Did Pelosi’s meeting with the pope really happen?

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, seen with a rosary on her left wrist, kisses Pope Benedict XVI's ring during a welcoming ceremony for the pontiff on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington April 16, 2008.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, seen with a rosary on her left wrist, kisses Pope Benedict XVI's ring during a welcoming ceremony for the pontiff on the South Lawn of the White House April 16, 2008. (CNS/Joshua Roberts)

If there are no photos, it didn’t really happen. As a professional photographer, it’s natural for me to obsess about photos and occasionally joke about how if there are no photos of an event, it didn’t happen.

When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi met Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday, the meeting was closed to reporters and photographers. The Vatican did not release photos either, as is the normal custom when press photographers are not permitted. In fact, it appears that L’Osservatore Romano photographers, who capture almost everyone the pope meets, did not take photos of the encounter.

So why did Pelosi get the no-photos treatment?

Before Pelosi’s visit, false rumors had been swirling on the Internet that the pope was going to present her with an award. Instead, the pope told her that all Catholics, especially lawmakers, must work to protect life at every stage. The pope’s message to Pelosi, a Catholic Democrat, was clearly aimed at reversing her support for keeping abortion legal.

In not releasing photos, the Vatican minimized the encounter and at the same time carefully controlled perceptions of the meeting. A Vatican statement released after the meeting said the pope “briefly greeted” Pelosi. The statement said “His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.”

While the Vatican’s statement focused on abortion, Pelosi’s statement after the meeting had a different take. She said that she praised “the church’s leadership in fighting poverty, hunger and global warming, as well as the Holy Father’s dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel.”

Two very different views of the same meeting, each party carefully controlling the message.

Would a photo of Pelosi and the pope together change perceptions of their meeting?

Pope Benedict XVI poses for a photo with Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown during their meeting at the Vatican Feb. 19.

Pope Benedict XVI poses for a photo with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown during their meeting at the Vatican Feb. 19, one day after Pelosi got the no-photos treatment. (CNS/Reuters)

On walls throughout the world hang countless images of individuals meeting the pope. The formula used in the photos is tried and true: A smiling pope and a smiling subject meeting each other and shaking hands. The images convey an implicit connection with the pope and imply a sense of the pontiff bestowing his favor on the subject.

For all their simplicity, these images are very powerful. For many they are treasured keepsakes, but they are also used by countless people to promote themselves and their causes.

In not allowing photos of Pelosi meeting the pope, the Vatican recognized the power of the still image and its ability to be interpreted and used in many ways. Unlike a written statement, a still image is much more open to having many different interpretations.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the new speaker of the House, arrives with her husband, Paul, at an interfaith service for members of Congress at St. Peter's Catholic Church near the Capitol in Washington Jan. 4. A handful of protesters from the American Life League held signs outside the church.

In her first week as the new speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi encounters pro-life demonstrators as she arrives with her husband, Paul, at an interfaith service for members of Congress at St. Peter's Catholic Church near the Capitol in Washington Jan. 4, 2007. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Ironically, Pelosi showed the pope a photo of her at a papal audience with her parents in 1950s as well as a recent photo of her children and grandchildren. Clearly, photos are important to Pelosi and one wonders if she brought her own camera to document the occasion.

33 Responses

  1. I could be mistaken but I believe Gordon Brown is also pro abortion. No shortage of hypocracy at the Vatican.

  2. Holly, I don’t think that the PM has ever represented himself as an “ardent Catholic”.

  3. What a shame that Democrats have sunk so low that our Holy Father has to treat the Speaker of the U.S. House, the ultimate representative of the American people, as a political and moral enemy.

    This is the treatment that Adolph Hitler would have received had he the temerity to proclaim himself an “ardent Catholic”.

    The Democratic Party has corrupted the American Catholic Church to the point of no return.

  4. More appropriate for Pelosi to have her picture taken with Osama bin Laden.

  5. I am a professed religious Brother for 56 years and I
    never met His Holiness the Pope and I don’t think this
    means too much since I pray for him and have great
    respect for him as the leader of the Holy Catholic Church. I am also very much Pro-Life and was in D.C.
    for many Pro-Life marches and didn’t see the Speaker of the House there.

  6. There are loads of “ardent Catholcs” who are also Republican and believe in abortion under certain circumstances. To paint the GOP as an icon of obedience to “the magisterium” is laughable and totally absurd.

  7. After reading the article, I thought it brilliant for the Vatican to not issue pictures of the meeting. The lack of pictures and the quick official Vatican statement tells the world about Ms Pelosi’s status in the Church. I can only wish the US Bishop’s conference could have given us clearer statements about Right To Life before the election. I am embarassed that a majority of US Catholics voted for an avowed pro-abortion candidate.

