The Archbishop of San Francisco is the latest official in the Catholic church to advocate for denying communion to Catholics who support abortion rights.
While his letter did not mention any politicians by name, the new policy could have consequences for one of his highest-profile parishioners — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic and a longtime supporter of abortion rights.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone issued the letter, entitled “Before I Formed You in the Womb I Knew You,” on Saturday. In it, Cordileone said that in some instances, pastors can refuse the church’s most holy sacrament when a parishioner continues to support abortion.
“When other avenues are exhausted, the only recourse a pastor has left is the public medicine of temporary exclusion from the Lord’s Table,” Cordileone wrote. “This is a bitter medicine, but the gravity of the evil of abortion can sometimes warrant it.”
Pelosi grew up Catholic, attending Baltimore’s Catholic Institute of Notre Dame for high school before attending Trinity College. She remains an active member of the Catholic church to this day.
The Washington Post notes that Cordileone is one of the country’s “most conservative Catholic leaders.”
Cordileone’s letter comes as the church leaders grapple with the fact that President Joe Biden — just country’s second-ever Catholic president — is an open supporter of abortion rights.
According to the Los Angeles Times, some U.S. bishops take a more broader interpretation to Biden’s policies, claiming his fight against climate change and poverty and a more inclusive immigration system advocate “a sanctity of life.” However, more conservative leaders Biden’s support of abortion rights puts him on the wrong side of one of the most divisive issue in modern politics.
The Los Angeles Times reports that upon Biden’s inauguration this year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed him but made reference to the divisive nature of his inauguration among Catholic leaders.
“I must point out that our new president has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage and gender,” wrote Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the conference.