WASHINGTON — San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone responded to comments made by former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on March 23 in which the Catholic Democrat, who represents San Francisco in Congress, defended her public position on abortion.
In a March 27 statement to OSV News, Archbishop Cordileone, who previously barred Pelosi from receiving the Eucharist in his archdiocese, said, “We know from science that life begins at conception.”
“Let us do everything possible to protect and support all human life, including life in the womb and women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “And, for the sake of the children, let us do everything possible to build a society that maximizes the chances of a child growing up with, and knowing and being loved by, a mother and father in a life-long, low-conflict relationship.”
On March 23, Pelosi was the inaugural speaker in a new series hosted by Georgetown University’s Center on Faith and Justice dubbed “Higher Calling,” that brings political leaders to discuss the role of religion and ethics in their public and personal lives, according to the university.
During the event, Pelosi was asked about the formation of her conscience, and she addressed her disagreements with U.S. bishops, most notably Archbishop Cordileone, on abortion.
Last year, Archbishop Cordileone barred Pelosi from receiving Communion in the San Francisco archdiocese unless she renounced her public policy support for legalized abortion. However, Pelosi has continued to receive Communion in the Washington Archdiocese, which includes Capitol Hill.
Pelosi cast her public policy position on abortion as a matter of free will.
“I have a problem with my archbishop,” Pelosi said candidly. “Well, the archbishop of the city I represent. I mean, I figure that’s his problem not mine.”
Pelosi said she had “five children in six years and one week.”
“So I keep saying to… my members, you got five kids in six years? You want to talk about this subject, OK?” she said.
Pelosi said outside of “one issue” — referring to abortion — she is “pretty much in sync” with the U.S. bishops on “the social compact” of the Catholic Church.
“But they are willing to abandon the bulk of it because of one thing, and that’s the fight that we have,” she said.
Pelosi cited other avenues where her faith has influenced her work, including her efforts to broaden access to health care in the Affordable Care Act as “an article of faith ministering to the needs of the sick.”
Pelosi continues to represent her San Francisco district, returning to the 118th Congress as a rank-and-file member. The longtime House speaker was granted the title “Speaker Emerita” by her caucus, a sign of her continued influence over her party. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., is now top Democrat in the House as minority leader.