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AMERICAN MORNING

Mourners From Around the World Lining Up for Hours

Aired April 5, 2005 - 08:00   ET

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


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.
Mourners from around the world lining up for hours, even as we learn more details about the pope's wishes for burial on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: This is AMERICAN MORNING with Bill Hemmer in Rome and Soledad O'Brien at the CNN Broadcast Center in New York.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.

Welcome back, everybody.

I'm Soledad O'Brien in New York.

Lots of stories around the globe to talk about, about the pope -- Bill, good morning to you.

HEMMER: Hey, Soledad, hello again from the Vatican.

The story of the day again today, Soledad, is the people. And they have turned out in the tens of thousands already, lining up to pay their respects and waiting in line for upwards of eight hours to pay their final tribute to Pope John Paul II.

We learned some new details last hour from the Vatican. They are now telling us the cardinals have met for three meetings now over the past two days. And the latest meeting earlier today contained about 92 of the 117 cardinals to vote for the next pope. But no date has been set for that conclave. And, again, by church law, it takes place between the 15th day and the 20th day. So we can get a rough idea on the calendar, but nothing specific just yet.

There's a cardinal from Brazil known as Agnelo. He is saying, and quoted in various reports, that the conclave could go quickly, in his opinion, meaning the next pope could be chosen with rapid speed. Also, John Allen, our Vatican analyst, working the phones here at the Vatican, as well. He tells us the pope requested in his will to be buried underground, but no specific location given, not meaning the Vatican or the home country of Poland. And that's why the cardinals have reverted back to tradition and the pope will be buried in the crypt below St. Peter's Church.

John Allen also reports that he has not yet been embalmed. The heads of state will report on Thursday night here and get a chance to pay their final respects in the St. Peter's Basilica. And the cardinals, John Allen says, quite significant, in his opinion, too, can move freely at this time throughout the Vatican.

Down on the street is the story that we want to start with, though, this hour.

And Alessio Vinci has been down there with the people, mostly from Italy at this point, but also a number of Americans and a number of Poles, too. And it is quite the sight -- Alessio, good afternoon down there.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon to you, Bill.

Yes, primarily Italians. We've met some Americans, a Ukrainian family earlier today, and many Poles, of course. The pope was a Pole. And some people already from overseas, especially Colombia. We've seen several groups from Colombia.

Here behind me, the St. Peter's Basilica. Here on my left here, the thousands, tens of thousands of people who have turned in masses here. And I'm not sure if the pictures can give you really a good idea of the magnitude of this crowd.

Look at here. This entire boulevard, which is about a mile, less than a mile long, filled with people. And then at the end where you see those lights, the left and to the right, many more thousands of people for several kilometers or several miles. And there are kids, there's families, there's old people and young people. And the incredible thing is that throughout this morning and throughout the night, they have been extremely calm, waiting for their moment with Pope John Paul II.

And the most incredible thing about this, Bill, is that these people have been in line for, what, four hours, five hours. By the time they reach here, there's another maybe an hour or two before they can reach the body of Pope John Paul II. But the most incredible thing is that they spend so much time in line and then they only get to spend a couple of seconds in front of the body of Pope John Paul II.

There are some prayers to accompany them through this journey. Let's pause for a second to listen to them.

You know, Bill, you have to have a lot of faith in god to be able to go through this kind of wait. At the same time, I believe that a lot of people in this crowd are not just pilgrims who believe in god who are necessarily Catholics. I also believe that these are people who are simply curious to find out exactly what it is like to be in the St. Peter's Basilica at this time.

I was talking to an Italian family earlier today and I asked them, are you Catholic? Do you go to church every day? He says no, we don't go to church, not even on Sundays, usually. But last night when we were home and we watched the pictures on television, we felt somebody was calling us and we came down here this morning.

So these are the kind of stories we hear in the crowds. Another important, another powerful story, earlier today, a family from northern Italy, they drove seven hours, parked the car, waited for five hours, spent just 20 seconds in there and eventually decided to drive back to northern Italy. Incredible.

I mean this is the kind of stuff that really makes you think about the power that this man, John Paul II, had over the people -- Bill.

HEMMER: One of the most extraordinary things, too, Alessio, is that you can walk for a very long time down there and not find the beginning of the line. And that line has at least doubled, perhaps tripled, by this point. And this is not just a single file. This is 15, 20, 30 people across. Absolutely extraordinary. And the Italians will yell, "Giovanni Paolo!" from time to time, "John Paul!" And then a small ripple of applause will go through that audience down there.

