CNN Touts Guests Who Advocate Radical Changes in Catholic Church

Kyra Phillips, CNN Anchor; Rev. Serene Jones, Union Theological Seminary (top); Dan Barley, Voice of the Faithful (middle); & Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry | NewsBusters.orgCNN's Kyra Phillips brought on three heterodox Christians on Friday's Newsroom, all of whom endorse leftist "reforms" inside the Catholic Church, such as women priests and acceptance of homosexual behavior. Phillips didn't bring on any guests who defended the Church's positions, and actually egged on her guests: "I think all three of you need to head to the Vatican and institute some change."

The anchor's guests, who appeared during a segment seven minutes into the 10 am Eastern hour, all work for institutions that hold non-traditional views inside the Catholic or wider Christian religion. Dan Bartley is president of the Voice of the Faithful, an organization which has pushed for end to priestly celibacy and endorsed liberal dissenting theologians such as Rev. Charles Curran. Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, endorses homosexual "marriage." Reverend Serene Jones, who isn't even Catholic, is president of the Union Theological Seminary, and appeared almost a year ago on CNN to promote a "progressive evangelical" future in Protestant Christianity. She also endorsed same-sex "marriage" on the left-wing Huffington Post.

After a report from correspondent Frederick Pleitgen from Berlin on the recent developments in the Church sex abuse scandal, Phillips turned to her panel. She initially didn't raise hard questions, and instead, prompted them their takes on the situation. The two nominal Catholics both hinted that they wanted to use the scandal to push their dissenting agendas:
PHILLIPS: Francis, your thoughts.

DEBERNARDO: Well, I think that most Catholics find that their experience of God and their experience of church is what is keeping them connected. And when I say their experience of church, I mean their experience of the local church. And so, yes, this is a time of trial and it's a very difficult time testing the faith of many, but I find that many Catholics are staying because they do not want to give up on their church, and they do not want the men who are in charge of the Church right now to win this battle.

PHILLIPS: Dan, what are you seeing?

BARTLEY: Well, clearly, we have a case of failed leadership, and have for some time. But this is a historical moment where lay Catholics need to step up to the plate and really take responsibility and ownership of our church and cause change. We love our church, but it has to change, and now is the time for the great majority of Catholics- the lay Catholics- to step up to the plate.
Later in the segment, Jones took it a step further, and made it clear that she took issue to the institution of the papacy itself: "The Pope needs to be held by the same standards that every priest is held to, also every school teacher is held to. There's no one immune to these basic standards, and he needs to open himself up to transparency, to accountability, and to discipline, and if that's where it leads, then it will be a question of justice and truth, not a question of the papacy, as if it is inherent good in itself, that deserves extraordinary protections. It simply doesn't."

Jones, who is also a former chair of the "Gender, Woman, and Sexuality Studies" at Yale, also channeled the standard radical feminist position on the hierarchy of the Church: "Part of the problem with the present structure in Rome is that it was built around notions of exclusion, and that you could create a group of people- all men- that are supposed to be celibate, that is better above the law. You start building those borders around groups of people, and you're in for oppression, and in for bad news."

Near the end of the segment, the CNN anchor asked all three, "If you had the ability to make one major change within the Catholic Church today, what would it be?" DeBernardo replied, "The change that I would call for is an open dialogue on issues of governance and issues of sexuality. I think that there has to be a much larger conversation on these matters in the Church." Unsurprisingly, Jones unsurprisingly endorsed the ordaining of women, which she also did during an earlier segment with Phillips on March 19: "I would allow women to become priests. I would allow marriage, which would in and of itself would completely redefine the church and the priesthood and open it up in wonderful ways."

Barley advocated turning the Catholic Church into something more like the Anglican Communion: "I would change the way that bishops are selected in the United States- actually, throughout the world. It should be a local issue, and people should be loyal and dedicated to their local community, not misguided loyalties to the institution." Phillips then concluded the discussion with her "head to the Vatican and institute some change" endorsement.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center