Op-Ed: Here's Why Pelosi's Archbishop Was Right to Ban Her from Communion


Last week, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco officially determined that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not permitted to receive Holy Communion in the archdiocese due to her continued support for abortion.

“As the Archbishop of San Francisco, I am bound to be concerned for all the Christian faithful entrusted to [my] care,” Cordileone wrote in a letter. “This most serious duty can sometimes become unpleasant, especially when Catholics in public life explicitly promote practices that involve the direct taking of innocent human life, which is what abortion does.”

Cordileone made the correct decision. It is not meant to be a personal attack but to show that public figures who profess to be Roman Catholic and intentionally oppose Catholic teaching should refrain from receiving the Eucharist.

Canon 915 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law states that “those who have been excommunicated … and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”

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Although she is not currently excommunicated, Cordileone has determined that Pelosi meets the criteria of “obstinately persevering” in grave sin. The church has always taught that those who support abortion in any way with full knowledge and full consent are committing a mortal sin.

Cordileone’s action is one of mercy. He is attempting to prevent Pelosi from receiving Communion while not in a state of grace, which the church also teaches is a mortal sin.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession.”

While many have praised the archbishop’s action, many liberals were upset by it. Unfortunately, there is still plenty of misunderstanding with regard to certain Catholic teachings. For example, many critics of Cordileone are citing Pope Francis, who reportedly said in 2021 that he has never denied Communion to anyone.

This shows a misunderstanding of the concept of papal infallibility. Many people think that because the pope is the head of the church, everything he says is infallible, and therefore Catholics must agree with all of his statements.

However, this is not the case. For a statement from the pope to be infallible, it must meet three conditions:

1. The pope is speaking ex cathedra (“from the chair”).

2. The pope is speaking to the whole church.

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3. The pope is speaking on faith and morals.

This is clearly a case of Pope Francis sharing his personal view; it is not an infallible statement that every bishop must uphold. Cordileone still has the power to deny someone Communion if he deems it necessary.

Another talking point from the left is that individuals who support the death penalty should also be denied Communion.

This is a common false moral equivalence.

Unlike abortion, the church has never taught that capital punishment is intrinsically evil. This means that while Catholics can never support abortion, this may not be the case for the death penalty. Even though Pope Francis updated the church’s catechism in 2018 to declare capital punishment “inadmissible,” there is still debate as to whether or not that means Catholics are obliged to oppose it in all circumstances.

Regardless, Cordileone was right to ban Pelosi from receiving Communion and has the power to do so under the church’s canon law.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Mitch Behna is a conservative who previously blogged for Wayne Dupree at and the pro-life blog Live Action at

You can follow him on Twitter @mitchsbehna.