House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband left Mass at a church in Rome Saturday evening due to a “security incident,” the church’s rector said.
“You probably heard or saw the commotion. Unfortunately, I guess, there was a security incident and sadly Speaker Pelosi and her husband had to leave,” Fr. Steven Petroff, rector of St. Patrick’s Church in Rome, said in a video posted on social media.
“She was going to do our second reading today, but of course her safety is most important,” he said.
Veteran Rome journalist Joan Lewis told CNA Sunday that she had spoken to Petroff, who told her that the security concerns stemmed from restive demonstrations going on in the streets of Rome Saturday that were moving into the area where St. Patrick’s is located.
“What Fr. Steve learned after Mass was that a large number of the anti-Green Card protestors were moving in the direction of Via Veneto and they appeared to be violent,” Lewis said in an instant message exchange with CNA. Lewis emphasized that Pelosi wasn’t the target of heckling, as some news reports suggested.
A spokesman for Pelosi told CNA on Sunday that “it was Italian security officials who made the decision to pull the Speaker out of the church.”
Pelosi, a leading Catholic politician who has clashed with her local ordinary, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, over her support of abortion, traveled to Rome to give the keynote address at the opening session of the G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit on Friday. On Saturday, she and her husband, businessman Paul Pelosi, met with Pope Francis and other top Vatican officials.