SAN FRANCISCO House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, under fire from U.S. bishops for comments she made about abortion, accepted on Friday an invitation from the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco for a private talk.
Pelosi said in a letter to Archbishop George Niederauer that she'd "welcome the opportunity for our personal conversation and to go beyond our earlier most cordial exchange about immigration and needs of the poor to Church teaching on other significant matters."
The proposed meeting stems from comments Pelosi made Aug. 24 on NBC's "Meet the Press." The Democratic congresswoman defended her support for abortion by saying "doctors of the church" have not been able to define when life begins.
She also cited the role of individual conscience. "God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions," she said.
Niederauer, who extended the invitation in the Friday column of the archdiocesan newspaper, and other bishops say that the church from its earliest days has considered abortion evil.
Niederauer said Pelosi's remarks were in "serious conflict" with church teaching and it was his duty to explain clearly church teachings about faith and morals.
Several U.S. bishops have condemned the remarks made by Pelosi, a Catholic school graduate who repeatedly has expressed pride in and love for her religious heritage.
While Pelosi's letter said she was interested in speaking about "church teaching on other significant matters," it did not mention abortion specifically. Her spokesman has defended her comments, saying in a previous statement that the congresswoman "fully appreciates the sanctity of family."