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Pope John Paul II Said to be in Very Grave Condition

Aired April 1, 2005 - 10:00   ET


Catholics around the world praying for Pope John Paul II. The Vatican releasing grim news of his failing condition. A giant of the past and current century and one of the most influential popes in modern history. He's fighting for his life on this AMERICAN MORNING.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): From the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Bill Hemmer and Soledad O'Brien.

HEMMER: Good morning again, everybody. Ten o'clock here in New York City. An expanded version of AMERICAN MORNING today. I'm Bill Hemmer.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CO-ANCHOR: And I'm Carol Costello in for Soledad. Good morning to you.

HEMMER: This is what we understand from the Vatican. Pope John Paul II is said to be in very grave condition this morning. There's been no official word for several hours going back to 5:30 a.m. Eastern Time, which by the clock here in New York City is 4 1/2 hours ago. There are fresh signals though, coming from the Vatican that may provide clues to what is happening inside.

For that let's go to Rome and Jim Bittermann. He joins us again live.

Jim, what do you have this hour?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, to begin with just to update on what the pope's condition is, as we know it from that news conference some hours ago, as you mentioned. Basically, the pope has suffered a cascade of medical problems beginning with a urinary tract infection, followed by septic shock, and then heart failure. A papal spokesman said that in fact his pulse is unstable. His blood pressure is unstable. So they haven't been able to stabilize his medical condition at all.

Now, having said that, there's been an odd development just in the last hour. And that is that the Vatican has issued a list of 17 bishops and archbishops who have been made by -- made bishops and archbishops by the pope, and six -- a list of six archbishops whose resignations have been accepted by the pope. Only the pope can do things like this, can make bishops and accept resignations of bishops.

So it can be read two ways. We can either read it as an attempt by the Vatican to show that the work of the church is going on, because we don't know, after all, when this list might have been approved by the pope. Or it could be read that perhaps, as one Vatican analyst put it, if they put out this list of bishops they have to do it ahead of papal death. Because it would look mighty odd indeed if you were putting out a list of bishops made by the pope if you had already announced that he had passed on -- Bill.

HEMMER: Jim, take us inside the Vatican as best you can. Who would be inside the papal residence? Certainly a litany of doctors tending to him every minute. But who else would possibly be inside with him now?

BITTERMANN: Well, certainly at his side, as always for the last 40 years, is Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, his personal secretary. And we thought for some weeks now that all the decisions, a lot of the decisions about who gets to see the pope, who gets the papal signature, have been centered in Archbishop's Dziwisz's hands.

Also around the pope this morning, as we understand it from the papal spokesman, were Angelo Sodano who is the secretary of state and Leonardo Sandri, his assistant who is the man who actually runs the day-to-day activities of the Vatican. And some key players who have to be there in the event of a papal transition. Some key players are in place in the Vatican, have been today.

In the pope's apartment there are -- or wherever the medical care is being treated, because we understand there's been kind of an emergency care facility set up behind the papal apartments, are three doctors that we know of. Bernardo Buzanetti (ph) who has been with the Vatican longer than the pope has. In fact, he was the man who pronounced Pope John Paul I's dead 26 years ago. So Dr. Buzanetti is there.

There are also two specialists that we know of. A cardiologist and an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist who are there at the pope's side as well as a couple of nurses. So basically that's the care unit that's taking care of the pope. And the colleague that have surrounded the pope at this hour -- Bill.

HEMMER: Jim, thanks for that in Rome. We'll get back to you in a moment. As you're talking, Jim, we want to show our viewers in the upper right-hand corner of this four-story, brown building is the papal residence. And in the far right-hand corner, that one window just toward the edge of the building, that is the bedroom for the pope. It's possible he is in that room. It is also possible he's in some adjoining rooms there.

But that's the area in Vatican City that Jim was describing to us where the doctors are now attending Pope John Paul II, in grave condition at this hour.

And again, Carol, we're waiting any word that we can get from the Vatican.

COSTELLO: And it was also very telling this morning that the pope chose not to go to the hospital. He chose to stay inside of his apartments. We don't know exactly what that means, but it certainly points to his condition being very grave this morning.

HEMMER: You point that out because over the past two months we have seen him go twice to Gemelli Hospital in nearby Rome. This time, however, he chose to stay where he has lived now for 26 years.

COSTELLO: Keep in mind he had heart failure. His heart stopped. But we want to find out more about his medical condition. So let's head live to Atlanta and our senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, this list of problems that the pope is now suffering, this is very worrisome, isn't it?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Very concerning. And just to be clear on something, I'm not sure that anyone is saying that his heart actually stopped. An important point there. He had what they call cardio circulation collapse, meaning a significant drop in blood pressure. And a significant drop in blood flow to many of his organs, probably his heart as well as his brain and kidneys. But this is obviously a critical situation. I think anybody would say that.

In the statement that you saw, Carol, they were describing his condition as lucid, as conscious but with an unstable blood pressure. Very serious, obviously. As a medical doctor, this doesn't all completely add up, Carol. I'll just tell you that typically, people who are this sick especially with an unstable blood pressure, low blood pressure; they're not lucid. I don't think that's not a term that someone would use to describe someone able to conduct their activities -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Let's go back to his heart condition for just a second. It is not heart failure either then.

GUPTA: Right. Well, heart failure means exactly that, the heart has failed. Maybe it is just a question of semantics here. But when the heart has failed, it has stopped beating. No one has actually said that that I've heard in an official statement yet. I know some are reporting that. We've heard he had a cardio circulatory collapse. Meaning that he had significantly low blood pressure.

In fact, what happens in that situation is the heart actually often speeds up its rate to try and keep enough blood still flowing through the body. So with the heart stops, that's a much more definitive diagnosis, Carol.

COSTELLO: OK. I just wanted to make that clear so we get it right. Septic shock, we've heard that term. What is that?

GUPTA: Septic shock, basically -- you know, we've heard about this infection. And let me just paint you a little bit of a timeline here. Well, septic shock, overwhelming infection, which can lead to blow blood pressure and can lead to low blood flow as well to the organs. Just basically, it's when the bacteria that we've been talking about in his bladder actually gets into the blood stream. We'll paint you a little bit of a time line. It was yesterday afternoon that we heard almost at the same time that his blood pressure had dropped, and that he had a significant urinary tract infection. A couple hours later, we heard that, in fact, he was responding to the antibiotics. And his situation had stabilized.

About three hours after that, just so five hours into this whole thing total, we heard that it was very serious. That was around 11:00 last night, very serious septic shock. And then again this morning, the condition very serious and the blood pressure unstable. This is all on Eastern Standard Time. But you can see the sequence of events over 12 hours a very significant deterioration here -- Carol.

COSTELLO: So when a person is in this condition, if he were in a hospital, he'd be in intensive care. Would the pope be hooked up to machines, you think?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, it's hard to say exactly what he would have -- and in most intensive care units, a patient like this, if I was being taken care of someone like this, it would probably be in an intensive care unit. Probably have intravenous antibiotics going into the bloodstream. Also medications to keep his blood pressure elevated. There are medications that do that, but most likely in an intensive care unit.

So again, I heard you talking about the fact that he's still in his apartment and exactly what that mean and we don't know. But most hospitals in the country would have him in an ICU.

COSTELLO: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

HEMMER: Carol, we are learning this morning from the White House, the president has offered his prayers for the pope. Getting that word from the White House just a moment ago here.

And back to the Vatican. As one can imagine at this hour, there was extraordinary activity happening there. Back to the Vatican and our Vatican analyst John Allen.

John, you were just outside of St. Peter's. We can see the church behind you. What have you notice that you can remark on at this hour?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Bill, for one thing, the foot traffic here. That is the flow of pilgrims and pedestrians into St. Peter's Square has been steadily building. It is now, of course, early evening Rome time. Lots of Romans are leaving work. And of course, they have been hearing all day the gathering storm clouds around the health of John Paul II. And so certainly the flow of humanity through here has picked up.

Obviously, inside the Vatican walls, and we, of course, have been speaking with Vatican officials on and off all day, there does continue to be an atmosphere of deep anxiety. Again, we can't get ahead of ourselves on that because the latest information we have from the Vatican is the pope is still conscious, is still being treated.

Obviously, there's that hope against hope of a recovery. But obviously everyone here knows that the pope is up against an extremely grave situation.

HEMMER: John, we heard last hour from Robert Moynihan, who is working the phones out of Washington, D.C., he says police cars are lining the route that leads into the Vatican. Is that a fact? Have you seen that?

ALLEN: I have not. Bill, but you should understand that our position is actually at the end of the main street, that is the Via della Conciliazione leads into St. Peter's Square. I should say there have been police cars here since late yesterday. And that was largely because I think the police Italian police, the carabiniyari (ph), anticipated that there would be a flow of people in here. And they wanted to make sure they had their people in place to control that. I have not seen in recent hours, a significant buildup of the police presence.

HEMMER: I want to get you to remark on this. This coming across the wires a short time ago, apparently a flurry of activity to, with church appointments around the world. This is what we understand there's a Vatican statement now saying that the pope had appointed 17 new bishops and archbishops around the world and accepted the resignation of at least six others. How significant is that to you, John?

