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Not over the rainbow, yet: Lawsuit blocks Catholic University's auction of 'Wizard of Oz' dress

Yellow brick road. / Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, May 22, 2022 / 12:12 pm (CNA).

A dress worn by Judy Garland in her classic role as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" is now the main character in a surprise drama. Supporting characters are the Catholic University of America and some relatives of a priest and former professor who, they say, would have wanted his relatives to own the rare collectible, not the university.

The university had planned to auction the dress to fund its drama school. These plans were delayed by a legal challenge from Wisconsin resident Barbara Ann Hartke, 81, a niece of Father Gilbert Hartke, O.P., the founder and head of the university’s drama school. She says that the dress should be hers because she is the priest’s closest living relative.

Barbra Ann Hartke’s attorney, Anthony Scordo, told WTOP that there has been “absolutely no legal documentation of such a gift to the university” in any of its court filings. Her lawsuit also objects that the university did not contact her when the dress was rediscovered.

“I was just surprised after all this time, here it had been found, and here it is being rushed off to the auction house,” Barbara Ann Hartke told the New York Post earlier this month. Tony Lehman, a grand-nephew of Father Hartke, also supports the lawsuit.

The university contends the objecting relatives have no case. The university’s attorneys argue the dress was given to the priest in his capacity as a drama professor at the university. The university further notes that Father Hartke, as a vowed Dominican, was not allowed to keep personal possessions.

“We look forward to the opportunity to present the overwhelming evidence, including a statement from another family member, supporting Catholic University’s ownership of the dress to the court next week,” a Catholic University of America spokesperson told CNA May 17.

“The university’s position is that the allegations in the lawsuit have no basis in law or fact because Catholic University is the rightful owner of the dress and Father Hartke’s estate does not have a property interest in it,” the spokesperson said.

Fr. Gilbert Hatke holds a dress gifted to him that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America.
Fr. Gilbert Hatke holds a dress gifted to him that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America.

Mercedes McCambridge, an Oscar-winning actress and artist-in-residence at Catholic University in 1973, had given the dress to Father Hartke, who died in 1986. In the late 1980s, the dress went missing and the costume became the subject of rumor. Matt Ripa, a lecturer and operations coordinator for the university’s drama department, happened upon a bag atop faculty mailboxes in 2021. He opened the bag to find a shoebox, inside of which was the dress.

The university had scheduled an auction of the dress in hopes of raising more than $1 million for its drama department.

New York U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gardephe placed a temporary restraining order on the auction pending a hearing the day before the dress was scheduled to be auctioned through the auctioneer company Bonhams.

According to Bonhams, the actress Judy Garland wore the gingham dress while filming a scene in which her character Dorothy Gale faces the Wicked Witch of the West in the witch’s castle.

The dress from the 1939 classic movie is one of only two existing dresses that retains its white blouse. It is now valued at an estimated $800,000 to $1.2 million, Bonhams said. Another surviving dress was auctioned for $1.5 million in 2015.

Father Hartke was one of six siblings. Catholic University of America has gathered the testimony of other relatives to support its case that it is the owner of the dress.

Thomas Kuipers, a grand-nephew of Hartke, said the priest told him “that I could not have it as the dress belonged to Catholic University.” He said he and other descendants of Father Hartke’s sister Inez Mercedes Hartke support the auction of the dress donated to the university.

Margo Carper, granddaughter of Father Hartke’s brother Joseph, also backed the university.

William Largess, who was an undergraduate student in Catholic University’s drama department from 1972 to 1976, said he was with the priest “multiple times” when he took out a dress to show to students that Largess understood was a dress from "The Wizard of Oz."

“I specifically recall Father Gilbert V. Hartke saying that Ms. Mercedes McCambridge gave the dress to the Department of Drama at Catholic University,” said Largess, who is now an adjunct theater professor at George Washington University.

Father Kenneth R. Letoile, O.P., the Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph, described the Dominican approach to the vow of poverty.

“Based on my knowledge of the Dominican Order, and my understanding that Father Hartke made a vow of poverty, as is required for membership in the Dominican Order, Father Hartke was not permitted to possess anything by right of personal ownership,” Letoile said.

If anything was given to him in his personal capacity, he would have been required to donate to his province “in accordance with his vows and solemn profession.”

Letoile said that the Dominican province does not assert any right to the dress.

“I hereby affirm on behalf of the province the Catholic University of America’s full ownership of the dress,” he said.

When the auction of the dress was announced in April, the Catholic University of America said it had documentation which indicates that the dress was gifted to Hartke with the intention it be used to support the drama department.

If the auction goes forward, proceeds from the sale will endow a faculty chair, a position that will support the current bachelor of fine arts degree in acting for theater, film, and television, as well as the development of a new formal film acting program at the university’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art.

Jackie Leary-Warsaw, dean of the drama school, is the wife of Michael Warsaw, chairman and CEO of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, Catholic News Agency’s parent network.

Here are two basic requirements Catholics must meet to receive Holy Communion

Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament. / Sidney de Almeida/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 22, 2022 / 08:24 am (CNA).

The Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments. Of these, the Eucharist stands apart. St. Thomas Aquinas called it the “Sacrament of Sacraments.”

The Eucharist is the real presence of Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity, under the appearance of bread and wine. The Eucharist is also referred to as “Holy Communion.” 

“Communion” comes from the Latin communio, which means “to be in union with.” According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), the Church refers to the Eucharist by this name “because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body” (CCC 1331).

The Church teaches that anyone who receives Jesus in the Eucharist also receives “the pledge of glory with him” (CCC 1419). The Catechism says that participating in the Eucharist “identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints” (CCC 1419).

