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NBC Chief Medical Editor Demands Catholic Church Support Contraception

Appearing on Monday's NBC Today as part of the Today's Professionals panel discussion, the network's chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman urged the Catholic Church to abandon its opposition to contraception: "Here's one thing I really would implore the Catholic Church to do on a global issue.... poverty without birth control begets more poverty....So this is a chance to take the humility and the poverty and say now we're really going to talk about this in a civilized way and move it forward." [Listen to the audio]

Advertising executive Donny Deutsch chimed in: "Well that's my point, we're not talking about the real issues....And we can talk about tolerance with gays and attitudes towards women." Snyderman agreed: "And women in the Church."

The commentary was prompted by co-host Matt Lauer fretting that newly elected Pope Francis was showing too much humility: "A lot of people seem to be falling in love with this guy, in part because of humility and authenticity....Is it possible to take it too far?"

Deutsch lectured: "...there's style and there's substance. It's great to do all of this style stuff, man of the people. But, and we've talked about this ad nauseam, until the Catholic Church starts to address what we all know are the real issues the Church has, which is the real concern of the people, this stuff doesn't matter."

Near the end of the exchange, Lauer wondered: "Does this behavior take some of the mystique away from the Papacy?"

Here is a full transcript of the March 18 panel discussion:

8:09AM ET

MATT LAUER: We're back now, 8:09, with Today's Professionals. Star Jones, Donny Deutsch, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, here to weigh in on the stories that have a lot of people talking. Good morning all, nice to see you guys.

Let's start by talk about Pope Francis, okay? A lot of people seem to be falling in love with this guy, in part because of humility and authenticity. This is a guy who said, "I'm not going to stand and greet the other cardinals on an elevated platform, I'm going to be a their level." He rode a minivan instead of the papal sedan. He went to the hotel...

NANCY SNYDERMAN: Paid his own bill.

LAUER: ...after being elevated to pope, checked himself out, paid his own bill. So a lot of people like this move to simplicity, a move to the – to the poor. Is it possible to take it too far?

STAR JONES: Yeah, in a way. Because as pope he has certain security issues that the Swiss guard's going to have to put in place. There's certain things that he can't do. He should not be in, you know, the public transportation. He can, of course, be a man of the people, but he really can't be with the people all the time.

LAUER: So this morning when he went out of the Vatican and greeted some of the faithful at the side there and shook their hands, you don't think we're going to see this for long?

DONNY DEUTSCH: You know, to me, it's interesting as an image guy, there's style and there's substance. It's great to do all of this style stuff, man of the people. But, and we've talked about this ad nauseam, until the Catholic Church starts to address what we all know are the real issues the Church has, which is the real concern of the people, this stuff doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.

SNYDERMAN [POINTING TO JONES, DEUTSCH, AND HERSELF]: So, you know, it's interesting sitting here today because we have a Charismatic Christian, a Jew, and an Episcopalian.

DEUTSCH: Why is she [Jones] a Charismatic Christian and I'm just a Jew?

[LAUGHTER]

SNYDERMAN: Because that's-

LAUER: You're a charismatic member of the Jewish faith. How about that?  

SNYDERMAN: Well, with that little bump, and I'm an Episcopalian, speaking about the Catholic Church. I happen to love the pomp and circumstance of tradition. But here's one thing I really would implore the Catholic Church to do on a global issue If this man has adopted the name of Francis-

LAUER: Francis of Assisi.

SNYDERMAN: Of Francis of Assisi, and deals with the poor, poverty without birth control begets more poverty.

DEUTSCH: Well that's my point, we're not talking about the real issues.

SNYDERMAN: So this is a chance to take the humility and the poverty and say now we're really going to talk about this in a civilized way and move it forward.

DEUTSCH: And we can talk about tolerance with gays and attitudes towards women.

SNYDERMAN: And women in the Church.

JONES: That's not going to happen. You can't – you're going to – don't expect that the Pope is going to – the Pope is not going to make those changes right now. It's not happening.

LAUER: You guys have taken this in a much deeper direction than I actually intended. I meant more on a superficial level. Does this behavior take some of the mystique away from the Papacy?

SNYDERMAN: No, no.

LAUER: And is that a good thing or a bad thing?

DEUTSCH: No, it makes it more appealing. I mean if he can appeal on that level, it just makes him literally and figuratively a man of the people.

SNYDERMAN: But interestingly, now I want more from him.

LAUER: Okay.