- The Washington Times
Sunday, May 29, 2022


About a week ago, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco (his last name literally means “lion-hearted”) decided he had seen and heard enough and made it clear that one of his flock, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, would no longer be able to receive the sacraments within the archdiocese.

In a letter to Mrs. Pelosi, Archbishop Cordileone was clear about his reasons: “As you have not publically repudiated your position on abortion, and continue to refer to your Catholic faith in justifying your position … 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.”

Let’s clear away some of the confusion and intellectual wreckage that has crowded the conversation about this issue. Since the first century, the Catholic Church has taught that direct abortion is a grave sin and those who encourage or who help procure it also, obviously, engage in grave sin. Additionally, the bishop of a diocese has a final and absolute say over who can receive sacraments within the diocese. The bishop of Rome (the pope, if you prefer) has no say in that question outside the diocese of Rome.

The left is, of course, squawking about this not because they care about the administration of justice within the Catholic Church, but because it exposes the enduring hypocrisy of the professional Catholics in the Democratic Party. The good news is that we are heading for a moment of clarity on this issue. Those who go to great pains to identify as Roman Catholic for purely electoral or political reasons but who do not seem particularly bound by Church teaching and who have tried their best to straddle the right to life question have finally run out of time and space.

Elected officials like Mrs. Pelosi, President Biden and even backbenchers like Democratic Sen. Edward Markey (whose own brother is a Catholic priest) — will no longer be able to hide behind the fiction that it is morally acceptable to believe one thing in private and vote and act in a directly contrary manner in public.

The objectionable behavior in this instance — in addition to the actual material support of abortion — is the intentional, willful, organized and repetitive hypocrisy. If Mrs. Pelosi or Mr. Biden no longer wish to be joined to the Catholic Church, they should make that clear. Saying that they remain faithful when they consistently act in contravention of Church teaching is not — as the young people say — sustainable.

What Archbishop Cordileone knows, which Mrs. Pelosi does not, is that adherence to the preferences of God as expressed in the right order of the Roman Catholic Church is more important — and a lot more durable — than adherence to the fleeting preferences and fashions and passions of the secular world.

As recently as 400 years ago, the land that is now Washington was forest, thinly populated by hunter-gatherers. The Catholic Church was already 1600 years old at that point and had buried multiple empires, including the Romans. In our own time, the Church has lived to throw dirt on the grave of the Soviet Empire. Despite the best efforts of the current pontifex maximus, it will no doubt emerge victorious from its current competition with communists in China and leftists in the United States.

Why? In the Book of Revelations, St. John gives us a hint: “I saw … a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation, and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne … arrayed in white robes with palms in their hands.” John was talking about the millions of Christian martyrs across the world and over the centuries who have been willing to die for their belief in Christ and his teachings.

It is very difficult to imagine anyone willing to die for any possible creed expounded by Mrs. Pelosi and her fellow travelers.

What remains now is a simple question. When will Bishop William Koenig, who runs the Diocese of Wilmington, and Cardinal Wilton Gregory, who runs the Archdiocese of Washington, follow Archbishop Cordileone’s lead and do the right thing with respect to politicians in their care who encourage grave and unmistakable sin?

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Archbishop Cordileone‘s ecclesial title.

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