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AMERICAN MORNING

College of Cardinals Beginning Process of Electing Next Pope; Sarah Lunde Case

Aired April 18, 2005 - 07:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Millions of people around the world watching as the Catholic Church hangs on the verge of history. The College of Cardinals beginning the sacred and mysterious process of electing the next pope, on this AMERICAN MORNING.
ANNOUNCER: From the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING, with Soledad O'Brien and Bill Hemmer.

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome everybody. Bill Hemmer is in Oklahoma City this morning for tomorrow's 10th year anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. We'll hear from him in a little bit.

Miles O'Brien is helping us out this morning. Sure appreciate that. Thank you very much.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Good to be here.

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, the College of Cardinals now just a few hours away from the conclave which will produce the next pope. The first ballot could come as early as today. We're going to talk about what must happen to elect a pope and what's happening this morning.

M. O'BRIEN: Also, on the program, the man police say confessed to killing 13-year-old Sarah Lunde due in court this morning. Police say David Onstott has confessed to the killing. We'll talk to the sheriff leading the investigation about what they've learned.

Jack Cafferty, good morning. Have a nice weekend?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: I did indeed. Thank you.

They're called snitch programs in the wake of that shootings at that school in Red Lake, Minnesota. a growing number of public schools around the country are encouraging students to tell on each other, tattle, as in rat out your friend by paying them big bucks for the information. We'll take a look.

S. O'BRIEN: Interesting. All right, Jack, thanks.

Well, the time has come for the Catholic Church to choose a new pope; 115 cardinals will begin doing that in the next couple of hours. They could have their first vote today. This morning, they celebrated mass together at the Vatican.

Jim Bittermann was there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been more than 26 years since there's been an occasion to use this rite of the Catholic mass, specifically celebrated as cardinals prepare for their most important duty, to elect the next pope. Perhaps as early as the end of this day, and many cardinals predict certainly by the end of this week, one of these men will be the new spiritual leader to one- sixth of the people on Earth.

And yet, going into their conclave, with its arcane voting rituals and super-secret proceedings, there seemed little consensus on who that should be. Both on and off the record, cardinals told CNN that there's very little agreement even on what the main issues are confronting the church.

With one exception. No one would dispute that the next pope must do a better job of attracting young people to the priesthood if the church is to prosper.

At the end of the afternoon, Rome time, in solemn procession, the cardinals will enter the Sistine Chapel and beneath Michelangelo's fateful frescoes of the last judgment will have to make their own judgments about what's best for the church.

The room has been swept for electronic bugs and a Swiss Guard said the raised floor hides devices to block cell phone signals. Nothing must influence the cardinals when they vote. Although journalists taken for a tour couldn't help but notice how tightly the 115 cardinals will be seated together, perhaps making privacy difficult.

Still, they, like the conclave, support personnel who swore oaths of secrecy over the weekend, all face possible excommunication if any should reveal the mysteries of the conclave.

From now on, smoke signals are the only communications allowed, as the ballots are burned in the much modernized Sistine Chapel stove.

And out front of St. Peter's Basilica, where the faithful will gather to watch a stove pipe, workmen have already installed the one- story tall scarlet drapes on the loggia of the blessings, the balcony from which the new leader of the Catholic Church will first appear to the world.

In fact, all is in readiness to welcome the new pope. It's just a matter now for the cardinals to decide who he is.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BITTERMANN: And, Soledad, in his rather blunt and direct remarks to the church this morning, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said that the church should stick to fundamentals, and he urged the church to reject a dictatorship of relativism -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Jim Bittermann for us this morning. Jim, thanks.

Well, Whoever is chosen, he faces the challenge of guiding the church at the beginning of the 21st century. Lawrence Cunningham is a professor of theology at Notre Dame University. He's in South Bend, Indiana this morning.

It's nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us this morning.

There are obviously many big issues to confront, and obviously, what is the first issue is going to depend on who the person is picked to be pope. Let's run through some of these issues, to clarify it.

First, let's talk about governance. There's a big power-sharing debate, is there not, between the church, or is it just specifically to the Western church where this is an issue?

LAWRENCE CUNNINGHAM, THEOLOGY PROFESSOR, NOTRE DAME: No, I think it's a worldwide situation in which I think the bishops of the world want to have more voice in governance, and that was not the case under the papacy of John Paul II, and there's a lot of discontent with too much centralization of power in the Vatican.

S. O'BRIEN: Another issue is, frankly, the numbers, doing the math. We heard just a moment ago from Jim Bittermann that one area where everyone seems to agree is that more young people need to be brought into the church, but who is going to be those who are providing the spiritual leadership for them? When you look at the numbers of priests in the church declining not only in the West again?

