Pope Punks Pelosi Pic

In my piece for Pajamas Media, I said that basically, the meeting between The Pope and The Pelosi would produce no fireworks, and that “…the impact of this meeting may not be felt until it has been forgotten.”

Well. Not quite. The Vatican – clearly as aware as Pelosi of the power of an image – made a point of releasing no photo, as “the encounter was private” and the pope “briefly greeted” Pelosi and did not mention any other subject they may have discussed.:

Benedict spoke of the church’s teaching “on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.” That is an expression often used by the pope when expressing opposition to abortion.

Benedict said all Catholics—especially legislators, jurists and political leaders—should work to create “a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.”

Pelosi could not immediately be reached after the 15-minute meeting, which was closed to reporters and photographers. The two met in a small room of a Vatican auditorium after the pope’s weekly public audience.

Pelosi’s camp later released a statement of its own, with no mention of the pope’s remarks:In an e-mail issued by her office, Pelosi did not mention the allusion to abortion. She said it was with “great joy” that she and her husband, Paul, met with Benedict.

“In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church’s leadership in fighting poverty, hunger and global warming, as well as the Holy Father’s dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel,” she said.

George Weigel writes: Were Benedict and Pelosi at the same meeting?

I am reminded of Peggy Noonan’s great essay of her audience with John Paul II, which seemed much more joyful than what seems to have passed between Benedict and Pelosi.

If anyone was expecting any sort of insta-conversion on Pelosi’s part, that was a foolish wish. Tough and proud, there was no way the Speaker was ever going to walk out and proclaim her views “changed” on anything. But to me, it is telling that Pelosi did not even acknowledge the pope’s remarks on the sanctity of life – it suggests that his words hit their mark, and that the loving wound of instruction is too tender for her to touch.

The things that singe our consciences are the things we try to dance around, or ignore outright.

So, yes, Pelosi’s deliberately choosing to mention only her remarks, and not Benedict’s is telling, indeed. As American Papist writes, “But what, Madam Speaker, did the Pope say to you?”

I agree with Deacon Greg who writes:

Not insignificantly, the AP is reporting that the meeting was closed to reporters and photographers. More as this develops. And, I think, it will. Stay tuned.

Yes, I believe this story will “develop” over time. Read the invaluable John Allen, who knows:

While the Vatican typically puts out brief declarations after the pope meets with a head of state, encounters with lower-level officials are generally considered private. Doing so in this case thus suggests that the pope wanted to make a point.

Not only was it unusual to issue a statement after a meeting with an official who’s not a head of state, routine Vatican declarations after diplomatic meetings also generally sum up the range of issues discussed rather than concentrating on a particular point.

In that sense, the statement can only be read as a rejection of Pelosi’s statements last summer, and, in general, of her argument that it’s acceptable for Catholics in public life to take a pro-choice position.

The crew at NRO presents a scathing, if fictional, account of the “historic” meeting.

In a somewhat related story, the introduction of embryonic and fetal stem cells into the human body is still producing nightmares. I still say such pure and innocent life is too near the secrets of God and Creation for us to mess with. But mess, they do.

Also writing:
Damian Thompson: “Recovery Begins: Pope slaps down ghastly Pelosi”
Ed Morrissey: Pope to Pelosi: “Study more!”
Kathryn Jean Lopez on Benedict’s teaching moment
Gateway Pundit: Will Pelosi Heed Benedict? Not today, at least.
Irene Lagan: Pope was stern with this “duplicitous” woman.
Whispers In the Loggia: “Ardent Catholic” gets a talking to
Michelle Malkin: A Vatican Smackdown

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  • PeggyR

    Amazingly, there have been several amazing breakthroughs lately all with adult stem cells. There was a man cured of AIDS in Germany. One was a promising advance in something neurological, I think having to do with MS. In each story, the source of the stems cells was noted but the fact was buried within the story. In the headlines and the first graphs, only “stem cells” were mentioned. Oh and in each there was some mention of Bush’s policy (bad) and the “hope” that the overturning of those policies will lead to more breakthroughs now that science is going to be respected again blah blah blah.

    Is it any surprise? If you weren’t looking for where the cells came you might just be led to believe that all of these wonder cures were coming from embryonic stem cells. Hmmmm…..

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    I wish I could find the past news stories, but I remember Clinton coming out of a meeting with Pope John Paul II (santo subito) and claiming that they talked about this and that, and the Vatican came out shortly thereafter and said that they actually did not talk about any of the stuff that Clinton, in his usual self-promotion, claimed that they had talked about.

