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Ratzinger A Frontrunner for Pope; Freak Wave Hits Norwegian Cruiseliner

Aired April 18, 2005 - 08:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: At the Vatican this morning, the College of Cardinals celebrate a special mass before they begin the secret process of picking a new pope. And a blunt missing from the cardinal many think could be the next leader of the Catholic Church.
Meanwhile in Florida, the man accused of killing 13-year-old Sarah Lunde in court today to answer charges of murder on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: From the CNN broadcast center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Bill Hemmer.

S. O'BRIEN: Good morning.

Welcome, everybody.

Miles O'Brien is helping us out this morning -- good morning.


Good to be here.

We're watching developments out of the Vatican today, as the Catholic Church begins the process of choosing a new pope.

S. O'BRIEN: We'll talk about that and more this morning.

But first, let's get right to Bill Hemmer.

He's on assignment in Oklahoma City -- hey, Bill, good morning.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Soledad, good morning to you.

Ten years ago tomorrow, 168 people were killed, 19 of whom were children playing in a day care center right about 9:00 in the morning local time here in Oklahoma City. So much has changed, not just for this city and this state, but all across the country.

Today, a serene and beautiful memorial now stands in place of that destruction on April, 1995. And if you talk to the people in Oklahoma City, they will tell you they feel they have a duty and an obligation to help people in New York City, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. They talk about the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., even Iraq and Israel today.

They feel they have a duty and an obligation to show people not how to remember those who were killed, but also to remember those who survived and were forced into a future that no one had planned for.

In a moment here, a bit later this hour, Soledad, we'll show you how the world has changed and specifically how Oklahoma City is now dealing with this 10 years down the road -- back to you now in New York.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Bill, we look forward to that when it comes up.

Thanks a lot.

Let's get right to Mr. Cafferty.

The Question of the Day is about snitches. And you have "The File," as well.


Coming up in "The Cafferty File," the best and worst mayors of America's cities. And after 20 children, at the age of 53, one mother who finally goes on birth control. It's about time.

S. O'BRIEN: Huh. All right.

CAFFERTY: It's not what you think.

S. O'BRIEN: No, I'm sure it's not. It never is what I think. I go, I always go there and it's not.

M. O'BRIEN: We will stay tuned.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Jack.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, 36-year-old David Onstott due in court this morning to face a first degree murder charge in the death of Florida teen Sarah Lunde. Police say the convicted sex offender has confessed to killing Lunde.

CNN's Sara Dorsey joining us live from the courthouse in Tampa, Florida -- Sara, what do we expect this morning in the court appearance?

SARA DORSEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, David Onstott will appear via a video conference center from the Hillsborough County Jail, where he is currently being held. The judge will be here, at the Hillsborough County Courthouse.

What we're expecting is for this to be a very short procedure. The judge will likely just ensure that Mr. Onstott understands that charge of first degree murder. He will then try to determine if Mr. Onstott has an attorney or if he needs a public defender appointed to him by the court. And then he will set bond. But with a first degree murder charge, that will likely be no bond at all.

M. O'BRIEN: Police came to the conclusion that Onstott was the man here, or their suspect at least. DORSEY: Well, basically this, we think, came out of, from Sarah's brother. Sarah's brother Andrew came home in the early morning hours Sunday, last Sunday, and found that she wasn't home. He didn't really think a lot of it. We believe he thinks that she was with friends. And so he went to sleep with a friend that he had went out with.

At that time, he was woken up by a knock on the door and it was Mr. Onstott, who had at one time dated his mother, asking for Kelly Mae, the mother in this situation. And Andrew just thought that was odd.

He relayed that message to reporters and law enforcement officials. And he's a convicted sex offender. So that background, along with him showing up unexpectedly, made him someone they were looking at.

Now, all along they wouldn't call him a suspect or a person of interest. The sheriff said he was already in jail, picked up on Tuesday on unrelated charges. They knew where he was. There was no bond. He wasn't going anywhere. So the sheriff decided to just hold off and wait to name him as any type of suspect until they could actually file charges, which they did yesterday, and that's when we got confirmation that, indeed, he will be the defendant in this murder case.

M. O'BRIEN: Sara Dorsey in Tampa.

Thank you very much.

S. O'BRIEN: There are other stories making news this morning.

Let's get right to the headlines with Carol Costello -- good morning.


Good morning to all of you.

Now in the news, an American activist is being remembered this morning as a young woman with a tremendous open heart. Marla Ruzicka is the founder of a humanitarian group aimed at helping civilians killed or wounded during the war in Iraq. She was killed in a car bombing near Baghdad's airport over the weekend. Two other people were also killed in that blast.

