Wannabe Pope Bill Press, John Fugelsang: Benedict XVI 'Running the Catholic Church Into the Ground'

Radical talk show host Bill Press couldn't resist bashing Pope Benedict XVI one last time on Monday as the news broke that the pontiff would be abdicating at the end of February. Press, along with sidekick Peter Ogburn and regular guest John Fugelsang, forwarded common misconceptions from the left about Benedict's reign as pope and his previous work as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, especially his handling of the priest sex abuse scandal.

Fugelsang cracked, "It's my understanding that he wants to...devote more time to running the Catholic Church into the ground in the private sector." The left-wing radio host, who mocked the Pope for joining Twitter in December 2012, agreed wholeheartedly: "He's done a good job of running it into the ground from the Vatican – that's for sure." [audio available here; video below the jump] Press, a former seminarian, also half-jokingly fantasized about becoming pope himself:

BILL PRESS: They've got to have somebody in place ready to – ready to step in-

PETER OGBURN: Yeah! I was going to say, you don't know exactly how to handle it, since there hasn't been one since the 15th century-

PRESS: You have an acting pope-

OGBURN: (laughs) Right, right-

PRESS: I'm available! (laughs)

OGBURN: (laughs) Father Bill.

PRESS: Give me – no, Pope Bill-

OGBURN: Pope Bill-

PRESS: Give me – give me a couple of – just, all I want is a couple of weeks. I can straighten that Catholic Church out, I'll tell you. (Ogburn laughs)

Moments earlier, Ogburn gave a completely false impression of a speech delivered by the Holy Father on December 14, 2012: "This is the one, basically, where he came out and said, Merry Christmas to everyone. We are all very nice Christians, and we – we welcome all of you, except for gay people. You are all going to hell."

Of course, Benedict XVI said no such thing in this speech. The Bishop of Rome actually forwarded the Church's perennial teaching about the nature of the Sacrament of Marriage as being between one man and one woman:

There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union; such attempts actually harm and help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society.

Press also played a clip of the Pope speaking in Italian that he purported to be from the same speech, but it was actually from the pontiff's annual Urbi et Orbi blessing on Christmas Day just over a week later.

Forty minutes later, during the segment with Fugelsang, the lapsed Catholic radio host falsely claimed that "as Joseph Ratzinger, he was the one who basically told bishops and cardinals around the country, hey, this priest abuse scandal – whatever you do, don't tell the cops, right? You know? Let's just keep it in-house." The Current TV regular actually wouldn't go as far as Press, but asserted that the Pope was actually guilty of scapegoating homosexual priests for the abuse:


FUGELSANG: Well, yeah. I mean, that's what a lot of people say he's responsible for. I mean, we know [Cardinal Roger] Mahoney definitely did that in L.A.-

PRESS: Yeah, yeah-

FUGELSANG: But, you know, the big sin of this pope, I think, when it comes to that scandal – because we don't know what he tried to cover up, but we do know he tried blaming it on gay priests. And gay priests don't molest boys. Gay priests have – they have boyfriends already. So, I – I don't really know what we're going to find out.

Actually, the 2004 John Jay report on the priest sex abuse scandals in the U.S. found that 81 percent of the victims were male, and more than half were between 11 and 14 years old, which is the common age range for the onset of puberty. Those two statistics point to a largely same-sex hebephilia scandal, one that Fugelsang appears to brush aside.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center