OF COURSE: CBS’s O’Donnell Asks ‘Progressive’ Pope Francis Obligatory Climate Question

News & Politics

CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell delivered this evening’s newscast from Rome, and her interview with Pope Francis featured heavily within the newscast. But if the early tease is any indication, O’Donnell devoted the interview to the reheating of the media’s same old talking points regarding the Catholic Church.

Case in point: the media love Francis on climate change, and often hail him as a “progressive”.  Watch as O’Donnell does both of these things:

NORAH O’DONNELL: Francis is also the first pontiff to make climate change a priority. In 2015, to make an important point, images of the environment were projected onto St. Peter’s Basilica, the dome designed in the mid-16th Century by Michelangelo. What do you say to the deniers of climate change?

POPE FRANCIS: There are people who are foolish, and foolish even if you show them research, they don’t believe it. Why? Because they don’t understand the situation or because of their interest. But climate change exists.

O’DONNELL: His progressive style has made him popular worldwide, with millions coming here to St. Peter’s Square to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father.

OF COURSE O’Donnell asked the question and CBS aired it, given Francis’ proclivities and economic orthodoxies, as well as the fact that “Earth Day” was observed earlier this week. The questions with answers reflecting that the Pope is still a Catholic, such as on abortion and marriage, will have to wait for the full broadcast three and half weeks from now.

The interview opens with O’Donnell trying to bait the Pope into calling Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza a “genocide”, an invitation to attack Israel that Francis appears to resist based on the footage aired tonight. The Pope then takes another question on Gaza and redirects it towards Ukraine. 

After some conversation on children comes the climate question, which Francis answers in a manner that temporarily delights the left. O’Donnell goes on to hail the Pope’s “progressive style” and implied subsequent  popularity, before citing data suggesting that Church membership in the U.S. is declining.

The full interview will air in three and a half weeks and feature O’Donnell running the Pope through the entire leftwing policy pupu platter. Very predictably so.

Click “expand” to view the  transcript of the interview fragment as aired on the CBS Evening News on Wednesday, April 24th, 2024:

NORAH O’DONNELL: Oh, my goodness. Bongiorno, Your Holiness. What an honor. So wonderful to meet you. 

POPE FRANCIS: Lovely to meet you. 

O’DONNELL: Love to meet you. Yes. Thank you so much for doing this. 

We met Pope Francis today at Casa Santa Marta, the guest house where the pontiff lives, instead of the lavish papal palace. At 87 years old, he may have trouble walking, but he had no difficulty sitting down with us for an hour long conversation. How is your health?

POPE FRANCIS: My health is good.

O’DONNELL: In nearly every address…

POPE FRANCIS: …who suffers so much from the war… 

O’DONNELL: The pope often calls for peace. He condemned Hamas’ October 7th attack, but has also called on Israel to use restraint. 

There are now pictures of starving children coming out of Gaza. What about those that call that a genocide?

POPE FRANCIS: Genocide. Every afternoon at 7:00 P.M., I call Gaza to the parish. There are about 600 people there, and they tell me what’s going on. It’s very hard. Very, very hard. Food goes in, but they have to fight for it. It’s very hard.

O’DONNELL: I know you call for peace. You have called for a ceasefire in many of your sermons. Can you help negotiate peace?

POPE FRANCIS: I can pray. I do. I pray a lot.

O’DONNELL: During World Children’s Day, which is the end of May, the U.N. says over a million people will be facing famine in Gaza. Many of them children. What can be done?

POPE FRANCIS: Not only Gaza. We should think about Ukraine. Those kids don’t know how to smile. I tell them something, but they forgot how to smile. And this is very hard when a child forgets to smile. That’s really very serious. Very serious.

O’DONNELL: Do you have a message for Vladimir Putin when it comes to Ukraine?

POPE FRANCIS: Please. Countries at war, all of them. Stop the war. Look to negotiate. Look for peace. A negotiated peace is better than a war without end.

O’DONNELL: His Most Holy Father is considered one of the most influential people in the world. Leading nearly 1.4 billion Catholics. He is the first pope from the Americas, the first Jesuit, and will host the Vatican’s first World Children’s Day next month.

I love that you take the kids in the Popemobile with you and bring them up to the Apostolic Palace when you say a prayer. Why do you do that?

POPE FRANCIS: Children always bear a message. They bear a message and it is a way for us to have a younger heart.

O’DONNELL: Francis is also the first pontiff to make climate change a priority. In 2015, to make an important point, images of the environment were projected onto St. Peter’s Basilica, the dome designed in the mid-16th Century by Michelangelo. What do you say to the deniers of climate change?

POPE FRANCIS: There are people who are foolish, and foolish even if you show them research, they don’t believe it. Why? Because they don’t understand the situation or because of their interest. But climate change exists.

O’DONNELL: His progressive style has made him popular worldwide, with millions coming here to St. Peter’s Square to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father.

MARY BENNETT: It has made us emotional, just being here, going into St. Peter’s Basilica, going into the Sistine Chapel, just tears coming into our eyes because we are actually, you can feel the spirit.

O’DONNELL: Sophia and Aaron came with their family from San Diego, California. How did it make you feel when he came out the window?

SOPHIA: It made me feel good, like butterflies in my stomach.

O’DONNELL: Still, the number of Catholics in America is dwindling. In the U.S., only 20% of adults identify as Catholic, and that is down from 24% in 2007. 

I wonder if you could speak to those who don’t go to Mass anymore, or maybe don’t see a place for themselves in the Catholic church.

POPE FRANCIS: I would say there is always a place, always. If, in this parish, the priest doesn’t seem welcoming, I understand, but go and look. There is always a place. Do not run away from the Church. The Church is very big. It’s more than a temple. It’s more. You shouldn’t run away from it.

O’DONNELL: We also asked the Pope about the migrant crisis, gay rights, women’s role in the church, and whether he’s thinking about retirement. We’ll have that and much more on “60 minutes” on Sunday, May 19th, and then, a prime time special on Monday, May 20th, right here on CBS.

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