(CNSNews.com) - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters present at her weekly Capitol Hill news conference to “get excited” about newly elected Pope Francis.
While discussing with Capitol Hill reporters on Thursday her experience watching the selection of the new pope, Pelosi said: “Isn’t it exciting? I think so. Get excited. This is big, this is big.”
Earlier in the press briefing, Pelosi said she was happy to hear Pope Francis chose his name based off of Saint Francis of Assisi, for whom Pelosi’s home city of San Francisco is named.
“It’s pretty exciting that we have a pope. Habemus Papam. As a San Franciscan, I’m particularly happy the name that the Pope has chosen, Francis,” she said.
“Yesterday, I wasn’t sure whether the name was for Saint Francis of Assisi who is the patron Saint of San Francisco or for Saint Francis Xavier,” she added.
“Today it appears that Saint Francis of Assisi is the namesake of our new Pope. It’s pretty exciting.”
On Wednesday in Rome, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was selected to be the new pope of the Catholic Church, becoming Pope Francis I.
Pelosi, a liberal Democrat, identifies as a Roman Catholic but has also defended the Health and Human Services mandate requiring nearly all health insurance plans to provide free coverage of contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients -- all of which are in violation of Catholic Church teachings.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has unanimously declared the mandate to be “illegal and unjust.”
“There’s one thing, one of the things that is a priority for all, for the women in Congress, many of the Catholic women in Congress, is the health of American women,” Pelosi said in Feb. 2012 when asked by CNSNews.com whether she supports the mandate.
“This is about the privacy and right of families to determine whether they want to use contraception to determine the size and the timing of their having children, the size and timing of their families.”
She added that Republicans who oppose the mandate are using the “excuse of religious freedom” to justify their position.
“It’s a sad one,” she later said. “We shouldn’t have to be to a place where people are saying—when the overwhelming practice is going in favor of women’s health—‘we want to pull that back.’ And use the excuse of religious freedom, which, of course, this is not.”
The new pope, as cardinal of Buenos Aires, has spoken out strongly against abortion and contraception -- and Catholic politicians who publicly advocate for them.
At a 2011 conference of Latin American bishops in Aparecida, Brazil, Cardinal Bergoglio presented a document to then-Pope Benedict on behalf of Latin American Bishops calling for priests not to serve Holy Communion to those who advocate for abortion and euthanasia.
“(W)e should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence,’ that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated,” the document said.
“This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals,” it highlighted.
And in a 2007 speech, Bergoglio contrasted Argentina’s position against capitla punishment with the reality of abortion in his country.
“(I)n Argentina we have the death penalty -- a child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death,” the cardinal said.