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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Thousands Mourn Pope At St. Peter's Square

Aired April 2, 2005 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Christiane, thanks so much. At the top of the hour here we wanted to welcome all of you and thank you very much for joining us tonight. As we continue our special coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II.
You are now looking at a live picture of St. Peter's Square, where the announcement of the pope's death was made to the world. Tens of thousands had gathered in St. Peter's Square for a second day when the announcement they knew would come, finally did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Dear brothers and sisters, at 21:37 our beloved Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has returned to his home. Let us pray for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Some were spellbound, some stoic, others, as you can see, gave into their emotions. Less than three hours before they had been told that John Paul was slipping in and out of consciousness. After the silence came prayers from the Vatican, then the ringing of bells throughout Rome.

(BELLS RINGING)

The legacy he leaves is probably best told by the people who lives he touched and changed and we will be speaking with them during this hour and the rest of the evening. But right now I want to go back to my colleagues Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour, who are in Vatican City.

And I was captivated by many of the images both of you have been showing throughout the night; the close-ups of the grieving faces. And I guess what struck me in e even watching people grieve here in New York City, a state, of course that is home to some 4 million Catholics. There was this sense of anticipation, obviously, that the end of this pope's death would come, but people describe still being stunned and sort of stopping in their tracks when they finally heard the news.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think certainly, Paula, grief is like that. And especially for this pope, for this man, who so many people around the world, not just here in Rome or in the Vatican City, but so many people actually met -- I mean, this is a pope, we all know this is the most traveled pope in history, but when you think about what that actually means. He met more people than perhaps anyone else on this planet.

Millions of people coming out to see him in the Philippines, in other countries, and so there are millions, tens of millions of people, right now, around the world who feel a very personal connection, not just through their faith, but they actually felt that they met this man. And they saw him and they felt a connection in that way and so the mourning is beyond just a mourning of a religious figure, the mourning of the head of the church. It is a personal loss and it is deeply felt.

ZAHN: And a lot, Christiane, has been made of the paradox of this pope. Even some priests conceding that they believe that this pope achieved far more outside of the church, perhaps, than he did within the bureaucracy of the Vatican. What is the sense of expectation people have there about how to fill the void of this much- beloved pope?

AMANPOUR: Well, that is exactly the question. And many people are asking what direction will the next pope take the church in? In fact, many people believe that this pope, with the centralization of the bureaucracy, with the wrenching back of the church, away from the Vatican II reforms of the 1960s, and bringing it back to a very strict orthodoxy, a very strict conservative theology; they believe that that is what this pope has done for the last 26 years and stamped his indelible imprimatur on the Catholic Church.

And so what will the Catholic Church look like when the man himself is gone and another man comes to fill the shoes of the Vicar of Christ here on earth. They are wondering about how the process will take place and what exactly will go into choosing the new pope.

And of course people here are stunned because even though he has in fact died now, many people have seen him in so many illnesses and even almost assassinated by the Turkish gunman back in 1981, here in St. Peter's Square. And they saw him almost come back from the dead so many times that some have been stunned simply because this time there was no more miracle and this time the pope succumbed to his final illness.

ZAHN: Christiane and Anderson, thank you both. We'll be touching on a lot of different things throughout the evening.

Anderson was mentioning a little bit earlier on that Pope John Paul II, in his lifetime had more contact with people and more people than anybody else in all of human history. Some estimates say he had been in the presence of more than 15 million people by the time of his death. And there were, of course, untold millions of others whose lives he touched.

He lead a truly extraordinary life in the face of some very dangerous times.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking in Italian) ZAHN (voice over): When the newly elected Pope John Paul II stepped onto the balcony of St. Peter's, on an October night in 1978, he was greeted by a crowd of thousands, who had come to hail him as the new leader of the Catholic Church.

But beyond the church's inner circles, little was known about the new pope, and few could anticipate his role in papal history.

He was born in Poland as Karol Wojtyla, the first non-Italian to be chosen as pope in more than 450 years. The pontiff visited his hometown of Wadowice in 1999, an industrial town that had survived both Nazi and Communist regimes. Little could anyone from this small town have expected that one of their own could become leader of one of the world's largest and oldest religious institutions.

But even early on there were signs of the talents that would eventually lead to his rise as the most vocal, most globally influential and perhaps most beloved pope in history. He was handsome in his youth, a playwright, and actor, a poet and a linguist, who would later use these skills to spread his vision to widely different audiences, often in their own language.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: (speaking German, Spanish)

ZAHN: His was one of the longest papal reigns in the history of the Catholic Church; 26 years that span two centuries.

There have been criticisms during John Paul's tenure. Some of the strongest came from the inside, the members who believe his quarter century has left the church with a declining membership, a major sex abuse scandal, and a congregation divided over sensitive subjects, like the role of women in the church, abortion and birth control.

But while he was a strict conservative on religious and moral issues, John Paul recognized that a pope had the power to change the world's social conditions and he used that power, hastening the downfall of Communism by personally empowering his Polish countrymen; confronting dictators on human rights; comforting the downtrodden, chiding presidents for what he saw as a morally unjust quest for nuclear supremacy.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: Peace is not only the absence of war, it also involves reciprocal trust between nations.

