Our House majority leader, the continually surprised-looking Ms. Nancy Pelosi, met with Pope Benedict yesterday morning. We’re getting different accounts of just how the small, closed to the public and press, fifteen minute meeting went. (Why did I almost type “went down”?)
As you know, Ms. Pelosi, who professes to be an “ardent Catholic,” also touts radical views on contraception and abortion. Radical as in, Ms. Pelosi recently pushed contraception as a way to “reduce costs” and radical in that she favors abortion “rights” at their most lenient. Radical in that, as a supposedly ardent Catholic, she remains either clueless or rebellious about the Church’s consistent, traditional, unambiguous, and crystal-clear teaching on the issue.
The two accounts of the meeting from Ms. Pelosi’s office and that of the Holy See are so different, though, that it led George Weigel to wonder, were they at the same meeting?
Here’s what Benedict told Pelosi (from the Press Office of the Holy See):
Following the General Audience, the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage. His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception until natural death, which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists, and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of development.
And here’s Pelosi’s account (from the Office of Speaker Pelosi):
It is with great joy that my husband, Paul, and I met with His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, today. 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. I was proud to show His Holiness a photograph of my family’s papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren.
Someone’s not saying something, but I kind of doubt Pelosi herself will reveal the Pope’s gentle but firm reminder of her responsibilities as both a Catholic and as a lawmaker. It wouldn’t be too efficacious for her.
Whatever her true intentions for the meeting, I hazard to guess that Pope Benedict wasn’t buying it. No photos were taken of the two meeting, or if there was, none was released to the press, something for which Pelosi had no doubt hoped. What better way to continue to have your cake and eat it, too, than with a picture you could whip out of you schmoozing with the Pope the next time someone challenged you on your decidedly un-Catholic views and actions? It is interesting to me to note that a photo was not afforded to Pelosi, a generally common occurence. Such photo opportunites are treasured by politicians.
Like many Catholics, I must admit I was part of the contingency that had hoped for a so-called Pope/Pelosi smackdown at the Vatican. And, I must admit that I knew this would not necessarily happen, seeing as the Pope is far less prone to such things in his wisdom and patience. He is, after all, the Pope. But part of me wishes that the meeting went a little something like THIS.
Inside Catholic’s Irene Lagan felt similarly. But she wrote this:
Then I remember when at the end of the jubilee year, I met Pope John Paul II by “accident” in a private audience. To this day, I recall with great clarity that encounter that pierced me to the heart, and which stayed with me for weeks. In observing the holy father greet each person in turn, I was struck by how each one was “received” and the great love that exuded from this man. As I watched, I wished I could love like that. Almost instantly, the response came: “That is what you are called to do. That is what you have in Me in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Pope Benedict exudes that same great love and holiness, albeit with a different personality. It is no ordinary thing to meet a pope. My prayer for Ms. Pelosi is that she will be open to being transformed by that same love.
Um, yes. I suppose that’s one of the hardest things about Christianity: We’re taught to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter how—-sigh—-vile. Catholic G.K. Chesterton, always a great one for short and incredibly accurate zingers, says this: “Love means loving the unlovable—or it is no virtue at all.”