NBC Enthusiastically Oversells Pope Francis’ Decision To Bless Same-Sex Couples

December 19th, 2023 5:00 AM

The Peacock Network is doing quite the bit of peacocking over Pope Francis’ decision to bless same-sex couples. There is no change in doctrine, but NBC cheers the change in perception and speculates that it may lead to a change in doctrine down the road.

Watch the full report on the Vatican’s policy change, as aired on NBC Nightly News on Monday, December 19th, 2023 (click “expand” to view full transcript):



LESTER HOLT: At the Vatican, an important shift by Pope Francis in recognizing same-sex couples. Molly Hunter reports. 

MOLLY HUNTER: Tonight, a radical step of inclusion. Pope Francis giving his permission for Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples, a change of perception if not doctrine and reflective of Francis's own pastoral vision. 

FRANCIS X. ROCCA: Pope Francis deals in big picture, broad brush. He sends a broad message. 

HUNTER: The new declaration is a landmark step signaling the church's welcoming of the LGBTQ community. But the document signed by Pope Francis stresses that the blessing of same-sex couples is not the same as a marriage sacrament in the eyes of the church. 

ROCCA: I'm sure many people won't be satisfied with this. They would think that anything short of marriage, anything short of equality is offensive. And on the other hand, some people see this as an incremental step. 

HUNTER: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement, "Each of us needs God's healing love and mercy in our lives." 

WOMAN 1: It's an overdue decision but I'm glad that it's been made. 

WOMAN 2: I think that's a great step forward. I think that's wonderful news, to be honest. 

MAN: Long overdue. You know, if Jesus said love was love, then love is love, isn't it? 

HUNTER: The door now open for so many who have not always felt welcome, thanks to an aging pope still sparking controversial discussions. 

ROCCA: I think it will be taken as a step toward eventually allowing marriage. That’s not what the Vatican is saying, but that’s truly the way it will be perceived by many people.

HUNTER: Molly Hunter, NBC News.

The report went off the rails right from the beginning, but just caromed off a cliff towards the end. Somewhere between the probably-gay dude quoting Jesus as saying “love is love” and Molly Hunter’s emphasis of so many, replete with vocal fry, helped feed the perception that this is more of a change than it actually is. 

And so Pope Francis gets cheered today, as he often does when denouncing capitalism, border enforcement, or fossil fuels. This should at least last until the next time Francis talks about the institution of marriage. At most, until the next time he speaks out against abortion, right?