US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi received Communion at St. Peter’s Basilica Wednesday, according to a local news report, after being barred from the sacrament in her home city of San Francisco.
Last month, the archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, informed the top Democrat in Congress and lifelong Catholic that she would no longer be allowed to take Communion due to her support of abortion rights.
Catholic online newspaper Crux Now reported Wednesday that Pelosi, who was seen by an AFP photographer attending the mass with family members, received Communion from one of the priests present.
Photos distributed by the Vatican showed Pelosi, with husband Paul at her side, clasping hands with Pope Francis inside the basilica.
The Vatican and US embassy did not immediately respond to an AFP request to comment on Pelosi’s visit on Wednesday.
Pelosi is a vocal advocate of abortion rights and last week condemned the US Supreme Court’s reversal of the federally guaranteed right to abortion.
She urged Americans to vote out Republicans “charging ahead with their crusade to criminalise health freedom” in November’s midterm elections.
In a letter released in May, Cordileone — a Church hard-liner in the highly progressive Western city — said he had warned Pelosi that unless she publicly repudiated her position on abortion or stopped referring to her Catholic faith and taking communion, she would be barred from the rite.
“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,” wrote Cordileone, who is also a staunch opponent of gay marriage.
Pelosi, like US President Joseph Biden, is open about her Catholic faith and both support the right to choose in the divisive debate over abortion.
Pope Francis, 85, has labelled abortion “murder” yet has distanced himself from a push by conservative US bishops to deny Communion to politicians supportive of abortion rights.
Ahead of G20 talks in Rome last October, Biden met for more than an hour with the pontiff, telling reporters later that Francis had told him he was “happy I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving Communion.”
Following mass, Pelosi visited Rome’s lay Catholic community of Sant’Egidio, where she met with families of refugees from Ukraine and Afghanistan, the group said in a statement.
The charity, which enjoys close ties with the pope, has helped resettle refugees from war zones.