18-February-2009 -- Catholic News Agency |

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Pope Benedict Rebukes Pelosi over Abortion

Vatican City, Feb 18, 2009 (CNA).- House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s photo-op with Pope Benedict XVI turned sour when the Pontiff used the 15-minute meeting to reaffirm the teachings of the Catholic Church on the right to life and the duty to protect the unborn.

No photo of Nancy Pelosi and the Pope will be forthcoming, since the meeting was closed to reporters and photographers. The two met in a small room in the Vatican just after the Pope's weekly public audience.

Immediately after the meeting, the Holy See’s press office released a statement saying, "following the general audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage."

"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 co-operation 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."

A significant number of Catholic and pro-life organizations expressed concern over how Pelosi would use the meeting with Pope Benedict to further her position that it is possible to be Catholic and pro-abortion.

Last August, Pelosi was rebuked by several U.S. bishops for attempting to theologically justify her position during an interview with "Meet the Press."

On Tuesday, Jon O’Brien, president of "Catholics for Choice," a small, well-funded organization that provides theological arguments to pro-abortion Catholic politicians, told The Hill that today’s visit between the Speaker and Pope Benedict would be an opportunity to highlight that one can be pro-choice and Catholic, and that there are much bigger issues out there to discuss, such as the fate of the poor in the global economic downturn.

"That would be a real conversation about choice, instead of this micro-obsession with abortion," O’Brien said.

Nevertheless, according to the Holy See's statement, the Pope spent the whole 15 minute conversation talking with Pelosi about the right to life and the need to defend the unborn.

A spokesman for Pelosi, who is now headed to Southern Italy as part of her Italian tour, said she would issue a statement later in the day regarding her meeting with the Pope.

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