ZAHN: There was his visit to Jerusalem's Western Wall. The enduring image that symbolized his hopes of breeching an historic religious divide. With the start of the new millennium and the Jubilee Holy Year Celebration that marked the 2000th anniversary of Christ's birth, John Paul lead his clergy to publicly apologize for what he saw as the church's sins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let us ask for forgiveness for the divisions that have come between Christians, for the use of violence that some of them have resorted to in serving truth, and for the attitudes of mistrust and hostility adopted sometimes towards followers and believers of other religions.

ZAHN: In 1981, John Paul II paid dearly for his accessibility. During a public audience in Rome a gunman fired from the crowds, almost killing the pope. After months of painful recovery, John Paul proved that he lived by the words he wrote when he was young. That a person's actions defined what he stands for. He forgave his would-be murderer; even visited the man in his jail cell.

In his later years, the onset of what most believe was Parkinson's, slowed John Paul's movements and travel. But did not dampen his will to connect and to comfort.

The Vatican liked to boast that Pope John Paul II made contact with more individuals than any other person on earth; 15 million people were estimated to have attended his audience in Rome over the years. And millions more turned out to see him in his visits to all corners of the world.

His World Youth Days inspired young people to flock to his side, despite the generation gap.

(CROWD CHANTING)

ZAHN: He was a man who knew and understood the power of human interaction. The power of the word, his moral megaphone, its been called. It was a talent he drew on in these last recent days, when his use of words might have been limited, but his ability to inspire was not.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And his ability to inspire is still very much evident tonight. We're going to take you to Chicago, right now. The city that is home to more Polish people than any city in the world, outside of Warsaw.

This is the mass in honor of Pope John Paul II, being held at the St. Hyacinth's Church.

And the impact of this pope on the church and on the world cannot be overstated. For more on his legacy I'm joined now by Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia.

Cardinal Rigali, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

CARDINAL JUSTIN RIGALI, ARCHBISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA: You are most welcome.

ZAHN: We've talked a lot about the powerful legacy of this pope on the world stage building enormous bridges between Catholics and Jews and Muslims, helping stir the fall of Communism. What do you want all of us to know about the impact of this pope's personal ministry?

RIGALI: I think in order to understand his motivation, I think we could go back awhile. I remember one time something he said on a trip, that he was on in Nigeria. He said he had learned it from his mother, actually it is in the Gospel, that to treat others as you would like others to treat you. I think that this was a tremendous inspiration to him. And this was the motivation, why he had such excellent relations with fellow Christians, with Jews, with so many other different religions, with Muslims and with people of all different backgrounds.

He truly had an extraordinary realization of the dignity of human nature, which he personally respected in each person. And I think that this was a key to his success and a key to an awful lot that he accomplished.

ZAHN: And the dignity he respected because -- do you attribute that to the fact that he had such a struggle as a young man, losing his mother at a young age. Then his brother and then his father, living between two world wars and enduring some very tough physical labor during that period of time?

RIGALI: Well, I think, for example, the two great challenges that he knew in his lifetime made an incredible impression on him, namely Nazism and Communism. And he saw this as the antithesis of everything that was not only human, that was not only Christian, but was not human and therefore he was determined to do everything possible to eradicate anything that would destroy human dignity. And everything that he said, everything -- all that he preached was precisely was to exalt the dignity of every single man, woman and child. And this had the enormous effects that we've seen in his ministry in the world.

ZAHN: In the right part of the screen we're looking at pictures and sort of the process and dogma of this pope, so respected and lived through, and yet the one thing that I'm struck by, in talking to cardinals who knew him well, and monsignors, was this was a man who had a tremendous sense of humor and a man who had an innate ability to connect with just about everyone through humor.

RIGALI: Yes, not only humor but it was a humor that manifested itself in a deep compassion and deep mercy. Every place that he saw a need, where a brother or a sister would be in need, the pope's interest was struck and his love went out. And so he was in all senses a man of compassion and mercy. And also a man of deep interior joy, which he himself endeavored to communicate to others, so that others would have a reason to have humor and a reason to rejoice.

ZAHN: Is there a personal memory of the pope that you would like to share with us tonight, Cardinal Rigali? ] RIGALI: Oh, so many. Here I am in Philadelphia. You know it was in 1979 I had the great privilege of accompanying him. I was part of his team in the Vatican. And I accompanied him to Philadelphia. And I had no idea at the time that someday I'd be the archbishop of Philadelphia. But I remember, at the time, how he loved the city. And how he commented, when he was here in Philadelphia, on how Philadelphia was a sign of the history of the United States. He was fascinated by the Liberty Bell. He was fascinated the references to freedom in our documents. And he also challenged America not only to live up to its traditions, but to go forward and to be a great leaven in the world.

So my personal memories are many of them and they go back to Philadelphia, beyond, and throughout the world.

ZAHN: Well, Cardinal Rigali, thank you so much for sharing that with us tonight. We really appreciate it.

RIGALI: Thank you for opportunity.

ZAHN: Our pleasure.

Now it is time to go back to Rome, where Anderson is standing by, night has fallen long ago there. How many people do you still see milling around at this time of the night?

COOPER: There are probably several hundred people still in St. Peter's Square. As you can see some still have their candles out. Some have actually sat down or are just sitting in small groups just talking and praying. Many just not wanting to leave the square that they have been in now for many hours.

I'm joined here, in Rome, by CNN Vatican Analyst John Allen.

