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Abortion Not Discussed, Ex-Candidate Says : Vatican Hushes Up Ferraro's Papal Visit

April 25, 1985|Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II today received Geraldine A. Ferraro, who advocated "freedom of choice" on abortion during her vice presidential bid last year, in a brief private audience which she described as "an exciting moment for me as a Catholic."

In a highly unusual move, the Vatican neither announced the audience in advance nor confirmed it took place.

"I have nothing to say," said Msgr. Giulio Nicolini, a Vatican spokesman, when asked whether the pontiff had received Ferraro and her family.

The daily Vatican bulletin, which carries the Pope's audiences, Vatican appointments and texts of papal speeches, did not list John Paul's meeting with the New York Democrat. Ferraro said the session lasted 10 minutes.

Even after Ferraro met with reporters to discuss the audience, Nicolini said, "The Vatican's answer to reporters' questions whether she met with the Pope is, 'No comment.' "

The Vatican photo service also did not release any pictures of her meeting with John Paul, although it distributed photographs of his other audiences of the day.

Speaking with reporters outside the Church of Santa Francesca Romana overlooking the Roman Forum, Ferraro said she and the Pope discussed human rights and arms control issues. She did not elaborate.

In response to a question, Ferraro said they did not discuss her views on abortion. "We didn't have to," she said. "I'm no longer a public official. My private view is the same as the church's."

Her position on abortion touched off a heated controversy during the campaign.

Also with her at the papal audience were her husband, John A. Zaccaro, and their 21-year-old son John Jr., who is studying Italian and art in Florence.

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