CUNNINGHAM: Yes, that's true. There's a great decline of clergy in the West. In Brazil, for example, there's one priest for every 22,000 Catholics. There is a modest growth in absolute numbers in Africa and in parts of Eastern Europe, but it's a huge problem for the church and it seems to be only getting worse.

S. O'BRIEN: There was much outreach by Pope John Paul II when it came to trying to have a dialogue with people of other faiths, all faiths. How much of a problem or an issue is the spread of Islam for the Catholic Church?

CUNNINGHAM: I think it's a very big issue in two places, especially. The fastest growing church, Catholic Church, is in Africa. And there's all, as it were, competing forces between Islam and Christianity in Africa.

But it's a crucial issue in Western Europe, with what has been called the Islamization of western Europe. The numbers of people coming from the various parts of Islamic world and the low birth rates in Europe are really tilting in a way that threatens the traditional culture of the West.

S. O'BRIEN: What about secularism? In the Western church, obviously it's been mentioned as a big problem. Is that a problem across the whole church?

CUNNINGHAM: I think it's more of a problem in the developed world. It certainly is a problem in western Europe. In fact, that's going to be one of the issues that is going to concern the cardinals. It's an issue in the United States of America, but still, we have a pretty vigorous Catholic population with good church attendance and fidelity to the church.

S. O'BRIEN: And then finally, an issue that really has come, I think it's fair to say, to the forefront in the final years of Pope John Paul II's papacy, which is the biomedical ethics, the issues that are involved with the increased availability and -- of technology. What kind of a problem does this present for the next pope?

CUNNINGHAM: Well, it presents huge ethical problems for the world in general, and for the Catholic Church in particular. Reproductive technologies, end-of-life technologies, things that were -- cloning, things that were unimaginable 25 years ago.

And I should also add there's the question of the maldistribution of medical care for the world. The new pope is going to have to be a person who is going to squarely face the impoverishment that is so much abroad in the world today.

S. O'BRIEN: Lawrence Cunningham is a theology professor at Notre Dame. Thanks for your time this morning. Appreciate it.

CUNNINGHAM: Thank you for having me.

S. O'BRIEN: My pleasure -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: In Ruskin, Florida this morning, friends and family mourning the death of 13-year-old Sarah Lunde. Registered sex offender David Onstott is set to be arraigned in about an hour on first-degree murder charges.

CNN's Sara Dorsey has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA DORSEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's happened again in Florida, a child is killed allegedly by a convicted sex offender. Authorities say 13-year-old Sarah Lunde was murdered in her home, allegedly by a man who had once had a relationship with her mother. The sheriff says David Onstott has confessed to the crime.

SHERIFF DAVID GEE, HILLBOROUGH COUNTY: The sheriff's office alleges that on April 10th, 2005 between the hours of midnight and 05:00 a.m., that the defendant David Louis Onstott (ph) arrived at the victim's residence at 2812, 30th St. SE in Ruskin, Florida, looking for the victim's mother Kelly May.

After entering the residence, the victim and defendant became involved in a verbal confrontation. During the confrontation, the defendant put the victim in a choke hold, causing her to become unconscious and eventually causing her death.

DORSEY: Lunde's partially clothed body was found only a half mile from her home in a pond at a fish farm. Searchers came from all over the area, including a man whose story is hauntingly similar. Mark Lunsford's daughter Jessica disappeared from her Florida home. Her body was later found buried. A convicted sex offender is charged with that crime. Lunsford has one thing to say to David Onstott.

MARK LUNSFORD, JESSICA LUNSFORDS FATHER: Onstott, the same goes for you. I hope you rot in hell.

DORSEY: This eight-day ordeal came to the ending everyone feared. Sunday morning Lunde's friends gathered in her honor for a memory service at her church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And though we may not have been able to bring sarah back safely home, we can be certain that she is forever safe with the Lord today.

DORSEY: An autopsy will be performed to determine the official cause of her death.

Sara Dorsey, CNN, Ruskin, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: David Gee is the sheriff in Hillsborough County, Florida. He is leading the investigation. Sheriff Gee, good to have you with us. We appreciate it.

David Onstott was a lot of focus of attention in this case since really day one. What changed it from the focus of attention to what you have now, which are capital murder charges?

SHERIFF DAVID GEE, HILLSBOROUGH CO., FLA.: Well, like you said, he was certainly someone we were looking at all week long, along with other things, too. It was a case where you just couldn't focus on one thing. But, of course, with the discovery of Sarah's body on Saturday, it began to build and a lot of things that, you know, really shifted our full attention to him and, of course, ended with a confession late that evening.

