Pope tells U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Catholic politicians must reject abortion, protect life

VATICAN CITY (AP) âÄî Pope Benedict XVI received Nancy Pelosi, one of the most prominent abortion rights politicians in America, and told her Wednesday that Catholic politicians have a duty to protect life âÄúat all stages of its development.âÄù The U.S. House speaker, a Catholic, was the first top Democrat to meet with Benedict since the election of Barack Obama, who won a majority of the U.S. Catholic vote despite differences with the Vatican on abortion. On his fourth day in office last month, Obama ended a ban on funds for international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option âÄî a sharp policy change from former President George W. BushâÄôs Republican administration. The VaticanâÄôs attempts to keep the Pelosi visit low-profile displayed its obvious unease with the new U.S. administration. Benedict and Bush had found common ground in opposing abortion, an issue that drew them together despite their differences over the war in Iraq. WednesdayâÄôs meeting, in a small room off a Vatican auditorium after the popeâÄôs weekly public audience, was closed to reporters and photographers. The Vatican also said âÄî contrary to its usual policy when the pope meets world leaders âÄî that it was not issuing either a photo or video of the encounter, claiming the meeting was private.