The Church also teaches that receiving the Eucharist “increases the communicant’s union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins, (CCC 1416).”

Receiving the Eucharist can transform one’s spiritual life. That’s why Pope Francis said in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

At the same time, the Church draws on the words of Scripture in setting forth requirements for receiving Holy Communion. For as St. Paul tells us, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” (1 Cor 11:27-28).

The Church teaches that there are two basic requirements Catholics must meet in order to receive Holy Communion worthily.

First, one must be in a state of grace.

To be in a “state of grace” means to be free from mortal sin. As the Catechism states, “Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance” (CCC 1415).

What is a mortal sin? The Catechism explains that a mortal sin “destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God” (CCC 1855).

For a sin to be mortal, or deadly, one must be aware that the act is sinful and conscientiously commit it anyway.

Examples of mortal sins include: murder, adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, theft, abortion, euthanasia, pornography, and taking advantage of the poor. The Church teaches that intentionally skipping Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation when one is able to attend also is a mortal sin.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law (CIC) emphasizes this requirement for receiving Holy Communion when it states: “A person who is conscious of a grave sin is not to … receive the body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing; in this case the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible” (CIC 916).

The U.S. bishops, in the document they adopted in November 2021 titled, “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” elaborate on this important point.

“To receive the Body and Blood of Christ while in a state of mortal sin represents a contradiction,” the document states. “The person who, by his or her own action, has broken communion with Christ and his Church but receives the Blessed Sacrament, acts incoherently, both claiming and rejecting communion at the same time. It is thus a counter sign, a lie — it expresses a communion that in fact has been broken.”

The bishops' document goes on to say that the sacrament of penance "provides us with the opportunity to recover the gift of sanctifying grace and to be restored to full communion with God and the Church. All the sacrament requires of us as penitents is that we have contrition for our sins, resolve not to sin again, confess our sins, receive sacramental absolution, and do the assigned penance.”

The second requirement for receiving Holy Communion is to observe the Eucharistic fast.

Canon law states, “One who is to receive the most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion” (CIC 919). 

Elderly people, those who are ill, and their caretakers are excused from the Eucharistic fast (CIC 191 §3). Priests and deacons may not dispense one obligated by the Eucharistic fast unless the bishop has expressly granted such power to them (CIC 89).

UPDATE: These Catholic bishops support Nancy Pelosi ban on Holy Communion

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 21, 2022 / 11:15 am (CNA).

So far only a small minority of U.S. bishops have come out publicly in support of Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone’s May 20 announcement that he is barring Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, her home diocese, until she repudiates her longstanding advocacy of abortion.

There are 194 dioceses and archdioceses in the U.S. Here is a list of those bishops who have spoken in favor of Cordileone’s action, as of May 23. Please send updates, with links to online statements if available, to [email protected]

California

Diocese of Oakland

Diocese of Santa Rosa

Bishop Robert Vasa said on May 20 that he spoke to the pastor of St. Helena Catholic Church in St.Helena, a parish that Pelosi reportedly attends on occasion. 

Vasa said, “I have visited with the pastor at St Helena and informed him that if the Archbishop prohibited someone from receiving Holy Communion then that restriction followed the person and that the pastor was not free to ignore it.”

“The new Canon (1379 §4) makes it clear that providing sacraments to someone prohibited from receiving them [has] its own possible penalties,” he said.

Colorado

Archdiocese of Denver

Illinois

Diocese of Springfield

Kansas

Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann issued the following statement on May 20:

"I applaud Archbishop Cordileone’s patient and persevering efforts to
enlighten Speaker Pelosi about the moral gravity of her extreme efforts to
promote, to advocate and to initiate legislation to enshrine legalized abortion into
federal law. I fully support the both pastoral and courageous actions that
Archbishop Cordileone has now taken in an effort to awaken Speaker Pelosi’s
conscience and at the same time to protect Catholics in the Archdiocese of San
Francisco and throughout the country from being confused by Speaker Pelosi’s
radical support for abortion, while claiming to be a faithful Catholic. I pray that
Speaker Pelosi will have a change of heart."

Nebraska

Diocese of Lincoln

Oklahoma

Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Oregon

Diocese of Baker

Bishop Liam Cary issued the following statement on May 20:

"Representative Nancy Pelosi proudly combines “devout” practice of Catholic faith in her personal life with high-profile promotion of legalized abortion in her political life. The scandalizing gap between belief and behavior on the part of the Speaker of the House grievously misleads her fellow believers about Catholic teaching on social justice and seriously handicaps Catholic efforts to defend unborn life in the womb. 

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has repeatedly brought these sad facts to Representative Pelosi’s attention and called her to repentance. In response, the Speaker has defiantly doubled down on her uncompromising advocacy for unlimited abortion, thereby proposing herself as an exemplar for Catholic politicians who deliberately distance themselves from the saving clarity of the Gospel of Life. At the same time, in choosing to ally herself actively with abortion’s most extreme proponents, Representative Pelosi has unilaterally broken communion with Archbishop Cordileone and the flock he shepherds. She has withdrawn herself from communion with the Church.  

In a letter to the Speaker on May 19 Archbishop Cordileone acknowledged this sad rupture for what it is and made her aware of its consequences: she is not to present herself for Holy Communion until she publicly renounces her support for abortion, makes a sacramental confession, and receives absolution. These conditions invite Representative Pelosi’s return to Communion and show her the way to do so on the Church’s terms, not her own. May our merciful Lord grant her the grace to accept them. May He strengthen Archbishop Cordileone to walk the path of courage with confidence."