Tradition dictates here in Italy, and oftentimes at funerals they will applaud for the deceased. And they have done that quite often for Pope John Paul II.

There is this issue out here also about security. If you're going to have close to 200 heads of state from around the world in this city by the end of this week, how will you keep them safe and how will you house more than two million people expected to come to Rome in the next coming days? We'll talk with the deputy mayor in a moment here about those very issues, coming back here at the Vatican in a minute -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: It could potentially, Bill, be a huge problem. That's ahead.

Let's check first, though, on the headlines with Carol Costello -- good morning to you.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, that got to me when Alessio said that an Italian family was watching it on television and something called for them to come down there.

O'BRIEN: Yes, pretty remarkable, isn't it?

COSTELLO: That's just such a...

O'BRIEN: And the crowds itself, it's amazing.

COSTELLO: Thanks, Soledad.

Good morning, everyone.

At least two U.S. soldiers have been killed in a firefight with Iraqi insurgents. The U.S. military says the battle raged for hours in a remote area northeast of Baghdad. In the meantime, two car bombings around the same time in separate cities. A number of casualties, including one U.S. soldier.

President Bush bestowing the first Medal of Honor for service in Iraq to an 11-year-old boy. David Smith accepting the country's highest honor on behalf of his father. The ceremony coming exactly two years after Army Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith was killed in battle near the Baghdad Airport. Smith's widow and her son should accept the medal because "he is now the man in our household."

Jurors in the Michael Jackson trial are hearing new accusations of abuse. In testimony on Monday, the son of one of Jackson's former maids said Jackson fondled him on three different occasions when he was about seven years old. The man, now 24, says the abuse began as tickling sessions and then quickly went too far. His testimony resumes today.

And thousands of people here in the Northeast could be forced to wait several more days before they can return to their homes. Damage from flooding in parts of New Jersey is expected to top $30 million. Officials are waiting to find out today if they will be eligible for federal disaster aid. Authorities also beginning to assess damage in eastern Pennsylvania. The waters are expected to begin receding there today. So is any more rain expected to fall?

Let's go to the man who knows.

Chad Myers in Atlanta -- good morning.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Carol.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HEMMER: Back here at the Vatican now, we have thrown out some extraordinary numbers throughout the week here, two million pilgrims. Now we're learning that one and a half million Poles may be trying to make the journey south into Rome in the coming days. How will Italy handle that? And as I say Italy, I mean the country, because people will be flowing out of the city if, indeed, these numbers add up.

Luca Odevaine is the deputy mayor in Rome. He is also the man in charge of organizing this entire event here in Italy.

And we want to say good afternoon to you and Thank you for your time.

LUCA ODEVAINE, DEPUTY MAYOR, ROME: Good afternoon.

HEMMER: Let's talk about these numbers, first of all, from Poland.

How do we know 1.5 million may be planning to come here?

ODEVAINE: Well, the embassy of Poland just called us and they said they think that between one million and one and a half million could come in Rome in these days.

HEMMER: How will they get here? I would assume that's primarily by train or bus, because that's an awful lot of people at your airport.

ODEVAINE: Yes, mainly by bus, buses and cars. Something by plane, not very much, and not very much trains. But mainly by bus.

HEMMER: What concerns you as you look at the coming days for your city? Is it the security? Is it the housing? Is it getting water to these people down here in St. Peter's Square who have been waiting for eight, 10, maybe 12 hours to see the pope?

ODEVAINE: Yes, well, the biggest problem we have is transport because people are coming and going and we have to get them to the Vatican. So probably transport is absolutely entailed now because people, 500,000 people came in the morning and the underground and the buses are full of people coming.

So we have to bring them not very near to the Vatican because we're...

HEMMER: You just said 500,000 people came in the morning?

ODEVAINE: Yes, they came in the...

HEMMER: This morning?

ODEVAINE: ... this night and this morning, yes. This night and this morning nearly 500,000 people came from outside the country.

HEMMER: From outside the...

ODEVAINE: I'm sorry, the city. Sorry.

HEMMER: OK. Outside the city.

ODEVAINE: Yes.

HEMMER: Meaning most of the people down here still are from your home country of Italy?

ODEVAINE: Yes, mostly. They are from Rome and the country, the people that are cuing in this moment. But we think that from Poland, we said one a half million before. And from Spain a lot of people are going to come surely. And we have to deal with public transport. We have to anyway let know the city live, because also Roman people have to move around the city. We have, of course, a city that is not closed. It has to be open.