Some nuclear concerns over North Korea. South Korean officials are confirming that North Korea's main nuclear complex has been shut down. The move could mean that North Korea may be trying to increase its supply of weapons grade plutonium.

A Norwegian cruise ship is set to reach New York today after it was smashed by a freak wave during what one passenger describes as pure hell. The seven story wave apparently hit the Norwegian Dawn early Saturday, injuring at least four people. The wave broke windows in at least two cabins, flooding dozens of rooms. A firsthand account of what it was like on board coming up.

And how many Elvis impersonators does it take to set a new world record? Apparently 77.


COSTELLO: Nice rendition, isn't it?

Elvis look-alikes of every shape and size congregated in a London department store. The kings of rock and roll sang "Viva Las Vegas" for three whole minutes. A Guinness official witnessed the event and confirms that Elvis is alive. And if a Guinness official confirmed it, you know it's true.

S. O'BRIEN: They have a very wide range of Elvis imposters. I mean come on.

M. O'BRIEN: Loosely defined here.

S. O'BRIEN: Exactly.

M. O'BRIEN: What was the record? Just...

COSTELLO: Seventy-six.

M. O'BRIEN: The largest number on escalators?

COSTELLO: Big deal.

M. O'BRIEN: I mean, you know, they're running out of records. Let's face it, there are no records left.

COSTELLO: I think you're right about that. Seventy-seven really bad Elvis imposters.

M. O'BRIEN: On escalators in Great Britain...

S. O'BRIEN: It looks like anybody could have...

M. O'BRIEN: ... who don't look like Elvis. That was a great record.

S. O'BRIEN: On a Sunday.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.


S. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Carol.

Well, the process of choosing a new pope begins within the next few hours. The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church who do the voting all celebrated mass this morning at the Vatican. The mass was led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. He's a powerful figure and a frontrunner in the speculation over who will be the next pope. He warned of a discipline of relativism that questions the absolute truths of the church.

And as Jim Bittermann reports, the cardinal's hard-line position is not surprising.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is a policeman's son who became the Vatican's enforcer. But Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is known best for his very public, very doctrinaire points of view. And as head of the Congregation of the Faith, the Vatican institution which once ran the Inquisition, the prelate was in a powerful position to impose those views on his fellow churchmen.

He said, for example, that modernity has led to a blurring of sexual identity, causing some feminists to become adversaries of men. He called homosexuality "an intrinsic moral evil." And he argued that Muslim Turkey did not belong in Christian Europe. Sometimes he even lobbied the pope into taking contentious positions.

While John Paul spent most of his papacy trying to reach out to other religions, Cardinal Ratzinger issued a document saying that Catholicism was the only true religion and questioning the validity of other religions, even Christian ones. Although objections came even from some of his fellow cardinals, the pope did not restrain Ratzinger, in part because their friendship went back four decades, to the time when the two were young priests at the Vatican II meetings in Rome.

(on camera): But while many analysts believe Ratzinger will have a certain following among conservative cardinals, few believe that he can command anywhere near two thirds of the College, the number needed to elect a pope. In fact, given the divisions within the church, many clergymen believe the cardinals will be looking for someone who can unify.

KEITH PECKLERS, S.J., GREGORIAN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: The church has become quite polarized between the right and the left. So whoever is elected, whoever the next pope will be, will very much need to deal with this kind of polarization.

BITTERMANN: It seems unlikely that someone with Ratzinger's track record will emerge the compromise candidate. But should he be, the clergyman known to some around the Vatican as the Panzer cardinal will need to work on polishing his reputation with progressives within the church.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Vatican City.


S. O'BRIEN: So, just how strong a candidate is Cardinal Ratzinger?

CNN Vatican Analyst John Allen has written a book about him.

And John Allen is in Rome this morning -- nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us this morning.

Why don't we...


S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin with some of the messages from the mass that Cardinal Ratzinger said. A little quote of what he said was this: "Being an adult means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today's fashions or the latest novelties."

Why do you think that's a critical chunk of his complete message this morning?

ALLEN: Well, Soledad, I think Cardinal Ratzinger laid down an unusually blunt and strong message this morning. I mean this was a homily, after all. It took place in the context of a Catholic mass. Normally this would be a kind of spiritual meditation on the readings that the congregation had just heard. And, of course, Ratzinger did deliver that.

But beyond that, I think he also sort of marked out some parameters for challenges that he sees, at least, facing the church. He ticked off a series of threats to orthodox Christianity -- Marxism, liberalism, radical individualism, syncretism, relativism. You quoted his phrase that we're facing a dictatorship of relativism.

