CNN.com Lectures Catholic Church on How to Be 'Light Unto All Nations'

At CNN.com, correspondent Ben Wedeman touted "what some Catholics want in next pope," and by "some Catholics" he meant those who thought Pope Benedict's papacy was too conservative or inward-looking. He arrogantly prescribed that if the next pontiff focuses on social justice and has a global outreach, "Then perhaps the Catholic Church can be a light unto all nations."

Since when could CNN reporters tell the Catholic church what it should be doing? Wedeman hammered the church's problems, "a church in which the gap between the shepherd and his flock seems to be growing ever wider." He hyped the "Winds buffeting the church."

All of his guests aired complaints of some sort about Benedict's papacy. The first guest claimed she didn't "need a contact to reach God." The second wanted the next pope to have a "liberal plan for the church, something like John XXIII did."

"With Rome in the grip of winter, the windows of the Pope's offices overlooking St. Peter's Square are closed. Winds buffeting the church come from outside Europe," Wedeman noted.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN.com on February 13, is as follows:

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN senior international correspondent: The basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of Rome's oldest churches. But today, tourists seem to outnumber the faithful. In this age of uncertainty, buildings such as these are more monuments to art and architecture rather than a bridge between mortals and the Almighty. 18 year-old student Eva Bertelli walks by the church, but doesn't enter.

EVA BERTELLI, student: (Unintelligible)

WEDEMAN: "I don't need a contact to reach God," she says. "I don't need an intermediary on earth to resolve my problems."

Pope Benedict's surprise announcement that he's about to resign has once more brought the crisis in the Catholic Church into sharp focus, a church in which the gap between the shepherd and his flock seems to be growing ever wider. Torn asunder by pedophile scandals, financial controversy, a crisis of faith.

Reginald Segar, a doctor from Louisiana visiting Rome, says it's time for change.

REGINALD SEGAR, doctor from Louisiana visiting Rome: You know, somebody who can bring in new ideas with the – maybe a little bit more liberal idea – liberal plan for the church, something like John XXIII did, where he opened up the windows of the church to let the Spirit come in and help guide us.

WEDEMAN: With Rome in the grip of winter, the windows of the Pope's offices overlooking St. Peter's Square are closed. Winds buffeting the church come from outside Europe.

Vatican City may be based in Rome, but in many respects the Catholic church is no longer a European institution. Only one in four Catholics lives in Europe, and now that it's time to elect a new pope, many say that it's time that the Pope reflect that new reality.

The flock may be shrinking here and in North America, but it's growing in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Pope Benedict tried shoring up Catholicism on his native continent. A mistake, perhaps, says Father Carmine Curci, who spent years in Africa and Latin America.

FATHER CARMINE CURCI, Misna News Agency: His life was more European. He didn't like to travel a lot. Even though he liked to talk with African people, to talk with Latin American people. Maybe now it's too late.

WEDEMAN: Too late for this pope, but not for the next.

FATHER BERNARDO CERVELLERA, Asia News: A missionary pope towards Europe.

WEDEMAN: Fr. Bernardo Cervellera runs a Catholic news service specializing in Asia. He believes it's not the birthplace of the next pope that matters, but rather a focus on social justice.

CERVELLERA: Focusing on human being and not on profit, all these things which are terribly modern because we have an economic crisis in which the need of the people are forgotten, the need of finance are immediately answered to.

WEDEMAN: Then perhaps the Catholic Church can be a light unto all nations.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014