As the Episcopal Bishop of California, I want to speak to the public announcement that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be denied communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and to say Speaker Pelosi is welcome to communion in all Episcopal churches in the Bay Area, as I am sure she is welcome to many faith communities everywhere. I support Speaker Pelosi in her clear commitment to women, children, and families, her evident deep, personal faith, and her embrace of a country founded on principles that include, importantly, separation of church and state.
Further, my statement is aligned with the policy of the Episcopal Church that affirms a call for “…women’s reproductive health and reproductive health procedures to be treated as all other medical procedures.” Further, our Episcopal Church position declares “that equitable access to women’s health care, including women’s reproductive health care, is an integral part of a woman’s struggle to assert her dignity and worth as a human being.”
For millions of Christians worldwide, receiving the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, also known as Communion or the Mass, is central to their faith practice. This sacrament of Christ’s Last Supper, a shared meal of bread and wine, is a sacred time of spiritual nourishment for the faithful of my denomination, the Episcopal Church, and many others, perhaps most notably the Orthodox and Roman Catholic branches of the Christian faith.
As someone who has known Speaker Nancy Pelosi for more than 16 years, I believe she is greatly strengthened by the Sacrament she receives in her Church, the Roman Catholic Church. In the midst of heavy legislative duties and during times of travel, I have seen her, over and over again, make time to attend Eucharist. She does this not only on Sundays but also on Church feast days, such is the importance of the Sacrament to her faith practice. I have also heard her, time and again, reference knowledgeably and reverently the content of her faith as the wellspring from which her leadership comes.
This sincere and enduring faith, with the Sacrament of Communion at its center, has fueled Speaker Pelosi’s tireless and historic efforts to stand in solidarity with vulnerable and oppressed people everywhere, women and children especially. Now, with the future of women’s reproductive healthcare in the United States imperiled by the Supreme Court’s apparent stance on Roe v. Wade, I would argue that she needs the nurturing Sacrament of Holy Communion more than ever. The health and, in many cases, very lives of women, children, and families — all part of God’s beloved human family — are at stake.
I do not imagine nor suggest that Speaker Pelosi should abandon the Church she loves so dearly and to which she has been faithful her whole life. However, speaking as the leader of the Episcopal Church in the Bay Area, let me humbly reiterate that every Episcopal congregation in the Bay Area will welcome Nancy Pelosi, as we welcome all who wish to join us, to the Table of Jesus Christ, the Holy Eucharist.
Our beloved Speaker Pelosi is not alone in this moment, rather, as Jesus assured his terrified, confused followers in the days before his arrest and execution by the Roman Empire, God has given the world the gift of the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God, present to all, and is certainly present to Nancy Pelosi.
Speaker Pelosi has my gratitude for her leadership, my support, and my prayers.
The Rt Rev Marc Andrus, PhD
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California