All that by way of saying that, from Ratzinger's point of view, there are a number of potential seductions or dangers for the church out there in the world. And the antidote to that, obviously, is crystal clarity about the church's traditional doctrinal stands, that is, protecting Catholic Christian identity.

And I think what's interesting about this is this, of course, is the last public message that we're going to hear from Cardinal Ratzinger before the Conclave opens later this afternoon. And I think he clearly was trying to say this is, from his point of view, the world in which the next pope is going to be stepping.

Now, the question -- and I think Jim's package that we just heard set this up quite well -- is whether or not there are two thirds of the cardinals within the College that would share that diagnosis. Because what we've been picking up all week is that many of the cardinals, above all, are looking for a pope who can speak a word of hope to the world, that is, who can generate some dynamism and some optimism within Catholicism.

The question is whether Ratzinger's really stern message is the right answer to that question.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about Cardinal Ratzinger's background.

I've read that he was a member of the Nazi youth in Germany, that later he served in the German Army in World War 2.

What else can you tell us about him?

ALLEN: Well, first of all, Ratzinger's class was forcibly enrolled in the Hitler Youth when he was a young man. He asked immediately to his teacher, or of his teacher, to be disenrolled. And, of course, he was conscripted into the German Army. He didn't volunteer. He spent a few months in an anti-aircraft battalion in Munich and then deserted.

So I don't think you can make any credible case that Ratzinger was in any sense pro-Nazi. Quite the contrary. His family was quiet strongly anti-Nazi. His father took a series of less significant jobs in order to sort of stay away from what was happening in Nazi Germany.

But he obviously did live through the war. He then became a very prominent German theologian. He was part of the progressive majority, ironically enough, at the Second Vatican Council in the mid-'60s.

But after Vatican II, particularly in the wake of the student revolts in Europe in 1968, I think Ratzinger felt that things were getting dangerously out of hand and he began to move in a sort of steadily more conservative direction.

In, and then, of course, as we all know, in 1981, Pope John Paul II called him to service in Rome as the chief doctrinal authority in the church, running the Congregation for the Faith. And in that time, Ratzinger has been the architect, I would say, of the most conservative and therefore controversial aspects of John Paul's papacy, from stands on abortion, divorce, homosexuality, to the pope's crackdown on liberation theology in Latin America in the '80s. That was a movement to try to align the church with progressive movements for social change. Up to the very recent, when Ratzinger has taken a very strong stand asserting that Christian is a kind of superior religion to all the other religions in the world.

So he's a man very much admired by conservatives and he is a man to whom people of a more progressive temperament would certainly have a long list of objections.

S. O'BRIEN: John Allen, lour Vatican analyst, this morning.

John, thanks -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, let's check the nation's weather.

Not many days like this -- Chad Myers -- where you get such good weather everywhere.


M. O'BRIEN: You know?

MYERS: Yesterday was a top 10 day. Almost everywhere east of the Mississippi, I'll tell you what. And today another one.


M. O'BRIEN: Hey, Chad, how do you know what day is the last day of frost and freeze? You said May 15, that's your last day.

S. O'BRIEN: He knows that stuff.

MYERS: That's right. Because...

M. O'BRIEN: You just know that?

MYERS: I lived in Detroit and May 15 is my birthday. So they're kind of put together.

M. O'BRIEN: So therefore?

MYERS: So therefore...

M. O'BRIEN: That must be the day.

MYERS: Well, that was the day up there that I said it's OK to plant for all my old viewers back up in Detroit -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right.

All right.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Chad.

M. O'BRIEN: And blame Chad if they die.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, stop.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, no, don't do that.

S. O'BRIEN: In a moment, we're going to take you back out to Oklahoma City. One man reflecting on the fateful day that a powerful bomb ripped apart a building, his sense of security and his family, as well.

M. O'BRIEN: Also, chaos on high seas. Newlyweds describe the night they call pure hell aboard a Norwegian cruise ship. That is next on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: A Norwegian cruise ship is expected to arrive in New York today after a rough weekend at sea. Waves were so big, they damaged windows, they flooded rooms and they sent passengers running for safety. Many passengers, in fact, so shaken that when they disembarked when the ship docked in Charleston, South Carolina for repairs.

Joining us this morning, two of those passengers, James and Gina Fraley.

Nice to see you.

Thanks for talking with us.

You guys still look a little shaken to me this morning.


S. O'BRIEN: You were on your honeymoon, oh, and it was terrible.

How far into the trip before you realized that things were getting very rough?