John, thank you very much for being with us again. I want to talk a little bit with you about the pope's early years. I read a quote, something that he had written. He said at 20 I had already lost all the people I loved. That early pain, that early loss of his mother, at nine; of his brother, several years later; and then of his father. What did that do to him? How did that shape his faith and the direction that he took his faith going into the priesthood?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Anderson, I think the central point is that for this pope from the very earliest age, suffering was not just a kind of theoretical idea or a sort of spiritual notion. It was a very real part of his life experience, of that sensation of loss, that sensation of pain.

And of course, when you are facing suffering there are really two options. I mean, you either succumb to it, or you find meaning in it. You integrate it into who you are, you overcome it and you learn from it. Obviously, it was that second path that John Paul II chose.

And I think all of that is what gave him the extraordinary strength and extraordinary grace that we witnessed in these last years, last months, and even last days, of his life.

I mean, now that he's gone, I look back, for example, to last Easter Sunday, when he was at his window for a full 12 minutes and 17 seconds, to be with the crowd, that vast crowd that had gathered in St. Peter's Square. There were a couple of moments when his aides tried to gently suggest he come back, because he was obviously ailing.

They were afraid that exposure to the chill of Roman air might bring a new infection, might worsen his condition. And he waived them away. He wanted to be present and he knew that that letting the world see the pain that he was experiencing was a reminder to all of us that suffering is part of the human experience and we need not be afraid of it.

Remember, one of his great mottos was precisely that: Be not afraid. And he wasn't. And he wasn't afraid to let us share that journey with him, a remarkable man, Anderson.

COOPER: And some of that embracing of suffering, that looking to find life in death and learning in pain, did that lead to his embrace, early on, of sort of the mystical side of Catholicism? The Patri P.O. (ph), the Saint John of the Cross?

ALLEN: Yes, absolutely. Let's not forget actually, that as a young man, Karol Wojtyla, who would later become Pope John Paul II, his initial idea was to become a Carmelite priest. The Carmelites are a religious order whose most famous son, so to speak, was Saint John of the Cross, the mystic saint, who wrote that famous treatise on the dark night of the soul. That is, in order to get to the light and to know what it means, you first have to move through the darkness. And this is Pope John Paul II, a man who experienced a lot of darkness and yet also had that clearer grasp of the light.

I was with the pope last year, Anderson, when he was in Lourdes, in France, that of course is Christianity's premier healing shrine. And there was a vast crowd gathered there, some -- over a million people. And thousands, tens of thousands of them, were themselves ill. People were there on gurneys, in stretchers, with IVs and wheelchairs.

And I was walking among that crowd and when Pope John Paul II, by that time himself obviously very ailing, very frail, came out onto the platform. And he announced to them I am here as a sick man among the sick. I mean the electricity there, the idea, of all of these sick people who were experiencing carrying their own crosses, experiencing their own suffering.

And in a world which tempts us to believe that suffering is futile and it is to be avoided and it is an object of shame, that this pope would embrace his own suffering as he did and ennoble, so to speak, give value to the suffering of all of those people who had gathered to be with him. I mean the electricity of that moment is something I will never forget.

So, I certainly think the embrace of suffering and the idea that suffering is something from which we can gain strength and we need not be afraid of it. I think that is part of the core of John Paul's legacy that will certainly never leave those who watched him and spent time with him.

COOPER: Without pain there is no pleasure, without loss there can be no love. John Allen, thank you. We'll come back to you shortly. Let's go to Christiane Amanpour now in Rome -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Well, Anderson, one is so struck by the seeming contradictions of this pope. I was just looking at the pictures of the pope on the air, while Paula was speaking and you and John were speaking. There was one picture there showing him with Kurt Waldheim (ph), the former president of Austria. And this is a pope, who when he met with Kurt Waldheim, was really -- caused great offense to many Jews because of Walheim's role in the Nazi army.

But on the other hand, a report by Paula, on our air, showed that one of his childhood friends was a Jew, a young boy who stayed with him in friendship all through his years, even as pope. And to recall the even at the age of 10 years old, when one of the Catholics at church looked askance at this young Jewish friend, Durek (ph), the pope said but we are all children of the same God. The same pope who reconciled with the Jewish faith and yet did meet with Kurt Waldheim, who was such an object of controversy amongst the Jewish people.

A pope who embraced AIDS victims and who went to Africa and talked to them, and there are pictures of him being embraced by young AIDS victims, and yet who refused to sanction the use of condoms to stop the spread of AIDS.

A pope who was not afraid of meeting with various controversial figures. For instance, when he went to Cuba to come and attend to the faithful there. Some people thought perhaps he was using his moral authority to perhaps bolster what was considered a distasteful dictatorship, that of Fidel Castro.

But he came to try to get Fidel Castro to open up and to allow Christians, Catholics there to be able to worship. And while he was there he spoke loudly and clearly against the repression of Christians there. But also against the U.S. sanctions there.

And I remember him also taking on another issue and that was the issue of capitalism. The man who had helped end Communism, was beginning to realize that perhaps capitalism and as he called it, "a savage capitalism" was not the full answer. And he really spoke about that a lot in Cuba at that time -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, you bring up, of course, the contradictions inherent in much of his rule. The embracing of progressive reforms against Communism, and he yet inward, in the church, certainly not progressive, certainly not trying to move the church forward in terms of doctrine, really. Returning the church to its core beliefs, to its core doctrine. Those two contradictions all in this one man, in this one pope.