Texas

Diocese of Tyler

Washington State

Diocese of Spokane

Wisconsin

Diocese of Green Bay

Diocese of Madison

Bishop Donald Hying supported Cordileone, saying: “I fully support Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s prudent decision to recognize that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, has persistently taken public positions in support of legal abortion, contrary to her professed Catholic faith, choosing to separate herself from full communion with the Catholic Church, and therefore is not to present herself for the reception of Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.”

Hying said that “Cordileone’s public statement made it clear that this serious measure is ‘purely pastoral, not political’ in a further attempt ‘to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking…’”

St Petersburg diocesan summit to grow the Church was historic opportunity

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the St. James Chapel at Bethany Center in Lutz, Fla., April 25, 2022. / Diocese of St. Petersburg Office of Communications

St. Petersburg, Fla., May 21, 2022 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Parish and Pastoral Center leaders from across the Diocese of St. Petersburg gathered April 25-27, 2022, for one purpose: growing the Church. The Parish Growth Summit at the Bethany Center provided 32 hours of praying, learning, dreaming and envisioning plans for filling our churches. The theme for the Summit was from Luke 14:23, the Parable of the Great Feast. In this Parable, Jesus speaks of a dinner that was prepared, but those who were invited never showed. The Master then orders the servant to find new people to invite so that “My house may be filled.”

“This event was transformational for me personally. Day-to-day we can fall into the mundane of ministry. But this workshop has reinvigorated my heart, my mind, and my passion for doing ministry and doing it the way Christ has called me,” said Charmaine Carter, Director of Adult Faith Formation, Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle.

Carter felt the call to be more courageous in her ministry and to invite more people to follow Christ. “The Lord spoke to me and said you need to grow in courage and trust that I am going to be with you to accomplish that which I have called you to do,” added Carter.

The Parish Growth Summit was an initiative of Courageously Living the Gospel, the diocesan vision that calls us to proclaim the Gospel, and invite all to encounter the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.

National speakers from Casting Nets Ministries spoke passionately about the seven pillars of effective evangelization: Prayerful, Invitational, Hospitable, Inspirational, Sacramental, Formational and Missionful.

“We have to go outside our comfort zone. Greatness comes from pushing the limit. Our culture is no longer a Christian culture. It’s a hostile culture,” said Chris Stewart, Casting Nets Ministries, when speaking about pillar number four, Inspirational.

“We need more inspirational people to inspire other people, and to love others no matter who they are,” added Stewart.

The speakers also reminded the participants that our greatest Christian vocation is to be disciples who make disciples. Inviting others with a personal invitation, like Jesus did, is essential to this vocation.

“We have lost the art of personal invitation. We need to look another person in the eye. It’s hard to do that because it makes us vulnerable. But our personal invitation means something to someone,” said Stewart.

Chris McBride, Parish Manager of St. Jerome Parish in Largo, led parish representatives through highly detailed, parish-specific reports with demographic information about people living in their mission field, which covers a 20-minute radius from the church. The reports also provided ministry preferences, religious beliefs, communication styles, and other helpful information about those living in the neighborhoods around each parish.

Father Mike Smith, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Temple Terrace and certified Dream Manager coach, led the parishes in a visioning session of their Dream Parish — what would the parish look like if God’s “house was filled.”

“We heard repeatedly during the Synod process people’s deep desire for others to develop a close relationship with Christ and His Church.  They expressed concern and disappointment that many are not practicing their faith and hoped that they would come back,” said Dr. Lois Locey, Chancellor for Administration, Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Bishop Gregory Parkes heard this and shares the same concerns.

“Instead of just lamenting, we, as a united diocese, are taking action. The Summit was an opportunity for parishes to partner with other parishes and diocesan ministries to grow forward the church in concrete ways.  We are inspired by the US Bishops’ pastoral letter on stewardship which said, ‘Jesus’ call is urgent. He does not tell people to follow him at some time in the future but here and now—at this moment, in these circumstances. There can be no delay. Go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ For the parishes and Diocese of St. Petersburg, there will be no delay.  We are going to go and proclaim the Kingdom of God and invite others into a deeper relationship with God and others,” added Dr. Locey, who is also an Adjunct Professor at the Center for Church Management at Villanova University.

The Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of St. Petersburg proudly served as Presenting Partner for the Parish Growth Summit. “Thanks to our donors who supported the 2021 Giving Challenge, the Foundation is excited to partner and support this essential work,” shared Meegan Wright, Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation and emcee for the summit. “Based on the enthusiasm and energy created through this summit, we know this is just the beginning of amazing growth for these parishes.”

“This was one of the best diocesan events I have been to. It was educational and it touched my heart. This experience moves me to do more than what I’ve been doing and to overcome my fears. It starts with me. I have to be more prayerful and more formational to be an example to others,” said Kathy Brasseur, Office Manager, St. Scholastica Parish, Lecanto.

Twenty-nine parishes participated in the Parish Growth Summit and most of them brought a pastor and a team of parish leaders that included a combination of staff and volunteers.

“It’s good to be reminded and to get fired back up about evangelization. It reaffirmed my views that evangelization needs to be relational, and it involves walking with small groups of people,” said Father Jonathan Emery, Pastor, St. Matthew Parish, Largo. He attended the Summit with three parishioners.

In addition to the Catholic Foundation of St. Petersburg, the following Catholic organizations supported the Transformational Parish Growth Summit: Rebuilt Parish, Prenger Solutions Group, Catholic Social Media, Diocesan, Mission Pathways, OSV, Flocknote, Faith Catholic, Dynamic Catholic, and Made2Thrive. Music was provided by St. Mary Magdalen Music Ministries in Altamonte Springs.

This article was first published by Gulf Coast Catholic, the publication of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, and is reprinted at Catholic News Agency with permission.