M. O'BRIEN: And tell me a little bit now. Maybe you can fill in some blanks for us. It was a little bit difficult for us to fully understand what was going on, but on Friday of last week, you were asking people to let you know if they found beer bottles in that area. What was that all about?

GEE: Onstott had been at the house that morning and had shown up unexpectedly around 0500 a.m. and had taken a beer bottle out of the house, and of course, you know, on the outside chance that we could locate that beer bottle as a piece of evidence in this case, we were asking for some help regarding that.

M. O'BRIEN: Did the confession shed light on a motive here?

GEE: Well, I think, you know, there's certainly some speculation. I think until the medical examiner has a chance to give us a full report back, we really won't know exactly what that is. We can only speculate. The affidavit which I read from yesterday is really just the charging document and is his account of what occurred. I think until we get some more physical evidence, we won't know the real story there.

M. O'BRIEN: You also said he took great pains to dispose of the body. Would you care to elaborate on that?

GEE: You know, I haven't been able to do that yet. We're still too early into it, other than to tell you, you know, there was work done to try to conceal her and other than just being thrown into a body of water.

M. O'BRIEN: Will other charges be filed?

GEE: You know, I assume that that is a possibility. Again, waiting on the medical examiner and our prosecutor, Mark Ober (ph) in Tampa, to review that case and make sure all appropriate charges are filed. He's certainly not going anywhere right now under the charges he has currently.

M. O'BRIEN: Was there a sexual assault?

GEE: We don't know that right now.

M. O'BRIEN: Again, waiting for the medical examiner to help us determine that. And if that's the case, then we'll be taking that back to the state.

M. O'BRIEN: Final thought here, sheriff. You said the system failed in this case. Did the system fail Sarah Lunde?

GEE: I think the system, in general, you know, has failed us all. The system is overburdened. I don't think it's any particular judge's fault or anything like that. I just think that the system's overwhelmed. And As a society, we have to decide what are we going to do with these people. They're in and out of the system, and it's a type of behavior that unlike any other criminal behavior, is not correctable. And I think we have to make some decisions.

You know, even when the criminals hate these sex offenders, you know there's something pretty bad, pretty deviant about the behavior, and I think they need to be treated differently.

M. O'BRIEN: Sheriff David Gee of Hillsborough County, Florida, thanks for your time.

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, one man says it was a night of pure hell. Why thousands of cruise line passengers are happy to be on solid ground this morning.

And a centuries old ritual steeped in tradition begins at the Vatican. Archbishop John Patrick Foley joins us to discuss the conclave, up next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: The proceedings for choosing the successor to Pope John Paul II are held in the utmost secrecy. Archbishop John Patrick Foley is a spokesman for the Vatican, joining thus morning from Vatican City.

Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with us.

ARCHBISHOP JOHN PATRICK FOLEY, TOP VATICAN OFFICIAL: Hello, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: You have said that Pope John Paul II was just a master at getting the message out, which is essentially the office that you were assigned to under the pope. Give me a sense, then, of how aware all the other cardinals are today who may come out as pope, about being able to do that well in this day and age.

FOLEY: Well, many of them are excellent communicators themselves. I think all of them realize the need to present the message of Christ in an appealing, strong manner, and of course without any compromise regarding what Jesus taught. So I think they'll be looking for an individual who will be able to present the message of Christ in a compelling, appealing, but very clear manner.

S. O'BRIEN: Is there any cardinal in your mind, and it doesn't have to be somebody whose name has been batted around on the sort of top-10 lists that have emerged. Anyone in your mind who sticks out as a fantastic communicator, as Pope John Paul II was?

FOLEY: Yes, but I'm not going to share it with you now, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: You knew that was my next question, didn't you?

let's talk a little bit about that saying, that we've spoken about in the past, a fat pope never follow as thin pope. Why is that? You know, if everybody loved the thin pope, you'd think, you know what, what we need is a lot of thin popes.

FOLEY: Well, I think we only had one chubby pope recently, that was John XXIII.

S. O'BRIEN: But I'm speaking of course about the saying, that if you have a fat pope, you go with somebody the complete opposite to make the transition more easy. Why not, if you've had someone who everybody loved and revered, go with someone of the same type?

FOLEY: Well, I don't think we always have to go with the folk wisdom with those phrases. We wait and see where the holy spirit moves the cardinals. So we will accept whomever the cardinals choose as an expression of the will of God.

