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Habemus Papam

Aired April 19, 2005 - 21:00   ET




LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI, the first German pope in centuries, elected only two days into the papal conclave.

Some have called him Pope John Paul II's enforcer on church doctrine. Is he the right choice to fill these enormous shoes? Our panel of experts debates. In Rome, John Allen, CNN Vatican analyst. He wrote the book on the new pope, literally, a biography of Cardinal Ratzinger. Father John Bartunek, a member of the Legionnaires of Christ. He met Pope John Paul II. Father Joseph Fessio, a close friend of the new pope. He studied under him to get his Ph.D. Plus, Father Michael Manning, Roman Catholic priest, host of the international program, "The Word in the World." And Paul Wilkes,'s special correspondent and expert on papal succession. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Let's start with Father John Bartunek in Rome, ordained a Roman Catholic priest just two years ago. A member of the Legionnaires of Christ. He wrote "Inside the Passion: A Behind-the-Scenes Look and Commentary" on Mel Gibson's movie.

What was your reaction to this selection?

FATHER JOHN BARTUNEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MEMBER, LEGIONNAIRES OF CHRIST: Well, my first reaction when it was confirmed that it was the white smoke, I was relieved that the conclave had reached a decision so quickly. You know, we were all kind of edge here with expectation, on pins and needles, waiting to see what would happen. But then, when, you know, we were waiting to see who it was going to be, and when Cardinal Ratzinger, Benedict XVI, came out onto the balcony, I was very pleased. I've had a chance to meet him personally, and a man who is a deep man of prayer and a man who really loves the church, and who knows about the issues of the church. So when he was smiling, I was smiling.

I was -- and I was also very pleased that the decision happened so quickly. It shows that the cardinals really were united in this, in this choice, in thinking that Benedict XVI will be able to kind of carry on the agenda that was set already by John Paul II. So there was a little bit of relief and a lot of excitement and eagerness to see what is going to happen next. Those are my reactions.

KING: In Rome is Paul Wilkes, special correspondent for, author of 18 non-fiction books, including "The Seven Secrets of Successful Catholics," and "Excellent Catholic Parishes: The Guide to the Best Places and Practices."

Paul, what was your reaction?

PAUL WILKES, BELIEFNET.COM SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you mentioned that second book of mine about the parishes. What I did after I saw who was going to be our next pope was I called some of my excellent parishes and talked to the pastors. And their reaction was a lot like mine, Larry, that this was a real crisis of imagination on the part of the cardinals. We had talked so much during the week about third world collegiality, a new voice for the church. And really, what the cardinals did, they went right back to the same old, same old. And this is the man that has been kind of the grim reaper in the Catholic Church and been this very strict guy on doctrine and liturgy.

See, I've been doing a dangerous thing lately. I've been reading the New Testament. And the Jesus I see in that is not the Jesus I've been seeing around here.

KING: Are you disappointed, Father Manning, as one of the American priests who we imagine expressed a lot of disaffection with this?

FATHER MICHAEL MANNING, HOST, "THE WORD IN THE WORLD": Well, I'm concerned about a lot of issues. And I'm hoping -- I was hoping in a strong way that the new man would be able to open it up, this topic of collegiality, the empowerment of local areas to be able to make decisions on their own and to be empowered. The place of women in the church, the empowerment of women. And I don't know what we're going to do about the problem with the lack of priests here. There were more -- there are more priests that die in the United States than are ordained.

KING: Do you expect him to be to the right of John Paul II?

MANNING: Well, you know, it's hard to say, because when you're the second man, you are always kind of yes, yes, yes, following the lead of where you came. And now I'm hoping for some surprises, that this brilliant man, this man of great prayer, this man of great humility, will open up some doors of real growth and answer some real significant questions that we have today.

KING: John Allen in Rome is Vatican correspondent for "The National Catholic Reporter," author of biography of the new pope, "Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith." He's also our CNN Vatican analyst. What's your read, John?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Hi, Larry. Well, I certainly would agree that Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, comes to this job with a bit of baggage. I mean, he's a man who, unlike most Vatican officials, he's actually been a celebrity during his career here in Rome. There was a 1986 book called "The Ratzinger Report," that was a runaway best-seller. He's a man whose very strong traditional positions are quite well-known. He's a hero to some and a villain to others.

But you know, the X factor in all of this, Larry, is that sometimes the job changes the man. Or more precisely, the job brings out qualities in the man that earlier positions did not.

I think one of the things, for those of us who know Ratzinger personally, there's always been this strong contrast between the sort of bruiser public image he has, and the man himself, who on one-to-one settings is kind, is gentle, is humble, gracious, has a good sense of humor. And I think it will be fascinating to watch whether those qualities are able now to shine through in this much more public role he now has as pope.

Remember, Ratzinger knows the way the church works. The job he's held has been the job of being the doctrinal policeman. The job he now has is to be everyone's pastor. And he doesn't want to be the pope just of a faction. He wants to be everyone's pope. The question is, can he pull it off? We'll have to wait and see.

KING: Father Joseph Fessio is in Naples, Florida. He studied under Cardinal Ratzinger in pursuit of his doctorate in theology. Considers the new pope his mentor and friend. He's chancellor of Ave Maria University and founder and editor of Ignatius Press, which has published Cardinal Ratzinger's books in the United States.

We've some heard criticism and some praise. Father, obviously you come from a very close position having studied under him. Tell us about him.

