Tactless Williams, Matthews Knock Catholic Dogma During Papal Mass

Brian Williams and Chris Matthews couldn't resist the opportunity to harp on the lack of married and women priests in the Catholic Church, as MSNBC provided live coverage of Pope Francis's open-air Mass in Philadelphia on Sunday. Williams pointed out that one of the archbishops at the Mass is "from a family, [but] he cannot go home to one. He cannot have one, and be...of service to the Catholic Church. And it is still that thing that differentiates and separates the religion from so many others." [video below]

Matthews asserted that "if you're going to have ever women priests, you have to have the first step being married priests – because only in the case where you have wives...lobbying on behalf of women priests will it ever happen." Moments later, Bishop Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, a NBC News contributor for the papal visit, actually schooled the two MSNBC personalities on how their premise was faulty:

BISHOP ROBERT BARRON, NBC NEWS PAPAL CONTRIBUTOR: As the celibate up here, I guess, Brian, I would say, to use a Scholastic term, 'nego majorem' – I deny your major premise – the major premise of the question – namely, that a celibate is without a family. You see this ring I'm wearing. I just got this when I became a bishop – and it's a wedding ring. And we're explicitly told, never take this ring off, because it's a sign the bishop is married to the people that he serves. It's a family relationship. And so, celibacy is not anti-family. It's a, kind of, different type of spiritual family. And a priest is very much of – a family man. Cardinal [Francis] George, a mentor of me, used to say that a priest is not a bachelor. He's a married man with children.

Williams and Matthews (both raised Catholic) first gave their take on the priesthood issue before turning to Notre Dame Professor Kathleen Sprows Cummings. The Hardball host repeated his basic point from his Wednesday broadcast on married and women priests. During that same segment, Matthews also gave a false impression about a traditional Catholic blessing for new mothers.

The transcript of the exchange between Brian Williams, Chris Matthews, Professor Cummings, and Bishop Robert Barron from MSNBC's live coverage of Pope Francis's Mass in Philadelphia on Sunday:

BRIAN WILLIAMS (voice-over): Chris Matthews, I was going to say that might be a record for use of the world 'family.' And while Archbishop [Vicenzo] Paglia is from a family, he cannot go home to one. He cannot have one, and be service – of service to the Catholic Church. And it is still that thing that differentiates and separates the religion from so many others.

CHRIS MATTHEWS (voice-over): Yeah, well, that's a difference. And I think it has found an exception with the Episcopalian – the Anglican clergy that have come over and become Roman Catholic – come under the – the leadership of the Pope of Rome. And – and so, there is an experiment going on right now, if you will, with married priests in the Roman rite. And we'll see. I mean, I think that is the opening.

I mentioned it yesterday – just in a purely political sense – that if you're going to have ever women priests, you have to have the first step being married priests – because only in the case where you have wives, if you will, lobbying on behalf of women priests will it ever happen. And so, the reason why the Episcopalian Church had moved toward having women ministers is because they had wives of ministers for so many years with influence with their husbands – I think. It's political. It's not too hard to figure. Right now in the Church, you don't have wives to influence husbands; therefore, it's unlikely they would go to a – to a woman priesthood at any time soon – if ever.

WILLIAMS: Professor [Kathleen Sprows] Cummings of Notre Dame, this is so much of your life's work. This pope – in popular media, certainly – has received the reputation; the impression that he is moving a glacial organization fast forward at the speed of light. But on this one (Cummings and Williams laugh), it's a glacial organization.

KATHLEEN SPROWS CUMMINGS, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME (voice-over): These are difficult – this is a very difficult issue – the issue of women and the Church. I think what Pope Francis has done – well, he's been very clear about teaching on the ordination of women and how that is not going to change. But what he has done – and what he said early on in his papacy – is that we should be talking about this. We need to talk about a role for women in the Church. He's – so he's moving forward in – perhaps, slowly – but I think the issue is really not so much the ordination question, but it's a question of what role can women play? How can women play more of a role – more of a leadership role – in roles that don't require ordination? Is it necessary that an ordained person have all – have all the decision-making power at a parish level; at the diocese – at the national level – and even at the universal level?

And I think Pope Francis – he appointed the first women to head a pontifical university in Rome. He has said that women should receive equal pay for equal work. He has talked about the need, at least, to have the conversation; and I know it's a conversation that many women are very eager to have. And there's a sense that he's walking in the right direction, and I think we just – you know, he has used the word 'dialogue' over and over again in this visit, and I think this is one of the most important issues that we, as a church, can open dialogue on.

WILLIAMS: There's a little bit left-

BISHOP ROBERT BARRON, NBC NEWS PAPAL CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): Can I, perhaps, jump into this conversation?

WILLIAMS: Bishop Barron, go ahead-

BISHOP BARRON: As the celibate up here, I guess, Brian, I would say, to use a Scholastic term, 'nego majorem' – I deny your major premise – the major premise of the question – namely, that a celibate is without a family. You see this ring I'm wearing. I just got this when I became a bishop – and it's a wedding ring. And we're explicitly told, never take this ring off, because it's a sign the bishop is married to the people that he serves. It's a family relationship. And so, celibacy is not anti-family. It's a, kind of, different type of spiritual family. And a priest is very much of – a family man. Cardinal [Francis] George, a mentor of me, used to say that a priest is not a bachelor. He's a married man with children.

Culture/Society Labeling Liberals & Democrats Religion Anti-Religious Bias Christianity Sexuality Feminism Catholic Church MSNBC Other MSNBC Video Chris Matthews Brian Williams Pope Francis
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