  8. Athelstan,

    Who is painting the Republican party as an “icon of obedience” to the magisterium? Not one word of that here.

    Stop making excuses and stop your heresy. You seek to distract everyone from the truth: that the Pelosi, Biden, Giuliani types are a plague and need to be instructed and disciplined.

    End of story.

  9. If you do not stand up for the unborn – NO COMMUNION. (period)

    You can meet all the Church representatives you want and claim anything you choose, but no Communion until you support the Church’s teachings on life.

  10. Nancy Pelosi is morally bankrupt and an embarrassment to women period. As a 1960s feminist I feel we unleashed the hounds of hell with the so-called “women’s lib” movement. It has proven to be a disaster. Mothers now are expected to work; mothers now feel they can “do it alone.” Mothers now think nothing of divorce, children and family life. And God forbid you should be a single mother and complain about going it alone. Society elevates these women to super-star status (and of course, some are) Children need both parents. Men and women need each other. God created us man and woman to enjoy each other and our children. Society today is in a horrific mess and women like Pelosi, who should champion life, won’t. This coming from (by her own words) “the most powerful woman in America.” – what a joke!!

  11. Maureen: I agree wholeheartedly – no communion period. The days of “explaining” are over. Ms. Pelosi feels herself “enlightened” as do most liberals – they have been shown a “new way” – and us idiots, with our fundamental belief in Natural Law need to be led like sheep and shown the “new way” – stand up America or you will be run right into the ground.

  12. I think that Speaker Pelosi should do the right thing and a most Patriotic action and that is to resign and stop embarrassing our nation!

  13. I am glad the Pope didn’t allow pictures. I am also glad he used that opportunity to tell her what the church teachings are on life. We need to hear it enforced more including from our local pulpits.

  14. Nancy Pelosi will continue to live in sin due to her pro-death stance. She may even be excommunicated by the Church. However, once she is no longer in politics, she will go off to confession and be right with the church. She knows how to play the game well. Yet, she cannot fool Our Dear Lord.

  15. Our dear pope would not treat Nancy Pelosi as a “moral and political enemy.” Instead, he would seize the opportunity to act as a true shepherd and correct her erroneous convictions so she and her followers could gain eternal life. If Ms. Pelosi publically reversed her pro-abortion stance, the spiritual impact would be far greater than any public humiliation of this misguided woman. We should pray for her conversion at every opportunity.

  16. Nancy Pelosi and others who are adamantly Pro-Choice and brag to the public about their Catholic faith need to be excommunicated. As supposed representatives of the Catholic Church, they need to be in line with the Church teachings. Otherwise, they are sending the public the wrong message. They are no more than false prophets with their own selfish agendas in mind.

  17. Pelosi is an enemy of the Catholic Church, a hypocrite who should be excommunicated.

  18. The best thing for Peelosi is to convert, and then make a photo-op public statement on the White House lawn, that abortion is murder and she is totally against it.

    And that she will fight against the demonrats who are
    murdering baby-minded.

    She might save her soul too.

  19. Why in the world do people profess their faith to be catholic if they do not believe or adhere to the truths of the catholic church. Let’s tell it like it is: abortion is murder – period! Nancy – aren’t you glad your mom didn’t choose abortion.

    I think the Vatican made a statement without opening it’s mouth. We have a very wise leader in Pope Benedict. God Bless Him.

  20. The Pope should be commended for his handling of the Pelois meeting. He was generous with his time and he used it wisely to instruct a wayward Catholic. I hope the politicians and celebrities who support abortion are all denied Holy Communion until their rhetoric changes.

    Our Lady of America is calling her children to lead a life of purity. Abortion is farthest from purity.

  21. There are certain sins (wide spread heresy, serial murder, genocide, clinical abortion doctor, et.al.) that can only be forgiven by the Pope. Is that why Pelosi visited with the Pope?

  22. Not only should the holy Father not have allowed pictures but he should have not even let Nancy Pelosi enter the Vatican. Pelosi is an apostate, mocker of God and His Holy Church, and has done more damage to the cause of life than one can imagine. She is already in a state of excommunication, all that is left to be done is for the Pope to issue a formal decree. Nancy Pelosi and those of her ilk are no more Catholic than the heretics of old and they all should be dealt with as such. With swift and exact punishment for that is the Church being most merciful.