HEMMER: Is it true, though, you're building a campground at a nearby university?

ODEVAINE: Yes.

HEMMER: That can house how many?

ODEVAINE: That can house more than a few hundred thousand people. We're having 1,000 and around 500 tents we are putting in the place. But it's a free camping, too, and we are getting all the campers to go there, not to come into town.

HEMMER: Just to be accurate, though, we move around the city throughout the day and the evening here and around the Vatican, it is jam packed.

ODEVAINE: Yes.

HEMMER: But Rome seems to be functioning at a normal level.

Is that a fair assessment?

ODEVAINE: Yes. We are -- well, see, the Jubilee teached us how to move, you know, the traffic and what we have to close when it's jammed. So it's -- we have a plan that is very flexible. We close when it's necessary to close areas and then we open it again when it's not necessary.

But we have to keep a security, of course, corridor to have ambulances and other cars for security to transit.

HEMMER: Sure.

ODEVAINE: And for the rest, we try to get people to walk from the stations, from the underground stations to the Vatican, because we cannot bring everybody with public transport to the Vatican, except, of course, of old people not able to -- or maybe sick people that want to come to look at the pope.

HEMMER: The other thing I've learned throughout the week is that when President Bush comes to Rome, the city shuts down.

If it is true that 200 heads of state and religious figures may be in your town by the end of this week, are you concerned at all when it comes to security?

ODEVAINE: Yes, that's going to be a very, very big problem because see we, at the end of October we had the signing of the constitution, the European constitution, in Rome. And we had 25 heads of state in Rome. And we had to close the whole center of the town.

Now this is 10 times that event. So we will need to bring everybody to the Vatican. And we hope that the delegations will come and go the same day, because we cannot handle having people going around the town with, you know, scores and everything for...

HEMMER: Listen, my very best to you. And thanks for talking to us. I know you've got your work cut out for you.

ODEVAINE: Thank you very much for your time.

HEMMER: Luca Odevaine is the deputy mayor in charge of all of this here in the great city of Rome.

Thanks again.

ODEVAINE: Thank you.

HEMMER: We will take you back down to St. Peter's Square in a moment here. That is truly the story of the day. The people by the thousands now invading Vatican City. Back in a minute live in Italy on this special edition of CNN's AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Cardinals in Rome gather today to make plans for the election of a new pope. The new leader will face many of the same challenges that Pope John Paul II had to deal with. Among them, the role of women in the church.

Our next guest is Sister Joan Chittister.

She's an author, a lecturer and a regular columnist for "The National Catholic Reporter."

Nice to have you.

Thanks for coming in today.

SISTER JOAN CHITTISTER, BENEDICTINE NUN: Thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: Give us a little perspective.

How did the role of women change in the time that Pope John Paul II was first pope to the day that he died?

CHITTISTER: Yes, that's a really important question because we do lose the overview and therefore you lose the effect and the impact of what happened. It's John 23 who actually identified the woman's question as one of the three major signs of the times, along with poverty and nuclearism. He said the woman's issue would become a major problem. And he's right. He was dead right.

When John Paul II became pope, one of the most interesting things in the history of the church happened. He wrote a letter of apology to women. Now, admittedly, you have to understand, it was only a letter. It wasn't an encyclical. It wasn't a papal bull. But it was a letter, for the first time, to the history -- to women in the church and around the world, that they had lived in oppressive subordination and we apologize.

Now, what would that do? It raises great expectations. Then he wrote another document and he said we need a campaign for the promotion of women in all areas of her life. Imagine how a woman feels when she reads that.

Question? Where is the campaign? We haven't seen a campaign. On the contrary, what began -- what looked as if it was literally a new dawn for the participation of women in the church...

O'BRIEN: What happened?

CHITTISTER: Little by little it has been eroded away. Little things like new documents that say we can no longer use female pronouns -- pronouns -- in the prayers of the church, for instance. Which means that she is not visible in the body of the church. But we all know that women carry the church.

We have a new document that says altar boys are to be preferred to altar girls. But the churches are now full of altar girls, because it seemed for a while that that was what was happening.

O'BRIEN: So then it sounds like you're describing a contradiction within Pope John Paul II himself.

Explain that.

CHITTISTER: Well, I suppose there are several ways to explain it. One is a simple way. It's one generation talking to another. It's a generation and a culture that never dealt with the woman's question at all and therefore is not really prepared to deal with it. But it's more than that.

