GOP Leaders Tweak Pelosi on Eve of Papal Visit

Posted February 17, 2009 at 4:40pm

With Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) set to meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Wednesday, it doesn’t appear to be a coincidence that House GOP leaders are drawing attention to her views on abortion, which clash with those of the Catholic Church. In a letter sent Tuesday to Cardinal Justin Rigali of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.) thanked the cardinal for calling on Congress earlier this month to protect the “gift of life.” “We stand with you in the defense of all human life and look forward to working with you during the 111th Congress,” the GOP leaders wrote in response to a Feb. 5 letter from Rigali to lawmakers. Specifically, they pledged to help kill legislation that would weaken anti-abortion laws or commit federal funds for abortions. They also vowed not to be “caught off guard” by Democrats’ efforts to codify Roe v. Wade. Pelosi, who is in Italy this week meeting with political leaders and the pope, has described herself as an ardent Catholic while advocating reproductive rights. Both Pelosi and the Obama administration are at odds with the Vatican when it comes to abortion, stem cell research and other bioethical issues. Republican leaders suggested their commitment to anti-abortion policies means they are more aligned with the pope, who last year visited the United States and called on Americans to “promote a culture of life.” The letter “certainly points to the very real difference between political leaders who ignore the church’s teachings and leaders who stand with the church on the most important issues, like the sanctity of human life,” a senior GOP aide said.