Catholic Bishops: Is It All About the Money?

In a previous post, I wrote about how the Vatican is trying to scuttle plans by U.S. bishops to come up with a formal policy regarding public figures receiving the Eucharist when they actively promote immoral behavior such as abortion. A Vatican official, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, laid out a number of steps that must be pursued before any vote on a formal policy, and he said there must be near-unanimous agreement on the policy. The steps and conditions he set forth are so broad that they will likely never be met and a formal policy will never be approved.

Enter Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco. I had heard that he recently released a pastoral letter (“Before I Formed You in the Womb, I Knew You“) and that it was a pushback against those bishops who want to delay any action on a formal policy. Recently, Cordileone appeared as a guest on the Crisis Point podcast episode, “Holy Communion and Pro-Abortion Catholic Politicians with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone“, hosted by Eric Sammons, editor-in-chief of Crisis Magazine. The discussion between Cordileone and Sammons was very informative and I recommend listening to the entire 48 minute podcast.

During their discussion, the archbishop explained that he felt Catholics were confused by the Church’s teaching on reception of the Eucharist as it pertained to what might prohibit any person (not just politicians) from receiving it. He explained the different levels of cooperating with evil, e.g., formal cooperation being when someone publicly supports, encourages and enables an immoral act to take place. Formal cooperation is the most serious form of involvement and the archbishop explained what the lesser degrees were.

Cordileone also explained that there were three phases of pastoral correction that can be taken by a bishop. Step one is talking with the individual involved in the immorality and trying to convince them to stop their participation. In the second step, a bishop can publicly announce that a person is not allowed to receive Communion, thereby notifying all priests in his diocese. If a person is still unrepentant, then the bishop can excommunicate them.

After the discussion of the pastoral letter’s content, Sammons said that the laity, especially listeners of the Crisis Point podcast, were frustrated that no politicians who supported abortion were being denied the Eucharist. It seemed clear that those politicians, particularly Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi were formally cooperating in the evil of abortion since they publicly expressed their support of it and supported laws funding abortion. Sammons respectfully pointed out that Cordileone had been archbishop of San Francisco for nine years, that Pelosi was in his diocese and yet no action had been taken regarding her reception of the Eucharist.

Cordileone’s reply was that they were in the first of the three steps, that some discussion had taken place between Pelosi and him. Out of respect for privacy, he would not elaborate on the discussions, which is understandable. My first thought was he had been her bishop for nine years and they’re still in the discussion phase? Sammons also pointed out that Planned Parenthood had given its highest honor to Pelosi, the Margaret Sanger Award.

Then the archbishop said that Speaker Pelosi had also done things that benefited the Catholic Church, and that he wanted to give her credit for that. For example, she made sure that the Church was included in the COVID relief Payment Protection Plan so that they could receive federal money during the shutdown. BOOM! There it was – the money! It’s always the money! The U.S. bishops are huge supporters of “refugee resettlement” and open borders. Their various charities received hundreds of millions of dollars for those purposes during the Obama years. According to the Millenium Report, Catholic Charities receives about 65% of its budget from the federal government. Fifty-seven government agencies contract with the Catholic Church, for which the Church receives $1.6 billion (per year, I presume).

Did you know that when a charity receives federal funding, they are not allowed to proselytize or even to talk about God to the people they serve? Religious charities have to decide if the funding is more important than being able to share their faith. Catholic Charities fired my son because he tried to encourage a disconsolate immigrant by telling him the story of Job. My son was not trying to convert the man or invite him to Mass. The man had not qualified for the federal assistance that Catholic Charities was administering and he was talking about suicide. After my son shared the story of Job, the man left feeling very encouraged. He had never heard the story before and it gave him faith. (Some time later, my son saw this man at a public park. The man thanked him for his encouragement and could not believe that my son had been fired for simply sharing the story of Job.)

Back to the interview with Cordileone. The archbishop stated that a bishop has to consider several things when deciding to take any action regarding a public figure. He said it’s possible that instituting Church discipline could embolden the other side. I’m trying to think of how much more emboldened the other side could be than it already is. Aren’t the Catholic pro-abortion politicians already flaunting their independence from Church teaching? Aren’t they already pushing full steam for unrestricted abortion?

Cordileone also said we need to build up a momentum, that people need to have a revulsion toward abortion before the Church acts by denying Communion or excommunicating a public figure, otherwise it could backfire. Perhaps the archbishop means there needs to be a groundswell of public opinion, but a newly released poll shows that 74% of regular Mass attendees believe that pro-abortion politicians should not present themselves for Communion. Other findings from the poll show even more support for the Church’s pro-life stances and duties. (The poll apparently did not ask specifically whether or not bishops should ban politicians from Communion.) It would seem that among faithful Catholics, there is the momentum that Cordileone says is required.

I want to give Cordileone the benefit of the doubt and say that he leans toward prohibiting pro-abortion public figures from receiving the Eucharist, but that a desire for unity among the bishops and the Vatican wins out. Or perhaps he’s just afraid of stepping too far out. Who wants to be the first bishop to ban a pro-abortion politician from the Eucharist? Volunteers? Anybody? Cordileone’s arguments against taking action sound weak to me, and I know he’s a lot smarter and more educated than I am, so surely they sound weak to him, too, don’t they? And maybe his example of Pelosi’s financial aid to the Catholic Church was just a poorly chosen example. Perhaps she baked cookies for a bake sale or sold kisses for $1 at the parish bazaar. Unfortunately his example makes it appear that she bought off the Church, whether or not the COVID and similar funding have any influence on whether or not the bishops discipline the politicians.