It's the question of the philosophical and theological teachings of the church since the 13th century. The whole notion that you are rational was once in question. The whole notion that you have anything intellectual, let alone spiritual, to say was once a question...

O'BRIEN: But when you say you, as in women?

CHITTISTER: I mean you as women.

O'BRIEN: Now, but when you consider that Pope John Paul II appointed 113 of the 117 cardinals who will be making the decision about who will be the next pope, is it obvious to you that then things are going to stay the same because...

CHITTISTER: No, it's not obvious at all.

O'BRIEN: Why?

CHITTISTER: Because you're going in the wrong way in history. Right now, IBM and CNN and secular corporations are recognizing the equality of women. It may be slow and it may not be total, but it's right in their operational policies that they know that women, this other half of the human race, are important to their businesses because they bring new questions, new ideas, new agendas.

That is sweeping the Earth. The whole notion that the woman's question is an American question is the worst kind of propaganda. Let me take you to India, to some of the strongest women's groups. Let me take you to Iran, where they exist. Come with me to Egypt. Let's talk about China. This is a global question. You can't be confronting the emergence of half the population of the world and pay no attention to them.

O'BRIEN: We will see how the next pope deals with that.

CHITTISTER: Yes, we will.

O'BRIEN: Sister Joan Chittister joining us this morning.

It's nice to have you.

Thank you.

CHITTISTER: Thank you.

You're wonderful.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

Our special coverage continues right after this.

A little bit later this morning, one man's change of heart toward the church over the years and how it reflects the feelings of millions of American Catholics.

That's with us on AMERICAN MORNING.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): In 1986, Pope John Paul II became the first pope to visit a Jewish synagogue. There, he spoke of how he deplored the hatred and persecution of the Jews throughout the centuries.

Even those who seek an outright apology from the Vatican for its inactions during the Nazi era of World War 2 concede that this pope has done more to bridge the gap between Catholics and Jews than any of his predecessors.

In 1993, the Holy Father presided over the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

Who's going to be the next pope? Where is he going to come from? It's a question many people are asking, including Jack, who's got the Question of the Day -- good morning.

CAFFERTY: Thank you, Soledad.

Hi.

For almost 500 years, the pope has come from Europe and except for Pope John Paul II, all have been Italian. Today's list of candidates is much more global, with cardinals from countries and places like Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Africa. One of the leading candidates is Cardinal Francis Arinze, who is a Nigerian.

The Catholic Church is growing by leaps and bounds in the developing nations of Africa, Asia and South America.

So the question this morning is, is the world ready for a non- European pope?

And apparently a lot of you think that we are.

Cindy in Medway, Maine writes: "Personally, I'd love to see an Asian pope, preferably from China or North Korea. This would bring much needed hope to people who have none."

Guillaume writes: "It's actually not a matter of being European or not, but rather a matter of race."

Laura in New York writes: "I think that a Third World pope would be a wonderful thing. He would most likely tend to be conservative and traditionalist. I, for one, am hoping that the next pope continues John Paul's strict adherence to the teachings of Jesus Christ."

And Tom in West Virginia writes: "Jack, not only should a non- European be pope, but it's time for an American to be pope. Couldn't we get Karl Rove behind one of our cardinals?"

Probably not.

O'BRIEN: Could you imagine if that's the way it worked, that every pope came in with their own like adviser?

CAFFERTY: The press guy and the strategist and campaign organization.

O'BRIEN: Oh, that would be kind of interesting.

CAFFERTY: I don't think they do it that way.

O'BRIEN: No, they -- although there is a lot of lobbying and it's been very interesting. Earlier we heard Bill talk about how the cardinals right now are free to sort of roam around. And as much as they're not supposed to be lobbying for their friends and maybe even for themselves, one has to imagine...

CAFFERTY: A little politicking in the halls over there.

O'BRIEN: It's all politics everywhere.

CAFFERTY: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: Interesting to see who ends -- who will end up being the next pope, though.

All right, Jack, thanks.

CAFFERTY: Sure.

O'BRIEN: Our special live coverage from New York and Rome continues. Up next, the rituals and traditions surrounding the papal funeral. A look at their ancient beginnings is up next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Earlier today, a bishop called it a river of humanity. We'll go into that river in a minute, as our coverage continues live in Italy on this AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Good morning.

Welcome back, everybody.

I'm Soledad O'Brien in New York.

Bill Hemmer is in Rome this morning -- good morning, Bill.

HEMMER: Hey, Soledad, hello again, high above the Vatican here.

