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Pope Francis on Sunday named as cardinal San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy, a Roman Catholic leader who had spoken out against the calls for bishops to exclude pro-choice politicians like President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from Holy Communion over their stances on abortion.
The move comes in the wake of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s announcement earlier this month that he would bar Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion due to her stance on abortion. In naming McElroy, Francis passed over Cordileone, who holds a higher rank.
McElroy, one of 21 new cardinals Pope Francis announced Sunday, will be installed Aug. 27 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the diocese of San Diego announced.
The San Diego bishop warned against the idea of denying Communion to pro-choice politicians in 2021, when U.S. bishops were considering altering their policy on Communion, which Catholics also call the Eucharist.
“The proposal to exclude pro-choice Catholic political leaders from the Eucharist is the wrong step,” McElroy wrote for the Jesuit magazine America. “It will bring tremendously destructive consequences—not because of what it says about abortion, but because of what it says about the Eucharist.”
The bishop warned that “[t]he Eucharist is being weaponized and deployed as a tool in political warfare. This must not happen.”
Cordileone, whom Pope Francis passed over, congratulated McElroy on his appointment.
The San Francisco archbishop had previously written to Pelosi, “You are not to present yourself for Holy Communion and, should you do so, you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
In a public “letter to the faithful,” Cordileone said he took the action “After numerous attempts to speak with her [Pelosi] to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking.”
The Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law states that those who have been excommunicated or who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”
Cordileone clarified that his move had “nothing to do with” the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which would strike down Roe v. Wade, but rather with Pelosi’s “advocacy for codifying the Roe decision into federal law—it’s becoming more and more extreme and more and more aggressive.”
Despite Cordileone’s clear declaration, Pelosi received Holy Communion at the 9 a.m. Mass at Holy Trinity in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., last Sunday.
Pelosi defended her position and condemned Cordileone’s move in remarks last Tuesday. She claimed the issue of abortion is not just about terminating a pregnancy because the people criticizing its legality and morality also oppose contraceptives, family planning and in-vitro fertilization.
“This decision taking us to privacy and precedent is very dangerous in the lives of so many American people and again not consistent with the Gospel of Matthew,” she argued.
The San Francisco Examiner’s editorial board urged Pope Francis to remove Cordileone for his move to bar Pelosi from Communion. The editorial board blasted the archbishop for “punishing” Pelosi, instead of “right-wing politicians” who “[vote] against health care or funding for the poor.”
Democrats have full-throatedly supported abortion following the leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – the draft that overturns Roe. Although Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that the draft is genuine, it dates back to February, and it does not represent the current or final opinion of the Court.
Activists targeted Roman Catholic churches for protests on Mother’s Day.
Vandals also targeted a church in Boulder, Colorado, earlier this month, spray-painting “bans off our bodies” and “my body my choice” on the building.