On their Wednesday morning shows, the Big Three networks continued their trend of all but ignoring the Obama administration trying to force religious institutions to include coverage of sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraceptives in their health care policies without a co-pay. The new mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services would force Catholic hospitals and schools to decide whether to submit to the new policy or follow the Church's teachings against birth control.
Instead of covering this growing dispute between the Catholic hierarchy of the United States and the federal government, CBS This Morning brought on Rev. Edward Beck, a Catholic priest, to respond to a story that might cast the Church in a bad light with regards to how it manages the donations it receives.
Anchors Erica Hill and Charlie Rose turned to Father Beck, their religious and faith contributor, after airing a report from correspondent Michelle Miller on how Anita Collins is accused of stealing $1 million from the Archdiocese of New York's fund for its schools. Rose first asked the priest, somewhat bizarrely, "How could she think she could get away with it; and...is the Church going to be...a forgiving church in the great Christian tradition?" Hill followed up by asking, "You mentioned the responsibility, too, that the Church has with this money the donors give to it. Is the Church too trusting?"
Neither CBS on-air personality raised the HHS mandate issue with their guest. However, somewhat to their credit, their program was the only morning or evening news show on the Big Three networks that has mentioned the controversy over the past 12 days since it began. Two days earlier, on January 30, Rose devoted a news brief to "a headline in USA Today says Catholics blast federal birth control mandate....The Obama administration says large religious institutions will have to include birth control in their employees' health care plans."
The full transcript of Erica Hill and Charlie Rose's segment with Father Edward Beck, which began 32 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of Wednesday's CBS This Morning:
CHARLIE ROSE: Faith and religion contributor Father Edward Beck is with us now. Good morning.
FATHER EDWARD BECK, CBS THIS MORNING RELIGIOUS & FAITH CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning-
[CBS News Graphic: "Of Faith And Fraud: Clerk Charged With $1M Theft From Archdiocese"]
ROSE: As you were watching this, you said, 'unbelievable.' I have only two questions: number one, how could she think she could get away with it; and number two, is the Church going to be forgiving about this- a forgiving church in the great Christian tradition?
BECK: Well, you know what, Charlie? The Church is forgiving- it's part of the Gospel- but forgiving doesn't mean you excuse this kind of behavior. I mean, this woman stole from the institution, but also its donors. You have to realize that people give money to the Church for certain ministries that the Church carries out. So they have an obligation to be good stewards of that money. This woman stole from an institution, namely, the education fund, where Catholic schools in this archdiocese were closing and she knew that. So you can forgive, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have to do penance- she doesn't have to be prosecuted- and justice has to be wrought.
ERICA HILL: You mentioned the responsibility, too, that the Church has with this money the donors give to it. Is the Church too trusting?
BECK: Well, sometimes, I think the Church is too trusting and a little naive. I'll give you an example. I was giving a retreat in Florida, and I was in the rectory- and this wasn't a parish that I was associated with- and I happened to open a door and I look in and there is a woman with a mound of money on a table. And she just looked up and she was, you know, fine about it, and I closed the door. And I went to the pastor and I said, you know, what was that? And he said ,well, she's counting the collection from Sunday. I said, alone in a room counting all of that money? I mean, any accountant will tell you, two people in a room- don't do that even to the worker. So, I mean, that is very naive, and I think now, when something like this happens, the Church says, ah, what are our fiscal controls? What do we need to do to get our house in order?
HILL: So you're saying that will change?
BECK: It already has changed-
HILL: Now, they do background checks, but still moving forward?
BECK: There is now background checks that need to be done. And I think, as far as the archdiocese, what we're seeing is- yeah, they have those controls now in place, and there'll be more controls in place.
HILL: Nice to see this morning, Father. Thank you.
BECK: Thank you-