House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised Pope Francis’ Thursday speech to Congress, but said the line about the sanctity of life that brought the whole chamber to its feet was open to interpretation.
“We all support the sanctity of life,” Pelosi told MSNBC after the address. “We all rose up and applauded what he had to say there. But again, in terms of interpretation, how you hear it, how you respect it, you respect your own values in that regard. I think he left plenty of room for people to respect other people’s opinions.”
The pope said near the beginning of his speech: “Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: You are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.”
The pope later stressed that “the yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”
“The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,” he said, evoking another standing ovation and loud cheers from the GOP side of the aisle. Democrats stood and applauded, as well.
That came just a few hours before the Senate blocked a continuing resolution to fund the government on a short-term basis that stripped Planned Parenthood funding.
The vote was 47-52 and not party-line, with GOP Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Susan Collins (Maine), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Dean Heller (Nev.) Mark Kirk (Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) all voting against moving forward. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) voted in favor of the measure.
Paul said he voted against the CR because it’s a CR. “Time and time again, the President and Congress fail to do one of their most basic jobs, which is to review and adjust federal spending and fund the government,” Paul said. “While I support all efforts to stop federal funding of Planned Parenthood, this bill is a clear representation of business as usual in Washington – too much spending and too much debt.”
Pelosi said she feels “quite certain that we will keep government open because it’s the right thing to do.”
“I know that there are those who want to express themselves as opposed to women’s — respect for women’s health, but have them express that,” she said. “But our higher responsibility is to get the job done for the American people.”
Pope Francis also took a shot at same-sex marriage in his speech: “Fundamental relations are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.”
When asked about that, Pelosi said she showed the pope a photo of her family before the address.
“All 20 of us, my husband and I, our five children, our grandchildren, and he blessed the photo. It was for the 50th anniversary of our marriage. It was so thrilling for me,” she said. “So when he was talking about that, I was really thinking of my on family and the fact that he was in some ways inscrutable. He said what he needed to say.”