And there has been an absolute explosion in the turnout of people cuing up in the line outside of St. Peter's Square.

We were down there a bit earlier today and we got there at a lucky time, too. We got there because we were present when the line was actually moving. So often it looks like it's just standing still.

But this is part of what we found a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

HEMMER: We have walked through this line trying to find the beginning of it. And to be quite honest with you, it's a bit impossible. They're trying to work some crowd control here, though. It appears that they're partitioning off groups of a thousand at a time. And as the line progresses forward up to St. Peter's Basilica, they'll allow the next group of people to flow through.

And this crowd has flowed like this for hours.

We are at the corner of the Concilicioni (ph), which is the main street that leads into St. Peter's Square. This road runs for upwards of a half mile, and at this point, it takes a left hand turn. And the crowd, believe it or not, goes way down this street, down to the outer walls of the Vatican and then it makes another left hand turn. And the crowd, believe it or not, goes way down this street, down to the outer walls of the Vatican and then makes another left-hand turn. We would need a helicopter to give you a better idea of what we're witnessing today.

For the most part, these people have shown calm and they have shown patience. And occasionally, you can hear the Italians -- most people here by the way, are from Italy. "Giovanni Paulo" they scream at times, which is Italian tradition at funeral itself, to applaud those who have passed away. They will wait hours here at the Vatican and say every moment of it is worth it.

They hold signs in Italian, mostly Italian at this point. Also English and Polish as well. A number have brought umbrellas. In the afternoon sun, they'll need them to try to keep the Italian heat off their heads. They wait for upwards of eight hours and we understand that line could be growing even longer at this point. So they'll have to pack an awful lot of patience.

By and large, they've shown a lot of patience to this point. Want to get back to John Allen right now, our Vatican analyst, who has been talking with a lot of people on the inside so far today.

Good afternoon to you. You're finding out more details about burial and the will, and what are you learning, John?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: We should tell the viewers this is likely how it will work. We'll think we know everything there is to know on a particular subject and then new details will emerge.

We were saying yesterday we thought the pope had left no instructions on his burial. It turns out there is at least one point he did address, which is that he wishes to buried underground, in the earth. So what is going to happen, that instead of having an above ground sarcophagus, the coffin will be buried underground in that spot that was earlier the place of burial for John XXIII, and then a tablet, a stone tablet will be erected on the spot, as a memorial.

In addition, we have learned this morning the pope has not been embalmed. The question came up in that press conference with Dr. Navarro-Valls and another Vatican official.

HEMMER: Why would that be?

ALLEN: In some cases, it is sometimes traditional for popes to be embalmed and sometimes not. And one of the reasons that sometimes, particularly holy people are not embalmed is because miraculous preservation of the body is considered a sign of sanctity. So, that may have been part of the logic, although I don't know.

Third point, is the question arose as to whether or not the 200 heads of state, who will be coming for the funeral, will be able to view the body privately before it's interred. The answer to that question was if they're here Thursday evening a preferential viewing, is the Italian phrase that was used, will be arranged for them. But if they come only on Friday, well, out of luck.

Finally, and this is an interesting point, we're told that the cardinals this time, as opposed to past practice, will be able to move around fairly freely inside the territory of the Vatican, the 108-acre space that is the Vatican City State.

HEMMER: Is that significant?

ALLEN: It's potentially significant. I suppose for two reasons. One is in past conclaves, they've been physically locked up inside the Apostolic Palace and they couldn't go outside, a very stuffy and uncomfortable environment. That was part of the sense of urgency, that the thing wouldn't drag on too long.

This time, it will be more comfortable. Also, being able to take long walks in the Vatican gardens is obviously an opportunity for two or three cardinals to get together and perhaps talk politics.

HEMMER: A social and political event maybe, too. Also, we learned earlier today, there's a strong chance when a new pope is chosen and the white smoke comes out of the chimney on Sistine Chapel, that bells will also ring. Quite possible? In the past, there's been confusion about the color of the smoke.

ALLEN: That is exactly the point.

HEMMER: Is it white, black or gray?

ALLEN: Usually what happens, you know, we're all anticipating the white or black and a puff will come up and you can't tell what it is. So there's this moment of panic about whether we have a pope or not. So the Vatican is trying to make sure there's clarity on that point.

HEMMER: Thank you, John. We'll talk again. Good stuff.

Back to the Vatican in a moment. We'll get you back down to St. Peter's Square in a moment, Soledad. They're coming by the thousands, waves of people standing in line, too. Back to you now in New York.