ALLEN: Well, it's fairly significant. Not for the fact that the pope has appointed bishops. From March 1 to March 31, during the most intense period of this health crisis, John appointed a total of 29 bishops. So the fact that he's appointing these bishops -- and you understand these were made no doubt made several days ago, given his approval several days ago.

I think what's significant is the number of bishops all at once. That is certainly an uncharacteristically large number to be announced on a single day. And again, I really hesitate to get too far ahead of ourselves with speculation, because I don't know what the motive for that large number was. But obviously one possibility is that the Vatican had some appointments in the pipeline that they wanted to make sure were announced while John Paul was still capable of giving his assent.

HEMMER: John, if memory serves me, you're just outside the main entrance into Vatican Square that leads up to the Basilica of St. Peter's behind you. From your location, can you see the bronze doors, that often in the past tradition dictates that that is the symbol, and the sign when the bronze doors are closed that a pope has passed away?

ALLEN: From this position, we can't. Although obviously, the Italian TV crews have every possible angle of St. Peter's Square and environs staked out. So we'd be able to see that, of course, through monitors.

I have to tell you that while a lot of this lore about what's going to happen first floats through the air, having worked painstakingly for the past several days to try to nail down exactly what the sequence of events will be, the honest truth is we still don't know. It is quite possible the first sign that the pope has passed, if indeed it comes to that, will be the traditional switch on Vatican radio from their normal programming to the funeral music that they have cued up, and ready to go at a moments noticed when they get the word that the pope has died.

To be honest, we don't know quite exactly what the first indication of that event will be. And again, I want to stress that we are, to some extent, perhaps slightly ahead of ourselves because we're not there yet, obviously.

HEMMER: John Allen, thanks.

A little bit past 5:00 in the afternoon there in Vatican -- in Vatican City rather, in Rome Italy, that's our headline for this hour. The pope said to be in grave condition at this point. More when we get it out of Vatican City. First, the headlines back in this country. Kelly Wallace has those now.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning again, everyone. Here are some other stories now in the news.

The family feud over Terri Schiavo continues this morning. Michael Schiavo plans to have his wife's body cremated in a private ceremony without his in-laws and that the ashes brought to Pennsylvania. The Schindlers want their daughter buried in Florida. An autopsy is now under way to determine the full extent of her brain damage. Results are expected within weeks.

More attacks this morning against Iraqi security forces. Iraqi police say a police chief was gunned down in an ambush about 30 miles north of Baghdad. In another part of the city, an Interior Ministry officer was killed in clashes between insurgents and security forces. This as U.S. and Iraqi troops continue to root out militants during raids in Mosul.

Monaco Prince Rainier remains in critical condition this hour. The 81-year-old prince, who was Europe's longest reigning monarch, has been hospitalized for more than three weeks for heart, lung and kidney problems. His son, Prince Albert, has already taken over royal duties.

And Sandy Berger, who was the national security adviser to former President Clinton, is expected to plead guilty today. Berger has admitted to leaving the National Archives in 2003 with copies of documents about the government's anti-terror efforts, but denies criminal wrongdoing. If a judge accepts the plea, it could spare Berger from facing possible jail time.

Time for a quick check of the Friday forecast, excuse me.


HEMMER: In a moment, more on the day's top story, the breaking news out of the Vatican, Pope John Paul II in grave condition at this hour. We're waiting for any word out of the Vatican now.

Back in a moment after this.


HEMMER: We're at 19 minutes past the hour of 10:00 a.m. here in New York. In Rome it is 5:19 in the afternoon. Watching the pictures again from Vatican City, Pope John Paul II said to be in, quote, "grave condition at this hour." He's 84, taking a turn for the worse overnight. Said to be suffering from unstable blood pressure, a condition related to an overwhelming infection referred to as septic shock. That's the word we get from the Vatican.

However, there has not been an update from the Vatican for nearly five hours. We're waiting for more word from there. A bit earlier today to, the Vatican spokesperson came out saying he has never seen the pope like this before. This was over a period of 26 years that even brought that particular person to tears.

And Robert Moynihan was watching that. He's the editor in chief of "Inside the Vatican." He was with us last hour, back again now.

And Robert, I know you've been talking with people in the Vatican. Can you add more to what's happening there?

ROBERT MOYNIHAN, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "INSIDE THE VATICAN": No, I'm hearing the other program.

HEMMER: All right. Robert, can you hear me now? Bill Hemmer in New York. Do you have me? That's a shame. OK. We're going to go ahead and see if we can get the right connection here down to Washington, D.C.

