House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been granted an audience with Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow, the Hill reports. Pelosi, who describes herself as an "ardent Catholic" but holds views on reproductive rights firmly at odds with the Vatican's position, is on an eight-day official trip to Italy. Vatican officials made it clear she is being received as a head of state.
The pope has spoken in favor of excommunicating Mexican politicians who legalized abortion, and has said supporters of abortion rights should not receive Communion, although Pelosi received the sacrament in a service during the Pope's US visit last year. Rumors of Pelosi's papal audience infuriated pro-life groups who mistakenly believed the pontiff was giving her an award, reports the Catholic News Agency.