House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) met with Pope Francis on Saturday morning at the Vatican just as the abortion debate begins to pick up steam again in the U.S.
The speaker was joined at the Apostolic Palace by her husband Paul Pelosi, as well as Patrick Connell, the Charges d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican. Pictures and video from the papal audience showed Pelosi and the pope shaking hands and smiling.
It was a spiritual, personal and official honor to have an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis this morning. pic.twitter.com/nrWYyApnMQ
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) October 9, 2021
Pope Francis welcomes Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in the Vatican pic.twitter.com/mBlxm8EVe3
— The Hill (@thehill) October 9, 2021
Pelosi, a lifelong Roman Catholic, has described herself as a “devout Catholic,” but she has been criticized recently by her own bishop in San Francisco for her public support of legal abortion. The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is morally wrong and kills the unborn child, whose life begins at conception.
“We must never lose sight of this fact: In the last 50 years, in the United States alone, 66,000,000 babies have been murdered in their mothers’ wombs,” San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said in May.
“This is not a matter about which one can use judgment. It is a fact,” the bishop added.
“If we look around us and see what is happening in our society today, we will see that this fact once again demonstrates that violence begets violence,” Cordileone said. “The response to a woman in a crisis pregnancy is not violence, but love.”
In recent weeks, Pelosi has condemned Texas’ law, which is effectively a six-week abortion ban. A federal appeals court ruled on Friday can go back into effect after a federal judge briefly suspended it this week. The suspension came after the Biden administration’s Justice Department sued to halt enforcement of the “heartbeat law” last month.
“Every woman, everywhere has the constitutional right to basic health care,” Pelosi said in September, calling the Texas law “the most extreme, dangerous abortion ban in half a century, and its purpose is to destroy Roe v. Wade, and even refuses to make exceptions for cases of rape and incest.”
“This ban necessitates codifying Roe v. Wade,” Pelosi said.
The country’s top politician, President Joe Biden, has been criticized for taking a similar approach to abortion. Biden, the second Catholic American president, also publicly supports legal abortion.
Biden is expected to meet with the pope at the end of October in the president’s first official visit to the Vatican since taking office. The visit will come as Biden meets in Rome with world leaders for the G20 summit.
Pelosi’s visit was reportedly in part for a parliamentary speakers’ summit ahead of the G20.
The Supreme Court began a new term this month and will hear its first in-person oral arguments since the court began hearing cases virtually when the COVID-19 pandemic began. The court is set to hear several cases on controversial issues, including a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In that case, Mississippi is arguing against Roe vs. Wade’s ban on states outlawing abortion before the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually considered around 22 weeks of pregnancy.
This article has been revised for clarity.
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