In the report that followed, correspondent Allen Pizzey treated the Holy Father like a corrupt politician: "The abuse scandal, highlighted with pictures of the Pope, glared from the front pages of every major newspaper in Italy today. And in a clear sign of just how much trouble Benedict is in, only two of them defended him." Later in the report, a headline appeared on screen that read: "Catholic Abuse Cover-up? New Allegations About Pope's Role."
Pizzey noted how the Pope recently "told a Vatican youth rally...that the word of God would show them how to prevent falling into what he called 'the abyss of drugs, of alcohol, of addiction to sex and to money.'" He then added: "But victims of abuse...say the Pope failed to heed his own advice."
At one point, Pizzey mentioned how: "The Vatican has denounced what had it calls 'a smear campaign' against the Pope and his senior aides." Perhaps that campaign included Pizzey's own remark from a March 19 Early Show report , that the sex abuse scandal was "threatening to become a plague of biblical proportions" within the Catholic Church.
On Friday, Pizzey scoffed at the Church's defense: "Using a kind of 'it's not just us' defense, by pointing out that the problem of abuse is widespread in society in general and not restricted solely to the Church." He explained: "Abuse victims who came to the Vatican to protest, derided that stance." A clip was played of Barbara Blaine from the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, who ranted that it was "a very childish response" from the Church.
In concluding the segment, Pizzey took one more parting shot at the Church and the Papacy: "polls show that European Catholics are also beginning to lose faith in the Church. Bringing them back into the fold and increasing awareness of the Catholic Church was one of Benedict's primary objectives when he became Pope."
Thursday's Early Show also featured a report from Pizzey on the scandal, with co-host Harry Smith offering an introduction: "Now to a bombshell report this morning on the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal. Attorneys for a group of victims have released documents that show Pope Benedict and other top Vatican officials knew about one abusive priest in Milwaukee and did nothing." Ahead of Pope Benedict's first visit to the United States in April of 2008 , Smith claimed that Americans were "unsure and fearful" of the new Pontiff because of his commitment to traditional Catholic values.
In the Thursday report, Pizzey noted that allegations of a cover up of the Milwaukee priest's actions were "being laid at the feet of Pope Benedict XVI, almost literally." He continued: "The section of the Vatican that deals with such issues was headed at the time of the abuse by Pope Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The victims charge that he initially did not respond to letters from the diocese in Wisconsin and instead of dealing with the offender, the Vatican fought efforts by bishops to oust the predator in order to avoid a scandal." A headline on screen shouted: "Papal Controversy; Report: Benedict Took No Action Against Priest Molester."
Pizzey concluded: "The abuse victims who demonstrated here at the Vatican today say that the Vatican is still withholding evidence that it got from the United States. They want that evidence released. Words, they say, aren't enough. They want some action."
-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.