Openly gay MSNBC host Thomas Roberts recently sat down with six different disenfranchised Roman Catholics and discussed Pope’s visit to the United States of America with them.
Thomas Roberts, who made history in July this year by becoming the very first openly gay man to host an evening newscast for a major network TV station, took a brave step by gathering these people from diverse groups and backgrounds and age to talk about Pope Francis’ historic visit to the USA.
Those six American Catholics from different walks of life came forth to share what they thought of Pope’s trip. They expressed their views, opinions and experiences with Roberts. The group was invited to New York City’s Rockefeller Center, which is quite close to St. Patrick's Cathedral.
The host of MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts, who also hosts a daily live two-hour news program on MSNBC as well as an online show about LGBT issues on its Web-based Shift service, took part in the discussion openly and asked his guests questions in a rather straight forward manner.
The six guests were Denise Suski, a teacher and a divorced Catholic; Xorje Olivares, Siriusxm producer and gay Catholic; Sara Hutchison Ratcliffe, director of Catholics for Choice; Kevin Walling; Dawn Ennis, editor of The Advocate and a Trans woman; Cathy Renna, Target cue partner and a lesbian Catholic.
First of all, Roberts asked for their personal opinion on how they thought of former Pope of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict. “Benedict is still living, and Pope Francis has referred to him as almost a grandfather figure. But Denise, what is Pope Benedict – one word to describe Benedict?” he asked. Here’s the snippet of how all six of them described Pope Benedict in their own words.
Suski called him “Staid”, Xorje described him as “aggravating, Sara called him “harsh”, Kevin maintained that Benedicts was “stoic” and Cathy called him “Entitled” and Dawn described him as “Dangerous”.
Upon her answer, Roberts asked Dawn the reason why she though the former Pope was dangerous and she said, “Because I think he just felt that – you know, he was just in a position of power, but – but he didn't use that power in a way that was appropriate.”
So out of six, majority of them, i.e. four, preferred to describe former Pope Benedict as someone who used his power harshly rather than for the better of the world.
The host asked several other questions to his guests. He asked them what they would say to the Pope if they ever got a chance to meet him in person and what they thought of papacy.
All the six of them have been either disdained or disqualified by the church because of their backgrounds. But despite the church’s refusal to accept LGBT, pro-choice and divorced members, they admitted that they still felt strong connection with the church and most importantly, the Almighty.
The discussion seemed to open up a lot about Roberts ’guests’ personal opinion on papacy and the attitude of church towards people like them. During the conversation, the host himself revealed how he lost his faith on Catholicism after being physically abused by a former Catholic priest named Jerome F. Toohey Jr, back when he was a student in Calvert Hall College High School.
Roberts is currently in a relationship with Patrick D. Abner, whom he has been dating since 2000. The couple announced their engagement via Twitter in 2011. The lover duo got married on September 29, 2012.