Catholic Church taking ‘no action against’ death penalty supporters: Is Nancy Pelosi right to question?


Fact Box

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” shared her thoughts on San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s announcement denying her communion because of her stance on abortion asserting, “I wonder about the death penalty, which I am opposed to [...] So is the church, but they take no action against people who may not share their view.” 
  • The National Conference of Catholic Bishops approved guidelines for the reception of Communion on November 14, 1996. Catholics must “not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour” and be baptized. 
  • Communion is a Christian sacrament routinely practiced on Sundays and is meant to represent Jesus Christ’s blood and body broken on the cross for sinners (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24).
  • According to an April 2021 Pew Research survey, 60% of American adults favor the death penalty for those convicted of murder, however, 78% believe there is “risk that an innocent person will be put to death.” 
  • A 2020 Gallup poll recorded that 48% of Americans identified as pro-choice and 46% as pro-life.
  • Between 1976 and 2021, there have been 1,533 executions in the United States.

Curtice (No)

San Francisco Archbishop Cordileon's announcement that Nancy Pelosi can no longer receive communion due to her stance on abortion is right as it highlights the dire importance of denouncing abortion and for any 'devout catholic' to reexamine their views on this subject. Pelosi stated she comes from a pro-life family and respects others' views on abortion but doesn't 'respect us foisting it onto others.' In actuality, she does want certain views foisted onto others—views that are pro-abortion, pro-open borders, pro-LGBTQ, etc. 

The church has the authority to determine who can and cannot receive communion and has done so with Pelosi. Despite this fact, Pelosi's insinuation that the Church is hypocritical for standing by its ancient stance upholding life and not implementing a non-communion stance with Catholics who support the death penalty is off the mark. The true hypocrisy is any Church that allows Pelosi to partake in holy communion while still in a sinful state, disregarding canon law 915. Cordelione is acting out his pastoral duty to shepherd his flock; he would be wrong to allow her to present herself to God in receiving the holy sacrament while in a non-repentant state. 

Likewise, Pelosi is deflecting—engaging in 'whataboutism.' While Catholics may have recently embraced opposing the death penalty, equating the death penalty with abortion, as Pelosi attempted to do, is nonsense. An innocent unborn child is not the same as a convicted murderer. Abortion is the intentional killing of human life with no justification found for it in scripture. In comparison, capital punishment is frequently upheld as a valid form of justice in the Bible. 

Pelosi is sadly not the first politician, nor will she be the last, to wear her religion on her sleeve when it is advantageous but quickly discard it when it isn't.

Siam (Yes)

As Pelosi's pro-abortion stance has caused the Archbishop of San Francisco to bar her from taking communion, she is right in implying the Church's political hypocrisy for condemning those who support abortion but not those who are pro-capital punishment. The Church's stance against abortion as the 'purposeful taking' of fetal life and Pelosi being pro-abortion has led to an unfortunate conflict of visions and conflict between the perceived authority roles between Pelosi and her archbishop, which has ballooned a private matter into a public and political one.

The archbishop is a staunch conservative and has long disagreed with Pelosi's support for LGBTQ and abortion rights, among other matters favored by liberals and championed by her party. President Biden also supports these things yet has not been publicly singled out by his diocese to be denied communion. Archbishop Cordileone directly ignores Pope Francis and the Vatican's instruction for catholic leaders not to deny communion to supporters of abortion rights. Whatever the archbishop's goals may be, Pelosi can only be denied communion in his parish; she is free to go anywhere else, which is why she received communion in DC last Sunday

Likewise, the Catholic Church has spoken against the death penalty. In August of 2018, the Vatican announced a formal change in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty, articulating capital punishment as 'an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person' and deeming it 'inadmissible' in all cases. Cordileone has not commented on those in his parish who support what has clearly been decried as 'inadmissible,' which is perhaps a sign Pelosi's priest is playing politics.

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