  23. I completely agree with the Holy Father’s handing of the Peolsi visit. She is an embarrassment to the Catholic Church and to her position as Speaker of the House. It’s a sham. Her policy………….do as I say, but not as I do. She has made sure that her fortune is getting all of tax breaks not afforded the general populace. She certainly doesn’t deserve this important post. She is most ungrateful and was extremely rude to President Bush, although he showed nothing but kindness and a warm welcome in her post. More importantly, she is a liar and a phony. She can’t have it both ways……..saying she is a Catholic and then supporting pro-choice.

  24. Peolsi needes alot of prayers. Peolsi’s pride and ego are so big that she is above the teachings of the Church. “Not so.” Nancy Peolsi needs an eye opener. The Holy Father may have given her a small lesson in humilty in not having pictures taken together.

  25. BTW Holly, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is a memeber of the Church of Scotland. Our dear Pope handles his “own” flock in the matter that he sees fit.

  26. It gives me no personal pleasure to know Pelosi will be in the judgment seat like the rest of us reviewing our entire life’s movie before our Lord. All the areas we ‘should have’, ‘could have’, ‘dids’ and ‘didn’t’ and their ripple effects will be nothing we can justify, explain or defend.

    My heart aches for those who are guilty of unrepentant sin against the unborn such as Nancy. To have this sin lifted from the veil they put themselves behind will be unimaginable! I value life from conception to natural death, but I know deep in my heart there will be remorse felt for not doing more than I do for this cause. Lent is the season to do more!

    While we review our life’s movie at the end of our time here on earth, I pray you will see the positive outcomes from your ‘yes’ to do MORE!

  27. The PM of Great Britain has also never gone on National TV and declared deliberate falsehoods about Catholic Dogma like the Speaker of the House. Her statements that there is confusion and controversy within the Catholic Church about when life begins were patently false and utterly dishonest. That is the reason for the way she was received.

  28. Chris Klimt, I agree wholeheartedly with you. Not even Aquinas could have said it better, brother.

  29. PLEASE, ALL CHRISTIANS, PRAY FERVENTLY EVERY DAY TO SAVE BABIES FROM ABORTION AND END THE ABOMINABLE, ATROCIOUS ACT OF LEGALIZED MURDER OF INNOCENT, DEFENCELESS CHILDREN!!! LET ALL PEOPLE LISTEN TO THE LORD’S REPRESENTATIVE ON EARTH: POPE BENEDICT!! GOD BLESS ALL PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL!! PEACE…

  30. Both Pelosi and Mikulski are from my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. I’m embarrassed by the harm these Ladies have done to our country and horrified by the slaughter of the holy innocents which they promote. If only we could convert our own wayward catholics, we could change the world. Pray that they have a change of heart.

  31. NANCY PEOLSI’S DEFIANCE ON THE CHURCH.S TEACHINGS ON THE DIGNITY OF HUMAN LIFE AND THE FACT THAT SHE GOES ON NATIONAL T V AND MAKES THE STATEMENTS SHE MADE, CLEARLY SHOWS HOW SHE WANTS TO MISLEAD THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. SHE IS MORALLY BANKRUPT AND THIS IS WHAT SOCIALISTS DO, SHE IS A MULTI MILLIONAIRE ,WHICH IS FINE ,HOWEVER, SHE HAS THIS DO AS I SAY NOT AS I DO ATTITUDE. SHE IS NOT ONLY PRO ABORTION SHE IS AGAINST CAPITALISM ,SHE WANTS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE CONTROLLED BY GOVERNMENT. OUR FREEDOMS ARE BEING REMOVED ONE BY ONE, WATCH OUT AMERICA,WHATS NEXT OUR FREEDOM OF RELIGION?

  32. My wife volunteers in a community outreach program at our parish. A few weeks ago I attended a parish dinner for the volunteers at a hall in the basement of our church. Somebody brought up that President Obama, on his third day in office, had rescinded President Bush’s “Mexico City” policy which prevented taxpayer money from being used overseas to fund the practice of abortion.

    One woman at our table said that she always votes for Democrats because abortion is a “personal decision” and nobody’s business. Another woman commented that, as long as she didn’t have any abortions herself, it was none of her concern that others want to have abortions. Still another woman said that, with all the poverty and lack of health care, it is only natural for women to choose abortion as the best solution for the baby. In her opinion, we cannot really speak out against abortion until we solve all the social problems and everybody is taken care of.

    Is it any wonder why the majority of Catholics vote for governmental leaders who get votes by granting women the “right” to murder their innocent unborn babies?

  33. Pelosi is a serial liar and is dangerous as 2nd in line to command this great nation. How can we as average citizens initiate the process to have her replaced?

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