Pelosi meets with Pope as abortion debate rages in his country

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VATICAN CITY, Oct. 9 (Reuters) – Pope Francis met on Saturday with the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic criticized by some United States bishops for her support for the right to abortion .

Their meeting took place several weeks before Joe Biden met the Pope while the US president is in Rome for talks between leaders of the Group of 20 major economies.

Biden, the second Catholic President of the United States, has said he is personally opposed to abortion but, as a politician, cannot impose his views. Pelosi, who has five children, said she supports a woman’s right to choose.

The Biden and Pelosi administration have urged judges to block a new Texas law that bans six-week abortions, saying it is unconstitutional. The ban was temporarily reinstated on Friday by a conservative-leaning appeals court. Read more

The Catholic Church teaches that human life begins at the time of conception, and Biden and Pelosi have been criticized by conservative Catholic media and conservative American bishops, some of whom say neither should be allowed to go to Communion.

Last month, the Pope, when asked about the communion debate in the United States, told reporters that abortion was “murder,” even shortly after conception, and appeared to criticize American Catholic bishops for to have dealt with the issue in a political rather than a pastoral way.

“Communion is not a price for the perfect … communion is a gift, the presence of Jesus and his Church,” said the Pope.

In June, a divided conference of American Catholic bishops voted to draft a communion statement that some bishops say should specifically rebuke Catholic politicians, including Biden. They take up the subject again next month.

In a statement, Pelosi said the audience with the Pope was a “spiritual, personal and official honor.” She praised her defense of the environment, immigrants, refugees and the poor.

The Vatican announced Pelosi’s audience with the Pope in its daily bulletin but gave no details.

After Pelosi met former Pope Benedict in 2009, the Vatican said it told him lawmakers and other public figures should help create “a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages. of its development “.

Archbishop of San Francisco, Pelosi’s hometown, Salvatore Cordileone, said public figures who support abortion should be denied communion in his archdiocese and urged Catholics to pray for “conversion of heart.” by Pelosi.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, DC, did not try to prevent Biden, a staunch devotee, from receiving Communion.

Biden’s meeting with the Pope will be his first since his election despite having met several times before, including when he was Barack Obama’s vice president.

Pelosi is in Rome for a Speakers of Parliament summit ahead of the G20 as well as a meeting of parliamentary leaders ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP20) next month in Glasgow.

Francois told parliamentarians separately on Saturday that they had a decisive role to play in protecting the environment.

The Vatican announced on Friday that the Pope would not be visiting Glasgow but that his delegation would be headed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State. Read more

Additional reporting by Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; edited by Philippa Fletcher and Clelia Oziel

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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