The Deacon's Bench

From AFP:

Visiting US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have an audience with Pope Benedict XVI during her weeklong visit to Italy, a Vatican official said Monday.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday, the official told AFP, saying it would likely occur after the pope’s weekly general audience.

There’s more at the link.

UPDATE: The Catholic News Agency has an bit more info:

The press office made clear that the Pope will meet with Pelosi in his capacity as a head of state since the Speaker of the House is the third in line to lead the U.S., should the president and vice president be unable to do so.

The idea of providing Pelosi with a photo-op has disturbed a significant number of U.S. Catholics and pro-life activists.

In August 2008, Pelosi attempted to offer a justification for why Catholics could support abortion and remain in good standing with the Church by giving a convoluted explanation based on misquotes of Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas on “Meet the Press.”

Pelosi’s pretention at reinterpreting Catholic moral and theological teaching elicited strong criticism from more than 20 U.S. cardinals, archbishops and bishops.

More recently, Nancy Pelosi was strongly criticized for defending the insertion of millions in spending on contraceptives into the stimulus bill. Pelosi, who says she is an “ardent Catholic,” told ABC’s This Week that the money spent on family planning services would “reduce costs.”

Over this past weekend pro-life activists and bloggers launched verbal salvos against the Vatican because they believe that the Holy See plans to present Nancy Pelosi with an award.

This is definitely not true, the Vatican’s press office told CNA. The idea that Pelosi would be awarded by the Vatican most likely is the result of activists confusing the visit to the Vatican with the Speaker of the House being awarded by a group of Italian legislators for being the first Italian American to reach such a high rank in the U.S. government.

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