On the day Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would be stepping down from the Papacy, NBC's Monday Today featured a report by correspondent Michelle Kosinski, who offered these highlights of the Pontiff's tenure: "As a Cardinal, some criticized him for being strict and conservative, calling him, 'God's Rottweiler.' Becoming Pope meant he had to take on the Church's sexual abuse scandal that reverberated throughout America and Europe, and for which he apologized." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
As Kosinski mentioned the Pope's response to the sex abuse scandal, footage appeared on screen of protesters holding signs with pictures of Benedict and the words: "Catholic Paedophile Cover Up."
Kosinski discussed how the Pope "has taken on modern issues" by "speaking about climate change" and joining social media. She then lamented that he did so, "while reinforcing the Church's longtime opposition to homosexuality and female priests."
Here is a full transcript of the February 11 report:
NATALIE MORALES: A stunning announcement, as we've been reporting, from the Vatican this morning, Pope Benedict XVI says he is resigning at the end of this month. NBC's Michelle Kosinski is in London with more on what was behind the Pope's historic decision. Michelle, good morning.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI: Hi, Natalie. A Papal resignation has not happened since the 1400s. But this morning, during a meeting of Cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI suddenly announced he is resigning, effective at the end of this month. Something that took not only the world's more than one billion Catholics, but the Vatican, by absolute surprise as well.
Pope Benedict XVI has been a leader in the Catholic Church for more than a quarter of a century, succeeding Pope John Paul II in its highest position in 2005, at age 78, becoming the oldest elected Pope in centuries. Today, in an announcement that stunned even the Vatican, Benedict told a group of Cardinals that his strengths, due to his age, are no longer suited to the demands of his position, that strength of both mind and body are necessary and that his have deteriorated over the last few months, two months shy of his 86th birthday.
Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany, he was an academic, an intellectual who had planned to retire and write books. As a Cardinal, some criticized him for being strict and conservative, calling him, "God's Rottweiler."
Becoming Pope meant he had to take on the Church's sexual abuse scandal that reverberated throughout America and Europe, and for which he apologized.
[FOOTAGE ON SCREEN OF PROTEST SIGNS WITH POPE'S PICTURE READING: "CATHOLIC PAEDOPHILE COVER UP"]
POPE BENEDICT XVI: Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes.
KOSINSKI: During his eight years as pope, Benedict has taken on modern issues, speaking about climate change, putting solar panels on the Vatican, starting Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts, while reinforcing the Church's longtime opposition to homosexuality and female priests.
So he will be pope until exactly 7 pm on the 28th of this month. He'll eventually move into a residence in the Vatican. And now the Vatican is saying they hope to elect a new pope by the end of March, before Easter. And according to Church rules, this pope will not be able to vote for his successor because he is over the age of 80. Natalie.
MORALES: Alright, Michelle Kosinski, following the breaking news from London for us. Thank you.