S. O'BRIEN: Cardinal Ratzinger, some have said, is a frontrunner. Other articles will say there is no frontrunner. Where do you stand? Do you think there is, in fact, a frontrunner? You don't have to reveal who you think it.

FOLEY: I really don't think there is. Cardinal Ratzinger, of course, gave two exceptionally marvelous homilies, one at the funeral of the holy father and the other today at the mass, asking for the guidance of the holy spirit in the selection of the new pope. But that does not necessarily mean he's a frontrunner. I'm sure he has a lot of respect from all of the cardinals. Whether he'll be the one for whom they vote as pope is another matter.

S. O'BRIEN: We've heard a lot about the negotiations that go on, sort of behind the scenes. You don't hear a lot, though, about people who turn down the job of pope. You don't hear a lot about people who don't want to be pope. Are there people who don't want to be pope?

FOLEY: I would think there would be. And You wouldn't hear about them, because that wouldn't be revealed publicly, because you want a divided loyalty among people, oh, why wouldn't he accept? Wouldn't he have been so good as pope? So if there are those who have turned on down the possibility or those who have actively discourage the people from proposing them, I don't think you would hear that for obvious reason.

S. O'BRIEN: Archbishop John Patrick Foley joining us this morning from Vatican City. Nice to see you, as always. Thank you for talking with us.

FOLEY: All right, thank you, Soledad.

M. O'BRIEN: Still to come on the program, Andy Serwer's "Minding Your Business." He has the latest on Wall Street's slump. Should you be worried about your 401(k)? Bet you are.

Stay with us, on AMERICAN MORNING.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: Well, stock prices took it on the chin last week, to say the least. What's behind all the selling? What's in store for investors today? Andy Serwer here.

Going to have a big buying spasms, right?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: No. Futures are down this morning, Miles. And the worst week on Wall Street in over two years on the Dow. The Dow down 191 points, 373 points for the entire week. And people concerned that the rally is getting long in the tooth. It's no longer a rally. The recovery is getting long in the tooth.

And here's what we've got for the week. The culprit, I think, is oil. The price of oil has gone down from $58 to $49 over the past couple weeks. But if you think about it, the past couple weeks, you can see where it's been dipping a little bit. We've heard about GM and Ford saying their sales are down because of SUVs being weaker, people not wanting to pay higher gas prices. Trade deficit is ballooning, because we're importing so much oil. And then retail sales in March are soft. Is that because people are spending so much money on gasoline? I think it probably is. And markets around the globe this morning not faring very well.

M. O'BRIEN: And oil's not going down anytime soon, is it? SERWER: It's going down from the record of high, but I don't think it's going back to $35 a barrel. I think that's wishful thinking right now.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, thanks, Andy.

SERWER: You're welcome.

S. O'BRIEN: Talking about The market's a big downer.

SERWER: Yes, I know.

M. O'BRIEN: Bummer man.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's see if you can make the Question of the Day more uplifting.

Good morning.

CAFFERTY: Probably not.

A growing number of public schools have started something called snitch programs. Students are paid to tattle on other students. A hundred bucks for tips on vandalism, theft and drugs, $500 for tips on guns. According to "USA Today" some schools have had the programs in place since the '80s, but last month's shooting in Minnesota created new interest. Critics say these student crime-stopper programs will create a society of snitches. One high school principal is quoted as saying, "For 100 bucks, they'll turn in their mothers."

The question, should students be paid to tell on their classmates? am@CNN.com.

S. O'BRIEN: It's an interesting idea. I mean, if it saves lives, right, then you have the argument that it's worth it.

M. O'BRIEN: It's a terrible idea.

SERWER: You think it's a bad idea?

M. O'BRIEN: You start driving kids to snitch, they'll turn in any kid for 100 bucks. They'll frame the kid.

SERWER: Maybe it should be more than 100 bucks.

CAFFERTY: There are ways to discourage snitching that can override the attractiveness of the monetary reward.

M. O'BRIEN: Indeed.

S. O'BRIEN: Spoken like a man who knows.

CAFFERTY: If I remember school days properly.

M. O'BRIEN: I've been on the playground myself. I can attest to that, yes. CAFFERTY: It's like here's how to spend the hundred dollars -- you'll need it at the emergency room to get your head fixed. I mean, kids have a way of dealing with that stuff.

S. O'BRIEN: We'll see.

All right, Jack, thanks.

Well, there's much more to come on AMERICAN MORNING.

Ahead on "90-Second Pop," insiders say Michael Jackson is drowning in debt. Could he be forced to sell his most valuable musical possession.

Plus, sit around and watch TV all day. One late-night host has the perfect job for you. That's later on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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