Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- The rift between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Catholic Church will likely grow thanks to new comments the abortion advocate made. Pelosi said in a new interview that the "free will" of women wanting abortions outweighs pro-life Catholic teachings.
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift conducted a year-end interview with Pelosi.
The conversation turned to the topic of abortion and health care and Pelosi blasted the Catholic bishops for their opposition to the pro-abortion bill.
She tells Clift it was frustrating that Catholic bishops "were not willing to accept what we know to be a fact" -- that the "public option" would supposedly not violate a ban on federally-funded abortions.
Then, as Clift asks about her "brushes" with the church, Pelosi drops a bomb.
"I have some concerns about the church's position respecting a woman's right to choose," Pelosi responds. "I am a practicing Catholic, although they're probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith."
"I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions," she continues. "And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will."
Pelosi also told Newsweek she doesn't appreciate being lobbied on abortion but understands her local Catholic officials will try to persuade her.
"When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock," she said. "When they call me on the phone here to talk about, or come to see me about an issue, that's a different story. Then they are advocates, and I am a public official, and I have a different responsibility."
The comments will likely throw fuel on the fire of public opinion within pro-life and Catholic circles that Pelosi is well-outside the mainstream -- but she tells the pro-abortion Newsweek reporter she doesn't care.
"I don't choose to spend my time countering perceptions and mischaracterizations that the other side puts out there. I choose to do my job. Because we are effective, I continue to be the target," Pelosi contends.
Pelosi also talked about how she discussed the abortion funding in the health care bill with a Catholic leader.
"I talked to one of the cardinals. I said to him that I believe that what we are doing honors the principles we talked about: we want to pass a health-care bill, we want it to be abortion neutral, and we want it to [have] no federal funding [for abortion], which is the law. And we believe that our language does that," she recounted. "They said, 'We believe that it does not.' I said, let's sit down at the table and our lawyers can compare language."
For Pelosi, her motive appears to be more about winning than her reputation and standing.
"I don't care how popular I am. I'm not putting myself out there to run for higher office. I just [want to] make sure that we win the election next year," she said.The new comments follow on the heels of Pelosi thanking God that the Senate health care bill funds abortions.