In the meantime, though, we can set the scene for you the following way. There is so much we do not know on the inside of the Vatican, Carol. But that particular brown building you see rising high above St. Peter's Square, a four-story, brown building. In the upper right-hand corner, that window is said to be the bedroom for the pope and it's possible he is resting in there. Or a nearby room, because we know there are so many doctors attending to his every need.

COSTELLO: Absolutely. You can see the faithful already gathered, at least some of the faithful. They're gathering in churches from around -- in around the world right now praying for the pope.

HEMMER: That's right. As this story continues, based on the word we're getting from the Vatican, St. Peter's Square will be a mass of humanity to come out and honor the man who has served the papacy for 26 years. Robert, do you have me now?


HEMMER: Terrific. You have been on the phone to Vatican City. Are you learning more there?

MOYNIHAN: People are saying that we just look at the facts. John Allen is very right not to run ahead of ourselves. And there is the possibility that with antibiotics, the fever could be stemmed. And therefore, we would not be talking about something immediate. But the overwhelming sense is that several things -- can you hear me?

HEMMER: I sure can, Robert.

MOYNIHAN: Several things have happened that suggest we are in the final phases of the pope's life. And that is the press office being held open tonight. That would normally not be done unless they were thinking that it's very possible that some time at midnight tonight in Rome, or even 2:00 or 3:00 this morning they will have an announcement.

Second, the way the Vatican phrased its press release, saying that this function of the body was in decline; that the second function was in decline. Doctor Gupta can analyze this better than I can. But it suggests that parts of his physical body are shutting down, as it were. And they've given more information in that that regard than they had in the past, which suggests to me that they are accepting that this is going to be a very grave situation and they're telling us that.

HEMMER: Yes. Robert, listening to you talk about that press release, we've not been in a circumstance like this since 1978. October of that year. Does the candor of the Vatican, is it coming through better for you now. More clear, perhaps more concise, maybe more revealing and transparent?

MOYNIHAN: Right now, they're being a little more transparent. We're waiting several hours. And we're going over and over this now in a way we don't have new news. We need an official report from the pope's bedside to say is his temperature stabilizing or is it still very high? So we're in some sense speculating.

We're basing our thinking that it's extremely serious on all the events of the last 24 hours. We don't have hourly reports. And so we don't know exactly what's happening. Nineteen seventy-eight, Paul VI died in August, on August 6. And then Paul John I, of course, died after 33 days with no warning at all.

And this pope, we had two hospitalizations in February. He came out rather quickly from the first one. He relapsed again. I was in Rome and watched him as he came out of the hospital. He looked in the face not so bad that day. And -- but his hand was all swollen where they'd been injecting his hand with...

HEMMER: This is the picture, too, from Wednesday earlier in the week. Robert, thank you again for your thoughts. Don't go far in D.C.

We have to get a commercial break here. Back after this.


COSTELLO: And welcome back to this expanded version of AMERICAN MORNING. We are awaiting the latest information on the pope. He is said to be in grave condition. He's being treated inside the Vatican. In the apartment you see on the right hand side in the middle there of that big, brown building you see.

Pope John Paul II, he doesn't want to go back to the hospital. He wants to be treated in his apartments. But he is said to be lucid, conscious and quite serene. Faithful from around the world are being asked to say a special prayer for Pope John Paul II. There are more 60 million Catholics in the United States alone.

Joining us now, Margaret O'Brien Steinfels is the co-director of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture.



COSTELLO: First of all, I want to talk about the pope and his health condition and how he's been slowly declining over so many months. And we've all been watching him suffer. He wanted us to learn from his suffering. But has it been too much for us?

O'BRIEN-STEINFELS: Well, it depends on what we think about death and we're all going to die some day. So is this lesson from the pope a lesson, as you say, about serenity and peacefulness? Or is it a lesson about prolonging your medical care long beyond the time in which it will do you any good? We don't know the answer to that question.

COSTELLO: It is just so difficult to see him struggling, especially on Easter Sunday when he tried to speak and he could not.

O'BRIEN-STEINFELS: As it happens, a year ago, my husband and I were at Rome and we were at one of those public audiences. And I would say that even last year at this time, it was a great struggle for him to carry on. He could barely speak then. And So I guess one cease in this a certain kind of both stubbornness and a courage and a willingness to go on no matter what.

I mean I think today we see perhaps the end of all that. And like many families, I suppose lots of people are praying for him and for a peaceful death, if that's what's to come.

COSTELLO: Let's talk about the popularity of this pope. Because I've also been to the Vatican on Sunday when, you know, he pops through the window. And even at that time about five years ago his voice was very faint. Huge crowd of people listening very intently for the whispers from the pope, and then just massive cheers, people crying.