Our coverage from Rome continues in a moment, right now let's go back to New York and Paula Zahn -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Anderson. With the announcement of the death of the pope, it set into motion a whole process that is quite complicated. The death of this pope, ushers in a period known as the interregnum, or between the reigns. And what occurs during this time is steeped in centuries old tradition.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pope John Paul II has returned to his home. Let us pray for him.

ZAHN (voice over): Now that Pope John Paul II has died and official process, know as interregnum, or between the reigns, has begun. Steeped in ritual and tradition it is a process that dates back hundreds of years.

CHRISTOPER BERLITTO, CHURCH HISTORIAN, KEAN UNIV.: The thing to think of the papal death is it is a starting pistol. And things have to happen in rapid time.

ZAHN: Moving quickly, 117 cardinals from all over the world gather in Rome, for an election process known as conclave, which comes from the Latin phrase con clave, with key. Every effort will be made to keep the proceedings completely secret. Canon Law dictates the conclave takes place 15 to 20 days after the pope dies. And held in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, under Michelangelo's famous frescoes. The chapel will be swept for bugs, recording devices and any other means of electronic surveillance.

BERLITTO: They'll cut the phone lines, they'll cut the fax lines, they'll seal the windows, and they'll seal the doors, not to be undone until the new pope walks through.

ZAHN: After the sweep the cardinals will enter the chapel. The doors will be locked and the locks will be sealed with wax. No one but the cardinals will be allowed inside until a new pope is elected. The foundation for today's conclave traditions date all the way back to 1274, when the church went without a pope for nearly three years.

BERLITTO: The people of Laturbo (ph) got annoyed. They locked the cardinals up with a key and several years later that man who was elected pope put into law the conclave.

ZAHN: That man was Pope Gregory X, who decreed that in future elections cardinals would be locked in the chapel until a new pope was chosen. But this year, thanks to changes made by Pope John Paul II, the cardinals will be able to retire from their deliberations in comfort.

BERLITTO: For the first time in history, the cardinals will be sequestered, but moved back and forth from the Sistine Chapel, to basically, a dormitory just behind the Vatican, the Domo Sante Marta (ph), the hotel or the house of Saint Martha.

ZAHN: Voting procedures require the cardinals to gather twice a day to cast their ballots. For each session, each cardinal will be given rectangular paper ballots with the Latin phrase, Eligo in Summum Pontificem, I elect a supreme pontiff. Disguising their handwriting cardinals will write the name of their desired candidates and fold the paper twice.

If no candidate receives two-thirds of the vote the ballots and tally sheets are burned in a little stove just off the Sistine Chapel, sending black smoke up a 60-foot pipe and telling observers that we are still without a pope. But when a pope is elected, a few chemical pellets are added to the ballots to create white smoke, which signals that a new pontiff has been chosen.

BERLITTO: When the Italians in St. Peter's Piazza, start screaming, bianca, bianca, it means that there is a pope. ZAHN: The new pope will be asked in Latin if he accepts his appointment. And then lead into a small red room adjacent to the Sistine Chapel.

BERLITTO: They take you into a chapel called the Chapel of Tears, the Chapel of Sorrows, basically, because you now have a heavy burden.

ZAHN: Inside the new pope will find papal robes in several sizes.

BERLITTO: There are three sets of vestments, small, medium, and large.

ZAHN: Once dressed, the new pope will greet the cardinals and walk toward the center balcony facing St. Peter's Square, lead by the cardinal deacon, whose job it is to announce to the anxious crowd...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Habemus Papem!

ZAHN: Habemus Papem, we have a pope.

Then the new pontiff will come forward and give his first apostolic blessing to the City of Rome and the rest of the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And we wanted to give you a sense now of the outpouring of support and the kind of homage that is being paid to this pope. We're going to start off now with some statements that the president, this current President Bush had to say earlier this evening about the passing of this pope.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Laura and I join people across the earth in mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II. The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: And now, from President Bush's father, the first Bush president, let's see that now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never felt that he wanted to second-guess or go back and criticize me as president from having to make decisions, even though the didn't agree with what he thought. He was a wonderful man.

Of course, what he did for Poland in their days under Communist rule was absolutely inspiring. And I think one of the reasons he was an outstanding pope, leader of the Catholic faith. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: And I'd also like to share with you now, part of a statement that former President Clinton released, to be read.

He says, "Hillary and I are deeply saddened by the passing of his Holiness Pope John Paul II. In speaking powerfully and eloquently for mercy and reconciliation to people divided by old hatreds, and persecuted by abuse of power, the Holy Father was a beacon of light not just for the Catholics, but for all people.

In more then 170 visits to over 115 countries, from the Balkans to the Middle East, from Central Africa to Asia, he was tireless in his efforts to defend human rights and human dignity. His journey from Wadowice, Poland to the Vatican played an important role in hastening the downfall of Communism."

We apologize for our spelling there.

"I will always treasure our five meetings in the U.S. and the Vatican, especially the deep concern His Holiness expressed over the suffering of the Bosnians and of religious liberty throughout the world."

And now we move on to a statement I believe by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, but it's not there. I'll do my best to paraphrase what I think he had to say, there we go. Rosalynn and I are saddened by the passing of his holiness Pope John Paul II, a man shaped by his own experience under Nazi occupation during World War II. He dedicated his life and vocation as instruments of peace throughout the world. He was a constant voice for justice, nonviolence and reconciliation for both individuals and nations.

