The head of the Southern Baptist office in Washington D.C. once said to me during St. John Paul II’s papacy, “You’ve got a pope there who really knows how to pope.” (Despite Baptist differences with Rome, he meant it as a deep compliment.) You might say something similar about San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone: There’s an archbishop who knows how to archbishop.
Any Catholic paying attention is aware by now that, last week, Cordileone barred Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from receiving Communion in his archdiocese (full text here). And that courageous act – the willingness to go first – has gotten a handful of other American bishops [including neighbor bishops Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa and Michael Barber of Oakland] to announce their support as well (see list here). More will be coming.
That support by fellow bishops is important, not only for the current public controversies as we wait for the Supreme Court to hand down the Dobbs decision. There are troubling clashes within the Church itself over this question. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual June meeting this year will be worth watching carefully.
And, doubtless, efforts are already underway in Rome, by the usual suspects, to get Pope Francis to try to squash such bans. He’s been silent about the Dobbs leak. The standard Vatican stance these days is talking tough about the evil of abortion (i.e., “like hiring a hitman to solve a problem”) without any follow-up.
In a way, Archbishop Cordileone – who has been a forceful shepherd in various ways, especially in trying to reform Catholic schools in his archdiocese – couldn’t ignore Pelosi’s challenge. As he says in barring her from Communion, he’s tried several times to meet with her – again – on abortion, but has gotten no response. And since the leak of the Alito draft decision on Dobbs, the Speaker has gone into high gear about “codifying” Roe v. Wade, i.e., securing a federal right to abortion through Congressional legislation.
Actually, Pelosi has more than once answered questions from journalists about Cordileone’s and others’ criticisms of her support, as a Catholic, for abortion – with a terse, “Whatever.” And she often repeats what she apparently learned at Trinity College in the 1960s from wayward Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur that, for her, abortion and the right of women to choose is “sacred ground….”
The above comes from a May 23 posting by Robert Royal on The Catholic Thing. Royal added the following preface to the story:
Note: After decades of seeming stagnation, the abortion question has entered a new era. The Supreme Court seems poised to overturn Roe. The midterm elections in November are likely to result in a pro-life Congress. And now some American bishops – SF Archbishop Cordileone in the lead – have shown they mean business with “pro-abortion Catholics.” We’re going to see new dynamics in American politics, the American Church, and – not least – in the Vatican. The Catholic Thing will not only be reporting on all this, we’ll be in the boiling middle of things trying to shape outcomes. This next year will offer opportunities that we have all been hoping and praying for. We’ve made good progress, but we can’t stop now. If you want to play a part in all this, please, do the right thing. Help support us to take advantage of this promising moment. – RR