Confirmed: Meeting took place between Pelosi, S.F. archbishop

Our Sunday Visitor confirmed today that a meeting did take place Feb. 8 between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco.

(today’s story)

(earlier posts here and here)

The pope and the prime minister without reporters

VATICAN CITY — When British Prime Minister Gordon Brown met Pope Benedict XVI this morning, there were no reporters present.

Although Vatican protocol allows for five journalists and an equal number of photographers to witness papal meetings with heads of state or heads of government, British rules trump the practice when minors are present.


Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah, pictured in 2007 shortly after Brown succeeded Tony Blair as leader of the British government. (CNS/Reuters)

Brown, who turns 58 tomorrow, was accompanied to the papal audience by his wife and their 2-year-old and 5-year-old sons.

The only media representatives present were the Vatican’s own. L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, is expected to release photos of the pope and Brown, but pictures of Pope Benedict with the whole Brown family will be given only to the prime minister.

After the meeting, Brown met with a small group of reporters — but not photographers — and said, “I’m very grateful to the pope for inviting my wife Sarah and my children as well.”

He said he would remember fondly the pope’s “very kind disposition to very young children who were in his presence.”

Brown is visiting Italy as part of his preparation for hosting a meeting in April of the G20 — a forum of representatives of the world’s major industrialized nations and key developing countries. The April meeting is expected to focus on concrete ways to stimulate the global economy and examine mechanisms to guarantee greater responsibility and accountability in financial markets.

Funerals can be happy events

I found out yesterday that a good friend of mine from elementary school died the day before Valentine’s Day.

I hadn’t seen her in many years, but I felt the need to attend her funeral today at the Catholic Church of the Nativity in Lutherville, Md. — a suburb of Baltimore — and found the experience to be a happy one.

Of course I wasn’t happy that Stacy Burke Danko, 44, had recently died. She was a very important part of my life when I was young, and upon learning of her death, I’ve discovered she remained an extraordinary force in the lives of so many.

I met Stacy Burke when we were young children. Our parents were friends and we went to the same school and church.

In the second grade we had become so inseparable that we declared our never-ending love for one another and had a mock wedding ceremony, with my sister acting as the priest, to make our union official.

Stacy was an energetic and spontaneous girl. She was goofy and wild and just attracted friends easily.

Stacy also had cystic fibrosis and her parents were told that she wouldn’t live past the age of 18.

I remember my mother telling me this when I was young, but it never seemed possible that Stacy — a girl with such spirit and enthusiasm — could be chronically sick.

Though Stacy would talk about her disease, she never dwelled on it, let it slow her down, or let it define her.

Like most second-grade romances, Stacy and I grew apart, found separate circles of friends when we were no longer in the same class in school, and our contact with each other through junior high school was limited to the occasional friendly greeting in the hall.

We ended up going to different high schools and would bump into each other once in a while, and we’d share a laugh and chuckle about our childhood antics.

I ran into Stacy at a party when we were in our 20s and she told me that she still had the tinfoil ring with the tip dipped in nail polish that I had given to her at our second-grade wedding, a gift she said was very special to her.

I did think about Stacy during the next 20 years, but didn’t see her.

I heard from other friends and her brother Brian that she had become a nurse, gotten married, had a son and two daughters, gotten divorced and had become a crusader for research and public awareness for cystic fibrosis, the disease that had continued to dog her.

When I received word of her death, and read the obituary in The Baltimore Sun, I just knew I wanted to pay my respects to her family and attend her funeral service, and I’m so glad that I did.

The church was so packed, they had to set up chairs in the vestibule, and I was about to find out why.

Her children told funny stories about their mother that made me realize that funny little girl had grown into a free-spirited woman who continued to appreciate each day as if it was her last.

One of her dear friends spoke about how Stacy knew her time in this world was limited, so she saw each day as a gift.

I also had to the chance to see old friends who were very important to me. I sat with two people I attended high school with and it was a moving reunion.

Though tears were shed during the Mass and the reception afterward, I didn’t leave the church with sad feelings.

I walked away happy that Stacy had touched so many lives and, in death, brought us all together to enjoy one another and celebrate her beautiful life.

Priest’s violent death shocks Cuban church

MIAMI — The Church in Havana – and all of Cuba – remains in shock over the violent death of one of its priests.

(Full story)

Speaker Pelosi’s statement after meeting Pope Benedict

VATICAN CITY — Here is a statement by U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, after her meeting with Pope Benedict XVI today. The statement was distributed by her staff. Click here for the earlier Vatican statement.

It is with great joy that my husband, Paul, and I met with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI today.

In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise 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.

I was proud to show His Holiness a photograph of my family’s papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren.”

More headlines … (2/18/09)

Items on our clients’ sites in recent days:

House Speaker Pelosi, Archbishop Niederauer meeting – not happening?

Tom Hanks saves the Vatican

My interview with President Obama

Arizona’s first homegrown bishop: “It was shocking, and I was stunned”

Plaintiffs’ advocates call for release of L.A. documents

Paying it forward for Lent

SSPX ‘silver lining’

Indulging the NYTimes

The pope, Speaker Pelosi & Deal Hudson

Vatican statement on pope’s meeting with Nancy Pelosi

Here is the text of the statement released today by the Vatican regarding Pope Benedict XVI’s meeting with U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:

Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.

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 which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.”