The Church, particularly in the United States, is suffering from a severe illness. It’s an illness that causes the Church itself to be ineffective for Catholics across the nation. Additionally, this illness weakness the belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The “source and summit” of our faith has been reduced to a mole hill. However, the recent decision to ban pro-choice activist and politician House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving the Eucharist by Archbishop Salvadore Cordileone could be the spark that ignites a fire over time. It could be the ember that helps the faithful renew their understanding of the Eucharist, the Real Presence, and the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament.
Bishop Athanasius Schneider, in the book Christus Vincit, says “the Church in our day is suffering from a strong Eucharistic ‘cardiopathology,’ and so the entire body is anemic and without energy.” It is certainly true the Church has become more concerned about things of the world, disguised under the heading of social justice, as opposed to fulfilling its first and primary mission given by Christ in Matthew 28 to “go and make disciples of all nations.” However, Cordileone’s public decision to ban Pelosi from reception of the Eucharist within her home archdiocese has perhaps, although not without adamant protests from her supporters, caused some to take another look at the teachings of the Church on the Eucharist.
We must remember the Catholic Church is not Burger King. You cannot have its teachings your way. You must take the teachings of the Lord Jesus, as handed on by the Church, regardless of if they align with your personal or political views or you must suffer the consequences. These consequences may or may not come in the form of leadership decisions, such as those from Cordileone, but they will certainly come in the form of eternal consequences from Christ. (who, by the way, doesn’t really care about your personal opinion). The decision from Cordileone was an act of mercy for Pelosi’s soul and an attempt to provide pastoral care in not allowing her to remain in such mortal and grievous sin as receiving the Eucharist while publicly promoting the horrendous sin of abortion.
There are eternal consequences to your soul when receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin. It was these consequences, even to the extent of losing her soul for eternity, that Cordileone’s decision attempts to prevent her from suffering. Additionally, as a shepherd of the people of San Francisco and a successor of the apostles, Cordileone also faces a responsibility to the Lord as to how he leads the children of God entrusted to him. He will face judgment as to what steps and measures he took to help his flock understand how to walk with Christ and what brings damnation.
“Therefore, anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily is answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone is to examine himself and only then eat of the bread or drink from the cup; because a person who eats and drinks without recognizing the body is eating and drinking his own condemnation. That is why many of you are weak and ill and a good number have died.” (I Cor. 11:27-30)
Following the decision, many rebelled against the archbishop and the Church. Social media was lit with Catholics and non-Catholics alike disagreeing with the decision and promoting the heresy that everyone should be entitled to receive communion whenever they want or desire. If you want what you want, when you want it, and how you want it then go to Burger King. If you want what Christ gives, expects, teaches, and offers then follow Church teaching.
The archbishop did receive public support from some of his fellow bishops.
“I support Archbishop Cordileone in the heroic and compassionate stance he took today in the protection and defense of human life. As Pope Francis said, ‘every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ.” – Bishop Michael Barber, Diocese of Oakland.
“I support Archbishop Cordileone in his courageous pastoral outreach to a member of his flock. His actions are made as a shepherd with the heart of Christ.” – Bishop James D. Conley, Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you Archbishop Cordileone for loving Nancy Pelosi in the Truth of Jesus Christ,” tweeted Bishop J. Strickland, Diocese of Tyler, Texas. “Now may every bishop follow the lead of Archbishop Cordileone and make it clear that elected leaders who vehemently speak against the sanctity of life must be strongly corrected and if Catholic admonished to live their faith.”
It is imperative that every Catholic study, read, and learn the Church’s teachings on the Real Presence. The Eucharist is not a “right” to every Catholic. It is a privilege and a significant responsibility for every Catholic who receives it. To treat the Eucharist as a “right” for every Catholic to receive is to view it as a piece of bread and a cup of wine. It is to view it from a Protestant perspective in believing it is just a symbol and routine. The decision by Cordileone has brought a new spotlight on the sacredness and holiness of the Eucharist. It is not bread and wine which we receive. It is the true body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.
It is important for every Catholic to remember that Cordileone’s decision only carries the authority he possesses within his archdiocese. It does not bind any other bishop from another diocese, such as that of Washington D.C., to follow. That means, if Pelosi insists on being defiant to the teachings and sacredness of the Church, she could potentially receive the Eucharist in Washington D.C. and other dioceses outside her home archdiocese. That is why it is crucial for every Catholic to pray for her soul and beg God for her heart to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and for her to repent.