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Pope Francis speaks with Norah O’Donnell before sitting down exclusively with the CBS news anchor at the Vatican last month for the interview that will air this weekend (OSV News/CBS NEWS)\

In the first-ever extended papal interview with an English-language broadcaster, Pope Francis reiterated his embrace of women’s leadership in the Church. Source: The Tablet.

He said that “the ones who never abandoned Jesus were the women” while “the men all fled”.

Filmed last month at his residence in the Vatican guesthouse, the Pope’s hour-long conversation with Norah O’Donnell will air on the United States television network CBS over Sunday and Monday evenings in prime-time slots.

Brief excerpts from the program were released ahead of its debut, including one where Francis branded climate sceptics “foolish” and saying that “they don’t believe” in the reality of climate change “because they don’t understand the situation or because of their [political] interest”.

The interview has been framed to promote the Church’s first World Children’s Day, which the Pope will lead next weekend in Rome. It is understood that O’Donnell’s pitch for the papal interview, which generations of US network executives and presenters have sought, was accepted because she is the only woman to anchor one of the three national newscasts.

She is a mother of three and a graduate of Georgetown University, the Jesuit university in Washington, DC.

Speaking to The Tablet, O’Donnell hinted that the Pope addressed “gay rights” and the Holy See’s recent exhortation against surrogacy in the interview, among other topics. “I think people will be inspired and surprised by some of the things he told us,” she said.

Though Francis has defended the male-only priesthood, his pontificate has seen a significant number of women given major responsibilities in the Roman Curia, both in executive roles and in the critical dicastery memberships that determine policy across the Church.


Francis promotes women’s leadership in major CBS interview (By Rocco Palmo, The Tablet)