House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Pope Francis at the Vatican Saturday morning amid mounting furor over abortion rights in the US.
A smiling Pelosi gripped the Pontiff’s hand tightly in a series of photos released by the Vatican. She was escorted by her husband Paul Pelosi — a noted investor — and Patrick Connell, the Charges d’Affaires of the US Embassy to the Vatican, in her visit to the Apostolic Palace.
The papal audience came as Pelosi, a lifelong Roman Catholic, has faced increasing criticism from some American bishops for her support of abortion.
“This is about freedom, about freedom of women having a choice about the size and timing of their families,” Pelosi said last month as she pushed the House to pass a bill that would block state restrictions on abortion.
A federal appeals court on Friday ruled that Texas can resume its near-total abortion ban as a Department of Justice lawsuit challenging the state’s new “heartbeat law” winds its way through the courts.
Debates have raged among US Catholics over whether pro-choice Catholic politicians — particularly Pelosi and President Biden — should be barred from receiving communion.
“We must never lose sight of this fact: In the last 50 years, in the United States alone, 66,000,000 babies have been murdered in their mothers’ wombs,” San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone — who leads Pelosi’s home diocese — said in May.
Previously, rumors had swirled in DC that Biden would nominate Pelosi as the US ambassador to the Holy See. The speculation was dashed Friday when Biden tapped former Sen. Joe Donnelly for the role.
Biden, the country’s second Catholic president, is scheduled for his own meeting with the pope in a few weeks when he visits Rome for talks with members of the G20 nations.
Pelosi was in Rome for a meeting of parliamentary leaders in Rome ahead of the G20, Reuters reported.