Full text of Archbishop Cordileone letter to Nancy Pelosi banning her from Communion

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco in Baltimore, Md., Nov. 13, 2012. / Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Shutterstock, Michelle Bauman/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 15:37 pm (CNA).

Editor’s note: Below is the full text of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone’s notification to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, informing her that she should not receive Holy Communion in her home archdiocese, the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Cordileone made the following letter publicly available on Friday, May 20.

NOTIFICATION

To the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress Nancy Pelosi

The Second Vatican Council, in its Decree on the Church in the Modem World, Gaudium et spes, reiterated the Church's ancient and consistent teaching that “from the first moment of conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes” (n. 51). Christians have, indeed, always upheld the dignity of human life in every stage, especially the most vulnerable, beginning with life in the womb. His Holiness, Pope Francis, in keeping with his predecessors, has likewise been quite clear and emphatic in teaching on the dignity of human life in the womb.

This fundamental moral truth has consequences for Catholics in how they live their lives, especially those entrusted with promoting and protecting the public good of society. Pope St. John Paul II was also quite consistent in upholding this constant teaching of the Church, and frequently reminded us that “those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them” (cf. Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life [November 24, 2002], n. 4, §1). A Catholic legislator who supports procured abortion, after knowing the teaching of the Church, commits a manifestly grave sin which is a cause of most serious scandal to others. Therefore, universal Church law provides that such persons “are not to be admitted to Holy Communion” (Code of Canon Law, can. 915).

With regard to the application of these principles to Catholics in political life, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote to the U.S. bishops in 2004 explaining the approach to be taken:

“... when a person's formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church's teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist. When ‘these precautionary measures have not had their effect ... ,’ and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, ‘the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.’”

In striving to follow this direction, I am grateful to you for the time you have given me in the past to speak about these matters. Unfortunately, I have not received such an accommodation to my many requests to speak with you again since you vowed to codify the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in federal law following upon passage of Texas Senate Bill 8 last September. That is why I communicated my concerns to you via letter on April 7, 2022, and informed you there that, should you not publicly repudiate your advocacy for abortion “rights” or else refrain from referring to your Catholic faith in public and receiving Holy Communion, I would have no choice but to make a declaration, in keeping with canon 915, that you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.

As you have not publically repudiated your position on abortion, and continue to refer to your Catholic faith in justifying your position and to receive Holy Communion, that time has now come. Therefore, in light of my responsibility as the Archbishop of San Francisco to be “concerned for all the Christian faithful entrusted to [my] care” (Code of Canon Law, can. 383, §1), by means of this communication I am hereby notifying you that you are not to present yourself for Holy Communion and, should you do so, you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, until such time as you publicly repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance.

Please know that I stand ready to continue our conversation at any time, and will continue to offer up prayer and fasting for you.

I also ask all of the faithful of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to pray for all of our legislators, especially Catholic legislators who promote procured abortion, that with the help and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they may undergo a conversion of heart in this most grave matter and human life may be protected and fostered in every stage and condition of life.

Given at San Francisco, on the nineteenth day of May, in the Year of our Lord 2022.

[Signed]

Salvatore J. Cordileone

Archbishop of San Francisco

Catholics respond to barring of Nancy Pelosi from Holy Communion

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco in Rome, June 28, 2013. / Lauren Cater/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 15:10 pm (CNA).

Catholics are responding in a variety of ways to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone's decision not to admit Nancy Pelosi to Communion, from viewing it as a compassionate act to the "waging [of] a culture war."

Cordileone notified the Speaker of the House of his decision May 19, and released letters to the priests and the laity of the Archdiocese of San Francisco explaining the act May 20.

Cordileone said on May 20 that the step was “purely pastoral, not political” and came only after Pelosi, D-Calif., who has described herself as a “devout Catholic,” repeatedly rebuffed his efforts to reach out to her to discuss her abortion advocacy. 

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois tweeted an earnest commendation of Cordileone's decision, saying that "politicians who promote abortion should not receive holy Communion until they have repented, repaired scandal, and been reconciled to Christ and the Church."

Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa said that he spoke to the pastor of St. Helena Catholic Church in St.Helena, a parish that Pelosi reportedly attends on occasion. 

Vasa said, “I have visited with the pastor at St Helena and informed him that if the Archbishop prohibited someone from receiving Holy Communion then that restriction followed the person and that the pastor was not free to ignore it.”

“The new Canon (1379 §4) makes it clear that providing sacraments to someone prohibited from receiving them [has] its own possible penalties,” he said.

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver tweeted, “I support and commend my brother bishop, Archbishop Cordileone, for making this courageous, compassionate, and necessary decision.”

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler tweeted, “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Archbishop Cordileone for loving Nancy Pelosi in the Truth of Jesus Christ!”

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln tweeted, “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.”

Jamie L. Manson, president of the abortion advocacy group Catholics for Choice, maintained that the archbishop "is waging a culture war that the bishops have already retreated from," and claimed that Cordileone's action is "extreme."

Bishop Hying of Madison supported Cordileone, saying: “I fully support Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s prudent decision to recognize that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, has persistently taken public positions in support of legal abortion, contrary to her professed Catholic faith, choosing to separate herself from full communion with the Catholic Church, and therefore is not to present herself for the reception of Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.”

Hying said that “Cordileone’s public statement made it clear that this serious measure is ‘purely pastoral, not political’ in a further attempt ‘to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking…’”

“This is not a decision that was made rashly, but rather one made after almost ten years of patient dialogue and repeated attempts at reconciliation with the congresswoman and the consistently held teachings of the Catholic Church,” Hying wrote. “Please join me in prayer for Speaker Pelosi, that she may embrace the sacred truth and dignity of the human person, formed in the womb, in the image of God.”