O'BRIEN: It's been amazing to see, Bill, interesting to get a word from some of those folks.

It's time to get another check of the headlines from Carol Costello.

Good morning again.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN NEWS ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning. Good morning to all of you.

"Now in the News": British Prime Minister Tony Blair is seeking a third straight term in office. The prime minister announcing just a short time ago Britain will hold general elections on May 5 for a vote one month from today. Three opinion polls published today show the prime minister's Labor Party slipping.

In Iraq, the Transitional National Assembly is preparing to meet for the first time with an assembly speaker. The 275-member body will reconvene tomorrow. In the meantime, a violent morning throughout parts of the country. A series of car bombings and a firefight with insurgents have left three U.S. troops and two Iraqis dead. Six other people are wounded.

A federal report out today is giving details of the collapse of the World Trade Center. Sources say it outlines the problems rescue crews had reaching the top floors and false assumptions about how quickly people could evacuate a skyscraper. The findings are part of three reports issued by the Commerce Department's National Institutes of Standards and Technology.

And President Bush is taking his Social Security reforms back on the road. The president is set to speak in Parkersburg, West Virginia in less than three hours from now. Before the speech, he'll tour the Bureau of Public Debt there.

The University of North Carolina, back on top in college basketball. Did you watch the game? It was a humdinger. The Tarheels beat the University of Illinois last night in the final game of the NCAA tournament. Final score, 75-70.

Illinois almost pulled it out, but no. Back in Chapel Hill, the fans went nuts. As many as 45,000 of them poured into the streets to light bonfires to celebrate their championship.

Something I will never understand, Soledad, why set things on fire to celebrate?

O'BRIEN: I was going to say the same exact thing. Why do you burn it when you've won? I don't get it.

COSTELLO: Exactly. In fact, police were actually confiscating pieces of furniture from students in the streets so they wouldn't set them on fire.

O'BRIEN: That's just bizarre. I only watched about 10 minutes of the game before I had to go to bed.

All right, Carol. Thanks.

Pope John Paul II made two memorable visits to New York City, one in 1979, the other in 1995. For one Brooklyn man, the visits couldn't have been more different. OUR National Correspondent Kelly Wallace with us this morning with his story.

Good morning.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Soledad.

We were doing research, of course, for the coverage of the pope. We stumbled upon a story of a Catholic boy back in 1979 dazzled by the pope. But he had really a change of heart 16 years later. We managed to track him down and asked why his feelings changed, and why how he's feeling now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE (voice over): Daniel Durante is 40 now, but oh, how he remembers being a young student at a Catholic seminary school, racing down to the field at Shea Stadium to see Pope John Paul II.

DANIEL DURANTE, MEMBER OF CATHOLIC FAITH: We were all screaming long live the pope, long live the pope. It was just exhilarating.

WALLACE: And the pope, it appears, heard him and his friend.

DURANTE: We were screaming so loud that he kind of looked and smiled and did one of these numbers and we were floored, you know, when he gave us that blessing.

WALLACE: But 16 years later, when the pope returned to New York City, Durante, who left the seminary school after a year, did not race to see him. The son of religious parents was profiled in the "New York Times" back then. A disaffected Catholic who still practices faith, but questions the pope's conservative beliefs, regarding celibacy for priests, the ordination of women, premarital sex. He recalls taking some heat for his words.

DURANTE: Turning around and saying I don't necessarily agree with the Catholic Church's position on this, there are a lot of people who don't agree with -- not agreeing with the pope. I don't agree with 100 percent of anything anybody has to say. I think that you know, it's a dangerous thing when you let yourself be led blindly. So you have to kind of look at things and think.

WALLACE: Since then, his frustrations with the church have grown. He talks about a priest telling him how he would not baptize his now four-year-old son because Durante has been to other churches, not that one. And how a deeply religious friend was ex-communicated after a divorce.

DURANTE: And that reeks of a church that doesn't see change.

WALLACE: While Durante hopes for what he calls a more open- minded pope, and church, in the future, he says he still feels the loss of John Paul. He cried when he learned the pope had died. As he put it, "It's like losing the uncle you didn't always get along with."

DURANTE: I look at him now, socially, he's magnificent. He's a giant. He globally has probably done more for social justice than any other individual you could point to. He was right on the money there. Catholic Church, and its structure, I'm not so sure I agree.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: A big thanks to Daniel Durante for sharing his story. Soledad, it is a story that probably many American Catholics can relate to. Looking at the polls, a majority of American Catholics want to see big changes within the church.