And finally, I'd like to share with you a statement from Nancy Reagan, the wife of the former president of the United States. She said, today the world mourns the loss of his holiness Pope John Paul II. He touched the hearts of young and old, bringing tears to the eyes of those inspired by his very presence. He provided unparalleled leadership to his church and gave hope to those who had none.

I think that gives us all a good sense of just the power of this man's words and the tremendous impact he had during his lifetime.

The death of Pope John Paul II has united the world's Catholics in prayer and in sorrow. You see the same expressions, whether you're looking to the faces of Brazilians like those in Sao Paulo where the majority of the Catholics reside or the faces in this crowd in Mexico City. Back in 1979, only three months after his election, the pope's first trip outside of Italy was to visit Mexico.

In Phuket, Thailand, one of the city's ravaged by last year's tsunami, people lighted candles and prayed for Pope John Paul. Now back in the Vatican City where, although the numbers have dwindled, people continue to pay their respects to this pope. Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they certainly do Paula. Thanks very much. It was interesting hearing the statements from the powerful, from the presidents of the United States and the former presidents of the United States. But it wasn't just the powerful who felt that they knew this man, though they had actually met him. It was simple people all around the world, people here in Rome, people in countries all across the globe. And particularly tonight, there is so much sentiment, so many tears being shed in Krakow in Poland. That's where we find CNN's Chris Burns. Chris.

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, very moving scenes here tonight. Outside the residence of the archbishop, where he used to speak from the window right in the middle of that building there, and now there is full of candles and flowers outside and still some people mourning throughout the wee hours of this morning, remembering this life of this man who really essentially embodied modern Polish history.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNS (voice-over): Karol Wojtyla never forgot his roots. As Pope John Paul II, he returned triumphantly again and again to visit his humble beginnings, each visit drawing an outpouring of emotion for Vidivitse (ph) favorite son. The pope spoke of a cream pastry he loved as a kid. Bakeries couldn't make it fast enough for his fervent admirers, a stark contrast from his days as a youth, growing up in a modest apartment that lay in the shadow of the town's main church.

Now a museum, Karol Wojtyla's birthplace documents an arduous life-long trek to the top. Karol Wojtyla was born here May 18, 1920. His father, Karol Sr. an army officer, his mother Emilia, a school teacher. The Wojtyla's were strict Catholics. They didn't share the anti-Semitic views of many Poles. In a town with 8,000 Catholics and 2,000 Jews, Karol Wojtyla had Jewish classmates. Many of them perished in the holocaust.

Childhood friends say death in Wojtyla's family forced young Karol to quickly become a man. His mother died of heart and kidney ailments when he was nine. Three years later, tragedy struck again.

TRANSLATOR: I would say he lost his childhood at 12 when he lost his brother. There was no youthful folly in him. Even when he played sports, he was very concentrated, but of course he had a lot of passion. He was a very noble person and he expressed things in a very noble way, for there was no folly.

BURNS: After graduating from high school, Wojtyla went to Krakow to study literature and philosophy at Yangelonian (ph) University. He also joined an experimental theater. Danuta Mikulovska (ph) first met there in 1938.

TRANSLATOR: I was in high school. He was 18, strong, handsome. You could sense this strong personality.

BURNS: After Hitler's army invaded Poland the following year, Wojtyla worked in a quarry to evade deportation to Germany as a slave laborer. He secretly studied to become a priest, though he continued with his acting. Mikulovska remembers how Wojtyla came dressed in his overalls from the quarry and told her to buy this book, "King Spirit" for a performance.

TRANSLATOR: He had this inner radiance but he didn't lose time on small talk. He didn't participate in our jokes and he wouldn't flirt. Maybe some women were disillusioned, but I couldn't imagine this kind of contact.

BURNS: From youth to adulthood, Wojtyla developed the spirit and stamina he would need as history's most traveled pope. His favorite sports, hiking, skiing, rowing, soccer and hockey.

TRANSLATOR: He made use of every hour. When he played soccer, he sacrificed himself. He was full of passion and he played as goal keeper and everyone was shouting his name because he would make every effort to defend the goal. He also played hockey and at one time the puck hit him on the brow. He had a scar from it.

BURNS: One of many scars from youth, physical and emotional that gave Karol Wojtyla the resolve to leave his mark on this earth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNS: Also leaving their mark, many people here with their candles remembering Pope John Paul II and also paying respects was President Kwasniewski, the former Communist president who has now announced a week of mourning. He said the pope had moved heaven and earth, was one of the greatest creators of contemporary times and contributed to the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Paula.

COOPER: Actually, Chris, it's Anderson in Rome. Of course we have nine days of mourning here. Chris, I'm curious to know the reaction there. We have not heard yet any official plans for the funeral mass or for the burial of Pope John Paul II. I imagine sentiment in Krakow is running pretty strong. There are many there who would like to see this pope buried in Poland.

BURNS: Well, you know, this is - Krakow has Wawel castle where the kings of Poland are buried and a lot of people have speculated that quite possibly, what is a very great tradition in Poland is that they bury the hearts of many of their leaders and that the heart perhaps of the pope could be buried in Wawel castle with the other kings. This man is being seen by many people here as being the modern day king of Poland who is their liberator. So that is speculation, but really nothing yet planned as far as whether the pope, what ceremonies there will be. Be obviously there will be a lot of masses tomorrow, Sunday, here and across the country, that people will be showing again, their grief and their mourning and their respects for their favorite son.

