Correcting Pelosi with Truth and Charity

“To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls.” ─ Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2032

In a surprise letter a few days ago, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco informed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who resides in San Francisco, that he was taking the rare step of barring her from receiving Holy Communion.

The archbishop was very clear that the reason he was taking this dramatic step was because of Pelosi’s long-term, public, passionate, and unapologetic support for legal abortion, which the Catholic Church teaches is the murder of an innocent human being.

In his letter, Archbishop Cordileone explained that he had on previous occasions communicated his concerns about Pelosi’s support for abortion to her, including in a letter dated April 7, 2022. In that earlier letter, the archbishop had warned that if Pelosi continued to support abortion in public while referring to her Catholic faith, he would have “no choice” but to invoke Canon 915, which states that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” are “not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

His recent letter continued,

As you have not publicly repudiated your position on abortion, and continue to refer to your Catholic faith in justifying your position and to receive Holy Communion, that time has now come. Therefore, in light of my responsibility as the Archbishop of San Francisco to be “concerned for all the Christian faithful entrusted to [my] care” (Code of Canon Law, can. 383, §1), by 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 whole of the archbishop’s letter (which I urge you to read) was an exceptionally lucid explanation of the responsibility for those in public office to support the public good, above all by defending the fundamental rights of the most vulnerable. To this end, the archbishop quoted a statement by Pope St. John Paul II that legislators “have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.”


An Act of Love, Not Politics

In response to Archbishop Cordileone’s decision, the mainstream media has predictably accused the archbishop of meddling with politics. Which is, clearly, nonsense.

As an adult in a position of immense power, Pelosi has chosen to be a Catholic, and has repeatedly and often chosen to draw attention to her Catholic faith in public, often in the very act of defending her support for abortion.

Earlier this year, for instance, Nancy Pelosi voluntarily brought up her Catholic faith while speaking out in support of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand in the United States. “This has been a precedent of the court that should be upheld by the court,” she said in March.

“It isn’t about ‘What is your religious belief?’ 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,” she added. “This really gets me burned up — in case you didn’t notice — because, again, I’m very Catholic. Devout, practicing, all of that.”

nancy pelosi

It is unclear what Pelosi meant to convey by invoking her Catholic faith here, other than to protect herself from criticism by covering herself in the mantle of “devout” faith. The Catholic Church, however, is an institution that, like any other institution, has a certain set of principles that its members are expected to adhere to. Opposition to abortion is one of its most unambiguous teachings. Furthermore, the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion is highly publicized, so Pelosi can hardly claim ignorance.

However, despite multiple warnings over the years, she has persisted in championing something that the Catholic Church teaches is gravely evil and contrary to the public good. It is entirely natural that a (arch)bishop charged with preaching and protecting the Catholic faith would be profoundly concerned that someone in Pelosi’s position is sowing confusion about what the Church teaches and undermining the Church’s efforts to protect the common good. Archbishop Cordileone is simply making it clear that Pelosi, who is supporting a serious evil, does not define what it is to be Catholic and what Catholic moral teaching is.

Rather than getting involved in politics, Archbishop Cordileone is in fact doing what is necessary to protect the Catholic faith, to prevent scandal, and to act as a loving shepherd to Pelosi herself, who before long will meet her Maker and must answer for the positions she took on abortion (among other grave moral issues). Her archbishop, too, will have to answer for the measures he took to lead her from her erroneous path, calling her back to the Truth of Christ.

“What does it mean to politicize the Holy Eucharist if one is following Church teaching and applying Church teaching?” Cordileone said in a recent interview with EWTN. “One would have to demonstrate that one is doing that for a political purpose,” he added. “I’ve been very clear all along, my purpose is pastoral, not political. I am not campaigning for anyone for office. As a matter of fact, my preference would be for Speaker Pelosi to remain in office and become an advocate for life in the womb.”

He also added – rightly, in my opinion – that there can be a “reverse” politicization of the Eucharist, in which one could “receive Communion as a means to furthering a political agenda, when one is motivated for that reason.” One can certainly see this reverse politicization at work in the cases of prominent politicians like Pelosi and Biden, who draw attention to their attendance at Mass or reception of the Eucharist as a kind of proof of their moral uprightness, even as they flout Church teaching on numerous fundamental matters.

Archbishop Cordileone’s pastoral concern for Pelosi comes through clearly in the letter. “Please know that I stand ready to continue our conversation at any time, and will continue to offer up prayer and fasting for you,” he wrote to the House Speaker. He also asked his fellow Catholics to pray for all legislators, and especially those Catholic legislators who support abortion.


