To: Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco
Your Excellency, you have denounced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for perpetrating “grave evil” and causing “scandal” because she supports abortion rights and Roe v. Wade. You are consequently denying Pelosi “Holy Communion” — an officious action by the Church that overtly interferes with politics.
Nancy Pelosi deserves not censure but praise for standing up for women and American values. She’s right: It is “appalling” that the Church would interfere with the size or timing of families. Pelosi, a mother of five and grandmother of nine, knows a lot more about real-world experiences and why family planning is necessary than a professional celibate such as yourself.
Archbishop Cordileone, let’s talk about “grave evil.” A word of advice — a high-ranking Catholic prelate might want to avoid the use of the word “grave.” It may conjure up such images as the unmarked graves of the 1,000 First Nations children at Canadian Catholic institutions; the 53 burial sites of Indigenous children at U.S. boarding schools, many run by Catholics; the unmarked graves containing remnants of thousands of babies and children at Catholic homes for unwed mothers in Ireland; and the unmarked graves of at least 100,000 Native Americans who died in the 18th and 19th centuries under the cruel Catholic mission system in what is now California.
That doesn’t even count the bodies piled upon bodies over the centuries during the notorious witch hunts, crusades, inquisitions and religious wars engaged in by your Church. Those are truly “grave evils.”
Next, let’s turn to your word “scandal” — another term the Catholic hierarchy might not wish to call attention to.
You’re a top-ranking official in an institution that has been rocked for decades by a notorious scandal that just won’t end, involving not only the grotesque sexual abuse of children and underaged youth by priests, bishops, archbishops and even cardinals, but the truly “evil” systematic cover-up of these crimes by the hierarchy. The Church has indeed earned the sobriquet that it will be perceived as “an organization preaching morality and providing sanctuary to perverts.”
Let’s take a look at this never-ending scandal: Statistics dating back to 2012 have the Vatican estimating 100,000 victims of its priests in the United States, with likely more than $4 billion in settlements. In Pennsylvania alone, a grand jury report found more than 1,000 victims, involving 300 predator priests, which the Church covered up for 70 years — with likely thousands more victims. The Philadelphia Archdiocese reported in May that it has paid compensation of more than $78 million to 475 abuse survivors.
Your Church’s scandal is, of course, international. In Canada, the Sauvé Report found 216,000 children and minors were sexually abused by 3,000 clerics since 1950, with an additional 114,000 abused by laypersons in ecclesiastical service. In France, more than 333,000 children were abused by some 3,000 French clergy since 1950. In Australia, more than 4,400 incidents of child sexual abuse, involving 15 percent of that country’s priests between 1950 and 2015, were reported to Church authorities. In Germany, more than 1,600 clergy molested or raped 3,677 minors, most under age 13, between 1946–2014. In Ireland, almost 15,000 underage victims were sexually assaulted by priests between 1970–1990. In Brazil, the Vatican itself estimated 10 percent of clergy there, about 1,700 clerics, were sex offenders. In Poland, nearly 3,400 clergy members have been accused of sexually abusing 625 children between 2018 and 2020.
It is truly “scandalous” that these figures are grossly conservative estimates and are incomplete.
Your Church has utterly relinquished the right to call anyone else “evil.” Your own “excellency” has been gravely compromised.
Nancy Pelosi and other progressive, caring Catholics should be indifferent — if not grateful — that you and other Catholic officials are denying pro-choice Catholics communion.
The Catholic Church is an archenemy of progress and compassion, a patriarchal institution committed to fighting secularism and rights of conscience, while working to ban abortion, contraception and LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S. and worldwide. It’s past time for pro-choice Catholics to finally quit the Catholic Church.