For many of us, this is the only pope we have known. Why has he struck such a chord in us?

O'BRIEN-STEINFELS: Well, since I'm a little older than you, I can say he's not the only pope I've known. And I think John XXIII had that appeal for many people, that he was a very beloved figure. And I think this pope too, is a very beloved figure. And perhaps even more than John XXIII, he has this kind of -- people have said this. This celebrity and rock star quality that seems to bring out a kind of emotional fervor in people; and hence the crowds and hence the cheering.

Does that really establish his legacy? I'm not sure. I think it is a very human thing to want to be around a charismatic figure like the pope.

COSTELLO: But the other thing I noticed about him is he sticks to his guns. I mean there's no wavering here. And this is at a time when many people don't believe in his moralistic approach, perhaps of what he teaches. Yet people still listen to him.

O'BRIEN-STEINFELS: I think he has...

STEINFELS: I think he's a very intelligent man. He knows the Catholic tradition very well. And I think his effort to try to explain not only to Catholics, obviously, but to other people in the world, has been I think generally well received, not, of course, that everybody agrees with him, even in the Catholic Church about some of these matters that he's been very firm about. For example, the death penalty. He's been very firm in the death penalty, but we, of course, see that there have been many Catholics, including, for example, Justice Scalia, who simply don't agree with the pope on this. So it's a little bit of this and that, I would say.

COSTELLO: As people gather around the world to offer prayers to Pope John Paul at this time of definite need, what do you think they'll be praying for? And I know they'll be praying for his life to continue. But what will they lose if they lose this pope?

STEINFELS: Well, I can say in our own parish every Sunday for the last several Sundays we have prayed that he be restored to health or be relieved from his suffering. So I think that is what many Catholics are praying for today. And I think people, when you're at the edge like this, I think people are very timid and reluctant to say, and, but we want in the next pope, but obviously there has been an enormous amount of discussion and debate about what does the Catholic Church need now after this sort of charismatic and rock star quality pope? And I would guess a lot of Catholics think that maybe it's time to go back to somebody who a little more quiet, somebody who might stay home, and not travel quite so much, and somebody who might return to the local churches a little bit more authority in running their own affairs. Well, those are the sorts of thing I hear.

COSTELLO: I understand. Margaret Steinfels, thank you for joining AMERICAN MORNING this morning -- Bill.

HEMMER: Carol, getting word from the White House again a short time ago. The president said to make remarks in about 20 minutes from now. This down in Washington D.C. It's possible he could make a comment about the pope and his condition right now. We did hear about 30 minutes ago that he's offering his prayers for the pope. So we'll watch that from the White House on this story. And breaking news, too, watching throughout the morning here, Pope John Paul II's health has taken another turn for the worse. The Vatican describes him to be in grave condition.

Now, this is what we understand now from the Vatican. The pope is said to be suffering from unstable blood pressure. That's a condition related to an overwhelming infection. The Vatican describing him as being in very serious condition, and says he's surrounded by a team of doctors at the residence there in Vatican City.

Also the pope is said to be conscious and lucid. And earlier today he asked an aide to read to him from the Bible. That's the word we're getting from the Vatican. But again, it's been five hours since we've heard any official comment from there.

And John Paul has suffered from a number of chronic illnesses. In fact, 24 years ago, it was 1981 in St. Peter's Square when he was wounded by the bullet of an assassin. An assassination attempt taking place then. Many believe that was the beginning of his health condition that has extended now over a period of several years, and the way Vatican officials describe his current crisis is striking, too, with the candor, and the openness, the transparency, some suggest.

Let's go back to Rome right now and CNN's Jim Bittermann is watching things from there.

Jim, it's been a while since we've talked. What more can you add?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the things I can add is that the papal spokesman has just left the papal press office. Now he said earlier in that news conference about five hours ago that the press office is going to remain open 24 hours a day. Obviously, they are expecting that they're going to have something to announce. That's never happened before, that they kept the press office open.

Having said that, he just left the press office. He's on his way to St. John's, the Lateran (ph) church, which is sort of the pope's second church in Rome after St. Peter's. The pope over the years has celebrated numerous masses over there. It's a huge old basilica on the other side of Rome. And at that church in about an hour and a half, Cardinal Emeilio Ruhini (ph), who is the cardinal victor of Rome, and one of the three people who actually keep their jobs after the pope dies, and also the person who is charged with announcing the pope's death to the world, he is going to be holding a mass, and they're going to prayers said at specifically aimed at praying for the pope's health -- Bill.

HEMMER: All right, Jim, thanks for that update from Rome. We're watching it from here as well. Jim Bittermann. Now to Carol.