COOPER: And of course exactly how the pope is buried and where was really up to him, something he would have decided in his will and that is not yet publicly known at this point. Chris Burns, thanks very much from Krakow. Let's go now to Christiane Amanpour in Rome. Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it's not just American presidents, former and present right now who are talking about the pope, mourning the pope and issuing statements, but also leaders around the world. The queen of England has done so and even before he died, as a sort of a symbol and to make people understand how important this pope was, even in China they expressed concern about his failing health. This before he died from the Chinese government.

This is a pope who traveled more than another other pope in history, who visited more countries and more people, who really electrified people wherever they were. When he would descend from the steps of his plane and the first thing he would do would be to dramatically drop to the ground and kiss the earth of the nation that he was visiting, a mark of love and a mark of respect and he really did more than other pope and perhaps more than any other leader, reach out in an all-embracing, all-inclusive way to people all over the world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): From the very start, Pope John Paul II would establish himself not only a man of God, but a man of the world and wherever he went, the faithful flocked to see him, to hear him and to pray with him.

One of his first trips would take him home to Poland, where as archbishop, Karol Wojtyla defied the Communist regime by simply saying Mass. As pope, he would return to Poland nine times. He visited Africa 10 times more often than any other continent. And his papal pilgrimages took him both near to devoutly Catholic Spain, to France, Portugal and Switzerland.

And it took him far, to Asia and to South America, the continent with the greatest concentration of Catholics. He visited the U.S. seven times, his trips taking him from soup kitchens in Baltimore to a stadium in St. Louis, to New York's central park, where the faithful serenaded him with Silent Night.

The pontiff also made history in the U.S. by becoming the first pope to visit the White House and during his papacy, the U.S. and the Vatican reestablished diplomatic relations for the first time in 115 years. He would make history elsewhere in the world too, as the first pope to visit Communist Cuba in 1998, the first modern pope to set foot inside a synagogue in 1986, the first pope to set foot inside a mosque and the first to establish diplomatic relations with both Israel and the PLO.

His journeys took him nearly everywhere, brought him face to face with the famous and the rich, religious leaders and politicians, but you could see in his smile that what he loved most was meeting his faithful flock around the world, the same flock that now grieves the loss of its beloved shepherd.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: It was almost as if this pope felt that he personally had to embrace the rest of the world, apologize for perceived injustices by the Catholic church, to the Jews, to the Muslims, to those in Spain during the Inquisition and he who reestablished ruptured relations with almost everyone, including Great Britain and as we say, the queen herself expressed great sorrow today. Great Britain relations were broken so many years ago in the 1500s when the king of England then, Henry VIII, wanted to divorce his Catholic wife and because he was unable to under the Catholic faith, he simply created a new church, the Anglican church. It was this pope who reestablished relations with England. Paula.

ZAHN: Christiane, thanks so much. Christiane just touching on the great outreach of this pope to people of other religions and joining me now, two men who had the opportunity to know Pope John Paul II, Rabbi James Rudin of the American Jewish Committee and Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia. Great to have both of you with us this evening. Rabbi Rudin, much has been made of this pope's building a brand new bridge between Catholics and Jews and you very much believe that is an outgrowth of what he was exposed to as a young man in Poland.

RABBI JAMES RUDIN, AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE: You cannot understand Paula, this pope without understanding he was born in 1920 in Poland. He was 19 years old when the Germans invaded his home town. Twenty five percent of his classmates as he wrote in his book, "Crossing the Threshold of Hope," were Jews. He saw the holocaust or the Shoa (ph) as he called it in Hebrew at ground zero. So for him, Jews, the state of Israel, the Jewish religion, these are not academic topics. It's not just his head. It was his heart. Catholicism, Judaism will always have differences of course, but he was able to bridge those differences and try to reverse the sad history of Christian's mistreatment of Jews and Judaism.

ZAHN: Bishop Gregory, were you at times surprised about the great lengths this pope went to, to apologize for the sins of the Catholic church?

MOST. REV. WILTON GREGORY, ARCHBISHOP OF ATLANTA: No, I really wasn't because at heart he was a very humble man and he was able to acknowledge the faults and the failings of Catholics and to express that in an open and honest way to the world and to seek reconciliation. He was a reconciler, even when it meant that he had to speak for our church and the errors and the faults that we have exhibited.

ZAHN: Rabbi, you had the pleasure of meeting with this pope some 10 times, sometimes with members of your family. What touched you most about those visits?

RUDIN: Well, the visits were after the formalities were done and we would chat and he would always had time for that. His staff would always be looking at their watches to move the pope on. He would stay and converse in English and sometimes in Polish with Polish Jews and he made us all feel very much at home. The Vatican was not then a strange and forbidding place. He made it real and of course, he made history when he went to the synagogue in 1986 in Rome, the first pope since Peter so he was able to combine substance with symbolism and that's a powerful combination. ZAHN: This pope made you feel so comfortable. At one point after the end of a very long day, you actually offered him a Jewish blessing.

RUDIN: That's right. In 1993 in Denver, during world youth day, it was midnight on Saturday night. People were exhausted, Cherry Creek State Park, falling over from lack of water. He had given six or seven homilies which are sermons and I was introduced to him as a guest and he remembered who I was and my organization and I said you look exhausted. And he looked at me kind of quizzically and I said let me give you a blessing from the first chapter of the book of Joshua and I said in Hebrew, be strong and of good courage. And he looked at me and he said, thank you Rabbi, thank you very much.

