Monday's CBS Evening News offered the usual biased coverage of religion, and specifically, the Catholic Church, as it reported on Pope Francis' widely misrepresented remarks on homosexuals. Dean Reynolds' only talking head was a former priest who apparently "quit the priesthood...after he felt the Church intended to purge gays", and even wondered if the Pope was throwing out Catholic teaching: "Do you think he's breaking with the Vatican?"
Reynolds also hyped that the Roman pontiff offered a "potentially controversial position" with his recent remarks, when in reality, they are consistent with what the Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines. [audio available here; video below the jump]
Substitute host Bob Schieffer followed a similar path as competitor Brian Williams as he teased the CBS correspondent's report: "Tonight, is the Pope taking the Church in a new direction? Francis says he won't judge anyone based on sexual orientation. Dean Reynolds on what this means for gay Catholics." After reading a select quote from the Pope's presser, Schieffer added that "it's a fairly unremarkable statement these days, except the man who said it was the new Catholic pope, Francis, whose Church has always held that homosexual acts are a sin."
Reynolds led by giving some background on the remarks: "Asked specifically about the presence of a gay lobby in the Vatican, Francis said he knew nothing of it, but then broadened his answer to gays in general with a compassionate and potentially controversial position." He spent the bulk of the rest of the segment playing soundbites from Michael Herman, the homosexual former priest:
MICHAEL HERMAN: I don't think gay people in general have felt loved in this church for a long time. So, to have any indication of being loved and being welcomed is huge.
REYNOLDS: Michael Herman is a gay Catholic who quit the priesthood in 2006, after he felt the Church intended to purge gays. In the past, the Church has called homosexuality a depravity, contrary to natural law which can never be approved. Pope Benedict XVI said, as recently as 2005, that homosexuality was incompatible with the priesthood. But Herman says this pope's tone will have a ripple effect....
HERMAN: ...The effect that that will have on parents who have gay children – on gay Catholics themselves, I think, is extremely positive – when all we've heard, for many years, is negative, negative, negative.
REYNOLDS: Do you think he's breaking with the Vatican?
HERMAN: Oh, no...his comment had nothing to do with the sexual morality teachings of the Church.
If the CBS journalist had simply done an Internet search on Catholic dogma, he would have found that Pope Francis' answer is no break. The Church does proscribe compassion for homosexuals: "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity."
The following morning, CBS This Morning did bring on Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who put the Latin American pontiff's remarks in context of Catholic beliefs:
GAYLE KING: It does not appear to be a change in doctrine-
CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK: Correct-
KING: But it certainly is a change in tone, is it not?
DOLAN: You might have a good point there, Gayle. People are always saying, can we expect now changes in Church teaching? Of course, Pope Francis would be the first to say, well, my job isn't to change Church teaching. My job is to present it as clearly as possible. But you're on to something, Gayle, when you say it could be a change in tone or emphasis.
So, what do we got? We got, you might say, two levels or two points of Church teaching. One would be the immorality, in God's view, of any sexual expression outside of the relationship of a man and a woman in lifelong, life-giving, faithful marriage. There's one point of Church teaching. The other point of Church teaching is that a person's identity – respect, the dignity, and love that he or she deserves – does not depend on anything...other than the fact that we are a child of God made in his image and likeness.
CHARLIE ROSE: What would it take for the Church to change its attitude about homosexuality being a sin?
DOLAN: Well, I don't think that – that probably is not possible. But – excuse me, I don't think you – pardon me for saying this, Charlie, I don't think you expressed it right. Homosexuality is not a sin, right?
ROSE: The acts-
DOLAN: Homosexual acts are-
ROSE: What would it take to change that?
DOLAN: Just like heterosexuality is not a sin, although heterosexual acts outside of marriage – lifelong, life-giving, faithful marriage between a man and a woman – that would be sinful. A pope couldn't do that. You see, a pope inherits certain revelation, and it's his job to guard that and to pass that on. That comes not from him – the Church doesn't make that up. We inherit that from God's revelation in the Bible, in natural law, so he couldn't change that if he wanted to.