Pelosi slams Catholic Church for death penalty hypocrisy after being denied Communion

‘I wonder about the death penalty, which I’m opposed to. So is the church, but they take no actions against people who may not share their view’

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Tuesday 24 May 2022 15:35
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has hit back at a San Francisco archbishop who last week announced he would deny her Communion over her refusal to support aligning US law with Catholic doctrine when it comes to a woman’s right to end an unwanted pregnancy.

Ms Pelosi, the second-highest ranking Catholic official in the US, suggested church officials who rail against Democratic politicians who don’t support laws banning abortion are using a double standard because they rarely speak out against leaders who support the death penalty despite the Catholic church’s longstanding opposition to capital punishment.

“I wonder about the death penalty, which I’m opposed to. So is the church, but they take no actions against people who may not share their view,” Ms Pelosi said during a Tuesday appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

The Speaker’s comments were a direct swipe at the Most Rev Salvatore Cordileone, the archbishop who last week said Ms Pelosi could not receive Communion in her own parish because of her continued support for reproductive rights.

In a letter to his archdiocese released last week, Mr Cordileone said he had attempted to speak with Ms Pelosi “numerous” times but had decided to make a “public declaration” stating that Ms Pelosi was “not to be admitted to Holy Communion unless and until she publicly repudiate her support for abortion ‘rights’ and confess and receive absolution for her cooperation in this evil in the sacrament of Penance”.

The archbishop’s stance is at odds with both the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the head of the Catholic church, Pope Francis. While the Conference debated prohibiting politicians who support abortion from receiving Communion during a meeting last November, they later issued a statement indicating that there is “no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians”. The Pope has said he has “never” denied it to “anyone” but added he has never been in a position to deny it to a politician who supports abortion.

Pelosi-Catholic Archbishop

But Ms Pelosi explained that her opposition to a ban on abortion stems from a desire to respect the beliefs of others, not from her personal support for the practice.

“We just have to be prayerful, we have to be respectful. I come from a largely pro-life Italian American Catholic family, so I respect people’s views about that, but I don’t respect us foisting it onto others,” she said.

Last year, Mr Cordileone slammed a Pelosi-backed bill to codify abortion rights into US law as an “atrocity” that was “nothing short of child sacrifice”.

At the time, the Speaker noted that she and the archbishop had a “disagreement” over the bill, but said she believes people have God-given “free will” to “honour” their responsibilities.

She said her own family has been a “complete and total blessing,” but added that it is “none of our business how other people choose the size and timing of their families”.

The Independent and the nonprofit Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ) have launched a joint campaign calling for an end to death penalty in the US. The RBIJ has attracted more than 150 well-known signatories to their Business Leaders Declaration Against the Death Penalty - with The Independent as the latest on the list. We join high-profile executives like Ariana Huffington, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson as part of this initiative and are making a pledge to highlight the injustices of the death penalty in our coverage.

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