ZAHN: What a wonderful story.

RUDIN: 1993.

ZAHN: Bishop Gregory, this is a pope who really found a great deal of importance in words. He spoke eight languages fluently. What should we all understand about why that was so important to him?

GREGORY: Well, he was a communicator. Much has been made about his media savvy qualities, but he realized that to proclaim the gospel, to teach the faith of the church, you have to speak to people. He was blessed with a wonderful ability to learn languages and to communicate but more than just the facility with language, he spoke to the heart. When you met him, when you were in his presence, it was more than just the words that he spoke. It was his interest in you, his desire to get to know your heart and to allow you to glimpse at his heart and to see his transparent faith and his goodness. That's why his language abilities were so phenomenal, because they revealed the man and his faith.

ZAHN: Bishop Gregory, would you like to share with us perhaps one of your favorite memories of any personal time the two of you spent together?

GREGORY: Well, during my tenure as president of the Conference of Bishops, I met with him many times and he was always deeply concerned about the church in the United States and quite knowledgeable about the church. And on one occasion, when I entered his apartment, he looked up and saw him and he smiled and he said, ah Bishop Gregory, the president of the United States and then he chuckled.

ZAHN: Once again that strain of humor that we keep on hearing about tonight.

GREGORY: Yes.

ZAHN: He always used that effectively, didn't he?

GREGORY: He certainly did and he always made you feel most comfortable in his presence.

ZAHN: Well, that is very clear from the stories both of you have shared with us this evening, Archbishop Gregory, Rabbi Rudin, thank you.

RUDIN: Thank you very much.

GREGORY: Thank you.

ZAHN: For being with us tonight. Time to go back to Rome now. I don't know, Anderson, I keep on smiling when I hear these stories about just this incredible touch this man had and his ability to make everybody feel like they were basically the only person in the room.

COOPER: Absolutely and so many I think young people who really have just grown up in the last few years seeing this pope, saw him as an ailing man, but for those of us who grew up seeing him much more youthful, I mean this was a man who was incredibly vital and who - I mean he loved mountain climbing. He loved camping. He loved rowing and skiing and you see some of those early pictures of him. It's a remarkable thing. People called him God's athlete, because he was so sort of vital.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that accounts also for his great physical strength that we seen, he's been able throughout all of these ailments to carry on for so long. And certainly when he was a young man in Poland when he was nominated bishop, he was 38 years old, very young to be nominated bishop, he was on a camping trip when he received this urgent news to go back to Warsaw and he went back and he met with the cardinal and the cardinal and the cardinal said he'd been nominated a bishop, which is a great honor in the Catholic church and the pope said, OK, thank you very much. He said, now can I go back to my camping trip? So that goes to show you, they even say here at the Vatican that he traveled so much because he just didn't like to stay in the Vatican too much. So this gives you an idea of why the pope just loved to get out there and be with the people.

COOPER: He also used to say that the poor people can't come and see me. They can't come to Rome, can't come to Vatican City, so I'm going to go and see them and just the amount of trips, I actually looked at a breakdown earlier today of his schedule over several years and I mean it was literally, I mean month after month back to back, always going somewhere and it wasn't just going somewhere in Rome or in Italy. I mean he was going to far-flung places.

GALLAGHER: Yes he was, but he was also going somewhere in Rome. He went to all of the parishes in Rome and you know how many churches there are in Rome and that's a lot of churches and that's one of the reasons why we see this square so packed. He did meet, as you said before, he did meet all of those people. They all felt that contact with him in a small church. Imagine the pope coming to your little parish church. And so he made a real effort with the Roman people to visit them as well, because he didn't want them to feel that he was going...

COOPER: He knew the power that he brought with him, the power of his image, of his charisma, I mean, even of his motorcade. I mean there was a sense of this being an event and people really feeling that they had seen something special. GALLAGHER: Yes, I think at the same time, he didn't like to have too much entourage around him. Whenever I traveled with them, I noticed that really there's very few people in the pope's entourage. I have seen presidents come here and they have much larger entourages than the pope ever had. He had a small security force. He didn't like to be seen with the security force. He doesn't, he didn't like it here at the Vatican either, because he felt that the Vatican has to be a place of prayer and it shouldn't be surrounded by police. So that gives you a sense of where the pope's priorities were.

COOPER: All right. Delia Gallagher, thanks. Let's go to Christiane Amanpour who's standing by also in Rome. Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Anderson, as we talk about the pope's travels and we've talked quite a lot about his bridge building and particularly with the Jewish faith, he also did that with the Muslim faith as well. He was the first pope to set foot inside a mosque and that was at the 1300- year old Myad (ph) mosque in Damascus, Syria. And then those poignant pictures of being led into the mosque by the chief mufti of Damascus, of Syria and being taken to the tomb, the mausoleum, that is said to house the remains of St. John the Baptist, most notably his head. As you know, he was beheaded and the pope not saying formal prayers there because of the sensitivities, but just standing in a moment of contemplation by that mausoleum.

His trip to the Holy Land in 2000 where he also apologized for the excesses of the crusades in the middles ages which as you know were the great battles between Catholics and Muslims at that time. His visit not just to countries of Catholic majority, predominantly Catholic countries, but also to those where Catholics were a minority. For instance, in the Muslim countries, Indonesia, Pakistan, Lebanon and elsewhere, he really did travel a lot and reached out in ways that no other pope before him had done.

