'Today' Panel Proclaims 'Watershed Moment' for Gay Catholics, Demands Women Priests

During a panel discussion on Thursday's NBC Today about comments from Pope Francis on homosexuality, co-host Matt Lauer asked the group of usual liberal pundits if the Pontiff's remarks were a "watershed moment for gays in the Church" or "just a very minor shift." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Advertising executive Donny Deutsch cheered: "I think it was a watershed moment. I think we're seeing a moment in time from the Catholic Church, all across what's happening in this country with laws being passed, that the gay lifestyle is finally becoming like, 'Yeah, so what?'"

Lauer tried to rein in his enthusiasm: "Let me interrupt you there. It's not the gay lifestyle, because the Church still considers homosexual sex acts to be a sin." Deutsch dismissed that reality: "But my point, the leader of that church, and I don't care if it's a country or an institution, one person can change things. He was making a big statement. He was saying, 'Who am I to judge? We're all equal.' I thought it was huge."

Trying to top Deutsch's assertion of a leftward shift in the Church, chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman demanded: "I think it will be a watershed moment as soon as women can become priests."

Like with Deutsch, Lauer had to pull Snyderman back to reality: "...when asked about the possibility of this, [the Pope] said, 'No, John Paul II decided that. That issue is closed.'" And also like Deutsch, that did not deter Snyderman: "Yeah, and it should be open and on everybody's conversations."

Remember, Snyderman is the one who once said that the "religion part" of Christmas "mucks the whole thing up."


Here is a full transcript of the August 1 exchange:

8:38AM ET

MATT LAUER: It's 8:38 and we're back with Today's Professionals, here to weigh in on some of the stories making headlines. Star Jones, Donny Deutsch, Dr. Nancy Snyderman. Folks, welcome back from vacation, good to have you here. You haven't been here in a while, so you missed commenting on some big stories in the news.

How about the Pope giving a press conference on the plane on the way back from Brazil. He was asked about gays in the Church, about gay priests, and here's what he said: "Who am I to judge a gay person of good will who seeks the Lord? You can't marginalize these people." Some people heard that comment, they thought it was a watershed moment for gays in the Church. Others said it's really just a very minor shift, and it doesn't mean a lot. Where do you come down?

STAR JONES: I think it's consistent with the Christian spirit of welcoming everybody into the Church of Christ. However, you didn't hear him make any changes as it relates to celibacy. And so a heterosexual priest or a homosexual priest would still have to be celibate.

DONNY DEUTSCH: I think it was a watershed moment. I think we're seeing a moment in time from the Catholic Church, all across what's happening in this country with laws being passed, that the gay lifestyle is finally becoming like, "Yeah, so what?"

LAUER: Let me interrupt you there. It's not the gay lifestyle, because the Church still considers homosexual sex acts to be a sin.

DEUTSCH: But my point, the leader of that church, and I don't care if it's a country or an institution, one person can change things. He was making a big statement. He was saying, "Who am I to judge? We're all equal." I thought it was huge.

NANCY SNYDERMAN: I think it will be a watershed moment as soon as women can become priests.

LAUER: And by the way, he made that comment during that same press conference, when asked about the possibility of this, he said, "No, John Paul II decided that. That issue is closed."

SNYDERMAN: Yeah, and it should be open and on everybody's conversations.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC