Speaker Pelosi Continues to Be Rather Selective in Following Her Faith

Posted: May 15, 2021 2:45 PM
Speaker Pelosi Continues to Be Rather Selective in Following Her Faith

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

As has been covered, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been creating quite the scandal as a very public Catholic figure who also very publicly supports abortion. The Catholic Church clearly opposes abortion as one of its central teachings, even to the point where bishops have reminded these figures that they should not receive the Holy Eucharist in that case. When Pelosi's home bishop emphasized this in a pastoral letter, she ignored it. Yet when the Vatican weighed in, the speaker was all for offering her thoughts.

When asked by EWTN News Nightly correspondent Erik Rosales in the last few moments of her weekly press conference on Thursday about taking communion, she snidely remarked that "I think I can use my own judgment on that but I'm pleased with what the Vatican put out on that subject. Did you read that?" Rosales responded that "it would be up to the individual priest." Pelosi offered her own interpretation. "No, it basically says don't be divisive on the subject."

When it comes to her "own judgment on that," Pelosi may be powerful in United States politics, but it is not for her to decide Church teaching. Church teaching is Church teaching. It's the role of bishops to advise their flock on that, which is what San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone did in his pastoral letter, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you."

As I reported previously, the USCCB is planning to discuss how to address pro-abortion Catholics presenting themselves for Communion. It's important to stress that it's up to individual bishops on how to minister to those in their diocese about it. President Joe Biden has been hailed as a "devout" Catholic, but he too publicly supports abortion. 

So "what the Vatican put out on that subject" is a letter from Cardinal Luis F. Ladaria, S.J., the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to Archbishop José H. Gomez, who leads the USCCB. Gerard O'Connell of America Magazine reported on the letter earlier in the week, noting that it "may lead to a reconsideration of the plan of some bishops to get the conference to approve a document regarding 'the worthiness to receive Communion” of Catholic politicians who support legislation permitting abortion, euthanasia or other moral evils.'"

O'Connell also reported:

In the letter from Cardinal Ladaria, a copy of which was seen by America, he recalls that the issue of a U.S.C.C.B. document on Catholic pro-choice politicians and worthiness for reception of Communion, had been raised during the 2019-20 ad limina visits of the U.S. bishops to Pope Francis. He said the C.D.F. had then “advised that dialogue among the bishops be undertaken to preserve the unity of the episcopal conference in the face of disagreements over this controversial topic.” 

Furthermore, the cardinal said, “the formulation of a national policy was suggested during the ad limina visits only if this would help the bishops to maintain unity.” He added, “The congregation notes that such a policy, given its possibly contentious nature, could have the opposite effect and become a source of discord rather than unity within the episcopate and the larger church in the United States.”

Cardinal Ladaria said the C.D.F. had then advised the U.S. bishops to take certain important steps before drafting any document, including engaging in “extensive and serene dialogue” in two stages. It said such dialogue should take place first among the bishops with the aim of reaching agreement on the doctrinal issues so as “to maintain unity” in the conference and in the church in the United States.

After doing that, it said the bishops should conduct a similar dialogue with the Catholic politicians “within their jurisdiction who adopt a pro-choice position regarding abortion legislation, euthanasia, or other moral evils, as a means of understanding the nature of their positions and their comprehension of Catholic teaching.”

Once these two stages of dialogue have been completed, Cardinal Ladaria said the bishops’ conference “would then face the difficult task of discerning the best way forward for the church in the United States to witness to the grave moral responsibility of Catholic public officials to protect human life at all stages.”

The C.D.F. letter also lays down important markers if the bishops choose to go in this direction. First, it said that if the conference decides “to formulate a national policy on worthiness for Communion,” that “such a statement would need to express a true consensus of the bishops on the matter, while observing the prerequisite that any provision of the conference in this area would respect the rights of individual ordinaries in their dioceses and the prerogatives of the Holy See.”

Cardinal Ladaria said the C.D.F. “advises” the U.S.C.C.B. that “any statement of the conference regarding Catholic political leaders would best be framed within the broad context of worthiness for the reception of Holy Communion on the part of all the faithful, rather than only one category of Catholics, reflecting their obligation to conform their lives to the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ as they prepare to receive the sacrament.” 


Cardinal Ladaria concluded by telling Archbishop Gomez that as they draft the statement the U.S. bishops should make “every effort...to dialogue with other episcopal conferences [in other countries] as this policy is formulated in order both to learn from one another and to preserve unity in the Universal Church.”

The counsel from the congregation seems to suggest clearly that the drafting of a document as envisaged by the U.S.C.C.B. president is something that cannot be rushed and would inevitably take time, and it would have to reflect “true consensus” among the bishops, something that cannot be taken for granted now.

While some might take issue with the Vatican wanting to take a lot of time to decide on how best to speak on this crucial matter, that doesn't mean Speaker Pelosi should celebrate just yet. Perhaps not at all. Further, one could argue she is the one being divisive. The letter stresses that bishops ought to take steps to minister to these public figures, in private, before getting to the last resort of denying anyone communion. Regardless, the Church teaching will never change on abortion, something she needs to get with.