As we've been telling you, Roman Catholics from around the world offering prayers for the pope this morning. We're joined by CNN's Chris Huntington at St. Patrick's Cathedral here in New York, and Gary Tuchman at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. Let's start with you, Chris, what was the mood like at mass there this morning?

CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Cardinal Egan gave a mass. Every morning he presides over a regular 7:30 mass. But of course, as you can understand, he tailored this morning's mass to Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Egan is a remarkably accessible person for a cardinal frankly. He's very much in touch with his audience here in New York City, which is a very, very diverse audience. It is the largest urban concentration of Catholics in the United States. He likened Pope John Paul II's lifetime struggles against Nazism, against the Soviet, and indeed to uphold the tenets of the church as to those struggles of St. Peter, who is regarded in a sense as the original pope of the Catholic Church.

After the mass, we had an opportunity to speak a little bit more in person with Cardinal Egan. And he spoke reverently, and lovingly, in fact, about a man with whom he worked very, very closely in Rome.


CARDINAL EDWARD EGAN, ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK: One night I got an invitation to go over for evening meal. Usually you work with him during the day, and then if he wants to you stay for lunch, you do. Very seldomly are you invited over for an evening meal. But I was invited over for an evening meal, and I had not realized it was his birthday.

So when I came in, he said, "Monsignor Egan didn't bring me a present, so I have one for him." And he gave me a portable radio, which I had for a long time. So I got a birthday present on his birthday. So that will kind of give you the kind of an idea of how he is. He's a very strong man, a very good man, and an easy man to work with. You know you're dealing with a man that wants accurate, quick, truthful answers, but he also was the kind of fellow that knows how to be kind.


HUNTINGTON: Now Cardinal Egan said that the passing, the eventual passing of Pope John Paul II would be, for Cardinal Egan, like losing a father. He referred to the pope as a hero for our times. There are plans for a special mass here at St. Patrick's Cathedral in the event of Pope John Paul's passing, and of course Cardinal Egan will join other cardinals from around the world at the conclave in the Vatican following the pope's passing -- Carol.

COSTELLO: You know, I've heard Cardinal Egan perform mass. He has a way of getting to you. The parishioners inside that church, how did they react this morning?

HUNTINGTON: Well, folks here are, as we all are, Carol, sort of in a bit of a suspended state, waiting for the news, that news that will be inevitable, obviously. And it's giving time for all of us, but particularly for the devout Catholics that are coming here to pray, to regard the church, the role of the church, their relationship with the church. There's a lot that's very private about the way people are regarding this time right now. Cardinal Egan doing I thing quite a remarkable job to speak to a group. As I mentioned, a very, very diverse range of Catholics, from very devout to those who are more liberal. And of course in the days and weeks ahead, we'll get into talking about the role that the pope has played in trying to bridge the gap between liberal and devout within the Catholic faith and beyond -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Chris Huntington, thank you.

Now we go to CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman. He's at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.

Good morning.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATL. CORRESPONDENT: Carol, good morning to you.

And the cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest church in the Boston archdiocese. This was actually the first catholic church in all of New England, built in 1875, 130 years old. And this morning they did have a small mass where they prayed for the health of the pope. And they have pictures inside, pictures of the pope here inside this cathedral in 1979. That was the pope's first visit to the United States as the pontiff. Boston was one of his stops, and the people here in Boston have fond memories of that visit 25 years ago. He did celebrate mass here at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

And then he celebrated a mass in the Boston Common. That's the park, the oldest park, by the way, in the United States, where between 1 million and 2 million people turned out on the rainiest day imaginable. I know that personally because back in 1979, I was a college sophomore here in Boston, so I was there. It was raining cats and dogs, but nevertheless, more than one million people were on the streets as the pope came down in his motorcade waving to everybody. He was a spry 59-year-old man.

You see him right there when he was here in Beantown. And I remember outside some of the windows of the brownstones here in Boston, there were college students waving outside their windows. And one guy was holding up this sign that said, yes, pope, as the pope came through, celebrated his mass in Boston Common, and he hasn't been back to Boston since, but people still have fond memories of that day 25 years ago -- Carol.

COSTELLO: So many memories brought back, because I saw the pope when he was in Baltimore some years back. And the same kind of reaction, people just loved him. They were really into him and really into his message. And you find yourself asking, did he move young people enough to obey the rules of the church, as he saw them?

TUCHMAN: Well, I can tell you that you did not have to be Catholic back in 1979 to be caught up in the excitement. He was like a rock star coming to Boston. So he certainly had a lot of influence on Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

COSTELLO: Gary Tuchman, live in Boston this morning. Thank you.

