Gushing journalists Josh Elliott and Robin Roberts met Pope Francis on Wednesday and thrilled over the fact that a gay magazine has made him "person of the year." The Good Morning America anchors traveled to the Vatican for "Christmas With the Pope." According to Elliott, "[Pope Francis has] ushered in a kind of truce in the culture wars."
He touted, "And both Time magazine and the leading gay magazine, The Advocate, have named him their person of the year." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Elliott offered tremendously positive coverage, narrating, "He walks the streets, poses for pictures, embraces the sick and is not afraid to have a bit of fun." ABC wasn't always so friendly. On March 14, correspondent Terry Moran warned, "Pope Francis is a staunch traditionalist. He compared abortion to a death sentence; called gay marriage 'destructive of God's plan.'"
On March 13, Moran wondered if the new Pope can help Catholic Church "revive" its mission to help the poor. (Did they ever stop?)
In regard to the previous Pope, correspondent Cecilia Vega warned that Benedict had "taken a hard line against everything from gay marriage to abortion. The Vatican even recently went public with its criticism of American nuns for being too progressive."
Only a day before this latest report, ABC falsely touted that Francis had removed an "outspoken critic of abortion" from the Vatican Court.
Elliott, who appeared most impressed by the Pope's comments about homosexuals, has a history of advocating for gay rights. On March 24, 2012, he appeared at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD) and said of ABC: "I'm proud to work at a place that believes in advocacy journalism!"
A transcript of the December 18 segment, which aired at 7:14am is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to Vatican City now. Robin and Josh there in St. Peter's Square where they met Pope Francis just a short time ago. And Josh, you have a lot more on Pope Francis, on this remarkable, even revolutionary first year in the Vatican.
JOSH ELLIOTT: It certainly has been, George. Seeing that video again, sends chill bumps down the spine.
ROBIN ROBERTS: I just loved hearing George saying when we met the Pope. When Josh and Lara–
ELLIOTT: That actually happened. We can prove it. And George, that's a perfect word, revolutionary. Two others for this morning, humbling and memorable. What a morning here. We watched the Pope really be this Pope, the people's pope. Kiss babies, greet these huge crowds. Thousands upon thousands from his pope mobile. And of course, giving an inspired thumbs up to his favorite soccer team here from Argentina. He was very happy that they brought the championship cup to him. It was quite a morning, to be sure, and an honor to have been there for it all. He walks the streets, poses for pictures, embraces the sick and is not afraid to have a bit of fun. And engage, it seems, just about everybody. His Twitter account, @Pontifex, ranks in the top five, most-searched words on the internet, where his is also the most talked-about name, in the year 2013. Former janitor and nightclub bouncer, he's been called the people's pope. And in just nine months, he captured the imagination, not just of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, but the world itself.
CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN: I get it on the streets. I mean, everybody from the bartenders to the cab drivers telling me, "Cardinal Dolan, we love this guy."
ELLIOTT: He's ushered in a kind of truce in the culture wars. When pressed about gays in the church, he responded, quote, 'a gay person who follows God? Who am I to judge him?'" And both Time magazine and the leading gay magazine, The Advocate, have named him their person of the year. The first non-European pontiff in over 1,200 years, his style was different almost immediately. The thousands before him, as he bowed and said [in Latin]-- pray for me.
FATHER THOMAS ROSICA (CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation): Suddenly, there was a connection with people. That set the tone for this papacy.
ELLIOTT: The very next morning, he stunned locals and tourists alike, when he walked in St. Mary Major Basilica, unannounced. He then went to the hotel where he stayed for the election and paid his bill. Just days ago, he celebrated his 77th birthday and blew out candles, surrounded by children. Julia and Michael Chandler, Americans visiting Rome, could not believe their eyes when they saw Pope Francis reach for and bless their baby, Mary Agnes. Three days later, it happened again.
JULIA CHANDLER: When it actually happened, you know, you just get overcome by emotion of the moment.
ELLIOTT: Ethan Mack, a student at Boston College, had the idea to trade hats with the Pope. And to his surprise, the pontiff actually went for it.
ETHAN MACK: For him, it was just a small act of kindness. But for the two of us, it really, like, made our lives.
DOLAN: What we were after is a good pastor with a track record of solid administration, but fatherly warm, tender care for the sheep, for his people. And boy, we got that on steroids.
ELLIOTT: You certainly got that. We saw that today. In fact, when Robin and I got to our seats, we saw we were right next to a family with three, young children. Spaniards living in London. And we knew when we saw the cherubic little faces that certainly pope Francis would be stopping next to us. And he did. He loves the little children. And it was such a wonderful thing to see him with them.
ROBERTS: And everybody was very civil. Everyone wanted everyone to have their moment and not getting -- when we saw the family, you know, Josh was shameless. He was like "Can we borrow one of the kids, just in case? We want to make sure that pope Francis stops by." But it's something that both of us will never forget, that simple moment.