Lila Rose, head of Live Action, tweeted that "this is the kind of leadership we need" and that "allowing publicly unrepentant, pro-abortion politicians to receive the Eucharist is damaging to their own souls and the conscience of the nation."

In a string of tweets, Brian Burch, President of CatholicVote, stated that “Catholics across America commend Archbishop Cordileone and his pastoral leadership in handling the scandal posed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. For too long Catholic public officials have created confusion and disunity by advocating for policies that destroy innocent human life – in direct contradiction of the teachings of the Catholic faith. 

“The persistent disobedience of these public officials is a source of enormous sadness and scandal that begged for a response. The Church has no choice but to protect itself and to encourage all of its members to live in communion with its teachings.”

“For the sake of Speaker Pelosi and the rest of the flock in his charge, Archbishop Cordileone is right to call her to return to full communion with the Church. We hope and pray she will do so.”

Twitter user Rich Budd tweeted, “Pray for Nancy Pelosi’s conversion.” Another Twitter user, Mark Brown, said: “A Bishop doing what a bishop should…” 

Another Twitter user, Craig de Aragón, tweeted, “Wow, +Cordileone has the heart of lion.” Twitter user Jeff Culbreath tweeted, “Thank you, Archbishop, for ending this scandal and caring for the souls of your flock. Including Speaker Pelosi's.”

Denver archbishop: Cordileone 'made every attempt' to avoid barring Pelosi from Communion

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila says Mass for the Transitional Deacon Ordination in 2020. / Archdiocese of Denver, photography: A&D Creative LLC

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 14:41 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver released a statement Friday in support of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s decision to deny Communion to Nancy Pelosi because of her persistence in supporting abortion.

“I support and commend my brother bishop for making this courageous, compassionate, and necessary decision,” Aquila said. “I know Archbishop Cordileone to be a shepherd with the heart and mind of Christ, who truly desires to lead others towards Christ’s love, mercy, and promise of eternal salvation.”

Cordileone’s announcement came out Friday at 3 p.m. EDT and explained that the reasoning for his decision is ”purely pastoral, not political.”

Aquila says that Cordileone’s notification to Pelosi and his separate letter to the priests of the archdiocese “clearly articulates the Church’s teaching on abortion, details the extensive efforts he made to have dialogue with Speaker Pelosi, and explains the canonical and pastoral reasons for this decision.”

Aquila encouraged the faithful of his archdiocese to read the separate letters that Cordileone issued. 

Aquila quoted Cordileone saying, “conversion is always better than exclusion, and before any such action can be taken it must be preceded by sincere and diligent efforts at dialogue and persuasion.”

Cordileone “has made every attempt to try and avoid this step," the Denver archbishop added.

“As I have previously written and Archbishop Cordileone makes clear as well, this issue is not about politics or simply enforcing Church rules, but rather about love — love for the individual and love for the entire community,” Aquila wrote. 

Aquila continued: “Church teaching is clear that people endanger their souls if they are separated from God because of grave sin and then receive the most Holy Eucharist in an unworthy manner. If the Church truly loves them, as she does, then it is more than appropriate to call them back to an intimate relationship with each person of the Trinity through repentance before receiving the body and blood of Jesus in a way that risks their eternal salvation. Jesus as he begins his ministry, calls people to ‘repent and believe’ (Mk 1: 15).”

“And when that person is a public person,” he said, “love for the community means guarding against scandal and confusion and allowing others to be led into sin if they don’t see the issue addressed in an appropriate and compassionate manner.”

Aquila added that he “would encourage the faithful of the Archdiocese of Denver, including our own political leaders, to read the letters written by Archbishop Cordileone, and to ask the Holy Spirit with an open heart to clear away any doubt or confusion you have about this issue, and lead you into a more intimate and full relationship with Jesus.”

“What Peter and the apostles told the authorities and those in power in their day, ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5: 29), is still valid today,” he said.

Aquila concluded by calling for prayer for “all political leaders, that they may govern in a way that promotes and protects the God-given dignity of every person, from conception until natural death.  And let us pray for our state and country, that we may once again view every precious life as a true gift from our heavenly Father.” 

Archbishop Cordileone bars Nancy Pelosi from Communion until she ends abortion support

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the U.S. Capitol on May 19, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (l), and Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Joseph Cordileone at St. Peter's Basilica on June 29, 2013, in Vatican City, Vatican (r). / Kevin Dietsch, Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 14:03 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone announced on Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should not be admitted to Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, nor should she present herself to receive the Eucharist, until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion.

Cordileone said on May 20 that the step was “purely pastoral, not political” and came after Pelosi, D-Calif., who has described herself as a “devout Catholic,” repeatedly rebuffed his efforts to reach out to her to discuss her abortion advocacy. 

Cordileone said that he sent the notification to Pelosi, “a member of our archdiocese,” on May 19. The Democratic leader did not immediately respond publicly to Cordileone’s announcement after it was released to the media Friday afternoon. In a 2008 interview with C-SPAN, Pelosi said being denied Communion would be “a severe blow,” describing herself at the time as a “regular communicant.”

Cordileone's instructions apply only within the San Francisco Archdiocese. Other bishops have jurisdiction over such matters when Pelosi is Washington, D.C., and other dioceses around the U.S. and abroad.

In a May 20 letter addressed to lay Catholics, Cordileone explained that he issued the instruction in accordance with canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which states that “Those … obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” 

“After numerous attempts to speak with her to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking, I have determined that the point has come in which I must make a public declaration that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion unless and until she publicly repudiate her support for abortion ‘rights’ and confess and receive absolution for her cooperation in this evil in the sacrament of Penance,” Cordileone wrote in the letter.

