Pro-abortion catholic Democrats Rep. Nancy Pelosi and VP Joe Biden received Holy Communion at Pope Francis Mass for the beginning of his pontificate on 19 March.You do not give a drink to a recovering alcoholic unless you hate him and wish him ill. You do not give a loaded gun to a suicidal man unless you hate him and want him to die. You do not give the Blessed Sacrament to someone who is excommunicate, under interdict, or otherwise in manifest grave sin unless you hate them and want them to commit sacrilege. The pope enlisted hundreds of local clergy to distribute communion at his inaugural Mass, so I can buy that Father Luigi didn't recognize Pelosi and Biden. What is Cardinal Wuerl's excuse?
Canonist Ed Peters has this at his good blog about canon law.
Nancy Pelosi will not change on her own
Communion time in St. Peter’s is, for the vast majority of lay persons (not heads of state, and not folks chosen to receive from the pope), pretty much a mob scene, so there is nothing to be gleaned from the fact that Nancy Pelosi took holy Communion at Pope Francis’ installation Mass—nothing, that is, except that either Pelosi suffers from one of the most malformed consciences in the annals of American Catholic politics or that she is simply hell bent on using her Catholic identity to attack Catholic values at pretty much every opportunity. [Or... both at the same time. Morever, it is entirely possible that she is also not very bright. There is a difference between being shrewd and being bright.] Certainly, Pelosi’s taking the Sacrament is not, in the slightest, a Roma locuta on pro-abortion Catholics and Communion.
For bishops, “there are two different approaches” to bring Catholic politicians in line with Church teaching. “One is the pastoral, teaching mode, and the other is the canonical approach” – the legal approach, in other words. He doesn’t think it’s a very close call: “I have yet to see where the canonical approach has changed anyone’s heart.”How has that been working out for you, your Eminence?
I would question how well you and your episcopal confreres have been teaching us your Eminence. The crisis in the Church is of our own making because we have not taught the Catholic faith for nearly fifty years. I'm just one unmarried dumb ass layman, so right now I'm only responsible for my own soul. Priests and bishops are responsible for their own souls and the souls of everyone under their pastoral care.Has he seen his approach change anyone’s heart? He smiles, and says one has to take the long view: “The teaching approach that we’ve used for centuries requires patience, persistence and insistence, but I believe if we teach our people, we will not have a problem with our politicians.”Of Pelosi in particular, he cites two big reasons he hasn’t and won’t try to keep her from receiving Communion:
First, “there’s a question about whether this canon” – the relevant church law – “was ever intended to be used” to bring politicians to heel. He thinks not. “I stand with the great majority of American bishops and bishops around the world in saying this canon was never intended to be used this way.”
Bishops who demur on the grounds that they would be politicizing the Eucharist or using it as a weapon reveal that it is they themselves who have politicized the Eucharist and only see it as a weapon. You are the spiritual father of every soul under your care. What would we say about a father who failed to discipline unruly children? We would call him a bad father. A good father does not punish his children because he enjoys hurting them. He punishes them because that is what's best for them. The question bishops and priests should be asking themselves is not, "What will happen to me if I do this?" They should take no account of the political ramifications of what they're doing. Instead they should ask themselves, "Would denying communion to Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden objectively be what is best for the good of their souls?"
Excommunication is meant as the ultimate wakeup call. It lets the sinner know that he is a cancer on the Body of Christ, and to save the Body he must be cut out and excluded. That sounds harsh to our modern ears, but remember that in Scripture St. Paul approved of the excommunication of the incestuous Corinthian, but welcomed him back when he had repented, confessed, and done penance. Punishment has the secondary benefit of constraining the wrongdoer, but ultimately it is aimed at his rehabilitation. God desires that no one die, but that they be converted and live.
If the Church still did things old school, like we see here, then I suspect this problem would not manifest as much as it does: