Scott Pelley's liberal bias got the better of him on Monday's CBS Evening News as he interviewed three American seminarians studying in Rome. When one seminarian expressed his hope that next pope continues the "beautiful legacy of John Paul II and Benedict XVI," Pelley replied incredulously, "But you mentioned two popes who have a reputation for being doctrinally conservative. And this is something you'd like to see carried on?" [audio available here; video below the jump]
Hours later, on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, the Big Three network again gave a platform to agitators who aim to radically alter the Catholic Church's traditions from the inside. Fill-in anchor Anthony Mason wondered if "the winds of change [are] wafting through the Catholic Church" as he hyped a CBS News/New York Times poll that found apparent support for the ordination of women among American Catholics.
Mason and co-anchor Gayle King turned to Sister Florence Deacon, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which was taken to task by the Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a 2012 document for "manifest problematic statements and serious theological, even doctrinal errors." Throughout the segment with Sister Deacon, an on-screen graphic labeled her "the rebel nun", and King twice highlighted that her guest's organization is "known for challenging the Vatican".
Both on-air personalities tossed softball questions at Sister Deacon. King first asked, "What exactly does your organization want in a new pope?" She followed up by wondering if the LCWR president thought if "there are women working behind the scenes" at the Vatican. Mason later raised the issue of the critical report from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: "The Vatican, back in the spring, said the American nuns were pushing radical feminist themes. How did you react to that?"
Near the end of the segment, King helped Sister Deacon forward her agenda of changing the Catholic Church's longstanding discipline of celibacy for priests: "The latest poll shows that 69 percent of American Catholics think it's a good idea for priests to be able to marry. Where do you stand on that?" In reply, her guest asserted that this tradition "doesn't seem to be working anymore." Of course, the CBS anchor didn't challenge this dubious claim.
Just two days earlier, on the March 10, 2013 edition of Sunday Morning, correspondent Barry Petersen promoted other dissenters who are pushing to repeal priestly celibacy, along with other supposedly "fading" traditions of the Catholic Church.
The full transcript of the Sister Florence Deacon segment from Tuesday's CBS This Morning (the transcript of the exchange from Monday's CBS Evening News is available here):
ANTHONY MASON: Are the winds of change wafting through the Catholic Church? A recent CBS News/New York Times poll found that 69 percent of American Catholics think the next pope should allow women to become priests.
[CBS News Graphic: "The Next Pope On Women Priests; Among American Catholics; Should Support, 69%; Should Oppose, 28%; Source: CBS News/The New York Times Poll: Margin Of Error: +/- 4% Pts."]
GAYLE KING: Sister Florence Deacon is the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The organization represents about 80 percent of the nuns in the U.S., and is known for challenging the Vatican. Good morning to you, Sister.
SISTER FLORENCE DEACON, PRES.. LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE OF WOMEN RELIGIOUS: Good morning.
[CBS News Graphic: "The 'Rebel Nun': Sister Florence On Catholic Women's Role"]
KING: Known for challenging the Vatican – what exactly does your organization want in a new pope?
DEACON: I'd just like to clarify. We really aren't challenging the Vatican-
KING: Oh, okay-
DEACON: But that's how the press sometimes portrays it. We would like somebody who is very aware that we are all church, that we are all the people of God. Pope Benedict recently reiterated that in a – in a presentation that he gave. What this would mean, though, would be listening to all people. And, in particular, it's time to be listening more to women, and including women more into the official structure of the Church, in the sense of having women in key leadership roles; women in some of the offices of the Vatican; women – women as even official counselors. We have a College of Cardinals that are official counselors of the Pope. There could be a comparable council of women-
KING: Because, right now, the public face of the Catholic Church is predominantly male. Do you think there are women working behind the scenes?
DEACON: There are. There are women in some of the Curia in the Vatican. But I'm just encouraging that they would have major leadership posts as well, and even more of them – more of them in the leadership roles in the Vatican. I – I think women are often the face of the local church-
DEACON: In the sense of women are often the parish – local – involved in the local parish.
MASON: There – there has been resistance to this, though. I mean, the Vatican, back in the spring, said the American nuns were pushing radical feminist themes. How did you react to that?
DEACON: Well, my understanding of feminism is – and I like this definition – feminism is the radical idea that women are people. (King and Mason laugh) And if he wants to be calling us radical feminist, with that in mind, I accept that definition. I accept that definition.
KING: And the latest poll shows that 69 percent of American Catholics think it's a good idea for priests to be able to marry. Where do you stand on that?
DEACON: I – I think that's a good idea as well. It's – it's a discipline that the Church has imposed historically over the last thousand years, and it doesn't seem to be working anymore. And I would think-
[CBS News Graphic: "The Next Pope On Priest Marrying; Among American Catholics; Should Support, 69%; Should Oppose, 26%; Source: CBS News/The New York Times Poll: Margin Of Error: +/- 4% Pts."]
KING: And nuns? Do you think nuns should be allowed to marry?
DEACON: Not really, because we live in a community. It's a whole different organizational structure that we – we commit ourselves to each other and to the people of God and – no. And even there are two kinds of priests. There are diocesan priests, and priests that belong to religious orders, and religious order priests would not, in my mind – it wouldn't be appropriate for them to marry, because community is an essential element of that.
KING: All right. You must be as excited, as everyone else is, about the choosing of a new pope.
DEACON: I think it's time for, just, a new – a new – new possibilities-
KING: All right-
DEACON: And particularly, new possibilities for women.
KING: All right. Thank you, Sister Florence Deacon – good to see you.