O'BRIEN: Does Daniel Durante think that, in fact, with the election of a new pope there will be big changes within the church?

WALLACE: I'd say he's hopeful more and more voices like his can be heard. Some of the issues he seems to be most passionate about include allowing women to become priests and also celibacy for priests. He said that is madness. And it is a policy that should change. He studied one year in seminary school. His brother went a lot further along. You get the sense maybe a member of his own family would have become a priest had some of those policies been changed.

O'BRIEN: Certainly, if you look at the number of clergy, or we should say the declining number of clergy, there are many people who would agree with Daniel's perspective.

WALLACE: Exactly. They feel like if things aren't changed, if something doesn't change, perhaps the Catholic Church as we know it might not be there 100, 200 years from now. O'BRIEN: Here, in the United States?

WALLACE: Exactly.

O'BRIEN: All right, Kelly, thanks.

Time to check the weather. Chad Myers is at the CNN Center.

(WEATHER FORECAST)

O'BRIEN: We're also going to head back to Bill Hemmer in Rome. That's ahead. First, health news to tell you about. We're "Paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta" about the heart benefits of aspirin. Turns out, they're different for men and women. Details next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: We're "Paging Dr. Gupta" this morning about women and aspirin. As Sanjay tells us, new research suggests that the medical benefits are quite a mixed bag.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Sue Ferch has taken a low-dose aspirin every day for the last 10 years to prevent a heart attack. It's one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the word and millions of men and women take it.

SUE FERCH, TAKES ASPIRIN DAILY: I do take that daily and take it on the assumption that it might help.

GUPTA: Problem is, for a healthy woman, it probably doesn't help. All the studies that showed any benefit were done only in men. And now, a new study in the "New England Journal of Medicine" has finally put it to the test, for women.

DR. STUART SEIDES, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: In the population of women, who are in that age group, 45 to 65, there is no evidence that aspirin provides a benefit in preventing heart disease.

GUPTA: Startling news to doctors and especially to patients. The recommendations are now changing.

SEIDES: But I would say by and large, in the woman who is in the age group of 45 to 65, who has no other risk factors, I think the general recommendation is going to be that they not use aspirin.

GUPTA (on camera): But there is one trade-off. Aspirin may have a benefit for women in preventing stroke. Now, that's a benefit men don't get. In fact in another study, researchers compared high doses of aspirin to another anti-clotting drug called Cumadin (ph) or Warforin (ph). The results were clear.

SEIDES: The people who got Warforin did worse, though it is arguably a more potent anticoagulant. GUPTA: And by worse, they mean Cumadin or Warforin was no better at stopping a stroke, but was much more likely to cause a significant bleed in the brain. There was no immediate reaction from the makers of Cumadin, Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Bottom line, low-dose aspirin works well at preventing heart attack in men, but not women. And works well at preventing stoke in women, but not men. Good information as long as you talk to your doctor -- Doctor Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: The researchers studied nearly 40,000 women in their aspirin analysis over a 10-year period.

Time to go back to Bill Hemmer in Rome.

Good morning again, Bill.

HEMMER: Hey, Soledad, hello there. We're learning more details about the meetings of the cardinals. They've had three of them apparently, so far, in the last two days. Also learning more details, what we can anticipate later in the week leading up to Friday's funeral. We'll fill you in, in a moment.

Here, also talk with Cardinal Roger Mahoney again today live in Italy after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: For the very first time, the majority of drivers say the high price of gas is causing a serious financial burden. Right now, the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline $2.22. According to a new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup Poll, 15 percent of people polled say that price is causing a serious hardship; 43 percent say it's a moderate hardship; 42 percent say it's not a problem.

And because of the high price of gas, 72 percent say they're forced to search for a gas station with the cheapest price. And 57 percent say they're considering getting a more fuel-efficient car. And nearly half say they're cutting back on driving altogether; 38 percent say they've cut back on spending elsewhere in their budget in order to afford gasoline.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Huh, 35 bucks it cost me to fill my car at the pump the other day.

O'BRIEN: It's ridiculous.

CAFFERTY: It's just a passenger car, not a big SUV.

O'BRIEN: Well, mine was almost $50 to fill my SUV, because we have to many people in my family.

CAFFERTY: Wow. All right. The Supreme Court has thrown a financial lifeline to the growing number of older Americans, that would include me. Gerri Willis is in for Andy Serwer, and she's "Minding Your Business".

