Opinion: Pelosi & the pope: Talk about an odd couple

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), on an official visit to Italy, is scheduled to visit with the pope Wednesday at the Vatican.

They certainly have enough to talk about.

The Vatican is said to be fuming that President Obama, in his first days in office, overturned a ban on using U.S. dollars to fund abortions overseas. The Vatican also frowns on U.S. approval for the first human trials using embryonic stem cells. And of course Pope Benedict XVI has said that abortion-rights Catholics like Pelosi should not receive Communion.

As for Pelosi, she might want to ask the pope about his recent decision to rehabilitate a bishop who denied the existence of the Holocaust, or his appointment of a bishop in Austria who had blamed the sins of New Orleans residents for the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

All of which is likely to fuel a continuing debate in Catholic circles, as the New York Times put it, about whether this pope’s focus on doctrine could alienate mainstream Catholics like Pelosi.


The two have met before. In fact, when she received the pope on a visit to the U.S. last year, Pelosi gave him the respectful greeting of a hand kiss.

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-- Johanna Neuman