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Gerard O’ConnellOctober 09, 2021
Pope Francis greets U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., during a private audience at the Vatican Oct. 9, 2021. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Pope Francis received Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, in a private audience in the Vatican’s apostolic palace on the morning of Oct. 9. The Vatican announced this at midday, after the meeting had taken place.

Ms. Pelosi was accompanied in the audience with the pope by her husband, Paul Pelosi, and others, including Patrick Connell, the Charges d’Affaires of the United States Embassy to the Holy See. After the papal audience, she had conversations with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican secretary for relations with states.

Ms. Pelosi is the third high-level U.S. official to be received in audience by Pope Francis and senior Vatican officials this year, after John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, on May 15, and Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, on June 28.

Like President Biden, Speaker Pelosi is Catholic and has been attacked publicly by some American bishops for favoring abortion legislation.

Like President Joseph Biden Jr. and Mr. Kerry, Speaker Pelosi is Catholic. All three have been criticized and attacked publicly by some American bishops for favoring abortion legislation. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco has been particularly critical of Ms. Pelosi, who lives in his archdiocese, and has charged that she and President Biden cannot be “good Catholics” because of their support for legal abortion.

Pope Francis and his senior advisors are well aware of the criticism Ms. Pelosi has received from San Francisco’s archbishop, sources in Rome told America, but neither the pope nor senior Vatican officials share the confrontational approach of the archbishop. Recently, on the plane from Bratislava to Rome on Sept. 15, the pope called for bishops “to be pastors, not politicians” and advocated the avoidance of condemnation, excommunication or a judgmental approach.

From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has promoted a culture of encounter and dialogue and reminded everyone that “we are all sinners.”

From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has promoted a culture of encounter and dialogue and reminded everyone that “we are all sinners.”

Yesterday, Oct. 8, Speaker Pelosi was warmly welcomed to the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development by the head of this department, Cardinal Peter Turkson. She was in Rome for the inter-parliamentary preparatory meeting for the U.N.-sponsored COP26 meeting in Glasgow, U.K., on climate change, which the pope was due to address on Oct. 9. Cardinal Turkson’s dicastery broke the news on Twitter, also publishing photos.

Speaker Pelosi’s meeting with the pope took place the day after the White House announced that former U.S. Senator Joseph Donnelly of Indiana will be nominated as the United States ambassador to the Holy See. America has learned that the Vatican has agreed to the appointment of Mr. Donnelly, who is known as a pro-life Democrat. He has yet to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, but it seems unlikely that this will happen before President Biden’s visit to Pope Francis on Oct. 29. (The date of Mr. Biden’s visit has not been officially announced but Vatican sources, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to go on record, have confirmed the date to America.)

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