WASHINGTON (CBS SF/AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back Friday against San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone for his outspoken criticism of COVID-related restrictions placed on worship services by California health officials.
Pelosi, a San Francisco Bay Area catholic, said she misses going to Sunday mass, but was critical of the archbishop’s recent op-ed protesting limits on larger public gatherings. She said he should not be putting people’s lives at risk.
“With all do respect to my archbishop, I think we should follow science on this,” Pelosi said.
Currently, indoor worship services are banned in San Francisco and there is a strict 12-person attendance limit placed on outdoor services.
The right to worship has become a fierce touchstone in the debate over state and local rules to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Archbishop Cordileone said worshipers’ rights are being “unjustly repressed,” by the government. Nationwide, several churches are suing to halt restrictions.
“We recognize that the government has a right to impose reasonable public health rules,” he wrote in The Washington Post. “But when government asserts authority over the church’s very right to worship, it crosses a line.”
Pelosi said she attended an outdoor in-person service recently in San Francisco and received communion — picking up the wafer from the priest, as is allowed, rather than having it placed directly on the tongue. She regularly joins online services.
The San Francisco Bay Area Democrat said she had to sign up in advance to attend, and found about a dozen people spread out once she arrived.
“Very, very, very spaced,” she said.
She questioned whether the archbishop’s message was misunderstood.
“I’m sure he must have meant if it is scientifically safe, rather than jeopardizing people’s health if they want to go to church,” she said.
Pelosi noted that faith and science are sometimes seen at odds.
“Around here, people say to me, You’re a person of faith, why do you believe in science?” she said.
“I say, I believe science is an answer to our prayers. It is a creation of God, and one that is an answer to our prayers.”