  • http://maxedoutmama.blogspot.com MaxedOutMama

    Thank you for posting this. Pelosi’s statement sounds like SHE is the spiritual leader graciously encouraging a backward but promising politician. I got tears in my eyes from laughing.

    Hopefully something good will come of this. I am not sure that any abortion proponent finds it easy to accept the truth of the church’s teachings. Once you do, you realize that you have been supporting a form of murder (in all cases in which the woman’s life wasn’t threatened). It is a very spiritually painful acknowledgment.

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  • Gayle Miller

    I’m persuaded that people like La Pelosi hear ONLY what they wish to hear and nothing else. So in her reality, what she says took place is what really took place, while in actual reality, she got smacked down as she well deserved to be smacked down. Remember, this is the woman who, when she became speaker, proclaimed herself the “most powerful woman in the world”! Which was an asinine thing to say either metaphorically or actually!

    Meanwhile, here at home high ranking priests and Bishops are becoming emboldened to chastise public figures who support abortion and claim to be practicing Catholics — something that until recently one rarely saw.

  • Sensible Mom

    I think you give Pelosi too much credit. The woman doesn’t have enough depth or shame to be affected by the Pope’s words.

  • marybel

    Thank you, my dear Anchoress, for your words and in particular the Weigel link. By George, that man has such a refreshingly incisive, completely unambiguous way with words. I sent it to all others, who like me, have been most enraged by San Fran Nan’s unhinged and highly publicized remarks. Benedict is truly a loving German Shepherd!

  • codekeyguy

    Pope Benedict is my “Main Man”!! I have problems with “cafeteria catholics”. Looks like he is working on closing the cafeteria. As an OT, Camille Paglia (a former Catholic) has it right. She believes, as I do, that if you cannot play by the rules, find a different game. You cannot CHANGE these rules.
    I had, and still have, problems with Vatican II, but I accept the new rules, even if I don’t like them.

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  • copithorne

    Well, I’ll step in here and give voice to another point of view.

    Pope Benedict, in particular when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, was unequivocal in saying starting a war in Iraq was not morally justifiable. It seems as though the congregation here was and is quite comfortable using their own discretion to ignore that advice.

    I hope we can all share His Holiness’ abhorrence of torture and give thanks that the US policy of torture is being reversed.

    Regarding Speaker Pelosi’s pro-choice views, It has been decided by the Supreme Court of the United States that the constitution protects the rights of women to make their own medical decisions and that the government’s authority to regulate medical decisions for women is constrained. I share with Speaker Pelosi the belief that the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the constitution in this regard is correct.

    Whatever respect we have for His Holiness, there is no reason to see him as someone with expertise or authority regarding the Constitution of the United States.

    [Whether Ratzinger was an unambiguous as you suggest is debatable - Our two most recent popes would certainly be remiss if they did not decry war and torture, and give voice to the gravity of those issues. We decry it here, too; your suggestion to the contrary, no one here does a jig for war or boo-rah's torture. No sane person likes war, and torture - even President Obama seems to agree, since he is leaving pretty much all of the previous administrations war-positions intact (and far from "reversing" torture seems eager to find a loophole he can classify) - is sometimes an evil that has its place. There are credible arguments to be made on both sides as to whether the Iraq action was just or not. Having prayed and thought about it a great deal, I have come to believe that the criteria for a just war - which at its core is about taking action to prevent a greater catastrophe - were met. There is always room for disagreement on an issue like war. The war was, however, voted on by the congress.

    If war is almost always morally ambiguous, however, abortion and euthanasia never are. So, while you made a point of gently trying to suggest a vast hypocrisy here, the truth is there are distinctions to be made, particularly if one is being intellectually honest. Roe v. Wade was handed down from the bench, not legislated and put before the people, and there is at least as much room to debate its constitutionality as there is to debate war.

    Benedict however does not have to be a constitutional scholar to opine on the issue of abortion, euthanasia, the exploitation of embryos or other life-exploitative issues because the church leaves no room for ambiguity there.

    War, however...will always be ambiguous.

    We can certainly agree to disagree, but I don't know that I take terribly kindly to someone turning this in to a charge of "hypocrisy," however deftly done. Mrs. Pelosi wants to hold a different opinion than her church, that's certainly something formed from her own conscience and she can answer for it, eventually, to her Creator who is both Just and Merciful. But Pelosi has made a point of trying to publicly "reinvent" church teaching, which tends to cloud a very clear teaching. Since she has done that, Benedict had a duty to instruct her and the faithful, so that she does not lead others into an incorrect understanding of that teaching. She is, of course, always free to leave the church, but she is not free to muddy up its teachings. - admin]

  • http://www.therextras.com Barbara

    “The Vatican – clearly as aware as Pelosi of the power of an image – made a point of releasing no photo”

    Quoting K Parker here:

    “Never dignify your enenmies with recognition.”

