Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday went after the Catholic Church for what she characterized as its hypocritical position when it comes to the politics of life and death.
Pelosi, a practicing Catholic, was recently barred by the archbishop of San Francisco from taking communion for her support of abortion rights, which the church considers to be homicide at all stages from conception to birth.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program on Tuesday morning, Pelosi wondered why the archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, hasn’t applied the same ban to Catholics who support capital punishment.
“I wonder about the death penalty, which I am opposed to,” she said. “So is the church, but they take no action against people who may not share their view.”
The Speaker is no stranger to clashes with Cordileone, a staunch conservative who has long denounced Pelosi’s support for abortion rights, same sex marriage and other liberties favored by liberals. His political views stirred some controversy during the coronavirus pandemic, after he revealed in December that he was not vaccinated for COVID-19 and falsely claimed that the inoculation shots “are not really vaccines.”
Cordileone’s feud with Pelosi escalated last week, when he barred her from receiving communion, a central sacrament of the Catholic faith, within his archdiocese. The decision runs counter to the advice of the Pope Francis and the Vatican, which have warned against denying communion to abortion rights supporters — an idea that’s gained prominence since President Biden, another Catholic, took over the White House.
In explaining the decision to ignore the Vatican, Cordileone characterized Pelosi’s support for abortion rights as a “grave evil,” a church “scandal” and a “danger to her own soul.”
“I have determined that the point has come in which I must make a public declaration that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion unless and until she publicly repudiate her support for abortion ‘rights’ and confess and receive absolution for her cooperation in this evil in the sacrament of Penance,” Cordileone wrote.
“I assure you,” he added, “that my action here is purely pastoral, not political.”
Pelosi, the nation’s first female Speaker, has a long history of supporting the reproductive freedoms of women, and her advocacy has grown only louder with the recent revelation that conservatives on the Supreme Court appear poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that made the right to abortion constitutional.
Critics of that ruling, including Pelosi, have warned that it could ultimately lead to the toppling of similar court-established rights based on the same legal argument, including rights to gay marriage and access to certain forms of contraception — a warning the Speaker amplified on Tuesday.
“What is important for women to know, and families to know, [is] that this is not just about terminating a pregnancy,” she said on MSNBC. “Some of these same people are against contraception, family planning, in-vitro fertilization. It’s a blanket thing, and they use abortion as the front-man for it while they try to undo so much.”
With the Supreme Court expected to unveil its final decision at the end of June, Pelosi predicted the hot button issue will energize voters on both sides of the debate. But because most Americans support at least some of the protections provided under Roe, she added, Democrats will likely benefit at the polls — if they can get their message out to voters.
“For public sentiment to weigh in, people have to know,” Pelosi said. “Women have to know how pervasive this is.”