In September, Pope Francis said, “I have never refused the Eucharist to anyone, “Although he later added that he had never knowingly caught during Communion a politician who supported abortion rights and reiterated the church’s position that abortion is “murder”. But Francis has said that the decision about allowing Communion to politicians who support abortion rights should be made from a pastoral point of view, not a political one.
Communion for Pelosi took place shortly after the US Supreme Court overturned the 1973 case Roe v. Wade decided to abolish the right to abortion. In a statement on the decision, the Vatican Pontifical Academy of Life called for a “non-classical” debate: “Faced with a Western society that is losing its passion for life, this act is a powerful invitation to reflect together on the serious issue and about the origin of the human race and the conditions under which it is possible,” said the head of the academy, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia.
During Mass at the Vatican on Wednesday, it was not the 85-year-old Francis who personally handed Pelosi the host, as his active participation in Masses was increasingly limited by a frequent knee condition. ask him to use a wheelchair. Before the mass, Pelosi had a greeting with the pope where she received a blessing, according to one attendee.
The Vatican did not make any statement on the matter and declined to comment. But in a city-state like the Vatican, brimming with religious symbolism and home to the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, Pelosi’s Communion can hardly be seen as an oversight. It comes on the day Francis issued an encyclical praising the virtues of the Mass, reminding his church of how such a celebration belongs to “the whole of the faithful united in Christ.”
“The liturgy does not say “I” but “we”,” Francis wrote in his letter, “and any limit on the breadth of this “we” is always the devil.”
In October, Francis met Pelosi in a private audience at the Vatican, which the speaker later described as “a spiritual, personal and official honor”. It remains to be seen whether Communion given to Pelosi could have any effect on Cordileone’s decision, which was shared by at least four other dioceses based in the United States. Cordileone’s order to deny Pelosi only applies to churches in his diocese where Pelosi resides.
Pelosi has repelled by order of Cordileonequestioned whether he was applying a double standard in allowing politicians who support the death penalty – something the Catholic Church opposes – to receive the sacrament.
Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology at Villanova University, said what happened Wednesday reinforces the impression that there are two approaches to abortion in the Catholic Church, an even more delicate issue. more after Supreme Court overturns the decision Roe v. Wade.
It’s not clear whether the Vatican had clear intentions for Pelosi to receive Communion, but Vatican authorities were certainly aware of her presence and plan to attend Mass at St. Peter, said Faggioli.
“This is not surprising. Of course, on these issues, the Vatican can and should leave some things unspoken,” he said. “The fact that it wasn’t the pope who gave her Communion allows the Vatican to defend her in a less negative way. It’s not in their best interest to blatantly put a finger in Cordileone’s eyes’.
But the inversion of Roe v. Wade would make it harder for the Vatican to vigorously defend Pelosi, President Biden and other Catholics who support abortion rights.
“As long as Roe v. Wade already the law, one could say: These people are Catholic but still have to respect the law,” said Faggioli.
But Faggioli doesn’t believe Francis, who has called for the church to be more inclusive, will allow himself to be drawn into a corner.
Abortion has become one of the sectarian parameters that Catholic conservatives in the United States use to decide if you’re Catholic, Faggioli said. That idea, he said, “doesn’t belong to Pope Francis, who never changes church teaching on abortion but always insists that a church is not a country club.”
“This is one of the key points of his pontificate. This is one of those things where he and the US bishops don’t see things with the naked eye,” Faggioli said.
An earlier version of this article said the Mass attended by Pelosi took place on Friday. It happened on Wednesday.