Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has been barred from taking Communion over her stance on abortion.

Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, was advised of this in a letter dated 19 May from San Francisco archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. Cordileone, who adheres to fairly traditional Catholic teachings, indicated that Pelosi had expressed support for abortion. He and Pelosi had engaged about the matter, but she had not indicated a willingness to align her position as a public representative with the teachings of her faith.

The declaration comes as speculation abounds about the Supreme Court overturning the Roe v. Wade decision that effectively legalised abortion throughout the country.

He wrote: ‘In striving to follow this direction, I am grateful to you for the time you have given me in the past to speak about these matters. Unfortunately, I have not received such an accommodation to my many requests to speak with you again since you vowed to codify the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in federal law following upon passage of Texas Senate Bill 8 last September. That is why I communicated my concerns to you via letter on April 7, 2022, and informed you there that, should you not publicly repudiate your advocacy for abortion “rights” or else refrain from referring to your Catholic faith in public and receiving Holy Communion, I would have no choice but to make a declaration, in keeping with canon 915, that you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.’

The instruction would make it impermissible for priests within the diocese to include her in Communion, a significant penalty for a Catholic.

Pelosi – in common with many other Catholic politicians, including President Joe Biden – has come under criticism for holding positions on abortion that contradict the position of the Church. Recently, she expressed frustration about this, declaring that ‘I’m very Catholic, devout, practicing, all of that. They would like to throw me out. But I’m not going because I don’t want to make their day.’

However, the issue is likely to be divisive within the Catholic Church in the US to, as many senior clerics and theologians are sympathetic towards the Democratic Party, and would be uncomfortable putting themselves at odds with it. However, the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned may make it impossible to avoid this.

[Image: Gage Skidmore, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66638957]


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