San Francisco archbishop clarifies Pelosi’s papal visit not an endorsement of her abortion views

Christine Rousselle   By Christine Rousselle for CNA

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (center) with Pope Francis (right), during their Oct. 9 meeting at the Vatican. / Vatican Media

Washington D.C., Oct 14, 2021 / 10:05 am (CNA).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent meeting with Pope Francis does not signal a papal endorsement of her views on abortion, the archbishop of San Francisco said in a television interview on Oct. 13.

Pope Francis met with Pelosi at the Vatican on Saturday, Oct. 9. Although the Vatican did not reveal what they discussed, Pelosi said in a statement after the meeting that she thanked the pope for his “immense moral clarity” in speaking on the issue of climate change.

Speaking on Newsmax TV’s Chris Salcedo Show, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone took issue with the host’s assertion that “it seems Pope Francis is allowing one of the world’s biggest abortion cheerleaders to use the Vatican as some sort of validation for her anti-Catholic views.”

“I first of all would urge some caution in jumping to that conclusion,” said Cordileone, whose eccelesial territory includes Pelosi’s congressional district. Cordileone noted that other popes have met with world leaders with questionable pasts, and that Pope Francis is no different.

“I recall I was in Rome at the time back in the 80s, when he [Pope John Paul II] met with Kurt Waldheim, who was the president of Austria at the time,” said Cordileone. In 1987, Waldheim was accused of participating in war crimes, including the deportation of Greek Jews to death camps, during his service in the German army in World War II.

“Now, he [Waldheim] denied those allegations, but he created a lot of controversy, and there were widespread protests from Jewish organizations. This is St. John Paul, who did so much to build bridges with the Jewish people,” Cordileone explained the meeting.

“So it underscores that the popes meet with everyone. They meet with world leaders, no matter who they are, even if there are these problematic things in their background or in their policies. They meet with everyone. I don’t think Pope Francis could be clearer in his condemnation of abortion,” he said.

At a Monday press briefing at the U.S. Capitol, Pelosi said most of her conversation with Pope Francis focused on the “moral issue” of climate change.

Pausing for several seconds beforehand, Pelosi remarked that “it was just a remarkable experience to have that private audience with His Holiness, and again, to bring the thanks and gratitude of our colleagues, and his blessings back to us.”

Pelosi has supported legal abortion during her time as House Speaker. She recently brought up the Women’s Health Protection Act for a vote in the House; the legislation would override state abortion restrictions and allow abortions in some cases throughout pregnancy. The U.S. bishops’ conference warned that the limits on late-term abortions in the bill were not “meaningful,” and called it “the most radical abortion bill of all time.”

Pope Francis has compared abortion to hiring a hit man, and said as recently as September 2021 that abortion is murder.

Pelosi, a Catholic, called her Oct. 9 meeting with Pope Francis “a spiritual, personal, and official honor,” and said that the pope is “a source of joy and hope for Catholics and for all people, challenging each of us to be good stewards of God’s creation, to act on climate, to embrace the refugee, the immigrant, and the poor, and to recognize the dignity and divinity in everyone.”

In a statement following the meeting, she praised Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato si’, and noted that her hometown, San Francisco, has the same namesake as the pontiff.

“His Holiness commands our attention to honor the Gospel of Matthew by serving ‘the least of these,’ lifting up those who have been left out or left behind, especially in the time of COVID,” said Pelosi.

“In San Francisco, we take special pride in Pope Francis, who shares the namesake of our city and whose song of St. Francis is our anthem. ‘Lord, make me a channel of thy peace. Where there is darkness, may we bring light. Where there is hatred, may we bring love. Where there is despair, may we bring hope,’” she said.

Pelosi was in Rome to give the keynote address at the opening session of the G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit. She also met with the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

The day before her audience with the pope, the 81-year-old discussed the environment, migration, and human rights during a visit with the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Since her enthusiastic support of the Women’s Health Protection Act, Pelosi has been the subject of a prayer campaign initiated by Cordileone.

“Please join me in the Rose and Rosary for Nancy Campaign. Pray a rosary once a week for her. Fast on Friday, and you can sign the petition at And if you commit to the rosary and fasting, we will send a rose to her as a symbol of your prayers and sacrifices,” said Cordileone.

The initial call to pray a rosary and to fast for Pelosi came on Sept. 29, following the House of Representatives’ passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act.

“A conversion of heart of the majority of our Congressional representatives is needed on this issue, beginning with the leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” Cordileone said.

“Speaker Pelosi speaks fondly of her children. She clearly has a maternal heart. Pope Francis has called abortion murder, the equivalent of hiring a hitman to solve a problem,” Cordileone said.

Since then, more than 10,000 people have pledged to pray and fast for Pelosi’s conversion.

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1 Comment

  1. Vatican smiles on Pelosi, undercuts US bishops

    By Phil Lawler Oct 11, 2021

    The Vatican certainly rolled out the red carpet for Nancy Pelosi. The blood-red carpet, you might say.

    Even as Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was urging faithful Catholics to pray for the wayward Speaker, that she might have a “conversion of heart,” a smiling Pope Francis was greeting her at the apostolic palace, giving the world no indication that he is troubled by her outspoken promotion of abortion on demand.

    Archbishop Cordileone—Pelosi’s archbishop—has told the world that the Speaker’s support for abortion is incompatible with her Catholic faith. But her photo-op with the Supreme Pontiff will likely cancel out whatever impression the archbishop’s appeal has made on the general public.

    Less than a month ago the Pope told journalists that “abortion is murder.” Now he greeted one of America’s leading supporters of the practice. His meeting with Pelosi was markedly warmer than his grim-faced meeting, some months earlier, with former President Trump. For that matter, he made more time for the Speaker than he has made for the cardinals who pressed with questions on urgent doctrinal issues, in the dubia. Obviously Pope Francis is capable of conveying disapproval, either by refusing to meet with prominent individuals or by sending an unmistakable message with his body language during the obligatory photo. No hint of such disapproval was shown with Pelosi.

    Before her meeting with the Pope, Speaker Pelosi had dropped in on Cardinal Peter Turkson, whose office announced that he was happy to speak with her about the environment, health care, migration, and human rights. Well, some human rights. Cardinal Turkson presides over the new Vatican department with an ungainly name: the dicastery for Integral Human Development. But apparently he did not find time to speak with the American politician about the human development that takes place in the womb.

    Then after her meeting with the Pope, Pelosi found her way to St. Patrick’s church in Rome, where an obliging rector scheduled her to do the second reading. (“Indeed the Word of God is living and effective… everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must render an account.”) Unfortunately the Speaker left the church not long after the Mass began, and the rector told the congregation that she left because of a “security incident”—giving her sympathizers an opportunity to hint that intemperate pro-lifers had threatened her safety. (In fact the “security incident” was a demonstration by Covid-lockdown opponents, who were marching near the church for reasons unrelated to Pelosi’s appearance.)

    The timing of Pelosi’s visit was not accidental. Oh, yes, she was attending a meeting of legislators in Rome. But have you seen any reports from that meeting? Any front-page photos, of the sort she collected at the Vatican? No; her business with the Holy See was more important than the international gathering.

    In just a few weeks, the US bishops will meet in Baltimore, to discuss a statement on “Eucharistic coherence.” The most significant question about that statement is how it will handle the problem created by Catholic politicians like Pelosi and President Biden, who continue to claim that their advocacy for abortion can be reconciled with their professed Catholicism. Pelosi’s mission in Rome was to persuade American prelates that they should not take a forthright stand on that question. And let’s face it: the Vatican gave that mission an enormous boost.

    Ironically, the day after greeting Pelosi, Pope Francis opened a new Synod of Bishops, incorporating a process that he has advertised as an unprecedented worldwide “listening session,” gathering suggestions from interested parties all around the world on how the Church might be reformed. Why, then, is the Vatican not listening to the pleas of the pro-life movement—pleas for honesty and consistency?

    Pope Francis has called for a “synodal” Church, characterized by a decentralized leadership. Why, then, is he not respecting the leaders of the American hierarchy, allowing them to speak to their own flocks on a critical moral issue? Why has he undercut the initiative taken by Pelosi’s own archbishop?

    Three years ago, when the US bishops’ conference had scheduled a statement on the McCarrick scandal, the Vatican sent a last-minute “request” to table the discussion, and the American bishops obliged. If the signals sent by Pelosi’s visit to Rome are any indication, the Vatican is now hoping that the American bishops will not press the issue of Eucharistic coherence. Let’s hope and pray that, in the interests of “synodality,” the American bishops will ignore that message and take a bold stand: for truth and for life.

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