After CNN's initial report on Pope Benedict's final papal audience, the first guest to appear on CNN Newsroom on Wednesday was a radical leftist nun who believes the upcoming papal election is "invalid" because no women are involved.
Sister Donna Quinn lashed out: "We women are calling this papal election invalid. It has to be declared fraudulent because it has no women included in the process. By that I mean there are no women on the ballot in the conclave, there are no women voters, there are no women in the whole process, so we're very distressed." No church representative appeared to challenge Quinn's views; only CNN's Vatican analyst John Allen was on the air with Quinn.
Quinn comes way out of left field. Her organization, the National Coalition of American Nuns, called for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney in 2007. Quinn was an activist for women's ordination and abortion rights "for decades," even escorting women into abortion clinics and pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Even liberal anchor Carol Costello was taken aback by Quinn's aggression. "You have a very liberal view there and I'm sure many nuns feel the way you do, you but not all of them," she told the sister.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN Newsroom on February 27 at 9:04 a.m. EST, is as follows:
CAROL COSTELLO: As you watch the celebrations in Rome, what goes through your mind?
DONNA QUINN, coordinator, National Coalition of American Nuns: Well, I'd like to thank the Pope for his work and wish him well. I'd like to also pick up on something he just said, "for the good of the church." We women are calling this papal election invalid. It has to be declared fraudulent because it has no women included in the process. By that I mean there are no women on the ballot in the conclave, there are no women voters, there are no women in the whole process, so we're very distressed.
We know that's not for the good of the church. And when Pope Benedict was first elected, we were tired, as women, of the gray smoke and then the white smoke, so what we had outside of all the cathedrals across the United States, we had pink smoke rising up. Now this time around, we are saying there can be no pink smoke. It has dissipated. What we are calling for is to have women included in the whole process. You know, young women today, they don't respect the church. They don't go to church. They are bright, articulate, intelligent women. They know they are made in the image and likeness of God, and they hold CEO positions, elected office positions, but they are saying no to gender abuse.
CAROL COSTELLO: Sister, let me interrupt you.
QUINN: – and sexual abuse.
COSTELLO: Let me just interrupt you for a second. You have a very liberal view there and I'm sure many nuns feel the way do, you but not all of them. I want to bring in our Vatican analyst John Allen. John, I don't know if you heard what the sister said but she's upset because there are no women involved in this process, in the selection of a new pope. That's not likely to change, is it?
ALLEN: No, I mean I think the central fact to understand about this conclave is that all 115 cardinals who will be voting were appointed either by John Paul II or Benedict XVI and therefore on the big picture issues they are all of one mind. So I think it's quite unlikely that the next Pope is going to ordain women or repeal church teaching on abortion or gay marriage or those kinds of issues. Now on the other hand, I would certainly say from my own experience of talking to cardinals the more thoughtful among them realize that the church has a woman's problem. They understand that there are a lot of sisters who feel the same way as our guest does and it's not just nuns, of course. Lots of women generally feel that way. So I do think the next pope is going to face this very difficult challenge of trying to reach out to women and assuring them there's a place for them in the church, while at the same time drawing a line in the sand on the ordination question.
COSTELLO: When you say that they're going to select the new pope and they're going to think outside the box and they're maybe going to South America or Africa to choose the next pope, they're really not thinking outside the box though, are they? Maybe they are in picking a pope from another country but as far as –
ALLEN: – you mean the hot-button issues that we talk about, that is the culture wars, they're not going to think outside that box. Papal transitions are more about changes in tone and style than they are substance. But on the other hand, we've seen in recent experience that things do change. John Paul II was a very different man than the pope he followed, Paul VI. Just as Benedict XVI was quite different from John Paul II in many ways. So if by "box" we mean things bigger than issues, if we mean tonality and approach and personality, those kinds of things, then yeah, I think it's reasonable to think there might some changes on those scores.