated exhortations of every Pope in recent times up to and including Pope Francis, the frequent statements by the bishops of the United States, all make it clear what the teaching of the Catholic Church is in regard to abortion.”
He adds that pastors should call Catholic public figures “to conversion and to warn them that if they do not amend their lives they must answer before the tribunal of God for the innocent blood that has been shed.”
Cordileone said doing so can occur via private conversations “between the erring Catholic and his or her parish priest or bishop” but said that the “sad truth” is that such discussions often yield little change, “thus leaving it easy for the individual to continue participating fully in the life of the Church” and bringing scandal upon other Catholics.
“Because we are dealing with public figures and public examples of cooperation in moral evil, this correction can also take the public form of exclusion from the reception of Holy Communion,” the archbishop wrote. “When other avenues are exhausted, the only recourse a pastor has left is the public medicine of temporary exclusion from the Lord’s Table. This is a bitter medicine, but the gravity of the evil of abortion can sometimes warrant it.”
“I tremble that if I do not forthrightly challenge Catholics under my pastoral care who advocate for abortion, both they and I will have to answer to God for innocent blood,” he added.
Cordileone’s letter came days after the Associated Press reported that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will convene a national meeting in June to discuss whether to tell Biden and other high profile Catholic politicians not to receive Holy Communion at mass if they continue to be public advocates of abortion.
“Because President Biden is Catholic, it presents a unique problem for us,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, told the outlet. “It can create confusion. … How can he say he’s a devout Catholic and he’s doing these things that are contrary to the church’s teaching?”