US House Speaker Pelosi to meet pope: Vatican
VATICAN CITY (AFP) — Visiting US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have an audience with Pope Benedict XVI during her weeklong visit to Italy, a Vatican official said Monday.
The meeting will take place on Wednesday, the official told AFP, saying it would likely occur after the pope's weekly general audience.
Pelosi, who describes herself as an "ardent" Catholic while advocating reproductive rights, will be the highest-ranking US official to see the pope since President Barack Obama took office last month.
The new Democratic administration is at odds with the Vatican over abortion, stemcell research and other bioethical issues.
Senior Vatican officials slammed Obama's rapid overturning of a ban on US government funding for family planning groups around the world that carry out or facilitate abortions.
Obama signed the executive order cancelling the eight-year-old restrictions imposed by his predecessor George W. Bush on the third full day of his presidency.
The Roman Catholic Church has also criticised the approval of US authorities for the first human trials using embryonic stemcells of a therapy to help paralysed patients regain movement.
Just days ago, Human Life International said they were going to make sure the Holy Father was aware of Pelosi's dismal culture-of-death record.
Fr. Tom Euteneuer, president of Human Life International (HLI), told LifeSiteNews.com that HLI will be briefing the Vatican "so they are aware of her dismal record on life issues.
"It is our hope that the Holy Father will not grant the floundering Speaker of the House what she surely wants and expects, a quick and valuable photo-op, but will rather give her a stern lecture on contraception and abortion and let her know that her eternal salvation is in danger," said Fr. Euteneuer.
"Further, this would be the perfect opportunity to formally excommunicate the Speaker, as she has done everything a public official possibly can to declare her lack of communion with the Holy Father and the Roman Catholic Church on every conceivable issue."
Sadly, excommunication during a general audience, no matter how well earned, is not likely. I would be happy if the Holy Father had a private audience with her to gain whatever understanding he needed, and to be of assistance to Archbishop Niederauer.
She has time to fly to Rome to meet the Pope, but her archbishop is still waiting for Mrs. Pelosi to schedule that meeting she promised him in September when she skewed Catholic teaching on Meet the Press. That interview yielded public corrections from bishops across the country. More recently, Pelosi proposed that having funds for contraception in the stimulus bill would save money.
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