VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis met on Saturday with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic who has come under criticism from some bishops in the United States for her support for abortion rights.
Their meeting took place several weeks before Joe Biden is expected to meet the pope while the U.S. president is in Rome for talks between leaders of the Group of 20 major economies.
Biden, the second Catholic U.S. president, has said he is personally opposed to abortion but, as a politician, cannot impose his views. Pelosi, who has five children, has said she supports a woman’s right to choose.
Biden’s administration and Pelosi have urged judges to block a new Texas law which bars abortions from six weeks, saying it is unconstitutional. The ban was temporarily reinstated on Friday by a conservative-leaning appeals court.
The Catholic Church teaches that human life begins at the moment of conception and Biden and Pelosi have been criticised by conservative Catholic media and U.S. conservative bishops, some of whom say neither should be allowed to receive communion.
Last month the pope, asked about the U.S. communion debate, told reporters abortion is “murder”, even soon after conception, and appeared to criticise U.S. Catholic bishops for dealing with the issue in a political rather than pastoral way.
“Communion is not a prize for the perfect … communion is a gift, the presence of Jesus and his Church,” the pope said.
In June, a divided conference of U.S. Roman Catholic bishops voted to draft a statement on communion that some bishops say should specifically admonish Catholic politicians, including Biden. They take up the issue again next month.
In a statement, Pelosi said the audience with the pope was a “spiritual, personal and official honor”. She praised his defence of the environment, immigrants, refugees and the poor.
The Vatican announced Pelosi’s audience with the pope in its daily bulletin but gave no details.
After Pelosi met former Pope Benedict in 2009, the Vatican said he had told her that legislators and other public figures should help create “a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development”.
The archbishop in Pelosi’s home city of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, has said public figures who support abortion should be denied communion in his archdiocese and has urged Catholics to pray for Pelosi’s “conversion of heart”.
Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., has not tried to stop Biden, a regular church-goer, from receiving communion.
Biden’s meeting with the pope will be the first since his election although they have met several times before, including when he was vice-president to Barack Obama.
Pelosi is in Rome for a Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit ahead of the G20 as well as a meeting of parliamentary leaders before of the U.N. Climate Change Summit (COP20) next month in Glasgow.
Francis told the parliamentarians separately on Saturday they had a decisive role to play in protecting the environment.
The Vatican announced on Friday that the pope would not be going to Glasgow but that its delegation would be headed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the secretary of state.
Foreign-born population soars to new record under Biden; highest rate of immigrants since 1910
The U.S. has had a massive surge in immigration this year, with as many as 1.5 million newcomers and a record 46.2 million foreign-born people, according to a report for the Center for Immigration Studies.
After a deep trough last year, likely because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the travel and migration restrictions imposed to control the spread, the flow of people rebounded around the time President Biden was elected.
In numbers never seen before, they are coming legally through airports and land border crossings and illegally across the Rio Grande and remote regions of Arizona and California.
“There was pent-up demand for legal immigration, and illegal immigration has exploded in one of the greatest surges, if not the greatest, we’ve ever seen,” said Steven A. Camarota, the demographer who was the chief author of the report. “It’s driving the numbers up and up and up.”
As it stands, 14.2% of the U.S. population is foreign-born, or 1 out of every 7 people. That is the highest rate of immigrants in the population since 1910, when the number was 14.7%. At current trends, the government says, the U.S. will break that record well before the end of this decade.
Those numbers are even starker given the reversal of trends.
The data showed a drop of 1.2 million immigrants from February to September 2020, likely the result of coronavirus restrictions blocking new entrants, even as outmigration continued. That left the population of the foreign-born — the Census Bureau’s term — at 43.8 million.
It was up to 45 million by January and marched steadily to the current 46.2 million total shown for last month.
In the year after President Trump’s election, the immigrant population flattened.
Mashup: MSM worst moments of 2021
Salvation Army’s Internal Survey Suggests Only Whites Are Racist
“I Took The Salvation Army’s Internal Survey On ‘Racism’ Within The Organization. Here’s What I Discovered.”
