NANCY PELOSI’S ROME VISIT: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

NANCY PELOSI’S ROME VISIT: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

By now I am sure all or most of you know that Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in Rome for several days during which she addressed the G20 Parliamentary Speakers Summit, met with Italian leaders and was received in audience by Pope Francis at which time she also met Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.

Catholic News Agency reported on that Vatican visit, including some Vatican-issued photos: Pope Francis and Nancy Pelosi meet at the Vatican (catholicnewsagency.com)**

I was out of town on Saturday but back in Rome for a dinner engagement. I saw a news report late at night on my return home from dinner that said that Speaker Pelosi had “reportedly” been heckled at evening Mass at my American parish of St. Patrick’s. I was taken aback and knew I had to talk to Fr. Steve Petroff, St. Pat’s rector, the next morning when I attended and lectored at the 10:30 Mass.

Sunday afternoon I was besieged by media requests, mainly from colleagues who know I am a member of the parish, who wanted to know what happened.

Here is that story:

I spoke to Fr. Steve when I arrived for the 10:30 Mass, telling him about the report I had seen (and he had not seen, at that point) and I asked him what happened. The very first, and last thing, he told me was “there were no hecklers at all.”

Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic, was accompanied by her security detail to St. Patrick’s for the 6 pm Saturday Mass. She was in the church when demonstrations got to the point that her security detail came inside and said she had to leave. Though she did not want to, they accompanied her outside and into waiting vehicles with a police escort.

On Saturday there were ugly and often violent demonstrations in Rome, especially by groups against the vaccine mandate. That violence spilled out over the city and included the famous Via Veneto where the American embassy is located. St Patrick’s Catholic Church is 3 blocks from Via Veneto and the embassy.

Police presence in the Veneto-Boncompagni area was such that some parishioners were unable to make the 6 pm Mass as they were not allowed by police to be around or anywhere near the embassy, thus they could not go on Via Boncompagni to the church.

It was Pelosi’s security detail that made her leave Mass for her own safety. Fr. Steve had no briefing or heads up from the security detail, only later from the Charge d’affaires of the US Embassy to the Holy See, Patrick Connell.

You’d have to see some of the photos and videos of what was happening Rome to understand security’s interest in whisking the speaker away from church.

Father Steve learned after Mass that a large number of the anti-Green Card protestors were moving in the direction of Via Veneto and they appeared to be violent. This is what led her security team to insist that she leave the church to, we can assume, be moved to a more secure location.

Fr. Steve told me “never was there any protesting or heckling of her in or outside the church. I am witness to that – nothing.”

He also told me, as he did members of the media who asked about the reported heckling, that he’d be more than happy to welcome Speaker Pelosi back to the parish.

Here is CNA’s report on the security issue with Speaker Pelosi: Nancy Pelosi leaves Mass in Rome due to security concerns (catholicnewsagency.com)

(** If memory serves me correctly, it is quite unusual that a Pope receives a non-head of State or non-head of government in an audience that includes a one-on-one talk, photos ops, an exchange of gifts, meetings with the cardinal secretary of State, etc. The latter – a meeting with Cardinal Parolin – is not, however, off the table but is usually reserved for heads of State or government (Pelosi is neither). I was curious at the meeting. It differed enormously from her February 18, 2009 meeting with Pope Benedict XVI).