The Roman Catholic archbishop in Nancy Pelosi’s home town of San Francisco has banned her from receiving communion there over her staunch support of abortion rights, which she has strengthened as supreme court justices weigh finalizing a draft ruling outlawing the termination of pregnancies in more than half the county.
In a letter addressed to the US House speaker and posted on his Twitter account, ultra conservative Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone argued that Pelosi’s “position on abortion has become only more extreme over the years, especially in the last few months,” and he had decided to block her from communion after she had ignored his requests to explain her stance to him.
Cordileone – San Francisco’s archbishop since 2012 – accused Pelosi of failing to “understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking”. He said he would need to stop her from receiving communion until she “publicly repudiates her support for abortion”.
“Please know that I find no pleasure whatsoever in fulfilling my pastoral duty here,” Cordileone added in his letter, which he said served as a public notice of his decision to Bay Area Catholics.
The missive hailed Pelosi for “her advocacy for the care of the poor and vulnerable”, said the move was apolitical, and called the longtime Democratic congresswoman a “sister in Christ”, but it also called for the House speaker to confess and repent.
Pelosi, who has often mentioned her faith in Catholicism, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Cordileone.
Cordileone’s letter comes after the 2 May leak of a draft ruling which showed the supreme court’s conservative majority was ready to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision that essentially legalized abortion nationwide.
Abortion would be outlawed in 26 states if Roe v Wade is overturned.
Though conservatives have celebrated the leak, liberals have loudly protested it, including by staging demonstrations on the streets.
Pelosi has been at the forefront of the objections, including by appearing on CNN last week and calling the current composition of the supreme court “dangerous to families and to freedoms in our country.”
During that interview, Pelosi predicted the supreme court would also seek to outlaw contraception and same-sex marriage should Roe v Wade fall, which the House speaker has said would be “an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history.”
“Understand this,” Pelosi said. “This is not just about terminating a pregnancy.”
Politically, Democrats who are Catholic and support abortion rights often draw criticism from fellow members of their faith. One prominent Catholic Democrat who opposes abortion is Louisiana’s governor, John Bel Edwards, though he’s also pledged to veto legislation that would criminalize abortion.
Cordileone has built his reputation on his vehement opposition to same-sex marriage. He has previously said that many of his views are actually quite similar to those of Pope Francis, though Cordileone has posited that Catholicism’s worldwide leader may just be better at communicating them.