Archbishop Cordileone Rebukes Abortion-Supporting Legislators’ Take on Communion Debate

‘First Things’ published the San Francisco shepherd’s paragraph-by-paragraph response to the ‘statement of principles.’

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone prays before the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance in Eucharistic adoration in 2021.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone prays before the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance in Eucharistic adoration in 2021. (photo: Dennis Callahan/Archdiocese of San Francisco)

On June 23, First Things published Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s paragraph-by-paragraph response to the “statement of principles,” a document developed by 60 Democratic legislators in response to the USCCB vote to create their own Eucharistic document. 

Each of the Democratic signers of the statement is pro-abortion.

Archbishop Cordileone’s rejoinder surfaces logical inconsistencies and practical contradictions as well as theological errors contained within the statement.  

The “Statement of Principles” issued by Catholic Democrats in Congress bespeaks the hollowness of Democrats’ claims to respect human dignity while denying the right to life of the most vulnerable persons.— First Things (@firstthingsmag) June 24, 2021

To the point that Democratic members are “committed to making real the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching: helping the poor, disadvantaged, and the oppressed, protecting the least among us and ensuring that all Americans of every faith are given meaningful opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country,” Archbishop Cordileone offered the rebuttal, “One of the ‘basic principles’ of Catholic belief is … [d]on’t intentionally kill, or collude in enabling others to kill, innocent human life.”

“Catholic principles build systematically on one another. The protection of innocent, defenseless life is first and foundational,” he argued, pointing out the illogical nature of pursuing goods without securing the greater and more fundamental good that undergirds them. 

The archbishop of San Francisco also pointed out practical contradictions in the statement.  He noted that although these legislators profess “admirable words” on issues like reduction of child poverty and recognition of human dignity, these “Catholic members of Congress support laws that have the effect of destroying the natural family through marriage redefinition, no-fault divorce, and other similar policies which exacerbate child poverty.”

He further argued that “the broken family is a leading cause of poverty but it also results in a host of other social ills, such as youth violence, incarceration, and substance abuse.”

The archbishop also found practical contradictions in claims that Democratic legislators promote alternatives to abortion, such as adoption. 

Additionally, he addressed theological errors in the document, including the need to consider the difference in kind and degree of various sins, and corrected a misrepresentation of the role of conscience.

“It’s hard to see this passage as anything less than evasion,” commented Archbishop Cordileone on the claim that primacy of conscience can give a moral right to hold abortion as a good. “Conscience is not deciding what’s right or wrong for oneself. We don’t invent truth; we search it out with ‘the Church’s guidance,’ and then submit ourselves to it.

“Conscience is the faculty to know and do what’s right in concrete situations, whether we find it politically convenient or not.”

Finally, he refuted the accusation that bishops were beginning a “weaponization of the Eucharist” — a charge Archbishop Cordileone vehemently denies.

He stated: “The bishops’ motivation is pastoral: The salvation of souls and reparation of scandal. There is nothing punitive in stating and restating the truth of Catholic belief and its implications for authentically Catholic life.”