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CBS 'Early Show': Pope's Visit to UK Source of 'Criticism' and 'Controversy'

At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Erica Hill teased a report on Pope Benedict's visit to Scotland: "...it's a rather controversial visit for a number of reasons." Later, correspondent Richard Roth proclaimed the state visit "has more pomp and potentially more problems" and would "bound to be shadowed by controversy along with ceremony."

Roth went on to tout a gaffe made by a Papal aide prior to the trip and noted how the Pope "courts criticism on a range of issues, from the visit's cost - figured at around $20 million - to the cover-up of sex abuse among Catholic clergyman." He also highlighted predictions of low turnouts at Papal events during the visit: "[Benedict's] welcome will be measured, in part, by the size of his crowds. Some Church officials this morning were already lowering expectations, saying seats were still unsold for several outdoor events." In fact, about 125,00 people lined the streets of Edinburgh to see the Pope's motorcade, with 65,000 attending a later outdoor mass.

The only positive comment about the Papal visit was a sound bite of Queen Elizabeth welcoming the Pontiff: "On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I wish you a most fruitful and memorable visit." Roth concluded his report this way: "This is a country with a strong anti-clerical streak and a critical press. But, one leading paper's comment here that Benedict's 'entering the lion's den,' may also reflect a flare for dramatic overstatement."

The Early Show has a history of depicting the Pope and the Catholic Church as controversial. On March 19, correspondent Allen Pizzey pronounced that allegations of child sexual abuse within the Church amounted to "a scandal that's threatening to become a plague of biblical proportions." Ahead of Pope Benedict's first visit to the United States in April of 2008, co-host Harry Smith claimed that Americans were "unsure and fearful" of the new Pontiff because of his commitment to traditional Catholic values.

Here is a full transcript of Roth's September 16 report:

7:01AM ET TEASE:

ERICA HILL: We're going to take a look, too, coming up in the broadcast, at the Pope's visit to the UK, arriving there today. And really it's a rather controversial visit for a number of reasons. But he's also been speaking out more about the alleged sex abuse within the Catholic Church, really making some of his most pointed comments yet, saying the Church failed to act decisively or quickly enough to deal with priests who raped and molest children. And that, understandably, getting attention.

7:02AM ET SEGMENT:

JEFF GLOR: We begin with the Pope's visit. Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Scotland this morning. The first ever state visit by a pope to the UK. CBS News correspondent Richard Roth is in London this morning with more on that. Richard, good morning.

RICHARD ROTH: Good morning, Jeff. Well, the last Papal trip here, by John Paul 28 years ago, was a pastoral visit. As an official state affair, Benedict's trip has more pomp and potentially more problems.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Papal Pilgrimage; First State Visit to UK By A Pope]

Greeted by the Queen's husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and by an honor guard of the royal regiment of Scotland, Pope Benedict began a state visit that was bound to be shadowed by controversy along with ceremony.

One Papal aide, a German cardinal, had to drop off the entourage, after likening Britain to a third world country, referring to its ethnic mix. The Vatican said the Cardinal had suddenly gotten sick. Benedict's trip to Britain, which broke with the Vatican almost 500 years ago, courts criticism on a range of issues, from the visit's cost - figured at around $20 million - to the cover-up of sex abuse among Catholic clergyman. Before arriving at the Queen Elizabeth's Scottish palace, the Pope told Vatican reporters the scandal had been a shock to him, 'a perversion in the priestly ministry,' he called it.

QUEEN ELIZABETH: On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I wish you a most fruitful and memorable visit.

ROTH: The Queen is Benedict's official host here, but his welcome will be measured, in part, by the size of his crowds. Some Church officials this morning were already lowering expectations, saying seats were still unsold for several outdoor events. This is a country with a strong anti-clerical streak and a critical press. But, one leading paper's comment here that Benedict's 'entering the lion's den,' may also reflect a flare for dramatic overstatement. Jeff.

GLOR: Alright, Richard Roth in London this morning. Richard, thank you.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.