Separate letter sent to priests

In a separate letter to priests of the San Francisco Archdiocese also released Friday, Cordileone responded preemptively to criticism that he was “weaponizing the Eucharist.”

He insisted that his decision was “simply application of Church teaching.”

“I have been very clear all along, in both my words and my actions, that my motive is pastoral, not political,” he said in the letter.

In the same letter, the archbishop described his repeated attempts to meet with Pelosi — who represents San Francisco, California’s 12th District, in Congress — since she announced in September 2021 that she would seek to codify Roe. v. Wade into U.S. law. 

He said that he wrote to the Speaker in April this year, “detailing the extreme position to which she has moved on the abortion question and explaining the scandal that it is causing and the danger to her own soul.”  

“I asked her to repudiate this position, or else refrain from referring to her Catholic faith in public and receiving Holy Communion,” he wrote.

“I also advised her that if she refused to do this, I would be forced to make a public announcement that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” 

He said that he received no response, but contacted Pelosi again a month later when she described herself as a “devout Catholic” while explaining why she supported abortion, in the wake of the leak of a draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court could strike down Roe v. Wade.

“In consequence of all this and all that has led up to it,” Cordileone told priests, “it is my determined judgment that this resistance to pastoral counsel has gone on for too long, and there is nothing more that can be done at this point to help the Speaker understand the seriousness of the evil her advocacy for abortion is perpetrating and the scandal she is causing.

"I therefore issued her the aforementioned Notification that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion," he wrote.

A long-running impasse

Cordileone and Pelosi have clashed repeatedly over abortion since Benedict XVI appointed Cordileone to lead the San Francisco Archdiocese in 2012.

Tensions rose notably in 2021 as the push to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision reached the Supreme Court and the U.S. bishops engaged in a heated discussion over whether pro-abortion politicians should be denied Communion.

In May 2021, Pelosi said that she was “pleased” with a Vatican letter to the U.S. bishops addressing the debate. She claimed that the Vatican had instructed the bishops not to be “divisive” on the issue.

In response, Cordileone said the Vatican was in fact promoting “dialogue” between bishops and pro-abortion politicians, “to help them understand the grave evil they are helping to perpetrate and accompany them to a change of heart.”

In July 2021, Cordileone sharply criticized Pelosi after she cited her Catholic faith while defending efforts to permit federal funding of elective abortions.

The archbishop launched a prayer campaign in September 2021 aimed at inspiring “a conversion of heart” among politicians supporting abortion, “beginning with the leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”

Cordileone urged Catholics to sign up for the “Rose and Rosary for Nancy” campaign, which delivered thousands of roses to the speaker as a symbol of prayer and fasting for the 82-year-old mother of five.

In October 2021, Pelosi met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Commenting on the audience, Cordileone said that “popes meet with everyone” and that the encounter didn’t signal a papal endorsement of the Speaker’s views on abortion.

Warning about reprisals

In his letter to priests, Cordileone acknowledged that his decision could lead to an increase in attacks on Catholic churches.

“Our churches are already being targeted for violence, and our worship services are being disrupted, which motivated me to send you the memo last week asking you to be more attentive to security measures on your property. These attacks may now likely increase. I realize this,” he said. 

“But for us, as faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, this is a cause for rejoicing, for the only reason this is happening is due to the Catholic Church’s consistent defense of the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions, and especially at its beginning in the womb of the mother.”  

Cordileone continued, “I am convinced that this is a time that God is calling us to live the last beatitude: ‘Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven’ (Matthew 5:11-12).”

10 times Nancy Pelosi supported abortion while citing her Catholic faith

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks before a meeting with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister of Sweden Magdalena Andersson at the U.S. Capitol May 19, 2022 in Washington, DC. The leaders of Finland and Sweden are visiting Washington, DC and meeting with President Biden and Congressional leaders after the two nations submitted formal applications to become members of NATO. / Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 13:48 pm (CNA).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may no longer receive Holy Communion in her home archdiocese of San Francisco after publicly supporting abortion as a Catholic politician. The Catholic Church considers abortion — the destruction of a human person — a grave evil.

The archbishop of San Francisco, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, announced his decision Friday after spending months trying to contact and meet with the California Democrat. His decision, he says, is a pastoral one and not a political one.

Over the years, Pelosi has defended abortion while citing her Catholic faith. Here are 10 examples.

1. May 15, 2022

Pelosi spoke about the likelihood of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Dana Bash.

“We'd rather have it resolved, rather than an issue for a campaign, because we're talking about a woman's decision-making, her family, her God, her doctor, her own decision-making,” she said. “So we have to fight the fight on the issue now. I think that it would have an impact on the elections. But right now, I want everyone to just focus, just focus on what this does and what this means to you.”

“And I say this as a practicing, devout Catholic: five children in six years and one week,” she added. “I don't disrespect people's views and how they want to live their lives. But I don't think that it's up to the Donald Trump appointees on the court or any politicians to make that decision for women. And I just do — I will just say what I have been saying for decades. Understand this. This is not just about terminating a pregnancy. This is about contraception, family planning.”

2. May 4, 2022

While speaking with The Seattle Times editorial board, Pelosi said, “The very idea that they would be telling women the size, timing or whatever of their family, the personal nature of this is so appalling, and I say that as a devout Catholic.” She added, “They say to me, ‘Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the pope.’ Yes I do. Are you stupid?”

3. March 22, 2022

Pelosi spoke about her support of legalized abortion and argued that the Supreme Court should not overturn Roe v. Wade at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.

“It isn’t about what is your religious belief,” she said. “It’s what is the right of people to make their own decisions about the sizing and time, or if they’re going to have a family. This really gets me burned up, in case you didn’t notice, because, again, I’m very Catholic — devout, practicing, all of that. They would like to throw me out, but I’m not going, because I don’t want to make their day.”