The Salvation Army has recently come under significant fire for asking white donors to “offer a sincere apology” for racism. The nearly 150-year old organization created a curriculum entitled “Let’s Talk About Racism” and shared it with its members, along with associated DEI Trainings that cite and draw from Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi’s work. The packet argues that Christians should “stop trying to be ‘colorblind’” and that they should apologize for being “antagonistic.. to black people or the culture, values and interests of the black community.” In response, donors by the thousands have vowed not to donate until the organization reverses their stance.
The Salvation Army has denied any wrongdoing, defiantly calling the allegations that they have gone woke “false.” While they admit that the topic of race in America can be fraught with controversy, they have denied they have “gone woke.” Much of their denial centers around their claim that use of the guide was completely voluntary, and that they are not peddling critical race narratives in their organization.
I obtained a copy of The Salvation Army’s internal survey on “racism within the Salvation Army” and tested that claim.
One Salvation Army officer reached out on condition of anonymity to Color Us United, the raceblind advocacy organization which I run, to reveal an internal survey he was asked to take. It was not a voluntary survey, and was sent by the Territorial Diversity and Inclusion Secretary to every Salvation Army Officer in the US Central Territory. The purpose of the survey, according to an email from the “Territorial Racial Diversity and Inclusion Secretary,” was “to better understand perception of institutional racial bias within The Salvation Army.” The accompanying email stated that there was no “preconceived idea” with regard to whether or not racism existed in The Salvation Army, and told recipients that there were no wrong answers.
I sat down and went through the questions.
First, Questions #1, #2, and #3 asked me for my race, age, and gender. I could not skip these questions. Already, I felt uncomfortable being required to list my personal attributes. If I was an officer, I would be wondering: how could this information be used against me in the future? (They did promise anonymity in this survey.)
The survey then asks Salvationists if they agree with the following definition of racism: “Institutional racism refers to organizational or system processes, behaviors, policies, or procedures, which produce negative outcomes for nonwhites relative to those for whites.” The remaining questions in the survey are dependent upon agreeing to this definition of racism. For any Officer or Soldier who disagrees with this framing, there is no way to express any disagreement or nuance apart from plainly saying that racism does not exist.
Question #6 goes on to ask the survey taker whether they believe there is any institutional bias or racism in The Salvation Army. Question #7 says: “If you answered no to question #6, do you think others in The Salvation Army think there are racial tensions or institutional racism?” The purpose of these questions, I started to feel, was to force the survey taker to admit that The Salvation Army is institutionally racist according to their definition of racism. There is no room for any Officer to elaborate on how they disagree with the definitions, framing, or worldview informing the questions.
The final question asks: “What is the best way to address Racism in The Salvation Army?” The answer options are: “individual reconciliation,” “group reconciliation,” “addressing structures and practices that cause racism,” “all of the above,” or “other.” Note that there is no option for the survey taker to simply say that racism is not a problem in The Salvation Army. The survey (which according to the email, was “intended to go to all the officers within your division, employees, and soldiers” for the Central Territory) simply assumes that racism is present in the organization.
Going through the survey, it became apparent that the survey was attempting to lead me to making only one conclusion about The Salvation Army – that it harbored problematic racism.
This belief is one of the core tenets of critical race theory. Critical race theorists teach that racism is ubiquitous in all aspects of American life. They also teach that it works systemically; that is, by being ingrained in the systems and institutions that operate in society. Their primary evidence of the system being racist is the reality that individuals from different demographics have different life outcomes on average, without taking into account any variables that might impact said life outcomes apart from the color of their skin. All of these concepts are reflected in The Salvation Army’s survey.
Any officer who believes in individualism, colorblindness, and meritocracy will be unable to answer any of the survey questions in good faith. Any officer who believes that The Salvation Army is not a racist organization would not be able to answer these questions in good faith either. Many (if not most) Americans believe that racism is primarily an issue of individuals who harbor feelings of hate against those of other races, not a society-wide conspiracy as alleged by antiracist activists. This survey totally excludes the colorblind perspective from the conversation and forces Officers and other Salvationists into a critical race theory-informed box.