by Nicole Winfield , The Associated Press
ROME – US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Pope Francis on Wednesday and received communion during a papal mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, witnesses said, despite her position in support of abortion rights.
Pelosi attended a morning Mass marking the festivities of St. Peter and St. Paul, during which Francis stole a woolen pallium to the new Holy Archbishop. According to two people who witnessed the moment, she was sitting in a VIP diplomatic section of the basilica and received communion with the rest of the congregation.
The archbishop of Pelosi’s house, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordillon, has said that he will no longer allow him to receive sacraments in his archdiocese because of his support for abortion rights. Cordiline, a conservative, has said that Pelosi should either reject her support for abortion or stop speaking publicly about her Catholic faith.
Pelosi has done neither. She called the recent Supreme Court decision to remove constitutional protections for abortion an “outrageous and heartbreaking” decision, blaming the Republican Party for its “dark and extreme goal of taking away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions.” “Completes.
And she has spoken openly about Catholicism, including at a diplomatic reception at the US Embassy in the Holy See on Tuesday evening to mark Independence Day.
Speaking to a crowd of ambassadors, Vatican officials, and other Rome-based Americans, Pelosi mentioned the Catholic virtues of faith, hope, and charity, and her important role in the mission of the U.S. embassy.
“Faith is an important gift, not everyone has it but it is the way to many other things,” she told the crowd.
According to one of the Mass attendees, Pelosi met with Francis before Mass on Wednesday and received his blessing. A photo released by the Vatican shows Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi greeting Francis at the side of the basilica.
Francis has firmly upheld the Church’s opposition to abortion, and said on Wednesday that church leaders “must continue to care about human life.” But in his sermon, Francis also instructed the new archbishops to welcome everyone, including sinners, into the church, and “not get caught up in some of our futile debates.”
“Many times we become a church with open doors, but only to send people away, to condemn them,” he said.
After Mass, Pelosi visited the Saint Egidio Community, a Catholic charity close to Francis, where she met refugees aided by the group. At an event rewarding the charity with $25,000 in State Department funding, Pelosi mentioned the need to preach the gospel with actions, not just words.
“We had the privilege of attending a mass ceremony this morning with His Holiness and several church leaders,” Pelosi said. “In the spirit of St. Francis, who is His Holiness and the name of my city of San Francisco, I thank you for preaching the gospel, using the words sometimes used.”
While Francis presided over the Mass, he himself did not distribute the communion and Pelosi received the sacrament from one of the many priests who delivered it. Since he was Archbishop in Buenos Aires, Francis rarely delivered Communion, precisely to prevent the sacrament from being politicized.
Last year, President Joe Biden, another Catholic who also supports abortion rights, said after a meeting with Francis that the pontiff had told him to continue receiving the sacrament. Biden later received communion during a Mass in the Church of Rome under Francis’ authority as Bishop of Rome.
Even more important was Pelosi’s participation in the sacrament inside the Vatican during a Mass presided over by the Pope, and a sign of Francis’ reluctance to reject Communion. Francis describes the Eucharist as “not a reward for the imperfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”.
Asked about some US bishops wanting Joe Biden to reject the sacrament, Francis told reporters during an aerial press conference in September that priests should not be politicians and condemn their flocks, but be pastors. Who should be with the faithful with tenderness and compassion.
The Vatican does not rule out the specific case of Communion and politicians supporting abortion in a major teaching document, although the Church’s in-house canon law states that it did not allow people to receive Communion in a state of persistent sin. Should be known It also issued guidelines for the behavior of Catholics in political life, encouraging them to uphold principles consistent with church doctrine.
The then head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – the future Pope Benedict XVI – told American bishops in 2004 that if a politician goes to receive Communion, despite his “obstinacy in revealing a grave sin”, the priest should ” should be performed”. “Including the sin of relentlessly campaigning for permissive abortion laws.
Ratzinger wrote a confidential letter outlining the principles to US bishops in response to his question about whether to refuse communion to John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president. In the end the bishops ignored Ratzinger’s advice and instead voted for the policy currently in force, allowing the bishops to decide whether or not to withhold it.
Paolo Santalucia and Alessandra Tarantino contributed.