According to this article, U.S. politician Nancy Pelosi has continued to receive communion in another diocese despite being forbidden from doing so in her own diocese by her Archbishop. Is this allowed by the Catholic Church? I.e., if you get barred from receiving communion by your Bishop, you can just head over to the next diocese and continue receiving communion? What are the consequences of doing so as far as the Church is concerned?

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    The article specifically says "[she] may no longer receive Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco". Even the Archbishop isn't claiming she is forbidden from going elsewhere. May 24, 2022 at 21:53
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    @DJClayworth The question is about what the consequences are of being banned by one's own Bishop. Can one just go 'diocese shopping'? If one does just skip to the next diocese, what are the consequences? May 24, 2022 at 22:03
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    @KenGraham Does defiantly dismissing one's own Bishop's concerns about one's behaviour lead to an increased risk of official excommunication, say? May 24, 2022 at 23:14
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    Although the bishop's ruling applies only in his own diocese, general canon law (like the law that people in grave sin should not approach Holy Communion) applies everywhere. May 25, 2022 at 19:37
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    @PeterTurner this question becomes a lot more relevant since on 29 June 2022 Nancy Pelosi received communion in a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica (Diocese of Rome)! Jul 1, 2022 at 0:24

1 Answer 1


As Andreas Blass noted, the consequences don't so much depend on what her (or anyone's) bishop said, as it does the moral and ecclesiastical law she violated (and does violate). There's layers to this.

This is evidenced by what the Archbishop wrote being "Notification". The reality pointed to (really the important thing here) by the notification existed prior to it being announced.

That reality is that Nancy Pelosi is a public person, obstinately remaining in a state of manifest grave sin. This not only concerns her, but every priest, bishop, or whoever might be in a position to give her Holy Communion, who, within reason, would recognize her.

Now, abortion is gravely sinful, and thus so is being an accessory to an abortion. Politicians who push for more abortions are accessory to many abortions. If it were a question of a private individual and their own sins, they could not go receive communion until being absolved in confession, else that communion would be an additional grave sin, "and the last state of that man in made worse than the first." But though this would be the case, Canon 915 would still not be applicable.

Because Canon 915 does apply here, the consequences are threefold that I can see.

  • Those ministers who knowingly give her communion incur guilt for allowing a mortal sin that they could have, and should have stopped.
  • The general public is scandalized, and also generally thrown into confusion by a lack of consistency from the college of bishops, who now appear disunified.
  • Finally, the consequences of Nancy's actions, insofar as they were willed or should have been foreseeable, are imputed to her.

At the end of our lives we are all called to give an account to the Just Judge. In this case it is no different.

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