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  • http://heartkeepercommonroom.blogspot.com DeputyHeadmistress

    Pelosi’s statement sounds like SHE is the spiritual leader graciously encouraging a backward but promising politician

    I am not Catholic, and not very into smells and bells- but the above is exactly how Pelosi’s statement about everything SHE said to the Pope, telling her Church’s earthly head what a nice job he was doing, struck me.

  • copithorne

    You believe that the war in Iraq met the criteria of a just war. His Holiness John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger were unequivocal in disagreeing. I can quote many instances of both men opposing the war.

    I’ll quote Cardinal Ratzinger.


    Q: Eminence, a topical question that in a certain sense is inherent to the Catechism: Does the Anglo-American war against Iraq fit the canons of a “just war”?

    Cardinal Ratzinger: The Pope expressed his thought with great clarity, not only as his individual thought but as the thought of a man who is knowledgeable in the highest functions of the Catholic Church. Of course, he did not impose this position as doctrine of the Church but as the appeal of a conscience enlightened by faith.

    The Holy Father’s judgment is also convincing from the rational point of view: There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a “just war.”

    Do I have license to say to you, here, that you are free to leave the Church but you are not free to muddy up its teachings by saying that Popes John Paul and Benedict’s clear statements are somehow ambigious? I would think saying such a thing would be presumptuous. I am happy that both you and Nancy Pelosi are able to derive nourishment from the sacraments and I appreciate your faith.

    I expect that Nancy Pelosi has never had an abortion. She has five children, after all. It is quite possible that she shares with the Pope the view that abortion is wrong.

    However the issue that is part of her public responsibility is whether the government has the authority to make that decision for women. The prevailing understanding of the Constitution is that the government’s authority to make that choice for women is constrained. There is certainly room to debate the constitutionality of Roe V. Wade. It is not, however, a discussion for which the Pope’s office or authority are relevant qualifications.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    I knew that Pelosi’s spin sounded familiar and that I had remembered Clinton correctly.

    Anyone else remember when Bill Clinton’s characterization of his meeting with Pope John Paul II in June 1994? Nothing but self-serving, manipulative spin, which necessitated having the Vatican come out to correct the record –

    “After a meeting with Pope John Paul II, President Clinton announced that the two had “made some progress” in resolving their differences over abortion. But a Vatican spokesman almost immediately disputed that assessment, saying there were “grave ethical problems” with Clinton-backed proposals on world population control.”
    –Orange County Register, 6/4/1994

    “After his private session with the Pope, Clinton tried to emphasize issues on which they agreed, but the Vatican focused on the core of their differences over abortion – underscoring a new strain in relations. Clinton has reversed anti-abortion policies of his two Republican predecessors.

    “Although Clinton told reporters they had made “some progress” on finding common ground, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro said their differences could be narrowed only if the president moved toward the Pope’s opposition to abortion.

    “”The Holy Father made an appeal to the responsibility of a great nation such as America, whose origin and historical development has always promoted ethical values that are basic to every culture,” the Vatican said in a communique issued after the meeting. The communique cited “grave ethical problems” with some of the population-control measures to be discussed at a United Nations conference in Cairo this fall. The conference is expected to endorse expanded contraception and abortion rights for women in the Third World.
    –Newsday, 6/3/1994

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  • joeh

    While the action by the Pope was welcome, I feel a great opportunity was missed. Lets for a moment picture her walking into the audience and finding all those necessary for a trial to excommunicate her present. The Pope asks her a few questions and points out a few of her actions and seeks her to show proof of error in what was presented or to change her actions and publically repent. When she refuses, the Pope does whatever is required to publically excommunicate her from the Church and release the full trial transcripts with associated Church teaching on those points and what excommunication means. With that the Pope sends the information to all Bishops worldwide that this is how this type of dissent should be treated because the lives of millions of children are at stake and thus the most important issue of our time.

  • http://sailorette.blogspot.com/ Foxfier

    *cough* Binding teaching vs nonbinding….

    Hopefully, this meeting will result in folks finding out the difference.

    I know it sure brings the non siquiter crowd out– “well, let me counter the pointed wording of the Pope thus– here is something that is utterly unrelated to abortion, Pelosi meeting the Pope or people in public position claiming that abortion is licit!”