One of his regrets was that he hadn't been able to do more to reconcile the eastern Orthodox Christian church with the western Christian Catholic Church and he was very rarely thwarted though, but I do remember in 1994, being in Sarajevo when the pope wanted to visit. The war was still on. He had gone to other parts of the Balkans and he wanted to come to Sarajevo and everybody there was very excited and energized that this man of great moral stature would come and lend his support to a city under siege, a nation under genocidal attack. And he wasn't able to do so, because then the leader of the Bosnian Serbs who was besieging Sarajevo and who now is still at large, refused to guarantee his security and so he couldn't come until a few years later after the war. But that was one of the few times in which he was thwarted in his attempt to come and reconcile people together. Back to you Paula.

ZAHN: Another important part of the legacy to talk about. Thanks Christiane.

Well, many people remember Pope John Paul II. One of the first things they mention is his compassion and one mother shared her memories of her son, an AIDS victim meeting the pope back in 1987.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELAINE O'ROURKE: I'm Elaine O'Rourke and my son Brendon had been diagnosed with AIDS when he was four years old. We were desperate for a cure for Brendon, but we were not seeing this as a way to have Brendon cured. We were just seeing this as a way to bring comfort and blessing to him and our family.

We were sitting right about here when the pope came in and we were surrounded by all sorts of faithful and as he made his way up, we were very excited and then he paused here, stopped and that's when the whole embrace happened and Brendon reached out and the pope embraced him and everybody around us was clapping and you could see a lot of people had tears in their eyes and it was just - it was beautiful and quite memorable. It just seemed so natural and the grabbing of the pope's ear. That was just something Brendon did when anybody was hugging him or holding him. A good cold ear is just something that Brendon liked to grab onto.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: God loves you. God loves you all. He loves those of you who are sick, those who are suffering from AIDS.

O'ROURKE: It introduced AIDS to the world I think in a way that they hadn't been willing to see it before. It was seen as a disease that only certain people were getting and instead of just a disease that people were getting and this broke down barriers I believe, put a human face on the tragedy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Brendon O'Rourke was born prematurely and contracted the AIDS virus from a blood transfusion. He ended up dying in 1990, but as you just heard from his mother, just meeting the pope provided the family with a great deal of hope and sustenance.

I want to check back in with some of my colleagues, Anderson Cooper, Christiane Amanpour and Delia Gallagher for us to share some final thoughts with you tonight. I guess upon hearing that story, Anderson, I'm just reminded how many times this evening we heard about the power of this pope's personal ministry and the great lengths he went to to embrace people, to help them feel like they did have a sense of dignity and in many cases, people who have felt quite disenfranchised by the system and I think that is an important part of his legacy to mark here tonight.

COOPER: Yes, that is certainly true. I mean it should be said, especially on the HIV/AIDS front, this pope has come under continued criticism for refusing to permit the use of condoms, even in places where HIV is just an epidemic and a pandemic, in sub-Saharan Africa, this pope continuing to stand by the readings of the Catholic faith in which condoms are just simply not allowed as a form of contraception.

There have been some Catholics who have said, some Catholic leaders who have asked that perhaps the condoms should be allowed to be used just to prevent the spread of HIV, but the Catholic Church, very standing, very fast on this subject Christiane. AMANPOUR: Indeed and of course, he did also with that contradiction, nonetheless he would embrace the victims of AIDS. But as you say, would not sanction one way of preventing the spread of that deadly disease. The fact that he was a man in many ways of contradictions, a man who so vehemently was against war for instance, the Iraq war two years ago and yet believed in a just war, for instance the intervention to stop genocide in the Balkans. I think that he was a man of some contradictions, a man of some controversy, a man who some Catholics found it was simply too difficult to adhere to his particular doctrine. And yet he was a man whose personal, moral stature and personal sense of clarity and conviction caused so much admiration among so many people around the world. Paula.

ZAHN: And Delia, Christiane raises an important point, because there is a clear paradox here isn't there of between what this pope was able to accomplish outside the church and then the criticism that he didn't do much to tamp down the bureaucracy in the Vatican. He didn't do much to increase the recruitment of priests and to increase the numbers of people worshipping in house of the faithful all over the world.

GALLAGHER: Well, Paula, I think in all of the discussion, one has to remember that the pope is a man, was a man of firm conviction. And so his basic point was always the culture of life and so whether you're talking about condoms or war, he will always focus on what is going to be the most open to life, the most open to God and he kept all of his teachings in line with that idea.

ZAHN: And Anderson, just a final update on what you are seeing from your vantage point, not too far from St. Patrick's (sic) Square right now.

COOPER: Yes, there are in St. Peter's Square, there are probably 200 or so people left who are milling around. Some have actually sat down in small groups, huddled around candles. It's actually quite cold at this point, so the large crowds have dwindled certainly. It's quite late or I should say quite early in the morning. Still it is very cold here, so it's understandable that the large numbers would be gone, but there are still people there and we anticipate they will be here all throughout the evening, Paula.

ZAHN: And I hope it's understandable that I just renamed that square after so many hours on the air, St. Peter's Square, thanks to my colleagues, Anderson Cooper, Christiane Amanpour and Delia Gallagher. And we appreciate you all joining us tonight on this important night. Please stay with CNN throughout the night. Anderson, Christiane and I will be back in just about an hour. Larry King live is next.

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