JAMES FRALEY, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: It was like on the fifth day. It was supposed to be a two day cruise back to land and at that time, as he drove deeper down the coast, back to New York, the seas just kept getting rougher.

S. O'BRIEN: And so did people ask about it as it went from being mild to more rough to even more rough?

J. FRALEY: We were told that he didn't know there was a storm at sea. He announced it over the P.A. system. At that time, he told us that it was going to get a little bit more, you know, rough, but we were going to try our best to manage through it. And at about two in the morning on Saturday morning, he said that he had to cut the engines. We had to kind of ride the storm out, is what he said.

He couldn't turn to go back to the coast.

S. O'BRIEN: You were kind of stuck right in the middle of it.

J. FRALEY: Exactly.

S. O'BRIEN: So at 2:00 Saturday morning, Gina, this is the worst part of the storm.

Tell me what happened. Describe it for me.

G. FRALEY: Describe it, it was chaos, bad chaos.

S. O'BRIEN: People running around?

G. FRALEY: People running around.

S. O'BRIEN: Screaming?

G. FRALEY: Screaming. At one point I even went down there to see if they could give me something to calm my nerves. Right away they wanted $100 to see the doctor.

S. O'BRIEN: Charging you?


J. FRALEY: Charging us.

S. O'BRIEN: Now, were the waves coming right through the windows?

J. FRALEY: No, that -- the main wave that was 70 foot, that hit between 6:00 and 6:30 in the morning. At that time, that's what caused the damage to the front of the ship. But the damage on the inside of the ship was prior to that. That was -- we were at sea for 24 hours at the mercy of the sea. Restaurants were destroyed inside there, antique stores, Jacuzzis off the 12th floor in the ocean.

S. O'BRIEN: How high were the waves and what, like what floor was it hitting?

J. FRALEY: They were 27 to 47 foot swells. They were hitting the ninth and the tenth floor. We happened to be on the ninth floor.

S. O'BRIEN: What did you guys do? Did you wrap yourself in a life preserver?

J. FRALEY: Us par -- I didn't because I mean I didn't want to, you know, make her any more nervous than she had to be. But other people in the ship were sleeping on the floor in the hallways with their life jackets on, close to emergency exits, where they had vessels on the side of the ship, emergency vessels, if they were going to empty the ship out. Two hundred passengers would embark in these vessels to set sail back to land.

S. O'BRIEN: You called your mom and dad to tell them what?

J. FRALEY: We thought it was it.

S. O'BRIEN: You were going to die?

J. FRALEY: We thought we...


J. FRALEY: We thought we were going to die.

S. O'BRIEN: What did they say? What did you say?

J. FRALEY: That we were in a bad storm, we didn't know the outcome, how we were going to, you know, make it out of there and that we loved them and...

G. FRALEY: They were praying for us and...

J. FRALEY: To pray for us.

S. O'BRIEN: What was your mother like on the phone? Was she in hysterics?


J. FRALEY: Frantic.

S. O'BRIEN: This is what the cruise line said. Norwegian Cruise Lines said: "The Norwegian Dawn experienced extremely rough weather, although the weather has become slightly calmer. At daybreak, the ship was hit by a freak wave that caused two windows to break in two different cabins." Close to what happened? Do you think it's an accurate description?

J. FRALEY: They're not telling you the story of what's inside...

G. FRALEY: What went on before that.

J. FRALEY: There was tables ripped out of the sheet rock. They were sheet rocked to the wall. They were ripped out. Ceramic tiles broken. Big screen TVs in bars that were -- that had fell and had fell out of the wall. They didn't tell you guys about the Jacuzzis on the 12th floor.

S. O'BRIEN: What happened to the Jacuzzis on the 12th floor?

J. FRALEY: I guess from the 70 foot wave that made the contact around 6:00, two Jacuzzis vanished. They're in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere.

S. O'BRIEN: Just fell into the water?

G. FRALEY: Yes, that's right. Bed were rocking back and forth.

S. O'BRIEN: You were originally supposed to go right to Miami and instead you went to the Bahamas.

Why -- you were, in fact, diverted, I know, a lot of times.

Why? Do you know?

J. FRALEY: When we got to the port, Norwegian didn't contact us -- neither did our travel agent -- in reference to the diversion. For some reason, they needed the ship back five hours early. We were supposed to spend two days in the Bahamas, one on their private island, one in Nassau. For some reason, the whole trip got diverted. We winded up spending one day in Port Canaveral, one day on their private island, day and a half in Miami and then back to New York.

