MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski and NYT’s Frank Bruni Decry Catholic Church's 'Secrecy,' a 'Recipe for Disaster'

Now that the new pope has been chosen, the life of the Catholic Church continues– and so does the liberal media’s effort to persuade the Church to change its traditions. On Thursday’s Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski complained, “Secrecy that surrounds the traditions of the Catholic Church -- it’s a recipe for disaster.... There is a lot of work ahead and some serious changes that need to happen blocked by tradition that may make it impossible.” 

For analysis of the Church’s need to overcome tradition, Brzezinski turned to Frank Bruni, former Rome bureau chief for the New York Times but now an openly gay op-ed columnist for the paper. Bruni, of course, agreed with Brzezinski’s premise. To him, the conclave perfectly symbolizes what’s wrong with the Catholic Church: “[The cardinals] lock themselves away. They go – we have no idea what happens until sometimes years later, if ever.”

 

Would Bruni prefer C-SPAN cameras in St. Peter’s Basilica during the conclave? Would he like reporters to have access during the proceedings? A situation like that would expose the cardinals to intense public pressure. In this age of social media, Twitter would undoubtedly light up with outrage anytime the cardinals made what was perceived as a wrong move. Each of the cable networks would surely have a panel of analysts on hand to dissect every vote and every development as it happened. 

 

Such scrutiny would be inappropriate for a conclave. When the cardinals vote on a new pope, they swear to vote for the man whom they believe is best able to lead the Church. They are responsible to God, not the public. 

 

Bruni wrapped up his analysis like this: “So the conclave itself that elects a pope is a pretty powerful metaphor for the Catholic Church's addiction to secrecy and a lack of transparency.” 

 

Here we go again with the media’s desire to force secular Western values on the Church. It would have helped to have a more devout person on the show to provide a truly Catholic perspective. But in addition to Bruni, Morning Joe’s panelists during this segment included Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Time managing editor Rick Stengel, and everybody’s favorite holy man, Chris Matthews. 

 

As Joe Scarborough said after the guests were introduced, “We have so many good Catholics here. Well, except for... let me restate that: we have so many Catholics here.”

 

Below is a transcript of the exchange:

 

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Add to that, Chris Matthews, and Frank, I’ll throw it to you, secrecy that surrounds the traditions of the Catholic Church -- it’s a recipe for disaster. And while it's beautiful to watch the symbolism unfolding at the Vatican as we watch this incredible transition that you only see once, twice, or maybe three times in a lifetime, as we have, there is a lot of work ahead and some serious changes that need to happen blocked by tradition that may make it impossible.


FRANK BRUNI: Blocked by a tradition that is perfectly symbolized by the conclave. They lock themselves away. They go – we have no idea what happens until sometimes years later, if ever. Even now when we talk about the now Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Bergoglio and we talk about him being the runner-up in the last conclave, we actually have no confirmation of that. That’s based on leaks that came out years later. So the conclave itself that elects a pope is a pretty powerful metaphor for the Catholic Church's addiction to secrecy and a lack of transparency that’s been a big problem with the Vatican bank; it’s been an even bigger problem with the child sexual abuse crisis. It’s unclear that can change.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.