A False Separation of Faith and Politics

In our country, tragically, two of the most powerful politicians – our President and our House Speaker – are both self-described “devout” Catholics who also support the most radical pro-abortion stance. Both have called for Roe v. Wade to be legislatively passed into law, and oppose just about every restriction on abortion, including restrictions on government funding for abortion.

The fact that these two politicians (and the many other pro-abortion Catholic politicians) have continued to support the slaughter of unborn children with very few repercussions other than the occasional statement from a (arch)bishop, risks leaving the impression in many minds that it is possible to be pro-abortion and a Catholic in good standing. It is not.

In a statement supporting Archbishop Cordileone, Bishop Liam Cary of Baker, Oregon, summarized the situation admirably. “Nancy Pelosi proudly combines ‘devout’ practice of Catholic faith in her personal life with high-profile promotion of legalized abortion in her political life,” he wrote. “The scandalizing gap between belief and behavior on the part of the Speaker of the House grievously misleads her fellow believers about Catholic teaching on social justice and seriously handicaps Catholic efforts to defend unborn life in the womb.”

Pelosi’s conviction that she can publicly support abortion while being a good Catholic is ultimately based upon an extreme version of the idea of the “separation of Church and state,” as if the two things can have absolutely nothing to do with one another. However, the Church has consistently taught that there can be no such absolute separation. Moral demands are binding everywhere and cannot be suspended or set aside simply because one is a politician.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) specifically singled out abortion in a 2002 statement regarding the responsibilities of Catholics in political life. “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,” the CDF wrote. “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…

In its document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (no. 14), the U.S. Bishops reiterate a similar teaching. “As citizens, we should be guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party or interest group,” they wrote. “When necessary, our participation should help transform the party to which we belong; we should not let the party transform us in such a way that we neglect or deny fundamental moral truths or approve intrinsically evil acts. We are called to bring together our principles and our political choices, our values and our votes, to help build a civilization of truth and love.”

Unfortunately, politicians like Biden and Pelosi have allowed their relationship with the Democratic party to guide their stance on fundamental moral issues more than their association with the Catholic Church. We can see that dramatically in the progress of President Biden’s support for abortion. In the ’70s and ’80s, he was clearly uncomfortable with abortion, but as the Democratic party got more extreme on the issue, so did he. That’s what you call backwards priorities! “What does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)


Supported by His Episcopal Brothers

In the days since Archbishop Cordileone issued his statement, a number of his fellow bishops have issued statements supporting him. In nearby Oakland, Bishop Michael Barber took to Twitter to write, “I support [Archbishop Cordileone] in the heroic and compassionate stance he took today in the protection and defense of human life.”

Bishop Robert Vasa, in whose diocese Speaker Pelosi reportedly frequently attends Mass, stated that he has informed the pastor of the parish that Pelosi attends that should she present herself for Communion there, she should be denied.

Other bishops who have publicly supported Archbishop Cordileone include the (arch)bishops of Denver, Springfield, Kansas City, Lincoln, Oklahoma City, Baker, Fort Worth, Tyler, Spokane, Green Bay, Madison, and Arlington.

In comparison to the total number of (arch)bishops in the country, this is still only a small portion. However, it is encouraging to see these shepherds willing to stand up in the face of overwhelming media opposition to support their brother (arch)bishops, and to similarly clarify Church teaching on this most important of issues.

In his interview with EWTN, Archbishop Cordileone lamented that many Catholics simply do not understand Church teaching on the Eucharist, and the proper disposition to receive it. He added that he wants to help Catholics understand “the grave evil of abortion and what it means to cooperate with evil on the different levels.”

“I wanted to be clear in laying out that teaching,” he said.

The archbishop’s courage and clarity are welcome and timely, at this moment when the United States is, if reports are to be believed, on the verge of the dawning of a new, post-Roe era. At this time, we need the courageous, uncompromising support of the Church and our fellow Catholics to face a new stage in the battle to protect life.

A few months ago, Archbishop Cordileone launched a prayer campaign – called Rose and Rosary for Nancy – praying that Pelosi’s heart would change on the issue of abortion. I hope that you will join that campaign, praying during your nightly rosary for Pelosi’s conversion, and for the conversion of all of our pro-abortion Catholic politicians, including President Biden.

And, of course, please pray for Archbishop Cordileone, whose stance has drawn the ire of the media and many powerful politicians. Pray for spiritual protection for the archbishop, for courage for his fellow (arch)bishops, and that the archbishop’s stance will change hearts and save lives.

As Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, put it in a Tweet: “Please join me in praying for [Archbishop Cordileone] for his protection during these times as he shepherds all of his flock with perseverance and fortitude. Please pray for the ongoing conversion of [Speaker Pelosi] and for others who place themselves at odds with the Gospel of Life.”

As president of Human Life International, Fr. Boquet is a leading expert on the international pro-life and family movement, having journeyed to nearly 90 countries on pro-life missions over the last decade. Father Boquet works with pro-life and family leaders in 116 counties that partner with HLI to proclaim and advance the Gospel of Life. Read his full bio here.

Did you find this useful?


  1. Gerard Pinkas on May 31, 2022 at 10:35 PM

    The hardening of a heart is not a thing that happens instantaneously. It begins in childhood when one chooses to do evil in little things and grows as even worse decisions are made. Evil reinforces evil and good reinforces good. A hardened heart is a very sad thing as it cuts off a soul to the grace and knowledge of God and reality. The philosopher/theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote that the first effect of the misuse of the sexual faculty is a diminution of the intellect. Certain drugs as marijuana especially in adolescents can complicate the maturation process even further. I expand Aquinas’ view to include all forms of hedonism which are at heart forms of sloth since they seek rewards without taking on the responsibilities of the labor. That includes contraceptive sex since it directly rejects the will of God for sexual intimacy and seeks its pleasure outside of nature’s purpose.
    Birth control was developed explicitly for the purpose of genocide. Some very unethical experimentations with highly toxic levels of birth control pills were conducted in the past (e.g. Puerto Rico) leading to many deaths. Birth control is the only pharmaceutical given for the explicit purpose of inducing a pathology (infertility) for the sake of the pathology. Runoff waste from these pills equivalent to an eye dropperful in a million gallons causes transsexualization of certain species of fish and is probably responsible for the silent extinction of whole species of aquatic life. In human beings due to probable interference with the masculinization of the fetus that begins in in early gestation, this runoff is probably a factor in the increase in tendency toward the heavy cross of homosexuality. Birth control is the mother of abortion.
    A long time ago I learned to find refuge in spending time before the Blessed Sacrament. There I learned how to listen to the voice of God and find peace in a world that is going mad on its insane hedonistic quest that even declares a human being yet to be born not even a human being. The fact remains that the blood of those unjustly killed cry out for vengeance to God and that will never end.

    • Rita Parquette on June 1, 2022 at 2:16 PM

      Thank you Gerard!
      Pray, pray pray… especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

  2. Rita Parquette on May 31, 2022 at 10:48 AM

    Thank you for this comprehensive article.

    I’d like to take it a step further. Since abortion is often the backup to failed contraception, why do we hear so little Catholic teaching about the widespread consequences of contraception in our culture? Some quickly come to mind such as divorce & the breakdown of the family. Increased sex amongst adolescents which exposes them to STDs & many difficult physical side effects for young women.

    This could be a long comment, but I refrain as I’m sure you have lots of them from better qualified folks than an old nurse, & grandmother of seven grandchildren. As the Lord said to the weeping women who followed him as He carried his cross to be crucified, “Do not weep for me but weep for your children.”.

    • HLI Staff on May 31, 2022 at 1:19 PM

      You are exactly right, Rita. HLI’s founder Fr. Paul Marx often said contraception is at the root of abortion, and that’s why HLI’s mission goes beyond abortion, bringing all of Christ’s teaching on life and family to the world, including chastity and the meaning of marriage. This pulls abortion out by the roots.

      • Rita Parquette on May 31, 2022 at 2:31 PM

        Thank you for your response. Sometimes it makes me a little crazy. It’s like the third rail issue of our time. It took me awhile to understand how abortion & contraception are so related. I’ve been involved in the pro- life movement from the beginning.

        I think about very young women getting pregnant while using contraceptives, getting pregnant & also getting deserted by the guy who tells her it’s her problem. When I was a teenager, women who got pregnant before marriage often became married as the guy assumed his responsibility. Where is chastity & where are the real men?

        I know someone who took the pill for years & when she finally got married & tried to have a baby she had three miscarriages & finally found out that contraception ages the lining of the uterus & makes it difficult to get pregnant. She finally did get pregnant twice after help from a napro doctor. There are many other side effects from use of contraception. Breast cancer is another one many women aren’t told about by their doctors. Dad…

  3. Judy Shea on May 30, 2022 at 7:22 PM

    I think it is wrong when the church casts out those who are seeking redemption!
    As many priests have been charged with molesting boys and still serving as priest sickens me.
    Has Jesus said he who is without send me cast the first stone!
    The church should stick to inspiring and nurturing troubled people especially in these crazy times.
    On judgment day the good Lord will have the final say.
    Church should be separate from the government.

