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CNN Welcomes Pope Benedict to Retirement With Litany of His 'Serious Controversies'

Right as CNN's The Situation Room reported the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, correspondent Brian Todd launched into a litany of the "controversies" of his papacy and pushed the positive analysis to the bottom of his report.

"Pope Benedict's papacy has been marked by serious controversies," began anchor Wolf Blitzer. Todd followed up that as far as "controversies" were concerned, "there was certainly no shortage of those during his papacy."

[Video below. Audio here.]

 

 

Todd cycled through liberal controversies like the Pope's citing a Byzantine emperor's quote about Islam that upset Muslims. He later added a more frivolous criticism which could pass for a cheap shot: "Pope Benedict also carries the stigma of not being as popular a figure as his predecessor, John Paul II."

And after another guest provided some more positive context, Todd did throw in this brief line at the very end of his report: "And Tom Roberts points out that Pope Benedict will be remembered as well for doing more to actually address the abuse scandal than his predecessor John Paul II ever did."

Then Todd and Blitzer returned to another "controversy," Benedict versus the U.S. nuns, some of which CNN cheered on in their liberal protest against the Ryan budget. It was unmistakable that CNN took the nuns' side when the Vatican reprimanded them, and Todd preposterously blew it up into "one of the more controversial moments of his papacy."  

"That's right, not long ago, some American nuns had challenged the church's teachings on homosexuality, on the male-only priesthood. They had supported President Obama's health care plan when the church had spoken out against it. The Vatican had appointed a bishop to kind of investigate these nuns. They ended up being reprimanded. But the nuns got a lot of support within the United States for their actions. So it was controversial for the Pope," Todd ridiculously spun. 

A transcript of the segment, which aired on February 11 on The Situation Room at 4:08 p.m. EST, is as follows:

[4:08]

WOLF BLITZER: Other news we're following, it's an event so rare that the last time it happened was some 600 years ago. Pope Benedict XVI says he'll resign at the end of this month after only eight years as leader of the world's one billion Roman Catholics. He says it's because of his age and his health. And now the question being asked around the world, who will be the next pope? We're watching what's going on. We have several correspondents in Rome. Pope Benedict's papacy has been marked by serious controversies, especially the sex abuse scandal and his prior role as the church lead investigator personally handling every single case that made its way to the Vatican. CNN's Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us. Brian, we're going to go to Rome in just a few moments, but tell us what's going on.

BRIAN TODD: Wolf, here at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception they were shocked as anyone at the Pope's announcement of his resignation. This was the spot where it was one of the most talked about moments of his visit to the United States almost five years ago. The place where he addressed one of the biggest controversies of his tenure and there was certainly no shortage of those during his papacy.

(Video Clip)

TODD: (voice over) The scrutiny began before he even assumed the papacy. For decades before his elevation, when he was Cardinal John Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI had worked as the Vatican's chief investigator into allegations of sex abuse by priests.

COLM O'GORMAN, Irish abuse survivor: In 2001, he wrote to every bishop in the world telling them in the letter that every case of a priest who abused a child was to be referred to his department at the Vatican.

TODD: But critics said as a cardinal, Benedict was part of the system of cover-ups of abuse and the practice of moving priests from parish to parish to avoid trouble. I spoke with Tom Roberts of the National Catholic Reporter, an independent newspaper.

(On camera) Was that fair, was he part of the problem?

TOM ROBERTS, editor, National Catholic Reporter: I think as part of the general clergy culture, yes. And there was one incident that was highlighted even after he became pope about when he was a bishop in Germany, where he knew of accusations against a priest and really didn't act against it.

TODD: (voice over) But later during his 2008 visit to the United States, Pope Benedict addressed the issue directly, visiting with abuse victims.

(On camera) It was during that period that he vowed to take on crimes of abuse more directly. And right here at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, one of the biggest Catholic churches in the Americas, Benedict made an extraordinary request.

POPE BENEDICT XVI (through translator): We too insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved. While promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again.

TODD: A more extensive apology came later that year in Australia, where Benedict used the words "unequivocal condemnation." There were other controversies. The year after he was elevated, the Pope quoted a Byzantine emperor's words saying the prophet Mohammed had brought, quote, "things only evil and inhuman." That touched off outrage and protest in the Muslim world. Benedict later clarified, saying those weren't his personal views. Last year, the Pope's butler was convicted of stealing and leaking documents exposing corruption and disorganization at the Vatican. Pope Benedict also carries the stigma of not being as popular a figure as his predecessor, John Paul II. But the monsignor of the shrine in Washington puts it into perspective.

MONSIGNOR VITO BUNANNO, Basilica of the National Shrine: Christ was controversial. The things that Jesus did, the way that he reached out to people, the way he talked to people, the types of people that he talked to. It upset many, many people.

(End Video Clip)

TODD: And Tom Roberts points out that Pope Benedict will be remembered as well for doing more to actually address the abuse scandal than his predecessor John Paul II ever did. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER: As you know, Brian, Pope Benedict was also involved in a controversy in the United States over the actions of some American nuns. Remind our viewers about this.

TODD: That's right, not long ago, some American nuns had challenged the church's teachings on homosexuality, on the male-only priesthood. They had supported President Obama's health care plan when the church had spoken out against it. The Vatican had appointed a bishop to kind of investigate these nuns. They ended up being reprimanded. But the nuns got a lot of support within the United States for their actions. So it was controversial for the Pope. He was kind of also prompted to do that by some pressure from conservative religious figures in the United States. So that ended up being one of the more controversial moments of his papacy and it had to do of course with quite a few popular American nuns here in the United States.


-- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center