CBS Hypes 'Staunch Conservative' Pope Francis; Rose Hounds Dolan on Women's Ordination

CBS wasted little time to play up newly-elected Pope Francis' "conservative" views on issues like abortion, same-sex "marriage", and birth control. On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell underlined how the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was "described as a staunch conservative". Mark Phillips also used the "conservative" label, and pointed out how the Pope's doctrinal stand has "not made him popular with relatively progressive Jesuit brothers."

Charlie Rose also pressed New York City Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan during the morning newscast about "doctrinal changes on ordination of women, on celibacy, on divorce." When Dolan emphasized that "doctrine can't change," Rose interjected, "But how do you respond to the fact that this really is the century of women?"

Correspondent Allen Pizzey, who hyped the Church sex abuse scandal as a "plague of biblical proportions" back in 2010, outlined on Tuesday's CBS Evening News that the new Roman pontiff is a "conservative...[who] opposes abortion, supports celibacy, and called gay adoption discrimination against children. But he could not stop Argentina from becoming the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage or dissuade the government from promoting free contraception and artificial insemination."

Later in the broadcast, correspondent Carter Evans joined other CBS on-air personalities in spotlighting a recent CBS News/New York Times poll that found that "more than half of Catholics in the U.S. believes that church is out of touch with their needs, especially on issues like birth control, ordaining women and allowing priests to marry. How Americans will react to the conservative philosophy of the new Pope remains to be seen."

Mark Phillips, CBS News Correspondent; Screen Cap From 14 March 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgThe following day, on CBS This Morning, CBS journalist Mark Phillips emphasized that "Pope Francis's conservative views on birth control, homosexuality, and women's rights have not made him popular with relatively progressive Jesuit brothers."

The morning show led their 8 am Eastern hour with an extended clip of Rose's interview of Archbishop Dolan, and just before O'Donnell used her "staunch conservative" label of Pope Francis:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Pope Francis is 76 years old, and there are questions about what his selection will mean for the Catholic Church and its policies.

Last night, Charlie [Rose] talked with New York's archbishop, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

[CBS News Graphic: "A Cardinal's View: NY's Cardinal Dolan On Election Of Pope Francis"]

CHARLIE ROSE (from pre-recorded interview): This notion that's he's being compared to Pope John XXIII, on the one hand – commitment to the poor, and also – and reform; and also to John Paul II, because he has the respect of conservatives. Is he part John XXIII and part John Paul II?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK: Yeah – could be. See, we always – people – people who observe the Church are always amazed that popes usually are doctrinally very traditional – or to use the word 'conservative'. I don't like labels, but that's the word they would use – which shouldn't surprise us. That's their job. But when it comes to social issues – care for the poor – then they're – they tend to be much more to the – to the reforming side, and I think John Paul II was that way-

ROSE: He's already there-

DOLAN: And think he's there. He's a man that would blend the two.

ROSE: You do not expect to see, as you didn't with Pope Benedict or Pope John Paul II, doctrinal changes-

DOLAN: No, never-

ROSE: On ordination of women, on celibacy, on divorce.


DOLAN: Doctrine can't change. So, to use the word (sic) doctrinal changes, for a Catholic, is almost an oxymoron. There are things that a Pope can change that would not be doctrine, but more matters of Church discipline. Priestly celibacy is not a doctrine of the Church. It's a discipline in the Church. Do I expect him to change it? No. Could he change it? Yes – possible, yes; probable, no. But there's that distinction. Ordination of women – that's a doctrinal thing. That's not discipline. John Paul II-

ROSE: But how do you respond to the fact that this really is the century of women, and this is a Church that needs to have women as part of its-

DOLAN: Sure. Well, I'll tell you this: when we walked into the Sistine Chapel, we were saying the Litany of the Saints, all right? Now, the highest you can be called to, in the Catholic Church, is to be a saint, and of the saints that we prayed, more than half were women, so (laughs). The woman who – who is the greatest human being model for – the person who's the greatest human being model for us happens to be a woman [the Virgin Mary]. That's where the Church is at her best. That's where – that's where the Church has also been known for lifting women up, ennobling them.

CBS has been promoting the agenda of heterodox dissenters inside the Catholic Church during their entire coverage of the papal conclave and the first hours of the new pontificate. On Sunday Morning on March 10, 2013, correspondent Barry Petersen made his bias against priestly celibacy clear in his lineup of talking heads. Anchor Scott Pelley questioned whether the Church should continue the "doctrinally conservative" legacy of John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Monday's CBS Evening News.

On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, fill-in anchor Anthony Mason and regular anchor Gayle King turned to the president of a coalition of religious sisters that was reprimanded by the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 2012 for  "manifest problematic statements and serious theological, even doctrinal errors" at their annual meetings.

Mere minutes before Pope Francis was introduced to the world on the balcony over St. Peter's Square, Phillips singled out two pro-women's ordination activists in the middle of a crowd of hundreds of thousands. Nearly eight years earlier, after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, Phillips also played up the supposedly "archconservative" reputation of the former pontiff and highlighted how he was "labeled by some as God's Rottweiler".

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