What do you have for me?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, gasbuddy.com. First of all, you are looking for cheap gas that is a great place to go.

CAFFERTY: This idea of driving around looking for cheaper gas, you burn gas while you are driving around looking for cheaper gas.

WILLIS: I'm not telling you to go to Indiana. I'm telling you, you might go across town to find a cheaper gas.

CAFFERTY: I want to know about things for older Americans. What do you have for me?

WILLIS: OK, this is good news for you personally. If you file bankruptcy and you have an IRA, it is protected. That means you won't have to spend that money, give it away to creditors, et cetera, and it joins IRAs, 401(k)s, your pensions, Social Security, house and car, this according to a Supreme Court ruling.

Good news, indeed, for consumers and maybe for all of us, because you know if they can't tap your IRA assets, maybe we generally don't have to pay for your bankruptcy, Jack.

CAFFERTY: I'm not filing bankruptcy, but that's good that --

WILLIS: Just to be clear on that.

CAFFERTY: You know, that should you fall on hard times you have something.

WILLIS: I think it's good, too.

CAFFERTY: What else is going on?

WILLIS: Market preview going on here. We've been watching the markets this morning. Expected to open higher that is because the price of crude oil futures, in fact, going down. Good news there.

All bets could be off this afternoon, though, because Alan Greenspan is actually talking to an oil trade association. We don't know what he's going to say there, it will be interesting to find out if he has anything interesting to say about oil prices.

CAFFERTY: You can bet everybody on the Street will be listening.

WILLIS: That's right.

CAFFERTY: Thanks, Gerri.

Time for the "Cafferty File". We've been talking about the pope's successor in today's question. And while the field is still wide open, you can begin placing your bets online for who you think the next pope will be.

This is the high-class portion of our coverage of the papal passing. Don't expect the church's approval, though.

Gaming Web site, bestbetting.com, shows the current odds on who the next leader of the Catholic Church will be, tied for first, at 3 to 1 odds, are Cardinal Yunigi Tettamanzi (ph) from Italy and Francis Rinse (ph), who we have been talking about all morning, from Nigeria. The list continues with candidates from around the world, the next Italian choice doesn't appear until Number 8 and the odds of his being selected are 14 to 1.

If Michael Jackson's trial should not go the way he plans on it going, he can flee to an exotic island courtesy of his friend, Marlon Brando. I guess birds of a feather, you know. According to a notarized deed obtained by the "New York Daily News," Brando granted Jackson sanctuary on one of the Pacific islands he owned, quote, "for the rest of Jackson's natural life." Brando deeded the half-acre property located in French Polynesia to Michael Jackson as a thank you for hosting a birthday party at Neverland Ranch for Brando's daughter, Nina.

Brando, who died last January -- some of this stuff is too weird, you know what I mean? Brando died last January. He was aware at the time of the property transfer that the Santa Barbara D.A., Tom Sneddon, was investigating Jackson for possible child molestation.

Finally, this: A giant emu on the loose in Belair, Kansas, on Monday. These things weigh 150 pounds. They can't fly, but they can get it on across the ground, reaching speeds of 40 miles per hour. So catching an emu is no easy feat. It's also arguably the most exciting thing that's happened in this Kansas town maybe ever.

Here's the deal there.

At first, they thought this thing escaped from a local school, which apparently has one. Turns out that wasn't the school's emu. They still had theirs. This emu belonged to somebody else. They don't know whose it is. The chase went on for some time. The bird, they insist, was not injured, but some of the people trying to catch it reportedly were.

O'BRIEN: Oh, my god, he tackled that emu! That's nice.

WILLIS: Maybe we can race those emus and then bet on them. Just to bring all your stories together.

O'BRIEN: A little new of the weird today, in "The File", Mr. Cafferty.

CAFFERTY: Do you believe that Marlon Brando/Michael Jackson thing?

O'BRIEN: Do you see Michael Jackson living on a half-acre island in the Polynesia?

CAFFERTY: Under certain conditions I could, yeah, but we can't discuss those.

O'BRIEN: I don't ever see that. Mr. Cafferty, thank you.

CAFFERTY: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: Straight ahead, back out to Rome. Bill Hemmer is standing by live for us. New details this morning on how the next pope will be selected, including how soon it could happen. That is ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: By the hour, they still stream into Vatican City. Mourners by the thousands and all saying they're willing wait as long as it takes to pay a final tribute to Pope John Paul II. The pictures today are stunning, indeed. Our coverage continues live in Italy on this AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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