Time for a look at the rest of the day's news. Here's Kelly Wallace. Good morning, Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks so much, Carol. Good morning again, everyone. And here are some other stories "Now in the News."

Terri Schiavo's body is expected to be released today to her husband. Michael Schiavo plans to have Terri Schiavo's remains cremated against the wishes of her parents. Just hours after Terri Schiavo's 15-year battle ended in a Florida hospice, her father attended a public memorial service for her last night. He thanked those who supported his and his wife's legal efforts to keep her alive.

Rescuers are fanning out to the more remote areas of Nias, the Indonesian island ravaged by Monday's earthquake. Crews have abandoned the search for survivors in the island's main city. That powerful quake, which registered a magnitude 8.7, is blamed for several hundred deaths.

Former president Bill Clinton making his first public appearance since his surgery. The former president was given a humanitarian award Thursday for his work in fighting the spread of HIV and AIDS. The appearance comes three weeks after his surgery to remove scar tissue and fluid build-up in one of his lungs.

And you don't want to forget this. Yep. It will be time to change your clocks this weekend. Daylight Saving Time begins in the United States at 2:00 a.m. Sunday local time. And you know what that means. That means your clocks spring forward an hour and everybody loses an hour of sleep. Not very good news indeed. But we'll survive, right, Bill?

HEMMER: A bit of a good and bad.

COSTELLO: It's a sign summer is coming. That's a good thing.

HEMMER: We'll take it after this winter.

WALLACE: That's right.

HEMMER: Kelly, thank you.

We want to show our viewers a second here, these bronze doors that we've been talking about throughout the day. Those are Swiss guards. They are detailed with keeping security throughout Vatican city. Have for centuries. Tradition dictates when a pope dies, those bronze doors are closed. And so for observers in Vatican City, the pilgrims who may be amassed there now, pretty strong indication, Carol, that they're watching those doors for any sign the Vatican may have about word of his condition.

COSTELLO: And I believe they close the shutters, too, on his apartments in some way, although they're closed already, because, of course, for privacy reasons.

HEMMER: As a young man, Pope John Paul II, growing up in southern Poland, said he wanted to be an actor some day. That was his big goal in life.

COSTELLO: Well, he certainly got to be a performer.

HEMMER: That's exactly right.

COSTELLO: He is a performer.

HEMMER: No small mention, because for so long during his papacy, so many considered him to be a great communicator, along the lines of Ronald Reagan. And their lives paralleled each other throughout the 1980s. And how ironic is it now that he was silenced near the end when we saw him at the window two days ago, trying to speak and address the pilgrims as he has done now for 26 years. And at that point, he wasn't able to.

COSTELLO: You know, one of the most moving things someone said this morning is that the pope is dying from the feet up. The last thing that may be going now is his mind. Still lucid at this point.

HEMMER: Robert Moynihan.

Let's a get a break here. In a moment, back to the breaking news at the Vatican. Waiting word, any word now, on the condition of Pope John Paul II. This expanded edition of AMERICAN MORNING will continue after this.


HEMMER: Nearly 6:00 in the evening in Vatican City, waiting for more word. The failing health of Pope John Paul II is our top story this morning, as we continue this expanded version of AMERICAN MORNING.

Waiting now for the next announcement updating the 84-year-old pontiff's prognosis. At the Vatican's last report several hours ago, almost 5 hours and 15 minutes, by the way, the pope's condition was said to be very serious.

And as we continue our coverage here, the pope has clearly been one of the most significant figures of the twentieth century and perhaps, for that matter, the most significant religious figure in our lifetime. And his position on the culture of life has affected many millions in this country alone.

And Jeff Greenfield joins me with some thoughts on that. Good morning again.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. What's intriguing about the pope's position on these issues is he came into office as a relatively young, extremely vigorous, modern pope. He had rock concerts. And people thought of him as a modernist, but in many issues, he was a traditionalist and kept the church firmly in the conservative camp on issues like artificial birth control, abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide.

I think that had an impact here in this country politically. Traditionally, Protestants, particularly evangelical Protestants and Catholics were not allies. All through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, there was a great fear among a lot of Protestants that the Catholics were out to take over the country.

When Al Smith (ph) ran for president in 1928, there were really scabrous notions that the pope was literally going to come over to America and run the country. John Kennedy, as late as 1960, faced substantial opposition among Protestants particularly of his faith. He had to go to that famous meeting in Houston to argue that he was not going to do this. He was for separation of church and state.

