CNN anchor Jim Sciutto claimed on Friday that Pope Francis did not support barring pro-abortion politicians like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Communion in the Catholic Church — but that’s not exactly what Pope Francis has said on the matter.
Sciutto shared an article from the San Francisco Chronicle announcing that Archbishop of San Francisco had banned Pelosi from receiving Communion due to her public advocacy for abortion access.
Along with the article, Sciutto tweeted, “12 years of Catholic school, altar boy, family deeply involved in our church, and never saw anyone banned from receiving communion. This is a deep fissure in the church — and a position Pope Francis himself doesn’t support.”
12 years of Catholic school, altar boy, family deeply involved in our church, and never saw anyone banned from receiving communion. This is a deep fissure in the church – and a position Pope Francis himself doesn’t support. https://t.co/8bdFMZ6NzX
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) May 20, 2022
But Pope Francis did not say that he did not support individual pastors making the decision whether or not to deny access to the sacrament in specific cases — in fact, that’s exactly what he told them they must do.
He addressed the issue last September, telling journalists onboard the Papal plane that Catholics who supported abortion were “outside the community” and that the sacrament of Communion was for those who were “in the community,” or not estranged from it.
He argued that pastors should make those decisions themselves — and was careful to note that it was not about condemnation but about caring for them as parishioners. “And what should the pastor do? He shouldn’t go around condemning. And he must also be a pastor with those who are excommunicated, and be so with God’s style, which is closeness, compassion and tenderness.”
His reasoning was that although some people might be temporarily estranged from the Church, they were still “children of God and need our pastoral action.”
He reserved harsher terms for abortion, however, saying that it was “more than a problem: It’s a homicide. No middle terms. Whomever does an abortion, kills.”
He later compared seeking an abortion to “hiring a hitman” to solve a problem, saying that the Church could not accept abortion because that would be akin to accepting “daily homicide.”
And Pelosi is certainly not the first Catholic politician to have her access to the sacrament restricted. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has been barred from Communion in his home diocese in Springfield, Illinois, for nearly two decades. In 2004, then then-Father Kevin Vann (now Bishop of Orange, California) informed Durbin that because of his pro-abortion stance, he would not be allowed to receive Communion in his home church.
Durbin responded by accusing the Church of “using the Eucharist for political purposes.”