House speaker Nancy Pelosi has agreed to meet with the archbishop of her hometown to discuss Catholic teachings after she drew fire from Catholic prelates and followers for misstating the Church’s stance on abortion.
A Pelosi spokesman said the acceptance letter to San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer’s invitation to meet was delivered by hand on Friday, according to Religion News Service.
Niederauer last Friday had said Pelosi’s statement on abortion “are in serious conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
During an interview with “Meet the Press” last month, Pelosi, who described herself as an “ardent, practicing Catholic,” said “doctors of the church” disagree on when life begins, and claimed abortion “continues to be an issue of controversy” in the Catholic Church.
But Catholic leaders adamantly refuted her claim, saying the church has never wavered on its anti-abortion stance since the first century.
Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities; and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Doctrine are among those who had quickly and strongly denounced her comments.
"I regret the necessity of addressing these issues in so public a forum," Niederauer said, "but the widespread consternation among Catholics made it unavoidable."
The archbishop said Catholics are not supposed to “pick and choose” which teachings to follow.
He also noted that Catholic followers have written and asked him if the congresswoman should still be allowed to receive Communion because of her remarks.
More recently, fellow party member Sen. Joseph Biden, the Democrat vice presidential nominee, said on “Meet the Press” that as a Catholic he accepts the Church’s teaching that life begins at conception.
But he added that he cannot “impose” his religious beliefs on others in a pluralistic society.
Biden’s partner Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, had a harder time answering the question of when life begins. He was criticized for answering that it was “above my pay grade” at Saddleback Church when he was asked by Rick Warren about when he believes a baby gets human rights.
Obama later clarified in another interview that what he meant by the comment was that he does not know when the soul enters the baby.
A meeting date between Pelosi and Niederauer is yet to be scheduled.