MSNBC Trivializes Pope Benedict’s Apology for Clergy Scandal

MSNBC’s Savannah Guthrie thinks the Vatican has “minimized” the clergy abuse scandals for months, before Pope Benedict’s Friday apology. And MSNBC seemed to do their level best to “minimize” that, during the 9a.m. EDT news hour.

Guthrie reported that the Vatican publicly apologized for the sex abuse scandals within the Catholic clergy Friday,  “after months of minimizing” the scandals.

“I have to ask,” Guthrie said to NBC correspondent Jim Maceda, “what prompted this apology?”

As Newsbusters reported earlier this afternoon, CNN one-upped MSNBC during its 9a.m. EDT news hour, with network anchor Kyra Phillips falsely claiming that the world still hasn’t heard the words “I’m sorry” from Pope Benedict XVI.

As Matthew Balan of Newsbusters pointed out in that post, Pope Benedict did actually use those two words in a recent letter to the Church in Ireland, where he expressed that he was “truly sorry” to the victims and their families; in addition, he expressed that he was “deeply sorry” back in the summer of 2008 at World Youth Day in Australia in a homily there.

Aside from those instances, the Pope has publicly expressed his sorrow many times for the for the clergy abuse scandals.

Jim Maceda acknowledged that the Pope asked forgiveness from God and from the victims and their families in his Friday homily; however, he added that “this was very similar to previous apologies,” and that there has been “no new ground broken.”

Maceda also noted that this year is “ironically, the Year of the Priest.”

The transcript of the segment which aired at 9:07a.m. EDT is as follows:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: There's news out of the Vatican this morning. After months of minimizing, the Pope made a public apology regarding the sex scandal plaguing the Catholic Church. NBC’s Jim Maceda is in Rome for us this morning. And Jim, I have to ask, what prompted this apology?

JIM MACEDA: Well, you know, rumors have been flying around for several weeks, Savannah, that he would, the Pope would be making some kind of announcement. We expected it to happen in this three-day jamboree. This is ironically the Year of the Priest. And these three days mark the very end of that festival. Some had suggested even that the Pope would make a personal apology for his own role–alleged role perhaps–in the scandal, or come out like his predecessor did ten years ago and make an institutional apology for the church as a whole. You'll recall that JPII apologized for hundreds of years of anti-semitism.

In the end he did comment on the crisis. It was about two lines on a five-page single-spaced homily. But still, he did beg forgiveness for God, and of the victims, and he said that he pledged that he would do everything to prevent this from happening again. But this was very similar to previous apologies. You’ll recall in the United States in 2008, in Malta, in Portugal; no new ground broken. But the context of speaking before 15,000 priests here gathered to get some spiritual guidance: that was highly symbolic.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And Jim, how is this going over with victims?

JIM MACEDA: Well, the victim support groups are very frustrated to say the least. They were hoping–they're not against apologies, they think those are good gestures– but they want to see concrete action and they were here hoping to hear something positive, that the Pope would talk, for instance about an international registry like the United States has done, putting all accused or convicted pedophile priests on a list that everyone could see, or release the 4,000 plus files that the Vatican put together itself investigating its own potential criminals that is sitting in vaults inside the Vatican. Those, they say, should be released to the priests. But there–again, no new ground, another apology, but they say, empty because it hasn't been followed by concrete action. Back to you.
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014