“It is for this reason,” he added, “that there is now a canon which punishes by suspension, to which other penalties can be added, one who ‘administers a sacrament to those who are prohibited from receiving it.’”
Cordileone added that his decision had not been made lightly, but is “the fruit of years of prayer, fasting and consultation with a broad spectrum of Church leaders whom I respect for their intelligence, wisdom and pastoral sensitivity, and it continues my efforts to invite the Speaker down the path of conversion.”
With regard to the sanctity of life the Church is in a spiritual battle, he maintained: “It is not poetic rhetoric to call the proliferation of abortion demonic.”
Because of this, he asked of his priests three things: to preach about the topic; to promote living the consecration of the archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to pray the St. Michael prayer after Mass.
“This is no time to be intimidated into silence,” he urged. “Do not dodge addressing the grave evil of abortion, but do so, obviously, with great pastoral sensitivity, recognizing that many of your people in the pews listening to you have been personally affected by this terrible scourge.”
Cordileone added that the archdiocese is “fully committed to assisting women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies, both during the pregnancy and for years after the birth of the child.”
“Ask your parishioners to help in our efforts as a Catholic people to be truly pro-life: both pro-child and pro-woman,” he exhorted the priests.
The archbishop recommended the following ways to live out the consecration to the Immaculate Heart: pray the rosary daily; fast on Fridays and perform other acts of penance; go to confession more frequently; and regularly adore the Blessed Sacrament.
“In closing, allow me to observe that what we are facing in this particular moment of history is a powerful reminder to us that the Priesthood is not for the faint-hearted. Of course, it never was. But for a long time, up until recently, we lived in a society that allowed us to imagine that it was. Let us not fool ourselves any longer,” he said.
“And know how deeply grateful I am to you,” he concluded, “for being with your people, shepherding them, challenging them, and leading them to the green pastures that are deeper life in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Carl Bunderson is managing editor of Catholic News Agency. He holds a BA in economics from the University of Colorado Boulder and a BPhil from the Pontifical Lateran University.