VATICAN CITY, February 18, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Vatican Press Office released a note this morning detailing part of the conversation which Pope Benedict XVI had with Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Pelosi also released a statement on the meeting, which ignored the one and only crucial issue mentioned in the Vatican note. While Pelosi presented the meeting as a fully positive encounter, the Vatican indicated the Pope reminded her of the requirement of Catholic politicians to defend life. Also, contrary to normal protocols for such meetings with dignitaries, no photos of Pelosi with the Pope have been released.
The Vatican note reads: "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 enjoin 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."
Vatican insiders stressed to LifeSiteNews.com that such releases are always phrased in diplomatic language and thus the correction of the Speaker who describes herself as a "faithful Catholic," despite her abortion advocacy, should be taken as a firm rebuke.
LifeSiteNews.com also learned that concerns about Pelosi were presented to Vatican officials a day prior to the meeting.
Such encounters with the Pope are treasured by politicians for the photo opportunity they provide. Pelosi, however, was not afforded that customary photo by the Vatican. The Associated Press reports that "the Vatican said it was not issuing a photo of the meeting -- as it usually does when the pope meets world leaders -- saying the encounter was private."
For her part, Pelosi issued a press release on the 15-minute meeting with the Pope. "It is with great joy that my husband, Paul, and I met with his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI today," she said. "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."
The release from the Vatican, however, made no mention of the comments that Pelosi stressed in her release.
Pelosi's positive spin on the meeting is not being swallowed even by left-leaning Papal watchers. Vatican correspondent John Allen, who writes for the National Catholic Reporter, noted that "routine Vatican declarations after diplomatic meetings also generally sum up the range of issues discussed rather than concentrating on a particular point. In that sense, the statement can only be read as a rejection of Pelosi's statements last summer, and, in general, of her argument that it's acceptable for Catholics in public life to take a pro-choice position."
Allen also noted that "by issuing an unusual public statement after the session with Pelosi -- which insisted that all Catholics, including legislators, are obliged to work for the defense of human life from conception to natural death -- the pope also made clear there will no let-up in the pressure on pro-choice Catholic politicians to change their ways."
Many pro-life organizations from the US and Canada expressed their serious concerns to the Holy See that Mrs. Pelosi was going to be received by the Holy Father. Some of these organizations sent to different Vatican authorities comprehensive memoranda in which they showed in a detailed and precise way the anti-life statements and the pro-death voting record of Mrs. Pelosi.
Catholic sources in Rome, who asked to remain anonymous, said they were "very much encouraged by this statement," saying that it shows that the "Holy Father is ready to stand up with courage to politicians that claim they are Catholics but their voting record denies those hypocritical assertions."