  4. Conny Pinder on May 30, 2022 at 5:38 PM

    The church has no right to any comments on what a woman and Dr decide to do with her body. If the church spent as much time and money on easy access to birth control and our foster children there would be little need for abortions.
    And, abortions have been done for hundreds of years. Making them illegal will only make them unsafe. Shame on the Catholic Church and all other anti abortionists
    The article was wildly inaccurate and quite nauseating. I have worked in the maternal health field for over 20 years. Please spend more time on helping families raise the children on our planet. A fetus is not a baby.

    I am no longer a Christian do to the abortion issues and the far right stupidity.
    It is ridiculous to think the spirit occurs at conception.
    Thank God for Nancy.

    • Gerard Pinkas on May 31, 2022 at 10:48 PM

      Twenty years, and you still do not understand the miracle of life? That is sad. I dare you to sit before the tabernacle in any Catholic Church and have it out with God. He will wrestle you all night and you can even demand a blessing like the Patriarch Jacob did. I spent more years than you in OB/GYN and am still filled with wonder at the miracle of life in the womb.
      Find a good book on saints like St. Gerard Majella or Philip Neri, or Martin dr Porres ot St. Francis of Assisi. Check out things like the tilma of Juan Diego or the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Columbia. These are filled with motives of credibility for the truth of the Christian faith. St Gerard, Patron Saint of Mothers, led a life full of miracles. One of many many miracles Jesus performed through him including raising from the dead of both people and animals was of a woman who lost an eye from a chard of pottery. Her eye was rotting in its socket and her doctor could do nothing. The morning after touching a relic of the saint to her eye she woke up and had a new eye. Whole books have been written on this saint’s prodigies.
      The teachings of the Catholic Church are an unquenchable fire and God is pleased to confirm her with many signs for the sake of those who will listen to Him.

  5. Connie Magro on May 30, 2022 at 4:16 PM

    Praise God for the courage of our Shepherds who are to help us attain Heaven. Thank you and God bless you. May Jesus and His Mother Mary and St. Joseph, the Holy Family always guide our Church in the ways of our Creator God.

  6. Anna on May 30, 2022 at 3:00 PM

    Just to play the devil advocate; what if roe vs wade giving women the right to choose is the same as God given us a free will. It’s up to each person to make the right choice rather than a law making the voice for them. Aren’t the Commandments the laws they should follow. In this case it would release Nancy from making the choice for women. I don’t believe she’s in favor of abortion but to put the burden of voice on each individual woman. To be clear I’m pro life.

    • HLI Staff on May 31, 2022 at 2:43 PM

      Anna, Thanks for the opportunity to explain the Catholic position. The Fifth Commandment, revealing the sacredness of all human life, forbids intentional killing of an innocent human being because every person is made in the image and likeness of God. Civil law, in order for it to be just and legitimate, must not contradict the law of God. A Catholic must not follow a civil law that goes against a Divine law of God. God gives us free will. He also gives us laws. Law and free will are not interchangeable. God wills us to choose the Good, and He gives us laws to help us to do just that. Those in government need to craft laws that promote the common good. The so-called “right to choose” (and any law that enables killing the unborn) is not “free will” but permission to choose evil.

    • Edward Kish on June 3, 2022 at 6:47 PM

      Anna, Very good. Refreshing thinking. Thank you.

      Yes : ” I lay before YOU Blessing and Curse. Choose (a “choice” )Blessing” I read this in an old book. “Sin is the ONLY problem.” Fr Bede Kotli9nkie OSB “My ONLY enemy is the Catholic Church.” Margaret Sanger second ghost written auto bio 1938.

      She did not say, “Politicians are my only enemies!”

      Evil has only One enemy…. .org

      ek/co founder

  7. Pat on May 30, 2022 at 2:22 PM

    Repeat of my comment on Catholic Culture:

    The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament. It is not a palliative. As the Body and Blood of Christ this sacrament is given the reverence of Latria, thus treated with the highest honor and respect owed to God. Archbishop Cordileone has tried to impress that upon Speaker Pelosi. Sadly, in her pride, the feckless Speaker has rejected the counsel she so desperately needs. The Archdiocese of San Francisco is blessed with an Archbishop of outstanding intelligence, integrity and courage. Thanks be to God!

Leave a Comment