Although he declined to mention any specific public figure by name, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone delivered a scathing rebuke to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), President Joe Biden, and other prominent pro-choice Catholics in a recent missive about the evils of abortion.
What are the details?
In the pastoral letter issued Saturday and titled, "Before I Formed You in the Womb I Knew You," Cordileone took prominent Catholics who support abortion to task for their promotion of an act that the church holds to be a grave sin.
"Prominent figures in society help to shape the mores of that society, and in our culture their advocacy of abortion definitely leads others to do evil," Cordileone wrote. "This must be stated with clarity: anyone who actively works to promote abortion shares some of the guilt for the abortions performed because of their actions."
Pelosi, a high-profile Catholic who represents San Francisco residents in the U.S. House, has long-supported abortion in spite of the fact that it runs afoul of her church's teaching. After all, it is undoubtedly a winning issue for her politically in liberal San Francisco, and just as well, she has never faced religious discipline for it.
But Cordileone wants that to change. In his letter, the conservative archbishop argued that it is the responsibility of church leadership to "correct Catholics who erroneously, and sometimes stubbornly, promote abortion." In this case by denying them Communion, the church's holiest sacrament.
"Because we are dealing with public figures and public examples of cooperation in moral evil, this correction can also take the public form of exclusion from the reception of Holy Communion," the archbishop said.
"When other avenues are exhausted, the only recourse a pastor has left is the public medicine of temporary exclusion from the Lord's Table. This is a bitter medicine, but the gravity of the evil of abortion can sometimes warrant it," he added.
Cordileone's letter is the latest entry in an evolving debate the Catholic Church is having around how to handle Catholic politicians who adopt stances contrary to the teachings of the church, the Washington Post reported.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are set to gather in June to vote on whether or not to draft a document on the Communion issue, though there have been numerous conflicting reports coming from within the organization about what exactly the document will look like.
Pressure is surely mounting as any forthcoming decision about Communion is bound to have far-reaching consequences. In fact, it could reach as far as the White House. President Biden, who regularly attends Catholic Mass, is also a vocal proponent of abortion access.
For Cordileone, however, the issue is rather simple.
"Abortion is the axe laid to the roots of the tree of human rights: when our culture encourages the violation of life at its youngest and most vulnerable condition, other ethical norms cannot stand for long," he wrote in the introduction to his letter.
"Our responsibility to the rest of the Catholic community is to assure them that the Church of Jesus Christ does take most seriously her mission to care for 'the least of these,'" he added.