On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated that her pro-abortion stance should not preclude her from receiving Holy Communion, saying loftily, “I think I can use my own judgment on that.”
Pelosi was prompted by a reporter, “The U.S. Archbishops and the Bishops Conference doesn’t want you to receive Communion. Your remarks on that?”
Pelosi stated, “No, they don’t. No. I think I can use my own judgment on that,” then continued, “I’m pleased by what the Vatican put out on that subject. Did you read that?”
The reporter responded, “It’ll be up to the individual priest.”
“No, it basically says, ‘Don’t be divisive on the subject,” Pelosi replied, referring to a May 7 letter from Luis Cardinal Ladaria, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican.
“The Speaker has long supported legal abortion and has advocated for taxpayer-funded abortion by repealing the Hyde Amendment. She has also supported the Equality Act, legislation that the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) has warned would “punish” religious groups opposed to the redefinition of marriage and transgender ideology,” the Catholic News Agency noted.
In late April, reports surfaced that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) would be considering issuing a document at their national meeting in June in which they would tell Catholic pro-abortion politicians that they should not receive Communion.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, who chairs the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, told AP, “Because President Biden is Catholic, it presents a unique problem for us. It can create confusion. … How can he say he’s a devout Catholic and he’s doing these things that are contrary to the church’s teaching?” The document would reportedly leave decisions on withholding Communion up to each bishop.
On May 1, Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco from where Pelosi hails, issued a statement in which he quoted extra-Biblical texts such as Didache: “You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born,” as well as the Epistle of Barnabas: “You shall not kill the child by obtaining an abortion. Nor, again, shall you destroy him after he is born.”
In the case of public figures who profess to be Catholic and promote abortion, we are not dealing with a sin committed in human weakness or a moral lapse: this is a matter of persistent, obdurate, and public rejection of Catholic teaching. … With regard to Catholics in public life who participate in abortion or seek to advance it through legislation or advocacy, precisely because these are actions of which many people are aware it introduces another consideration: scandal. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines scandal as “an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil” anyone who actively works to promote abortion shares some of the guilt for the abortions performed because of their actions.
Our responsibility to the rest of the Catholic community is to assure them that the Church of Jesus Christ does take most seriously her mission to care for “the least of these,” as Our Lord has commanded us, and to correct Catholics who erroneously, and sometimes stubbornly, promote abortion. … Because we are dealing with public figures and public examples of cooperation in moral evil, this correction can also take the public form of exclusion from the reception of Holy Communion. As seen above, this discipline has been exercised throughout our history, going back to the New Testament. When other avenues are exhausted, the only recourse a pastor has left is the public medicine of temporary exclusion from the Lord’s Table. This is a bitter medicine, but the gravity of the evil of abortion can sometimes warrant it.
On May 7, Luis Cardinal Ladaria, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, wrote to Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles that a series of steps should be taken before any document was issued; first, the bishops should affirm as a Conference that “those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life,” then local ordinaries “would reach out to and engage in dialogue with Catholic politicians within their jurisdictions 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.”
That would entail “two stages of extensive and serene dialogue” before facing “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.”
He added, “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 Catholic, reflecting their obligation to conform their lives to the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ as they prepare to receive the sacrament. … it would be misleading if such a statement were to give the impression that abortion and euthanasia alone constitute the only grave matters of Catholic moral and social teaching that demand the fullest level of accountability on the part of Catholics.”
That last statement, in which Laderia apparently lumped abortion and euthanasia together with other supposed “grave matters,” seems to echo the “Seamless Garment” ethos initiated against the pro-life movement by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin in Dallas in 1976. EWTN noted: “In 1984, Cardinal Bernardin stated that although abortion and nuclear war should “be confronted as pieces of a larger pattern.”
“Cardinal Bernardin himself attended several banquets to benefit Planned Parenthood contributors, and then criticized Cardinal John O’Connor’s pro-life efforts as being ‘inconsistent,” EWTN pointed out.
Pro-abortion and other Neoliberal groups, of course, couldn’t be happier with Cardinal Bernardin’s “Seamless Garment,” because with it, they could cloak themselves with a shroud of legitimacy and righteousness. Anti-life groups like “Catholics” for a Free Choice see the “Seamless Garment” as a Hell-sent, handy way of putting abortion at the bottom of everyone’s priority list, and even hopefully of burying the thorny and messy issue altogether. After all, if we relegate abortion to the back burner, nobody will attempt to violate the privacy of the baby-killers.