By Catherine Hadro
Real Clear Religion
On Friday, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone notified House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that, until she undergoes "a conversion of heart," she is barred from receiving Holy Communion because of her support for "abortion and infanticide." Critics otherwise completely uninterested in theology – including those who make up the San Francisco Examiner's Editorial Board – leapt to pronounce with doctrinal certainty that the Archbishop's notification is a denial of Church creed. Make no mistake, it is wholly compatible with Pope Francis' own words and his witness of mercy. Detractors are mainly pointing to the Holy Father's comments in 2021 during an in-flight presser, when he said he has "never refused the Eucharist to anyone" in response to a journalist's question about pro-abortion access politicians receiving Holy Communion. However, Pope Francis went on to call abortion "murder" and said of the preborn child, "It's a human life, period." He further compared the act of abortion to hiring a hitman, and added, "This is why the Church is so strict on this issue because accepting this is kind of like accepting daily murder." Pope Francis specifically followed up on the Communion issue, saying, "This is not a penalty: you are outside. Communion is to unite the community."
It was Pope Francis himself who issued this revision of the Church's canonical legislation. The Archbishop, in a public letter to his priests this week, said Pope Francis pointed out three pastoral motives for this action: responding to the demands of justice, moving the offending party to conversion, and repairing the scandal caused. The Archbishop acknowledges it was those very motives that guided his decision – along with prayer, fasting, and consultation. In a Friday interview about this, he reiterated, "I'm guided by the principles articulated by Pope Francis and taking the approach of the advice that then Cardinal Ratzinger gave us."
The fact that "Communion is not a prize for the perfect" – another Pope Francis phrase – is exactly the point. The Eucharist is not a participation trophy. We are neither entitled nor worthy to receive the Eucharist. All Catholics must repent for our sins. This often gets messy and divisive because some of our sins are more public and obvious than others, but Jesus' Real Presence is worth the repentance.
Catherine Hadro is a national Catholic speaker, writer, and broadcaster. She is the founding host of EWTN Pro-Life Weekly and is an EWTN News Contributor. Follow @CatSzeltner[Editor's note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Religion.