San Francisco Archbishop Clarifies Pelosi’s Papal Visit Not an Endorsement of Her Abortion Views

Archbishop Cordileone noted that other popes have met with world leaders with questionable pasts, and that Pope Francis is no different.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (center) with Pope Francis (right), during their Oct. 9 meeting at the Vatican.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (center) with Pope Francis (right), during their Oct. 9 meeting at the Vatican. (photo: Vatican Media / Vatican Media)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent meeting with Pope Francis does not signal a papal endorsement of her views on abortion, the archbishop of San Francisco said in a television interview on Oct. 13. 

Pope Francis met with Pelosi at the Vatican on Saturday, Oct. 9. Although the Vatican did not reveal what they discussed, Pelosi said in a statement after the meeting that she thanked the Pope for his “immense moral clarity” in speaking on the issue of climate change.

Speaking on Newsmax TV’s Chris Salcedo Show, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone took issue with the host’s assertion that “it seems Pope Francis is allowing one of the world’s biggest abortion cheerleaders to use the Vatican as some sort of validation for her anti-Catholic views.” 

“I first of all would urge some caution in jumping to that conclusion,” said Archbishop Cordileone, whose eccelesial territory includes Pelosi’s congressional district. Archbishop Cordileone noted that other popes have met with world leaders with questionable pasts, and that Pope Francis is no different. 

“I recall I was in Rome at the time back in the 80s, when he [Pope John Paul II] met with Kurt Waldheim, who was the president of Austria at the time,” said Archbishop Cordileone. In 1987, Waldheim was accused of participating in war crimes, including the deportation of Greek Jews to death camps, during his service in the German army in World War II. 

“Now, he [Waldheim] denied those allegations, but he created a lot of controversy, and there were widespread protests from Jewish organizations. This is St. John Paul, who did so much to build bridges with the Jewish people,” Archbishop Cordileone explained the meeting. 

“So it underscores that the popes meet with everyone. They meet with world leaders, no matter who they are, even if there are these problematic things in their background or in their policies. They meet with everyone. I don’t think Pope Francis could be clearer in his condemnation of abortion,” he said. 

At a Monday press briefing at the U.S. Capitol, Pelosi said most of her conversation with Pope Francis focused on the “moral issue” of climate change.

Pausing for several seconds beforehand, Pelosi remarked that “it was just a remarkable experience to have that private audience with His Holiness, and again, to bring the thanks and gratitude of our colleagues, and his blessings back to us.”

Pelosi has supported legal abortion during her time as House Speaker. She recently brought up the Women’s Health Protection Act for a vote in the House; the legislation would override state abortion restrictions and allow abortions in some cases throughout pregnancy. The U.S. bishops’ conference warned that the limits on late-term abortions in the bill were not “meaningful,” and called it “the most radical abortion bill of all time.”

Pope Francis has compared abortion to hiring a hit man, and said as recently as September 2021 that abortion is murder. 

Pelosi, a Catholic, called her Oct. 9 meeting with Pope Francis “a spiritual, personal, and official honor,” and said that the Pope is “a source of joy and hope for Catholics and for all people, challenging each of us to be good stewards of God’s creation, to act on climate, to embrace the refugee, the immigrant, and the poor, and to recognize the dignity and divinity in everyone.”

In a statement following the meeting, she praised Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato si’, and noted that her hometown, San Francisco, has the same namesake as the pontiff.

“His Holiness commands our attention to honor the Gospel of Matthew by serving ‘the least of these,’ lifting up those who have been left out or left behind, especially in the time of COVID,” said Pelosi.

“In San Francisco, we take special pride in Pope Francis, who shares the namesake of our city and whose song of St. Francis is our anthem. ‘Lord, make me a channel of thy peace. Where there is darkness, may we bring light. Where there is hatred, may we bring love. Where there is despair, may we bring hope,’” she said. 

Pelosi was in Rome to give the keynote address at the opening session of the G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit. She also met with the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

The day before her audience with the Pope, the 81-year-old discussed the environment, migration, and human rights during a visit with the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Since her enthusiastic support of the Women’s Health Protection Act, Pelosi has been the subject of a prayer campaign initiated by Archbishop Cordileone. 

“Please join me in the Rose and Rosary for Nancy Campaign. Pray a rosary once a week for her. Fast on Friday, and you can sign the petition at And if you commit to the rosary and fasting, we will send a rose to her as a symbol of your prayers and sacrifices,” said Archbishop Cordileone. 

The initial call to pray a rosary and to fast for Pelosi came on Sept. 29, following the House of Representatives’ passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act. 

“A conversion of heart of the majority of our Congressional representatives is needed on this issue, beginning with the leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” Archbishop Cordileone said. 

“Speaker Pelosi speaks fondly of her children. She clearly has a maternal heart. Pope Francis has called abortion murder, the equivalent of hiring a hitman to solve a problem,” Archbishop Cordileone said. 

Since then, more than 10,000 people have pledged to pray and fast for Pelosi’s conversion.