They probably weren't hired for their introspection, but it's still a little startling when you see how little responsibility Beltway media types take for pushing austerity politics.
December 29, 2013

It's interesting, I think, that the Beltway newsreaders (and certain ultra-conservative cardinals) are so enthusiastic about Pope Francis and his concern for the poor -- without a moment's introspection about their own part in enabling the politicians and policies that somehow always benefit the members of their own class and kick poor people in the teeth:

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): The first sign of a new day at the Vatican.

FRANCIS (through translator): I would like to give a blessing, but first, do me a favor --

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): That favor: a pope asking the people to pray for him.

COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It was an incredible moment, because we all had our list of papabile, the people who were likely to be pope. And he wasn't on any of them.

Suddenly here's this Argentinean who was really of a completely different mold. And it signaled that the College of Cardinals had come to a decision that they really wanted a different kind of pope.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): With that first humble greeting, Pope Francis captured hearts. Down in the crowds, reaching out to those most in need, living simply. He's leading by example and enlivening his church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's working very honestly and simply to transmit his humility to the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's very true to what the church stands for, but I think he's much more in touch with the fact that, yes, you have to take the message out to people and actually live it.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Less than a year after the sudden resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis has shifted focus from the scandals of the past to a future centered on the poor.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN: We have not had a good run of late. And what I have tried to say, George, is this pope has successfully, finally shattered the caricature of the church that his predecessors have tried hard to do.

What's that caricature? That the church is kind of mean and dour and always saying no and always telling us what we can't do and always telling us why we should be excluded. He's saying, no, come on in, the church is about warmth and tenderness.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): In an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 92 percent of American Catholics think well of the pope. And 85 percent think he's moving the church in the right direction.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York sees the Francis effect first- hand.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you all really have seen the kind of impact this man would have?

DOLAN: No. I think nothing that he's does has surprised us. But what surprised us is that he's done it even more effectively than we thought. What we were after was a good pastor with a track record of solid administration but fatherly warm, tender care for the sheep, for his people. And, boy, we got that on steroids with Pope Francis. He's the world's parish priest.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Drawing in the young with a sense of humor and laid-back style, on his travels, Pope Francis is a rock star, speaking out in new ways.

FRANCIS: In the worlds of politics, business, art and social media.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): And downplaying what he calls the church's obsession with social issues.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He seems to want to rebalance in some ways. He says, of course, he holds to the church doctrine on things like abortion and gay marriage. But he says also, let's not just talk about this (INAUDIBLE).

DOLAN: Yes, you know what? John XXIII said, look, the teaching of the church is a timeless gift, you can't change it, it's ours, we inherited it, we're given it.

But the way we gift wrap it, the way we make it more attractive and more compelling to the world, that could always change and that's what Francis is saying.

ROBERTS: Pope Francis is emphasizing different parts of church doctrine. So, he's talking about income inequality and the need for the church to be the church for the poor.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): In his first exhortation outlining his vision for the church, Pope Francis took on capitalism, denouncing the idolatry of money and an economy that kills.

DOLAN: What he says is that the dollar is money, if the economy becomes our God, that's idolatry. There's only one God and money ain't it, OK? Money is morally neutral. It's how we use it that makes it sinful or good. And so he said use it for the good to support yourself and your family, to reinvest in society and to help those without. Don't let it become the be-all and end-all of life.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He's not the first pope to speak like this, but it's also drawn some criticism from some.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope. There's no such unfettered capitalism that doesn't exist anywhere.

DOLAN: You get it from both sides. And sometimes, criticism is good, Jesus said, be careful if the world is only saying good things about you. So Pope Francis probably shrugs and says, well, it's good that I'm upsetting some people. It's good that people are taking me seriously. And he'll get it again. He knows that.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Not shying away, responding to critics, challenging them with questions of his own.

ARCHBISHOP JOSEPH KURTZ, U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS: He's not asking us to change the teachings of our church. He takes very seriously his responsibility to pass on the sacred traditions. But he is saying let's not get so pigeonholed that we're involved in a kind of an intellectual debate.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Archbishop Joseph Kurtz is the new head of U.S. Bishops.

KURTZ: He's giving us a new zeal, he's giving us new expressions and a new method. He's saying the same time-honored, beautiful message of Christ, but in a way that's really touching hearts.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): An age-old message delivered in a modern way, by "Time" magazine's Person of the Year.

DOLAN: He said, "'Time' magazine? I'm more worried about timeless things." OK? So that's the way he is. He shrugs and says, well, thanks. Who cares?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): He doesn't want to be the center of attention. He wants others to be the center. And gosh, that's a great Francis effect, isn't it?

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