The Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco has banned Nancy Pelosi from taking communion due to her continued support for abortion rights.
In response, everyone from Whoopi Goldberg to The San Francisco Examiner criticized the archbishop for not being Christlike.
It’s a compelling story that highlights the disconnect between the church’s “come as you are” message and the public’s understanding of what that means.
If the church is all about ‘welcome home’ and ‘strictly inclusive’ and ‘come as you are’ and ‘belong before you believe’ then what right does a church have to deny communion to anybody?
Also, didn’t Jesus preach about love and acceptance? How dare the church suddenly be judged and all that!
Speaking of which, when are they finally going to replace that ugly cross with an “Arms are for hugs” sticker?
As Whoopi Goldberg said of the Archbishop:
‘It’s not your job, man! It’s not up to you to make that decision!
Or as the editorial board of the San Francisco Examiner wrote:
‘Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone on Friday banned Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to take Holy Communion here in his home diocese. The reason? Her strong support for women’s abortion rights.
‘This will apparently go very well with Cordileone, who prefers to choose partisan fights rather than making the church a place that welcomes people from all political backgrounds and faiths.
Someone has to ask the Examiner editorial board how a Catholic Church that welcomes people of all faiths remains Catholic. More of that later.
The fury began on Friday May 20 when, in a letter to the church, Bishop Salvatore Cordileone announced that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would no longer be welcome to receive Holy Communion.
The Archbishop began by outlining the Catholic doctrine that abortion – the taking of human life – is a grave evil.
He went on to explain that “conversion is always better than deportation” and that he had tried many times to meet Pelosi.
Not only had Pelosi refused to meet him, but his stance on abortion had become more extreme over the years. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when Pelosi repeatedly cited his Catholic faith to justify abortion.
He concluded :
‘After many attempts to speak to her to help her understand the grave evil she is committing, the outrage she is causing, and the danger she is risking to her own soul, I have determined that the time has come when I had to issue a public declaration that she should not be admitted to Holy Communion unless and until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion “rights” and confesses and receives absolution for her cooperation in this evil in the Sacrament of Penance.
It should be noted that the Archbishop said he had “no pleasure” in the decision; that Pelosi “remains our sister in Christ” and that Pelosi was “the greatest in my prayer”.
The Examiner responded by accusing Bishop Cordileone of “politicizing the faith”.
Leaving aside the fact that a faith that does not influence your politics cannot be considered a great faith, Bishop Cordileone was not politicizing the faith, he was defending it.
It was Pelosi who politicized the faith when she repeatedly referenced her “devout Catholic faith” to justify legalizing abortion until birth.
This, according to the Archbishop, was a misrepresentation of the Catholic faith which, if left unchallenged, would confuse his flock and possibly lead some to serious sin. It could not be left unchallenged.
The Examiner continued:
‘Why don’t Republican Catholics have to worry about being cut off from communion when they vote against health care or funding for the poor? Where was Cordileone’s harsh judgment when right-wing politicians this week voted against a measure to appease the nation baby formula shortage?‘
It’s a mystery. Could it be that, according to the church, abortion involves the taking of human life while voting on a budget measure to provide formula milk does not?
The Examiner concluded by saying that San Francisco deserved an archbishop who would unite rather than divide the community and who would be true to the values of the city.
If only Archbishop Cordileone would put away his Bible and throw beer and shrimp nights!
But the role of a priest is to unite people around the truth of God’s word, not to unite people around unity.
As for the values of the city, popular culture insists that the only absolute is that there must absolutely be no absolutes. I guess that’s the reason why Examiner can argue, bluntly, that the church should be open to people of all faiths.
But even readers of Examiner would understand that a Catholic Church which accepted Muslim doctrine, Hindu doctrine and Buddhist doctrine would no longer be the Catholic Church. What does it even mean to be a “believer” when you can believe any old thing you want because each belief is as good as the next?
Whoopi Goldberg, who often enjoys the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought, posted a video berating the Archbishop. She told him…
‘It’s quite incredible. What is the purpose of Communion? Right? It’s for sinners. It is the reward of the saints but the bread of sinners. How dare you?’
If Goldberg is a Christian, it seems likely that she’s only been to churches where Jesus is portrayed as some sort of personal life coach who exists to encourage your life choices rather than as the Bible portrays him, as God. .
(Disclaimer: I’m going to give you a very simplistic paragraph of Bible teaching here. Stick with me.)
According to the Bible, fellowship is not a “right”. It is the public expression of your decision to participate in the life of Christ. But how can you participate in the life of Christ while choosing to live deliberately and continually opposed to Christ? For this reason, the Apostle Paul says that we must examine ourselves before taking communion, lest we be judged.
The media doesn’t want to understand Christian teaching – even very simplistic – because the story of victimhood is so much more interesting.
Worse, having succeeded in convincing most people that the message of the church is love by which they mean “approval” and acceptance by which they mean “agreement”, it is not in the interests of media to discuss true Christian doctrine.
After all, a church that approves of everything and agrees with everyone is not a threat to anyone. His influence is effectively negated.
Tellingly, Research bench reported that 67% of Catholics agreed with Pope Whoopi.
That says more about the number of Catholics in the cafeteria than it does about the issue.
When Christian leaders—of all faiths—fail to teach their people the tenets of their faith, we shouldn’t be surprised to find that most believers believe little more than “everyone is entitled to their own beliefs.”
And, of course, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. It is for this reason that the Catholic Church is not obligatory.
Pelosi doesn’t have to accept church teaching. And, in the same way, the church does not have to accept Pelosi.
The archbishop does not demand that his most famous parishioner be perfect. He simply invites him to want to at least submit to Christ.
If that’s not a basis for Christian fellowship, then what is?
Bishop Cordileone explained that the decision to deny Pelosi Communion was not made despite Christian love but because of Christian love. To allow a person to continue in a grave error was to damn his soul. How is it to love? Pointing out their mistake and inviting them to change course was offering them salvation.
Being pointed out is painful, but faithful are the wounds of a friend. Archbishop Cordileone does not punish a sinner with smugness, but pastorally corrects a valued member of his flock. To use a biblical metaphor, the shepherd’s rod is not to inflict harm on the lost sheep but to bring it back to the fold.
Pelosi’s struggle is no longer with the church but with herself. Will she respond with humility or will she respond with pride?
As a devout Catholic, she will know only too well the most encouraging and, at the same time, the most stimulating statement in the Bible: “God resists the proud, but he is gracious to the humble”.
You can follow James on Twitter. You can order his new book Notes on Woketopia here.
Do you have something to add ? Join the discussion and comment below.