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Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone on EWTN's World Over show with Raymond Arroyo, Feb. 4, 2021.EWTN / Youtube screen grab

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SAN FRANCISCO, California, February 8, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – A U.S. archbishop said that any decision to deny Holy Communion to publicly pro-abortion Catholic politicians, such as President Joe Biden or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, would not be “tied to politics” but would ultimately be about “protecting” the sacrament while helping such a person move toward repentance.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo last Thursday that Catholics “don't understand anymore what it means to receive Communion.” The Catholic Church holds that the bread and wine consecrated by a priest at Mass become the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. St. Paul warns the Corinthians that those who partake of the Holy Eucharist in an “unworthy manner” will be “guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.”

Cordileone said that many Catholics mistakingly believe that receiving Communion simply means that they “belong to the community.” The “sense of worthiness to receive communion,” he said, that “goes back to the time of Saint Paul” and includes having “right belief” and living a Catholic life in a “state of grace” has been “completely lost.”

Catholics in public life who are “favoring something that is gravely evil,” the Archbishop said, are engaging in something “that's seriously sinful,” and puts them in a situation where they “need to confess that sin and be absolved before presenting themselves for communion.”

President Biden has identified himself as a devout Catholic despite working to preserve and expand abortion. In his first two weeks in office, Biden pledged to make abortion available to “everyone” by “codifying” Roe v. Wade and revoked the Mexico City policy that blocks federal funds from going to nongovernmental organizations that provide abortions in developing countries. Democrats have also pledged to quickly eliminate the pro-life Hyde Amendment that prohibits federal funds from going to pay for abortions in programs like Medicaid.

Cordileone was asked by Arroyo during the EWTN interview to comment on San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy’s statement that denying communion to a pro-abortion Catholic politician could only be interpreted as a “weaponization of the Eucharist.” The Archbishop said that if dialogue with such a politician has failed and their “heart cannot be moved and converted,” then “such a decision has to be made.”

“So, there eventually has to come a time when this is not tied to politics. It's not a sanction either. It's a declaration of someone that's not in a state to receive Communion. It's not an application of the Church's penal law,” he said.

The Archbishop said that such an action is ultimately about “protecting the sacredness of the Eucharist” and would in no way be a “rejection of the person” but would be an “act of charity” that is intended to help “move the person down the path of holiness and fullness of life in Christ.”

Kansas City Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann told LifeSiteNews in an interview last week that the bishops of the United States have an “obligation” to act when it comes to the country’s president identifying himself as a devout Catholic while working to expand abortion. The Archbishop said that whether intentionally or not, President Biden’s actions are “confusing Catholics and non-Catholics regarding the Church’s teaching on the evil of abortion.”

“It is the responsibility of the Bishops of the United States to defend the most fundamental of all human rights, the right to life, and to protect the integrity of Catholic moral teaching. We cannot abdicate either of these responsibilities, even as we are eager to work with everyone to promote the common good,” he said.

The Catholic Church teaches (Code of Canon Law, can. 915) that Catholics who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” According to a 2004 memo issued to the U.S. bishops by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who is now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a Catholic politician who is “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” manifests “formal cooperation” with grave sin and must be “denied” the Eucharist.

Last month, Cordileone issued a strong response to Catholic Speaker of the House Pelosi (D-CA), who resides in his Archdiocese, for criticizing pro-life voters who voted for Donald Trump on the abortion issue.

“Nancy Pelosi does not speak for the Catholic Church. She speaks as a high-level important government leader, and as a private citizen. And on the question of the equal dignity of human life in the womb, she also speaks in direct contradiction to a fundamental human right that Catholic teaching has consistently championed for 2,000 years,” he wrote.

“No Catholic in good conscience can favor abortion. ‘Right to choose’ is a smokescreen for perpetuating an entire industry that profits from one of the most heinous evils imaginable. Our land is soaked with the blood of the innocent, and it must stop.”