fb-pixel Skip to main content

They share Roman Catholicism as a faith and California as their home base. Yet there’s a deep gulf between Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego in the high-stakes debate over whether politicians who support abortion rights should be denied Communion.

Cordileone, who has long established himself as a forceful antiabortion campaigner, recently has made clear his view that such political figures — whose ranks include President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — should not receive Communion because of their stance on the issue. The archbishop issued a pastoral letter on the topic May 1 and reinforced the message in an hourlong interview Friday with the Catholic television network EWTN.


“To those who are advocating for abortion, I would say, ‘This is killing. Please stop the killing. You’re in position to do something about it,’” he told the interviewer.

In neither the letter nor the interview did Cordileone mention Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, by name. But he has criticized her in the past for stances on abortion that directly contradict Catholic teaching.

McElroy, in a statement published Wednesday by the Jesuit magazine America, assailed the campaign to exclude Biden and other like-minded Catholic officials from Communion.

“It will bring tremendously destructive consequences,” McElroy wrote. “The Eucharist is being weaponized and deployed as a tool in political warfare. This must not happen.”

The polarized viewpoints of the two prelates illustrate how divisive this issue could be if, as expected, it comes before the US Conference of Catholic Bishops at its national assembly starting June 16. There are plans for the bishops to vote on whether the conference’s Committee on Doctrine should draft a document saying Biden and other Catholic public figures with similar views on abortion should refrain from Communion.

In accordance with existing conference policy, any such document is likely to leave decisions on withholding Communion up to individual bishops.


Biden, the second Catholic president, attends Mass regularly, worshiping at his home in Wilmington, Del., and in Washington.

The archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, has made it clear that Biden is welcome to receive Communion at churches he oversees. Bishop William Koenig, appointed April 30 to head the Wilmington diocese, said he would gladly speak with Biden about his views on abortion but did not say whether he would allow him to continue receiving Communion, as Koenig's predecessor had done.

It’s considered unlikely that Biden would heed any call to forgo Communion, but a conference document urging him to do so would be a remarkable rebuke nonetheless.

Cordileone, in his pastoral letter, wrote that it’s the responsibility of Catholic clergy “to correct Catholics who erroneously, and sometimes stubbornly, promote abortion.”

Initially, this rebuke should come in private conversations between “the erring Catholic” and his or her priest or bishop, wrote Cordileone, who then noted that such conversations are often fruitless.

“Because we are dealing with public figures and public examples of cooperation in moral evil, this correction can also take the public form of exclusion from the reception of Holy Communion,” he wrote. “This is a bitter medicine, but the gravity of the evil of abortion can sometimes warrant it.”

Were Biden to be excluded from Communion, McElroy wrote, “fully half the Catholics in the United States will see this action as partisan in nature, and it will bring the terrible partisan divisions that have plagued our nation into the very act of worship that is intended by God to cause and signify our oneness.”


McElroy also questioned why abortion was the overarching focus of some bishops, while the sin of racism has not been prominent in their comments.


Security breach investigated in Virginia GOP nominating process

RICHMOND — A housekeeper entered a hotel ballroom where ballots for Virginia governor and two other statewide offices were being stored overnight Saturday — snapping the tamper-proof tape as she brought in drinks, and inadvertently delaying the start of vote counting as officials got to the bottom of the security breach.

Party and campaign officials spotted the torn tape Sunday morning as they gathered at the downtown Richmond Marriott to begin tallying votes from a nominating convention held the day before.

The discovery sent them into an investigative flurry that included interviewing the housekeeper, calling lawyers, and reviewing security footage. In the end, a party spokesman and observers from two of the seven gubernatorial campaigns said they were confident there had been no foul play.

But the episode highlights the tremendous angst and suspicion surrounding the GOP’s nominating contests for Virginia governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. The party that’s made election integrity a rallying cry nationally has seen its own, internal nominating process beset for months by allegations that it’s been rigged to favor one candidate or another.


The party was set on Sunday to begin hand-counting an estimated 30,000 ballots, a painstaking process that three gubernatorial contenders demanded amid fears that vote-tallying software the party had considered could not be trusted.

After Republicans voted Saturday at an ’'unassembled’' convention at 39 polling places around the state, officials put the ballots in sealed boxes and transported them that night to the ballroom. Once all of the boxes had arrived, officials sealed up the room with tamper-proof tape about midnight, according to observers with two different campaigns, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.


Obamas’ dog dies

Bo, the Portuguese water dog who became the first presidential pet in the Obama White House, romping in the halls of power, died on Saturday.

Bo, who was 12, had cancer, Michelle Obama said on Instagram. Barack Obama said the family had lost “a true friend and loyal companion.”

“For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives — happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and everyday in between,” the former president wrote on Twitter.

“He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table, and had great hair,” Obama added.

Bo arrived at the White House as a 6-month-old puppy in April 2009, a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and his wife, Victoria, to the first children, Malia and Sasha Obama.


The girls named the dog Bo because their cousins had a cat with the same name and because Michelle Obama’s father was nicknamed Diddley, after the musician Bo Diddley.