ABC Gushes Over Meeting Between 'Philomena' and Pope, But Still Vilifies Catholic Church

Wednesday's Good Morning America on ABC ballyhooed the "breaking news" that Pope Francis shook hands with the real-life inspiration for the anti-Catholic movie "Philiomena" at the Vatican. George Stephanopoulos trumpeted the "moving journey for the woman portrayed by Judi Dench in the Oscar-nominated film" and her "remarkable story."

Cynthia McFadden slantingly gushed that "a woman, once shamed by the Catholic Church for having a baby out of wedlock, was invited today to meet Pope Francis," and mouthed the caption of Rolling Stone's recent cover featuring the pontiff: "The times – they are a-changin'." McFadden did her best to boost the movie and failed to mention conservative objections to the production. She also went out of her way to spotlight the United Nations' ideologically-tinged attack on the Church: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: Like Philomena, an approximate 60,000 unwed Irish Catholic women were forced to give up their babies. Now, Philomena hopes that the Pope may help those women and those children reunite. This all came today in the wake of a scathing U.N. report criticizing the Catholic Church for its – for the child abuse scandals; and also, criticizing the Pope for his attitudes on homosexuality.

McFadden spent the bulk of her segment lionizing Philomena Lee. After her Bob Dylan-quoting lead, she outlined that "eighty-year-old Philomena Lee could never have imagined this moment back in 1952 – when she was a young unwed mother – being here in St. Peter's Square invited by Pope Francis to Mass. This woman of unceasing faith touching the hand of the leader of the faithful."

The ABC journalist continued by gushing that the encounter between Pope Francis and Lee is "an ending not even Hollywood could write – fitting since Philomena is now known around the world from the Oscar-nominated movie bearing her name." She then played the first of two clips from her interview of the real-life Philiomena, where she heralded the movie:

MCFADDEN: A very long time ago, when you were 18 years old, could you have imagined?

PHILOMENA LEE: Could I have imagined meeting the Pope one day?

MCFADDEN: Having a movie made about your life?

LEE: No way; no way – no way would I ever have imagined it.

McFadden continuing boosting the movie later in the segment, and acclaimed the woman getting all the attention because of it:


MCFADDEN: As the movie so wrenchingly portrays, Philomena was just 18 and unmarried, when she gave birth to a son in an Irish home for unwed mothers run by an order of nuns. She was forced to give him up three years later. She hid her secret for 50 years....Despite all she went through, her faith, she tells me, never wavered.

LEE: You can't go through life being so unyielding. You have got to forgive. You've got to – just have to forgive.

MCFADDEN: We were with her for this latest chapter of her astonishing story – a journey that has taken her to red carpets and Capitol Hill – and even the Golden Globes. But today's journey here to Vatican City is a remarkable show of the power of forgiveness. Despite the Catholic nuns who took so much from her, her belief so palpable for all to see.

The correspondent included her tidbit about the United Nations report near the end of the segment, but omitted that the Pope's press office struck back at the international body for its "attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom." Besides criticizing the Church's teaching on homosexual acts, the report also "heavily criticised the Vatican's attitudes towards homosexuality, contraception and abortion," according to a Wednesday report from the BBC.

As Ed Morrissey of Hot Air correctly pointed out, the U.N. is "uniquely hypocritical here...since its own military missions have for years gone on rape and sexual-abuse rampages, especially in Africa." But ABC couldn't let that detail get in the way of their promotion of Hollywood's latest anti-Catholic screed.

McFadden signed off by noting that "we're headed back up to the Vatican, where we are told from sources at the very highest level, the Pope will screen the movie 'Philomena' this afternoon, and we'll be there. She must have missed that on Tuesday, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi denied that that this rumor was true.

This is the second time in recent weeks that ABC has aired false reporting about the Catholic Church. Back on December 17, 2013, Amy Robach hyped on GMA that Pope Francis "removed an outspoken critic of abortion and same-sex marriage from a powerful post within the Church. Conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke...was head of the Vatican's highest court." However, Cardinal Burke wasn't removed from the Church court. Instead, the Pope actually declined to renew the Wisconsin native's membership on a different consultative body at the Vatican – the Congregation for Bishops.

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