S. O'BRIEN: A mess of a honeymoon. I'm sure it's no shock to hear that. You got -- well, the marriage, after that, gets a lot better. See, you've already been through the worst part now.

J. FRALEY: They haven't even contacted us to see if we were OK.

S. O'BRIEN: What are you going to do, sue?

J. FRALEY: We're going to contact an attorney. But it's not about that. We want -- we think that every passenger that was on board that ship should be given a full refund.

S. O'BRIEN: They haven't offered you any money?

J. FRALEY: Nothing.

S. O'BRIEN: Twenty-five...

J. FRALEY: Twenty-five percent off our next cruise.

S. O'BRIEN: And are you going to take another one?


J. FRALEY: Absolutely not.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, you guys truly, wedded bliss is much better than after this trip.

Thanks for talking to us about it.

J. FRALEY: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: I know you seem real shaken up still, so thanks for it.

We appreciate you coming in.

J. FRALEY: Thanks for having us.


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

M. O'BRIEN: Still to come, remembering the tragedy of the Oklahoma City bombing. One man reflects on how the attack changed his life, his family and the city he calls home.

Stay with us for more AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

Let's get right to the Question of the Day.

CAFFERTY: They have a way on those ships of telling if there's bad weather. I mean don't they have like radar and sonar and other things?

M. O'BRIEN: They've got everything...

S. O'BRIEN: They said that...

M. O'BRIEN: ... the radar, sonar...

CAFFERTY: They watch Chad or somebody.

M. O'BRIEN: They've got Chad Myers. They've got whatever they need.

S. O'BRIEN: We've got Chad.

CAFFERTY: So you know there's a storm. Why is this ship sailing around in the middle of this big storm, is my question? That's not the Question of the Day, it's just a question I have.

A growing number of public schools are starting something called snitch programs. Students are being paid to tattle on other students -- $100 for tips on drugs, theft, vandalism; up to $500 for tips on firearms. According to the "USA Today," some schools have had programs like this around since the '80s. But last month's school shooting in Red Lake, Minnesota has created renewed interest.

The question this morning is should students be paid to tell on their classmates?

Terry in North Carolina writes: "Civic responsibility and fidelity to the truth is not a commodity to be bought and sold. I would much rather have a few offenders slip through the cracks than raise another generation of rumor merchants."

Judi in Haddonfield, New Jersey: "Good classroom management, a strong discipline code with a documentation system supported by the administration, counseling services and programs like peer meditation go a long way to help the school day run smoothly. Schools teach values. This is not done with monetary incentives."

Andreas in Ann Arbor, Michigan writes: "We're living in a world far more dangerous than what I experienced in the 1980s. Kids are dumber, parents are busier, criminals are smarter. It is only fair that schools use students to police themselves."

And Jane in Lancaster, Ohio: "Isn't there enough" -- she doesn't like me today -- "Isn't there enough violence in schools today without you telling kids to beat up someone who would tell on another kid for bringing a gun to school or having knowledge of some type of violent act being considered? What are you, a moron today?"

S. O'BRIEN: Today?

CAFFERTY: Every day, Jane.

M. O'BRIEN: As today...

S. O'BRIEN: Well, the first person who wrote and said, "I would rather have a few offenders slip through the cracks," I mean when she says a few offenders, she's talking about like students who could potentially be opening fire in their high school. That's not a few offenders. That's, you know, people's lives could be saved.

M. O'BRIEN: And that is the wrinkle that changes things.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Because of the level of violence.

S. O'BRIEN: Absolutely.

M. O'BRIEN: Anyway.

S. O'BRIEN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). M. O'BRIEN: But there are other ways to stop that, do you think? Like starting at home?

CAFFERTY: Why was that...

M. O'BRIEN: What about parents?

CAFFERTY: Why was that ship sailing around in the middle of a storm? I don't -- that's -- I'm very...

S. O'BRIEN: That's tomorrow's Question of the Day. I'll be doing it.

CAFFERTY: ... very intrigued by that.

S. O'BRIEN: I'm going to look into it for you.

M. O'BRIEN: We've got to get them an Internet connection.

CAFFERTY: I mean if they turned on like the radio, 1010 WINS or something, they've got like the weather every 10 minutes on the ones.

S. O'BRIEN: They'd know the GWB was backed up.


S. O'BRIEN: All right.



M. O'BRIEN: All right.

Still to come, meet a multi-millionaire who should be ready to retire. He can retire any time he wants. So why, why oh why, is he this guy? Taking trains -- tickets on a train in New Jersey? We'll ask him, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



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