Nancy Pelosi, who is leading a congressional delegation to Italy (the economy may be tanking but the co-dels must go on!), popped by the Vatican today for a chat with Pope Benedict. Anti-abortion advocates are pleased to hear that the Holy Father took the occasion to remind Pelosi that he does not believe Catholic politicians should support abortion rights.
But as David Gibson notes, the meeting fell somewhat short of the public smackdown some conservatives had hoped for. Deal Hudson, in particular, had predicted that “Benedict will very likely make comments criticizing the Obama administration for ending the Mexico City Policy and warning the new Congress against passing the Freedom of Choice Act.” That didn’t happen. But the two leaders did talk about poverty, hunger, religious freedom, and the Pope’s upcoming trip to Israel.
The Catholic Church will continue to oppose the Democratic Party’s support for abortion rights, and as leader of the church, the Pope will continue to remind Catholic Democrats of his concern. But coverage of the Vatican and U.S. politics often misses the fact that the relationship between the two is not defined solely by abortion. John Paul II and Benedict were not thrilled about George W. Bush’s foreign policy, and the Vatican reaction so far to Obama’s election has been more measured and welcoming than many had expected.