A Tale of Two Cities

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco (Left) and Wilton Cardinal Gregory of Washington, D.C. (Right}

The drama surrounding Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has caused quite a flurry of activity in both the mainstream and Catholic news, as well as in cyberspace.  Regardless of whether or not you agree with the Archbishop of San Francisco’s actions (we didn’t think he went far enough, but more on that in a bit), the responses to his refusal of Holy Communion to the long-time abortion advocate – and the wording of his letter to her – demonstrated a deep rift in the understanding of Catholic doctrine and ecclesiology by people who refer to themselves as “Catholic”.   It’s not just the difference in approach between the two prelates pictured above – which is vastly different indeed – but it is the sad spectacle of NewChurch tearing itself into pieces over the inability to ground itself in the moral teaching of the Church.

The first question that naturally comes to any Catholic’s mind, upon learning that Mrs. Pelosi received Communion in a Georgetown parish church this past Sunday, is: how does it happen that her bishop denies her access to Communion, but she can receive Our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity simply by going to a different diocese? Well, the truth is, she actually “worships” (for lack of a better description) most of the year in the Diocese of Washington, D.C. As we all know, the archbishop of that diocese is Wilton Cardinal Gregory, who is on record as being firmly opposed to denying Holy Communion to any political figure. Unfortunately for Cardinal Gregory’s image as a man of the people who is wholly transparent, a fat-fingered assistant made the mistake of responding to a query by the Washington Examiner regarding the issue with a brusque comment that was not likely intended for public consumption.

We actually learn the details of the decision that went into allowing Mrs. Pelosi to receive Communion at a Georgetown church from the Daily Mail. If you wish to avoid the prurient ads that the Daily Mail feels compelled to run along the margin, we can give you a quick rundown on the lead-up to the Speaker of the House seeking to make a point at a Georgetown church. It really stems from Cardinal Gregory’s dereliction of duty (i.e., his previous wimpy statements regarding public scandal given by “Catholic” politicians). Cardinal Gregory’s words and attitude encouraged the Holy Trinity “parish council” to issue a statement last year, according to the Daily Mail, “amid calls for President Biden to be denied communion over his position on abortion.”

Setting aside the bizarre obsession of NewChurch with parish councils (and the incredible authority they seem to wield), it is interesting to note that Holy Trinity’s parish council stated that it “will not deny the Eucharist to persons presenting themselves to receive it.”  More interesting is that the council’s statement included words that Francis himself has used to disapprove of actions like those taken by Archbishop Cordileone: “Communion should be viewed not as a prize for the perfect but as a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak,” adding that “the great gift of the Eucharist is too sacred to be made a political issue.”  But not, presumably, too great a gift to deny Holy Communion to those giving public scandal, such as politicians like Mr. Biden and Mrs. Pelosi or even divorced and remarried folks who have likely consulted their “internal forum”.

If you want to see just how a despicable news outlet like the Daily Mail revels in such victories for the Left, here is a screen shot of the headline and prospectus from the article linked above, which digresses into digging up some old dirt on Archbishop Cordileone:    

Back to the Tale of Two Cities reference, we most likely have no need to remind our dear readers that there are Catholics, and then there are those who think they are, in some way, Catholic.  Regarding the malformed Catholics who wanted to weigh in on the controversy, we regrettably found a thread on Twitter by a personality who calls herself “Dawn of Mercy”.  This strange woman ostensibly has quite a following of Catholic clergy and laity alike. To get an idea of the kinds of people who frequent her threads, we included some sample comments below. But Dawn herself exhibits some strange ideas for a Catholic, as evidenced by her most recent posting wherein she was whining about Dr. Peter Kwasniewski’s scheduled speaking engagement at her parish. She objected to Dr. K being invited to speak because, she points out, he has been critical of Cardinal Gregory in the past, obviously (she concludes) because of the fact that Wilton Gregory is black.

But it is the comments from her followers that are most enlightening.  As you will see, it isn’t just Archbishop Cordileone (and a small number of supporting prelates) against Cardinal Gregory (and the preponderance of American bishops), but rather, it is Catholicism vs. a faux version of itself.  We will spare you the postings of Dawn’s before-and-after selfies promoting weight loss, and the one of a follower who somehow thinks that discussion of anatomical augmentation is something Catholic Twitter participants are interested in.  On second thought, maybe they are.

Here are some examples of NewChurch thinking that will no doubt leave you perplexed:

And here’s “Joseph not Joe” spouting his anger at Bishop Conley of the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska:

Had enough yet?  No? Well, no visit to Twitter is complete without checking in to see what Fr. James Martin is fixated on today.  Here is his latest, which we will use to rest our case for our Tale of Two Cities:

And Vaticanistas say that Cardinal Zuppi is “papabile.” God help us! The fact is, if we were to be honest with ourselves, dear readers, we would admit that the comments above (excepting Bishop Conley’s) clearly show a different religion than the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith that we espouse. How did we get to this point? At the risk of “piling on,” we are obliged to point out that Archbishop Cordileone’s belated action against Mrs. Pelosi was – as solidly Catholic as it was worded – anemic in that it stopped short of excommunication.

