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.
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.
Damian Thompson: “Recovery Begins: Pope slaps down ghastly Pelosi”
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