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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Pelosi Talks Politics, Personal Faith in Discussion

Nancy Pelosi (H ’02), the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, explored the interplay between her personal faith and political career with Georgetown University students March 23.

The Center on Faith and Justice — an institute that advocates for the integration of religious values into the building of an equitable, multiracial democracy — held the event as the first in a series entitled “Higher Calling,” which centers on the role faith plays in political leaders’ lives and careers. Rev. Jim Wallis, the center’s director, hosted the talk.

First elected to Congress in a 1987 special election, Pelosi has represented San Francisco in the House for over 35 years. She became the first female Speaker of the House in 2007, serving until 2011 and then again from 2019 to 2023. 

Pelosi began the event by discussing her upbringing in Baltimore where her Italian American parents raised her to see public service and respect as responsibilities brought upon them by their Catholic faith.

“It was always about helping other people,” Pelosi said at the event. “We were always, always, always told, just by example, knowing that you had to treat people with great respect. We’re all God’s children, and whatever our differences are, you have to be treated with respect, and that there’s a spark of divinity in every person.”

Pelosi’s political views have often come into conflict with Catholic doctrine, such as when Salvatore Cordileone, the Archbishop of San Francisco, blocked her from receiving communion in May 2022 after Pelosi spoke out in support of protecting abortion rights through legislation.

Criticizing Cordileone, Pelosi highlighted transgender rights and abortion as issues where her politics and interpretation of faith have been incorrectly accused of contradicting doctrine. 

Pelosi said her interpretation of Catholicism allows everyone to have autonomy in choosing their own path without undue restriction. 

“All God’s children — they have their own dignity and worth, their own individuality, their own authenticity. And that’s a beautiful thing for us to embrace, all God’s creation. We have a free will. God has given us a free will. And we have a moral responsibility to live up to that response, that free will,” Pelosi said. 

Speaker Emerita of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) discussed the interplay between her personal faith and political career March 23.

Pelosi said religious faith has given her and others the gift of hope, and that hope pushed her through the personal hardship of recovering from the attempted murder of her husband, Paul Pelosi (SFS ’62), in October 2022.

“When people ask me, ‘Where is hope? Why shouldn’t we give up?’ I’ll say, hope is where it has always been, sitting comfortably between faith and charity,” Pelosi said. “People have faith in the goodness of others. That gives them hope. So faith was key to all of it.”

In the wake of increasing violence against public servants, including the attack on her husband, Pelosi said she often reminds candidates — and herself — of the reasons motivating them to serve in Congress.

“My ‘why’ is one in five children in America is in poverty, goes to sleep hungry at night. What? In the greatest country that ever existed in the history of the world? That’s what took me from the kitchen to the Congress, from housewife to House speaker,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi began her career as one of 23 female representatives in the House. Today, 125 women serve as representatives in the House and 25 as senators in an increasingly diverse Congress — something Pelosi said benefits American government. 

“Nothing is more wholesome in the political process and government or anything — academic world, corporate America, military, security, anything — than the full participation of women in leadership,” Pelosi said. “And I would expand that to say diversity writ large. Not just women, but younger people, people of color.”

Pelosi said two crucial elements contribute to her understanding of the connection between her responsibilities in government and her faith: prioritizing justice in legislation and having personal courage.

“Justice in terms of how we meet the needs of people, justice in listening to how they want their needs met, with having them at the table,” Pelosi said. “The sacrifice of our men and women in uniform for the freedom we have to do what we do, and the aspirations of our children as we listen to all of you as to what you want the future to be. One word makes the difference in all of this, and that is courage.”

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About the Contributor
Evie Steele
Evie Steele, Executive Editor
Evie Steele is a sophomore in the SFS from New York, N.Y., studying international politics with minors in international development and Chinese. She has been on TV twice and has been quoted in Deadline once. [email protected]
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