As happy as we are with the censure of Nancy d’Alessandro Pelosi, we have to point out that failure to apply an excommunication in this case may ultimately do more harm than good.  This past Sunday Mrs. Pelosi flaunted her censure in the Washington archdiocese; next week she could return (as she sometimes does) to St. Leo’s in Little Italy in east Baltimore, the parish of her youth.  Will Archbishop Lori stop her from receiving Holy Communion?  Don’t bet on it!

What the heck is going on in NewChurch? We think back to the episcopal consecrations at Ecône in 1988. Rome’s response, like a thunderbolt, was almost immediate. As we departed the Valais on our return trip home to Naples, Italy, we were barely over the Alps when news came that Pope John Paul II had taken immediate action against Archbishop Lefebvre and the four bishops he had just consecrated. Archbishop Lefebvre was declared to have severed himself from the Church and the word “excommunication” was prominently used twice in that Motu Proprio, Ecclesia Dei adflicta.

So, why did Archbishop Cordileone avoid the use of that word in the case of Mrs. Pelosi? Canon lawyers may argue that she had already been separated from the Church latae sententiae, therefore no pronouncement was necessary from the Archbishop of San Francisco. But then he implied to Gloria Purvis in an America magazine interview that the Speaker of the House is not in fact excommunicated. But without excommunication, how does the Church prevent diocese-hopping as this woman likes to do? Obviously, the overwhelming majority of American bishops will not be enforcing any action from Madame Speaker’s home archdiocese, as we saw this past Sunday. (Well, after all, Cardinal Gregory is far too busy crushing the TLM in his archdiocese, now setting his sights on St. Mary Mother of God, where the Mass of the Ages has been offered for at least three decades, but that’s another story for another posting.)

Apparently universal excommunications are only intended for use against those nasty “trads”. So, this pseudo-Catholic, who has supported and even actively contributed to the torture and cruel deaths of more than sixty million babies (and who said last week that Roe v. Wade must be “enshrined”) can simply present herself alongside Joe Biden in Holy Wilton’s jurisdiction, stick out her blood-stained hands, and receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This issue of abortion has, incredibly, caused such division in our erstwhile ecclesial leadership that last week’s action by the Archbishop of San Francisco may be more of a Pyrrhic victory. In fact it may highlight those deep divisions, as discussed recently in a Catholic Truth Scotland thread concerning attracting non-Catholics to the Faith. With NewChurch imploding on itself, just how much should we tell potential converts? When these good-willed people interested in the Church look closely at the condition of our hierarchy, not to mention the confused clergy and laity, will it reinforce their pre-conceived notions of a Church in great turmoil? Some will say, “Ah, well, at least he did something.” And yes, the words Archbishop Cordileone wrote about Mrs. Pelosi giving public scandal are solidly Catholic, so we must give credit to him in that regard. But what the heck took him so long? In the final analysis, what Archbishop Cordileone may have done with his belated and rather incomplete pronouncement is to open himself — and all of us — up to the likes of Cardinals Cupich and Gregory, not to mention Francis himself.

We suppose there are many who would say that we should shut up and just be grateful for what we have. In fact, isn’t that the mantra of traditionalists since the “Indult” of 1984? Just be thankful for the few crumbs or sops from the master’s table. “Well at least it was something,” No! it needs to be more than just something! And beware of anyone who starts off assessing our prelates’ actions with “at least he . . .”. Our Church leaders are derelict in their duties, and as Catholics we ought, by right, to have an episcopacy and clergy that is thoroughly and boldly Catholic, not meekly issuing occasional pronouncements to which we cling for warm and fuzzy feelings. If they won’t do that, then we Catholic laity must!

8 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cities

  1. A superb article! I’m about to go and link to it on our Catholic Truth Scotland blog. But first, I thought I’d share with you, the email I sent to Archbishop Cordileone – I mention it on our blog but haven’t (and won’t) publish it there. You are SO right about the need for a clear pronouncement of excommunication, as Pope JP II did not hesitate to publish against Archbishop Lefebvre. Mr and Mrs Marinaio, you two know how to connect the dots!

    My Email (dated 23 May, 2022)…

    Dear Archbishop Cordileone,

    Please be assured that your Holy Communion prohibition on Nancy Pelosi is welcomed by all of us at Catholic Truth Scotland (CTS) – we have been very scandalised that she has been permitted to flaunt her “Catholic Faith” for so long, while actively pursuing the murder of the unborn and now, incredibly, the new-born.

