By John-Henry Westen

CNS photo/Paul HaringWASHINGTON, DC, January 16, 2007 ( – Perhaps it was a bad omen when at the installation Mass for the new Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl last June, pro-abortion Democratic Senator John Kerry was given Holy Communion and caught on camera in the act. During the entrance procession, Archbishop Wuerl shook hands with Kerry and Senator Ted Kennedy. (see coverage: )

Now, Archbishop Wuerl, who replaced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, has said publicly that he would not discipline or direct priests to deny communion to pro-abortion Catholic politician Nancy Pelosi who was just made speaker of the House of Representatives.

Archbishop Donald WuerlDespite her staunch stands in favour of abortion, embryonic stem cell research and same-sex ‘marriage’ Pelosi went on a publicity stunt in early January to portray herself as an Italian Catholic mother. Part of that campaign was her publicized attendance at a Mass at her alma mater, Trinity University, on January 3. Prior to that Mass, American Life League had urgently requested that Archbishop Wuerl intervene to halt the public scandal that would ensue. Archdiocesan spokesman Susan Gibbs told that the Archbishop did not intervene in the Trinity Mass. She said the University, although within the archdiocese, was under the control of a religious order, the Sisters of Notre Dame. (see coverage: )

Pope Benedict, prior to his election to the pontificate, intervened in the US Bishops deliberation on the question of Holy Communion for pro-abortion politicians. The intervention letter titled “Worthiness to receive Holy Communion” pointed out that obstinately pro-abortion Catholic politicians, after being duly instructed and warned, “must” be denied Communion (see the document:

On Saturday, California Catholic Daily reporter Allyson Smith conducted a brief taped interview with Archbishop Wuerl focussing on the new pro-abortion speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. has reviewed the tape and can confirm this accurate transcription of the main portion of the interview:

Smith: “Did you make any statement about Nancy Pelosi last week going to Mass at Trinity University?” Did you issue any statement about that?

Wuerl: “That was a matter between the university and Nancy. They were offering their location, and the Mass was celebrated by a priest with faculties, and there was no, there was no reason to make any comment about it.”

Smith: “Do you intend to discipline her at all for being persistent and obstinate about supporting abortion and same-sex marriage?”

Wuerl: “I will not be using the faculty in that, in the manner you have described.”

Smith: “Will you issue a statement to your priests and deacons, I’m sorry, to priests and deacons to warn her not to allow her to receive if she presents herself for Communion?”

Wuerl: “You’re talking about a whole different style of pastoral ministry. No thank you.”

Smith: “No? Okay. Thank you.”

In an interview with, Judie Brown of American Life League reacted to Archbishop Wuerl’s statements saying, “One of the reasons why we asked Archbishop Wuerl to take definitive action with the speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, is because of the scandal she is creating and the souls that she is literally jeopardizing by her refusal to adhere to Church teaching and yet use her Catholic identity in a way that is in fact scandalous.” Brown continued, “I am appalled that Archbishop Wuerl not only is not going to do anything about this but has publicly said so, I find that absolutely outrageous.”

The position of the Catholic Church on the matter is defined in canon law. Following the Scriptural principle found in 1 Corinthians 11:27, the Church’s canon law states at canon 915 that those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.”

Brown conluded, “I mean no disrespect to the Archbishop at all, but as an Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church he has an obligation to enforce canon law and I simply do not understand this.”

Human Life International President Fr. Tom Euteneuer concurred. Fr. Euteneuer told, that rather than ‘pastoral style’, “In actual fact we are talking about the exercise of Episcopal oversight. I don’t believe Archbishop Wuerl is doing his job. The clear directives from the Vatican in addition to canon law indicate that a woman whose (pro-abortion) position is of a high profile nature is a public scandal to the faith. Not only should she be refused Communion by the legitimate authority of the diocese, but she should be excommunicated. Period.”

The new Archbishop of Washington is, in this respect, following in the footsteps of his predecessor. In 2004, as the US Bishops were discussing the matter of Communion for pro-abortion politicians, Pelosi told the media that she would continue to take Holy Communion despite her pro-abortion position. She went so far as to misrepresent the Catholic faith as supporting her pro-abortion stance. “I believe that my position on choice is one that is consistent with my Catholic upbringing, which said that every person has a free will and has the responsibility to live their lives in a way that they would have to account for in the end,” she said.

Responding in the media, Cardinal McCarrick who was heading up the bishops’ task force on the communion question, said, “I have not gotten to the stage where I’m comfortable in denying the Eucharist.” In fact, Cardinal McCarrick has been on something of a campaign to conceal Rome’s insistence that pro-abortion politicians be denied Holy Communion. (see coverage: )

McCarrick has even spoken of Pelosi in his retirement. In comments to the Catholic News Service last week, Cardinal McCarrick said he considered Pelosi, “a very thoughtful and committed defender of human rights.” (see coverage: )

Commented Fr. Euteneuer, “I don’t have words for that.”

Calls to the Archdiocese of Washington for clarification were not returned by press time.

See the original California Catholic story at

To contact Vatican Offices

Piazza Pio XII 10
Rome, Italy