4. Dec. 2, 2021

Speaking about the Supreme Court considering its former decision in Roe v. Wade during her press briefing, Pelosi said: “As I say to my colleagues, ‘When you have five children in six years and one week, we can discuss this issue.’ That was great for me; that's not necessarily great for other people. And it shouldn't be up to any of us to decide what a woman and her family, her husband and her partner decides is right for them and their family and their future child-bearing possibilities. So, it's scary. It's really scary.”

She added, “And I say that as a practicing Catholic. Again, this shouldn't even be a political issue. Look at Ireland. Is there a more Catholic country? Look at Ireland and how they pass legislation respecting, respecting women, respecting women.”  

5. Sept. 24, 2021

Pelosi brought her Catholic faith as she expressed support for a radical abortion bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act.

“For years, radical restrictions on women's reproductive health freedoms have been pushed across the nation, with 2021 on track to be the worst legislative year for women's health rights,” she told the House of Representatives. “I come to this as a Catholic mother of five in six years and one week and with the joy that all that meant to us. But with the recognition that it was my husband and I — our decision. It was our decision. And we should not, in this body or in that Court, be making decisions for the women in America.”

6. July 22, 2021

Pelosi cited her Catholic faith while defending taxpayer-funded abortion at her weekly press conference.

“As a devout Catholic and mother of five in six years, I feel that God blessed my husband and me with our beautiful family, five children in six years almost to the day,” she said, adding, “it’s not up to me to dictate that that’s what other people should do, and it [funding of abortion in Medicaid] is an issue of fairness and justice for poorer women in our country.”

7. April 24, 2018 

While speaking to students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Pelosi addressed criticism of supporting abortion as a Catholic.

“I know this is touchy on this campus — on all Catholic campuses. … And it’s an issue in the diocese,” she said. “But the fact is, God gave us all the free will [and] our sense of responsibility to answer for that. So I am a rabid supporter of a woman’s right to choose and a similar issue of the LGBT community, because they are connected.”

8. Jan. 13, 2016

In a comment responding to her opposition of a 20-week abortion ban, Pelosi cited her faith.

“Let me say this; I’m a Catholic, a devout, practicing Catholic. I take great comfort in my faith, come from a very Catholic family, largely pro-life. I’ve had five children and the day my fifth child was born, my oldest turned 6, so I’m with the program in terms of the Catholic Church. However, if there’s one issue that really — I try to be dispassionate about how we find solutions — if there’s one issue that really is almost inflaming  to women, is when politicians say we will influence the size and timing of your family; we will  decide what is right for you.”

9. June 13, 2013

Pelosi opposed a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation and said, at a press conference, that the bill was an effort to ensure that "there will be no abortion in our country."

"As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this," she said. "I don't think it should have anything to do with politics."

10. Aug. 24, 2008

When she was ssked when life begins on "Meet the Press,” Pelosi brought up her Catholic faith.

“I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time,” she said. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition….  St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know.” 

“The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose,” she added. “This isn’t about abortion on demand, it’s about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and—too—that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god [sic]. And so I don't think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins.”

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Catholic Church’s pro-life position has remained consistent from the beginning.

“In the 5th century AD this rejection of abortion at every stage was affirmed by the great bishop-theologian St. Augustine,” who taught that “we cannot assume that the earliest aborted children will be excluded from enjoying eternal life with God," the USCCB states.

Here's what to know about Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone attends the Mass and imposition of the pallium upon new metropolitan archbishops held by Pope Francis for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul at Vatican Basilica, June 29, 2013. / Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Denver Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 13:33 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco is in the news for saying that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat and professed Catholic, may not receive Holy Communion because of her staunch, obstinate political support for abortion.

The response of Catholic bishops to politicians who promote legal abortion has long been a topic of discussion. Cordileone’s action comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to overturn precedent that mandates legal abortion across the country.

Where is the archbishop coming from?

The 65-year-old archbishop has headed the San Francisco archdiocese since 2012, after four years as Bishop of Oakland across the San Francisco Bay. The San Diego native was an auxiliary bishop for the San Diego diocese for ten years.

It will be hard for Pelosi’s defenders to say he doesn’t know Catholicism. Cordileone’s educational background includes seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, an undergraduate degree in sacred theology, and a doctoral degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Before he was named a bishop, he spent seven years in Rome as an assistant at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s “supreme court” on matters of canon law.

In Italian, Cordileone’s last name means “Heart of a Lion.”

While the archbishop is outspoken on pro-life concerns, he has also focused on San Francisco’s homeless population. He has offered a requiem Mass for homeless people who have died.

He has also focused on beauty and music in the Catholic liturgy, launching the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship in 2014. When vandals and protesters toppled statues of Catholic missionary St. Junipero Serra, he performed an exorcism at one vandalism site.

Is Cordileone’s move against Pelosi political?

The archbishop’s previous words on abortion politics declare a higher purpose:

“It is souls that are at stake, not elections. Lost sheep are to be lovingly called to return to the fold, not angrily denounced in the way that would imitate so much of the animosity of our political culture.”

As an authority, he cited Pope Francis, who reminds bishops “to think and speak as pastors, not as politicians.”

And in a letter to priests of his archdiocese explaining his action, he said, “I have been very clear all along, in both my words and my actions, that my motive is pastoral, not political.”

“This is simply application of Church teaching,” he added. “One would have to demonstrate that a person’s actions in following Church teaching is explicitly for a political purpose in order to justify the accusation of ‘weaponizing’ the Eucharist.”

Cordileone previously gave Pelosi thousands of roses to try to sway her heart.