    We are discussing your action on our blog where one of our American contributors has just published a Lifenews report containing the scandalous news that Mrs Pelosi has received Holy Communion today, showing contempt for your authority and concern for her spiritual well-being.

    Hopefully, now, Archbishop, you will move to the next level – excommunication – to drive home the gravity of what she is doing. This may, please God, bring about the necessary turnaround in her mentality. It may also have a salutary effect on the priests who are quoted in the above mentioned Lifenews report, stating their willingness to welcome her (and Biden) to Communion anytime.

    Kindest regards and much gratitude to you, Archbishop, for your efforts to end this scandal.

    Please pray for us at CTS.

    God bless you.
    Patricia McKeever

  2. Thank YOU Marinaio!

    PS I’ve still not had a reply but it’s early days yet. Main thing is that he reads it, but it would be good for me to be able to say I’ve had a reply from an American archbishop since the one to whom I’ve recently written in Scotland, (Archbishop Nolan of Glasgow) hasn’t bothered his mitre replying – you’ll read all about it in the June newsletter, now with the printer!

  3. I took awhile in getting to read this ad home duties prevail, but this morning in the early hours while still dark here, I was able to cuddle and feed my warm bundle of chubby fingers and blue eyes while reading your latest post. Good post. Aside from how hard it is to fathom that a woman brought up Catholic and a mother and grandmother can take the course Pelosi is taking, it’s just plain dispicable that she is allowed to commit sacrilege against Our Lord. It’s not just scandal to the rest of us. St. Paul warned us clearly about “he who we eats or drinks the body and blood of Christ unworthily is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord and drinks to his own judgement (damnation).” I paraphrase of course. One has to wonder if these modern Catholics and bishops that you quote believe in the Real Presence? Logic would say no. Which is another reason that censures are important, to remind people WHAT communion is.

  4. I thought I’d drop in to post this very disappointing news about Archbishop Cordileone: quoting from a Gloria TV report today…

    “San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is going to ordain today James DeWan as a permanent deacon.
    Joseph Sciambra, a healed homosexual, exposed DeWan’s 2016 social media postings and saved screenshots (below).
    DeWan was then already a candidate for the diaconate at the homosexualist Most Holy Redeemer Parish.
    He wrote in June 2015 that “I personally do not understand why some people object so vehemently to same sex marriage, aka marriage. It doesn’t affect them one iota.” And, “God is love, and that love is expressed in so many different ways.” End of extract.

    Since the Church prohibits the ordination of anyone who has in any way supported the “gay” lifestyle, this is very serious, indeed. I’m hugely disappointed with the Archbishop, but, having said that, we need to remember that being pro-life is not per se “Catholic”. There are people of every religion and none who oppose the murder of the unborn (and new-born). It’s basic humanity. Still, when we see a prelate of the Church taking action to end the scandal of a Catholic in a public position who supports abortion receiving Communion, we are naturally pleased. It’s not the hallmark, though, of Catholicity – as this latest news about the homosexual ordination confirms. All very sad.

    We do need to pray for priests, bishops and popes. Especially one named Francis the First (and we hope, Last!)

    • Yes, dear Editor, this is the problem with today’s prelates. Archbishop Cordileone is an enigma, to say the least. I have been trying to evaluate him for years. The first time I recall was several years ago when there was a controversy surrounding his archdiocesan parochial schools. He had taken a firm stand on the issue (I can’t remember now what it was about, possibly sodomites teaching in Catholic schools or perhaps pushback he received from requiring the Anti-Modernist Oath), but he waffled, backed off, then I believe in the end made the right decision. But it was touch and go. Then came the barbarian attacks on the statues of St. Junipero Serra in his diocese. He did not rally the men of the diocese to protect the statues, but instead issued a rather anemic critique of the vandalism. His action in support of the Sacrament of Holy Communion was commendable, but as we have mentioned, he did not excommunicated Mrs. Pelosi, so she just thumbed her nose (figuratively) at him and sought refuge with a progressive parish in Cardinal Gregory’s archdiocese. Still, we wanted to give him credit for “at least” doing something, right? Then, two days ago, he sounded like Nancy herself when, in the aftermath of a lunatic entering a school in Texas and killing nearly two dozen people, including nineteen children, Archbishop Cordileone issued a statement recommending prohibiting “AR” style weapons and raising the gun purchase age to 21 (never mind that we put guns in 18 year-old hands to “make the world safe for democracy”). I suppose the Archbishop may have been trying to curry favor with the Democrats after taking so much heat for denying her Communion in his archdiocese. But he sure sounded like those who wish to place limits on the Second Amendment. This is Archbishop Cordileone, Lionheart one day, cowardly Lion the next. Very disappointing!

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