Fresh from her back-room authorship and successful passing of a piece of legislation that could fundamentally change the face of her nation, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi headed to Rome with a handful of other Democrat legislators. On the agenda: a bit of skiing, a bit of award schmoozing, and on Wednesday, some face time with Pope Benedict XVI.
That last bit is producing howls in some Catholic quarters. A papal audience does not go unnoticed, and some Catholics — mindful of Pelosi’s seemingly willful misunderstanding of church teachings on abortion, grave sin, and the reception of communion — want the pope to publicly chastise his recalcitrant daughter or, even better, excommunicate her until she renounces her positions. The inevitable pictures of pope and speaker together are also causing headaches; Pelosi and the press, goes the worry, will point to them as evidencing a triumph of the liberal zeitgeist over the Eternal church.
In truth, here is what will happen: The pope, as head of state, will meet with the speaker of the house of the United States — third in line to the Oval Office. There will be small talk, small gifts exchanged, and flashing light bulbs. As the last great man of the 20th century meets the most powerful woman of the 21st century, there will be no excommunications, no public scolding, and their shared religion will take a backseat to their official duties. Very likely Mrs. Pelosi will come bearing a private message from the new American president saying something to the effect that “change” had come to America and that Benedict’s chance of a welcome on the White House lawn had materially diminished, for now.