By NICOLE WINFIELD
ROME (AP) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Pope Francis on Wednesday and received Communion during a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, witnesses said, despite her position in support of abortion rights.
Pelosi attended the morning Mass marking the feasts of St. Peter and St. Paul, during which Francis bestowed the woolen pallium stole on newly consecrated archbishops. She was seated in a VIP diplomatic section and received Communion along with the rest of the congregants, according to two people who witnessed the moment.
The issue is significant given Pelosi’s home archbishop, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, has said he will no longer allow her to receive the sacrament in his archdiocese because of her support for abortion rights. Cordileone, a conservative, has said Pelosi must either repudiate her support for abortion or stop speaking publicly of her Catholic faith.
Pelosi has done neither. She called the recent Supreme Court ruling removing constitutional protections for abortion an “outrageous and heart-wrenching” decision that fulfils the Republican Party’s “dark and extreme goal of ripping away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions.”
And she has spoken openly of her Catholic faith, including at a diplomatic reception at the residence of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See on Tuesday evening marking Independence Day.
Speaking to a crowd of ambassadors, Vatican officials and other Rome-based Americans, Pelosi spoke about the Catholic virtues of faith, hope and charity and the important role they play in the U.S. Embassy’s mission.
“Faith is an important gift, not everyone has it but it is the path to so many other things,” she told the crowd.
Pelosi met with Francis on Wednesday before the Mass and received a blessing, according to one of the Mass attendees.
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