Tags: Exclusive Interviews | Pope Francis | Steve Malzberg Show | Francis Rooney | Jimmy Carter | church | women

Francis Rooney: Carter Wrong About Church, Women's Rights

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 06:57 PM

Francis Rooney, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, tore into Jimmy Carter on Tuesday after the ex-president blamed the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention for persecution of women around the world.

"It just goes to show you that Jimmy Carter is the same old Jimmy Carter, there's no intellectual basis in that," Rooney told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

Francis:Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

On the Monday edition of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Carter said:

"With the writing of St. Paul, you can selectively take verses out of the Bible and you can justify women not being able to be priests and so forth.

"So, the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention and others quite often say, well, women are not qualified to have an equal role in the service of God as men. And, of course, men all over the world take this as kind of a proof that they can abuse their wives or pay less pay, you know?"

Dead wrong, Rooney said Tuesday.

"When you look at the theology of the Catholic Church, which has the Virgin Mary at the top, and you look at the strong role that women have played in the church as nuns and as lay persons and all that, I think that's a little disingenuous to say," he said.

"The fact is, the priesthood, as the church defines the calling, is a male-only, 100 percent can't be distracted by marriage kind of program which differentiates the church from other religions, and that may be debated and maybe not.

"But it's a far cry to debate that issue versus to say that the church has been responsible for persecuting women."

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Rooney says President Barack Obama may politicize his upcoming visit with Pope Francis.

"I think you know for sure that the president's going to want to spin the Pope's comments on social justice and inequality of wealth, etc., regardless of the different circumstances in which [he made them]," Rooney said.

Rooney — author of the book "The Global Vatican," published by Rowman & Littlefield — is not impressed with the White House's relationship with the church.

"I don’t think it’s any secret that this has been one of the most secular . . . anti-religious administrations," he said.

"For the first six-plus years of the president's administration, it's been . . . very secularly driven with very little interest in engaging the Holy See. Now, I'm hopeful and I'm going to be optimistic here.

Francis:Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

"Secretary [of State John] Kerry, who is a Catholic, went to see Cardinal [Pietro] Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, earlier in the winter and they had some fairly frank talks — even talked about this First Amendment business and the insurance mandate [now before the U.S. Supreme Court].

"So now, at least the president is going to go see the Pope. I'm sure he has his own political [agenda] in doing that. But the Pope is the Pope and he's going to speak to humanity, not just the president of the United States, and I that's a good thing."

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