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Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco, delivers a homily at the 2016 Steubenville ConferenceSteubenville Conferences/Wikimedia Commons

LINCOLN, Nebraska (LifeSiteNews) — San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone on Friday expressed his gratitude and appreciation for priests who found creative ways to circumvent COVID-19 lockdown orders in order to offer Mass and provide the Holy Eucharist to Catholics during the height of the pandemic response.

Cordileone, who publicly and vigorously pushed back against the top-down COVID church closures in 2020 as a violation of the right to worship, made the remarks during a May 26 ceremony of ordination to the Sacred Priesthood at the North American Martyrs Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. During the ceremony, three deacons of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, a Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) seminary in Denton, Nebraska, were ordained to the priesthood.

The FSSP is a priestly community devoted to the Traditional Latin Mass and sacraments.

In his comments, Archbishop Cordileone noted that “it is the Eucharist that binds us together in the communion of God’s love and grace, which enables us to carry on the mission of Our Lord, which He has entrusted to His Church.”

“Without the Eucharist we are nothing,” he said. “Consequently, without the priesthood, we are nothing.”

“We now happily have the COVID pandemic behind us,” he continued. “But still fresh in our people’s minds is the sadness that so many of them experienced from being deprived of the Eucharist.”

Wryly observing that the fight to “Free the Mass” in San Francisco amid California’s draconian COVID lockdown rules “would take a separate two-hour lecture,” Cordileone hailed the FSSP priests who bucked the mandates.

“I know that many of you, who are priests of the Priestly Fraternity, found ways to celebrate Mass for your people, even clandestinely,” he said. “I am grateful to you for that, and proud of you for doing so.”

RELATED: Public Mass suspended, churches closed in countries around the globe due to coronavirus

“Common to all of us, though, is the powerful lesson that the pandemic taught of what life is like without the Eucharist,” Cordileone added.

He said the separation of the people from the Mass and the Eucharist during COVID could be seen as a milder parallel with the sufferings of Polish-American Catholic missionary Priest Walter Ciszek, who was imprisoned under the Communist regime in the Soviet Union. Cordileone said Ciszek rejoiced when he was transferred to a labor camp in Siberia because there he could once more offer the Mass.

Cordileone has repeatedly earned notice and support from faithful Catholics for his orthodox statements and actions concerning matters of faith and morals.

Last year, the San Francisco archbishop handed down a pastoral directive publicly barring then-Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a self-professed Catholic and yet a vociferous defender of legal abortion, from receiving Holy Communion.

READ: San Francisco archbishop bars pro-abortion Nancy Pelosi from Holy Communion

He also joined Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, in urging Congress not to pass the radical bill codifying same-sex “marriage” into federal law.

During a “spiritual warfare” conference earlier this year, Cordileone blasted abortion as a part of “satanic worship” and argued that the push to obliterate the differences between men and women through transgender ideology is “demonic.”

“So, see, this is wiping out the image of God from the face of the Earth. So, it’s not kind of rhetoric or poetic exaggeration to call it demonic; it literally is,” he said. “So we have to engage. We have to engage in other ways too: political activism and educational … All that, but most of all through our spiritual arms.”

This article was last updated June 1, 2023.