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1 Pelosi, Pope Have No Meeting of the Minds on Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:26 pm

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Pelosi, Pope Have No Meeting of the Minds
It would appear from the two statements issued by the Vatican and the speaker's office that Nancy Pelosi and Pope Benedict did not share the same views during her audience with the pontiff.

FOXNews.com

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican Wednesday morning, but may not have had a meeting of the minds if the two statements from their offices are any indication.

No journalists were at the 15-minute encounter and the Vatican and the speaker's offices have not released any photos. However, according to their statements it appears the pope and the politician attended two different get-togethers.

"His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoins all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development," the Vatican wrote, having released the statement moments before the two met.

Several hours later, Pelosi's office gave her take on the tete-a-tete.

"It is with great joy that my husband, Paul, and I met with his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI today," Pelosi said in a statement released hours after the meeting. "In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church's leadership in fighting poverty, hunger and global warming, as well as the Holy Father's dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel. I was proud to show his Holiness a photograph of my family's papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren."

The pontiff has a long history of urging Catholic politicians to toe the line on abortion, and has said that those who don't shouldn't take communion. Pelosi supports abortion rights and says she's never been denied communion at her church in San Francisco.

In 2002, the Vatican issued a doctrinal note on "The Participation of Catholics in Political Life," which states rather succinctly that politicians who profess to be Catholic have a "grave and clear obligation" to oppose any law that attacks human life.

That note was approved by John Paul II but signed by none other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. He's now the pope.

The speaker does not share that belief, and even got into a verbal slugfest with American bishops last August after her statements on a news program about the Church's view of when life begins.

"I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And St. Augustine said at three months, we don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose," she said at the time on NBC's "Meet the Press."

She then added that the Church has only held the view for 50 years or so that life begins at conception. The remarks earned her widespread corrections by Catholic clerics.

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Pope tells Pelosi: Catholics cannot back abortion
Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:42am EST
By Philip Pullella
www.reuters.com
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict, underscoring the Vatican's ruling on an issue that divides Americans, told U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Wednesday that Catholic politicians and legislators cannot back abortion rights.

Pelosi, a powerful U.S. politician who is Catholic and pro-choice, has been accused by U.S. bishops in the past of misrepresenting Church teachings on abortion.

"His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural and moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death ..." a Vatican statement said.

It said such teaching "enjoins all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men of goodwill in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development," it said.

She met the pope briefly at the mid-point of her visit to Italy, which is where her family is originally from.

Pelosi later issued a statement but did not refer to the abortion issue, saying she had a chance to "praise the Church's leadership, in fighting poverty, hunger and global warming."

During the presidential campaign, American bishops accused Pelosi as well as then-Senator Joe Biden, now vice-president, of misrepresenting Church teaching on abortion. Biden is also Catholic. Both have said abortion is a personal decision.

A month before the election, Archbishop Raymond Burke, a senior American in the Vatican, said the Democratic Party risked "transforming itself definitively into a 'party of death'" because of its choices on bioethical questions and abortion.

Conservative Catholics hailed him but others accused the Vatican of trying to interfere in the election.

STORM OF CRITICISM

Pelosi met a storm of criticism from conservative Catholics in August when she told a talk show that the question of exactly when life begins "shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose."

She said when life began was still "an issue of controversy" in the Church and that "God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions."

The Church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception and ends at the moment of natural death.

In the past, both Pope Benedict and his predecessors have said that Catholic politicians cannot personally oppose abortion but publicly back abortion rights in the name of pluralism and democracy.

The Vatican says Catholic politicians should not let themselves be swayed by opinion polls and social trends.

The issue has deeply divided the Church in the United States as well as other industrialized countries, including Italy, where some Conservatives have called for Catholic politicians who back abortion rights to be excommunicated and barred from receiving communion.

Several days after his inauguration, President Barack Obama, with Pelosi's support, reversed a Bush administration ban on funding for groups abroad that provide abortion services.

Vatican officials criticized that change.

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