But as cultural issues became more important in the United States, particularly after abortion was constitutionalized, you saw a gradual forming of an alliance between conservative Protestants and conservative Catholics that we saw played out just in the last election. George W. Bush carried the Catholic vote in 2004 against a Catholic Democratic nominee. And if you'd told any political pundit say, 20 years earlier, that this would have happened, they'd have said, you're nuts. I think the pope had to a although to do with that.

HEMMER: You're speaking to a much larger issue with him. Because here was a man who came to make a difference. What did he do? He was the first pope to ever step inside a synagogue. He was first pope to ever step inside of a mosque. That is a flooring headline, if you think about how we sit here in 2005 and how the church has changed under his leadership.

GREENFIELD: Well, when you go back -- if you really want to go back a little more than 100 years, the Catholic Church spent a long time having to come to terms with the fact that Italy was going to be essentially secular Democratic pluralist state. That's one of the reasons why Vatican City exists as a carved-out area where the church governs, both temporally and spiritually.

And the pope didn't reach out to a great degree. There was a lot of feeling left over from particularly from the Holocaust, that the Catholic church, for some critics, did not speak out nearly enough. It's a big controversy. Well, whatever the truth of that, this pope clearly broke through on that, and at the same time, was very strong and took a lot of criticism for saying no women in the priesthood, no change in our position on, as I said, abortion, on artificial birth control, and the like.

But I think his -- my point is, his general cultural conservatism, I think, was one of the reasons why the Catholic and Protestant conservatives in that sense became so close.

HEMMER: That's a very interesting connection, the two.

As we reflect too, we talk about the culture of life and the amount of respect that he always afforded the issue of life throughout his papacy. He saw the worst of humanity as a very young man growing up in Krakow, Poland, when Nazi Germany came into Poland and steamrolled that place in September of 1939. GREENFIELD: I think it's one of the reasons why on the broader international front, the fact that a Polish-born pope was elevated to the papacy when a lot of people in the West thought the Soviet Union was on the march. They'd invaded Afghanistan. The West felt in some sense, they were on the defensive. And within a short period of time, you have Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and John Paul II assume power and really did form a kind of united front in an effort to make the moral case against communism. And, you know, they came to power in 1979, '80, '81. By 1989, the wall was down. And the pope had a clear role in that.

HEMMER: And in 1978, he gave the Polish people so much hope too at the time under Soviet rule.


HEMMER: Thank you, Jeff.

We are following this breaking news story at the Vatican in a moment here. Once again, the health of Pope John Paul II has taken a turn for the worse. We'll get back to the latest out of Vatican City when we continue.


HEMMER: Welcome back to this expanded version of AMERICAN MORNING. You're taking a live look at the Vatican. You can see Pope John Paul's apartments behind the front building there, where he is said to be in grave condition this morning. The last check we had on his health was from a Vatican spokesman, with tears in his eye. That happened at 5:30 Eastern this morning. And as I said, the only thing he really said was that the pope is in grave condition. He is receiving treatment. And he is said to be serene.

You know, since 1978, John Paul II has been one of the most towering figures on the world stage. Jim Bittermann takes a look.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Around the Vatican, they like to boast that John Paul has personally made contact with more people than anyone else on Earth -- 15 million alone, according to estimates, have attended his Wednesday audiences in Rome, not to mention the millions and millions and millions who have turned out to see him on his 102 trips abroad. Add to that the billions who've seen him on TV, and surely the pope would qualify as the most recognizable figure on the planet.

And how has he used that visibility? Some credit John Paul with precipitating the downfall of communism, with confronting dictators on human rights, with reaching out to redress divisions between religions. He has used his priestly pulpit to comfort the downtrodden as he has throughout the underdeveloped world, and to confront the powerful, as he did most recently with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George Bush over the war in Iraq.

Even some who know the pope's failings rate him a success.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: You'd be hard pressed to name any global figure who has achieved 100 percent of the things they set out to achieve. I think the measure of success really has to be sort of fidelity to one's own vision and the capacity to make that vision real.

BITTERMANN: There are many of course who do not agree with the pope's vision. Even some members of his College of Cardinals say that John Paul's quarter century has left the church with numerous internal problems -- declining congregation; declining number of priests; a major sex abuse scandal and a congregation divided on issues such as the role of women in the church, abortion and birth control.

Yet the sheer length of his reign has permitted John Paul to set large goals and achieve them -- goals based on principles beyond those of a modern world often driven by profit and provocation.

The pope has used communications in a way no human being ever has, hoping to move the world in an entirely different direction. No army, just his moral megaphone, as they call it around the Vatican.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Vatican City.


COSTELLO: Of course, history will ultimately decide Pope John Paul II's influence, but current observers believe he has reshaped the papacy like few before him. We'll get back to Rome live with the latest coming up.



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