The archbishop led a pro-life campaign to collect thousands of roses for Pelosi. On the Dec. 12 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, campaign leaders placed 7,700 roses outside the U.S. Capitol.

“This is what equality means: Every human life is equally sacred,” Cordileone said at the time. “Speaker Pelosi, we love you. It is not too late: choose life.”

More than 10,000 roses were dedicated to Pelosi through the campaign, called "Rose and a Rosary for Nancy Pelosi."

Why does the archbishop link the Eucharist to politicians’ actions on abortion?

Cordileone sees an “intimate connection” between reverence for the Eucharist and “reverence for human life where it is most vulnerable and defenseless,” as he explained in an October 2021 column.

“When politicians pontificate about abortion as a choice or even a human right, do we see beyond the rhetoric to the ugliness of what they propose: the deliberate snuffing out of innocent lives, each one of them unique, irreplaceable, and loved by God?” he asks.

People judge too much by appearances when they dismiss the humanity of other people, whether they are the unwanted unborn child or the homeless person.

“As political issues, homelessness and abortion are treated as separate things,” the archbishop has said. “But with the Catholic sacramental sense we can see that whether we are speaking of the unhoused or the unborn, the underlying issue is the same: Can we see beyond the merely material to the deeper spiritual reality?”

Has abortion has become a parallel religion? The archbishop thinks so.

At a January 2022 Mass for the Walk for Life West Coast, he said that abortion has become an inverted “blessed sacrament.” For some of its supporters, it has become “what they hold most sacred, the doctrine and practice upon which their whole belief system is built.”

This is why, he explained, “we see such visceral and violent reaction to any even minimal regulation of abortion in the law.”

Christians who back abortion rights, he said, have been “mindlessly co-opted by the new secular religion and its false blessed sacrament,” comparing them to the ancient Israelites who worshipped Moloch, an idol whose devotees engaged in human sacrifice.

“But there is only one Blessed Sacrament; to live as if there were two brings desecration of what is sacred on both fronts: the Bread of Life on the altar and human life in the womb.”

Cordileone and Pelosi have clashed on pro-abortion rights legislation

In September 2021 he had warned that proposed pro-abortion rights federal legislation called the Women’s Health Protection Act was “nothing short of child sacrifice.”

The bill aims to override prohibitions on “pre-viability” abortions and would also allow for late-term abortions without “meaningful” limits, the U.S. bishops’ conference has warned, calling it “the most radical abortion bill of all time.”

“A child is not an object to be thrown away, and neither is a mother’s heart,” Cordileone said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the answer to a woman in a crisis pregnancy is not violence but love. This is America.  We can do better.”

Pelosi sought to bring the bill up for a vote.

She was dismissive of her archbishop’s comments, saying, “it’s none of our business how other people choose the size and timing of their families.”

“The archbishop of the city of that area, of San Francisco, and I had a disagreement about who should decide this (family size and timing). I believe that God has given us a free will to honor our responsibilities,” she said Sept. 23 in response to a question from Erik Rosales, Capitol Hill correspondent for EWTN News Nightly.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 218 to 211, largely along party lines. The same act faced a recent procedural vote in the U.S. Senate, where it failed to advance.

It is clear some influential Catholics don’t like Cordileone

Before he was named Archbishop of San Francisco, a longtime center for LGBT politics, Cordileone had served as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ point man on efforts to preserve legal marriage as a union of one man and one woman. In 2008, California voters had passed Prop. 8, which legally defined marriage as only a union of one man and one woman, though the U.S. Supreme Court later mandated that all states recognize same-sex unions as marriages.

In early 2015 he announced changes to archdiocesan high school teachers’ handbooks intended to clarify Catholic religious and moral teachings on several controversial topics, including religious teaching, sexual morality, and the ethics of assisted reproductive technologies. also proposed a clause to Catholic high schools’ teacher contracts outlining a ministerial understanding of their role – a proposal he later withdrew.

Some high school students, teachers, and parents publicly protested the archbishop’s proposals.

In 2015 a group of prominent Catholics paid for a full-page newspaper advertisement asking Pope Francis to remove Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, claiming that he had fostered “division and intolerance.” The archdiocese responded that the ad does not represent San Francisco Catholics and misrepresents the facts.

Among the signers was Clint Reilly, a businessman and former political consultant who is a past president of Catholic Charities CYO's board of directors and has been a major donor to Catholic Charities.

Another signer, Brian Cahill, is a former executive director of the local Catholic Charities affiliate. He has been an outspoken critic of Catholic teaching on homosexual relationships.

Their ad also objected to Archbishop Cordileone's selection of a pastor at Star of the Sea Parish who decided only to have altar boys and not female altar servers.

Some foes of Cordileone had hired Sam Singer of the public relations firm Singer and Associates to back their cause. On Twitter, Singer published or re-tweeted over 40 tweets highlighting the anti-Cordileone ad. In one of his own social media posts he contended that “everyone is praying that the Pope will remove the San Francisco Archbishop.”

Singer told the National Catholic Reporter he had been hired by alumni, parents, and their supporters involved in a dispute over Star of the Sea Catholic School, a K-8 institution connected to the parish of the same name. Cordileone had allowed the priests of the parish and school to set their own policy on various topics, including limiting altar servers to boys.

The campaign against the archbishop intimidated some Catholics who supported him.

Some did speak out, like Eva Muntean, an organizer of the group SFCatholics.org.

“It's truly astonishing that a group of self-proclaimed 'prominent Catholics' has become so self-absorbed that they believe they can demand that the Holy Father remove an Archbishop because he refuses to sacrifice teaching Catholic values to children in our Catholic schools,” she said at the time.