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Pope urges Pelosi to protect life from conception to death

By Victor L. Simpson
Associated Press / February 19, 2009
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VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI told Nancy Pelosi, the US speaker of the House and a Catholic who supports abortion rights, yesterday that Catholic politicians have a duty to protect life "at all stages of its development."

Pelosi is the first top Democrat to meet with Benedict since the election of Barack Obama, who won a majority of the American Catholic vote despite differences with the Vatican on abortion.

The Vatican released the pope's remarks to Pelosi, saying Benedict spoke of the church's teaching "on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death."

That is an expression often used by the pope when expressing opposition to abortion.

Benedict said all Catholics - especially legislators, jurists, and political leaders - should work to create "a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."

In an e-mail issued by her office, Pelosi did not mention the allusion to abortion.

She said it was with "great joy" that she and her husband, Paul, met with the pope.

"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," she said.

The 15-minute meeting was closed to reporters and photographers.

The two met in a small room off a Vatican auditorium after the pope's weekly public audience.

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