FATHER JOSEPH FESSIO, CHANCELLOR, AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY: Well, I agree with all those remarks made about his humility. He's a man of deep prayer. Certainly has a great intellect. Very open and transparent, Larry. He's written many of these books because he's gone into long conversations with journalists. And he answers any question put to him.

But after all is said and done, he's a Catholic, Larry. And Catholics believe that Jesus has given us the truth and we must preserve it and pass it on. He does that. John Paul II did that.

Yes, we do find some continuity here, because John Paul II brought Ratzinger to Rome in 1981 as his chief lieutenant, as it were, for doctrine. He's been there for 24 years, longer than any other head of a congregation. They saw each other at least once a week when the pope was in Rome. So he clearly knows the church's teaching, loves them, expresses them very beautifully, and I think we have a pope for our time.

The name Benedict, by the way, Larry, is very significant. Ratzinger is a man who understands symbol. Benedict was the father of Europe when the Rome, the (INAUDIBLE) was declining, it was corrupt from within, it was attacked from without. Benedict left Rome to pray, to worship God purely and wholeheartedly. Others joined him. Within a few centuries, there were 40,000 Benedictine monasteries across Europe, preserving Greek culture, Latin culture, educating the young people, making Europe what it was, a great source of literature and art and music and philosophy and theology.

And I believe that Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict, wants to try and reinvigorate Europe, wants to try and restore that sense of tradition and culture which has made it so great. And at the same time, he has a great love for the liturgy. One of our books is called "The Spirit of the Liturgy." And you'll see there that he believes in transformation not by coercion, not by revolution, not by some kind of violence, but rather from the heart. He wants people to pray, pray together, pray alone, but especially to worship God as God deserves.

So I think we're going to have a wonderful papacy where he builds on the legacy of John Paul II, and at the same time enriches it and makes it bear fruit.

KING: We'll be right back with more of our panel on this historic day. Don't go away.



JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 the 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.


KING: Joining our panel now, from Rome, is Sister Joan Chittister. Joan is executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality. She's an author and noted lecturer on women in the church and society, human rights, peace and justice, and is a columnist for

What are your thoughts of this selection, sister?

SISTER JOAN CHITTISTER, OSB, COLUMNIST, BELIEFNET.COM, EXEC. DIR., BENETVISION: Well, like everybody else, Larry, I can't say that I wasn't surprised. As John has said earlier in this broadcast, this is a name that has stirred a great deal of controversy in his other life. That is hard to ignore at this moment. I was expecting a more pastoral, a more open face to the church than this history brings us.

At the same time I must admit that as a woman I was deeply concerned. His latest document on women is disheartening. It shows a very limited awareness of the development of the woman's movement. I think he's going to have an awful lot to learn in this arena. He seems to think that feminism is monolithic. He doesn't seem to understand there's been an evolution.

But, at the same time, Larry, I myself am a Benedictine. Benedict of Nursia is our patron. If this pope, if Pope Benedict XVI, is really modeling himself after Benedict of Nursia, then we probably don't have as much to be concerned about as we carry tonight. Why? This was the great listener. Benedict of Nursia built his community by drawing answers from the trust in the community itself. And by the way, Benedict of Nursia, please remember, had a sister by the name of Scholastica, and he treated her as an equal. If he takes that model, this will be a healthy church.

KING: Father Bartunek, are you -- what do you make of his age, 78? That's the oldest pope in a long, long time.

BARTUNEK: Well, you know, it's one of those things that you really can't tell what's going to happen. When Leo XIII was elected, he was pretty old, and he ended up lasting, well, the second longest of all the popes. So, we don't know exactly what's going to happen.

I think the most important factor is that this man, you know, was a participant in the Second Vatican Council. He was an expert who was, you know, involved in that, in some of the documents there, in the working of that council. And then, the closest collaborator and the most recent in this great papacy of John Paul II. So he gives a great continuity to the things that have been happening to the church in the last 30, 40 years almost.

And I think that that -- so, the fact that he's older and has been through those changes and seen both sides of many issues, seen the results, good and bad, of some of the changes in the church in the last few decades, this gives him a unique perspective among all the cardinals, which is probably one of the reason why the cardinals were able to come to a decision so quickly. They saw in this man someone who is courageous and yet understanding, and a man of prayer and who has the same vision of what the church should be doing that John Paul II had. So, they were able to say, well, besides the fact that he's so well-known among the cardinals, and it's a real vote of confidence that they think he can give some continuity to what's been going on, and also move forward in the same ways and the same directions that John Paul II started moving.

KING: Paul Wilkes, can you clear up any of this story of him being a member of the Hitler Youth?

WILKES: Well, I think, this was perhaps a youthful excess. I don't think we should put too much stock in that. He was just a kid. It probably was, like, the rest of the guys are doing it and so am I.

I would like to bring up something about the two German cardinals that are in this, Larry. I was at a mass on Saturday night with Cardinal Kasper, and he said, the Catholic Church does not believe in cloning. We do not need to clone another version of John Paul II. He said we need a bold new vision. Ratzinger in his mass said, fundamentalism, we've got to stick to Catholic ways. I think this is kind of drawing a picture of a church that's only this big and not kind of open to the human experience.

Again, I spent a lot of time in parishes, and people in parishes, they innovate, they try different things. And the Ratzinger world has been one of control, boy, let's not go outside the edges there. And I think that that's something that we have to really, really, really be very careful about. Because that's where the growth in the church and the dynamism, it doesn't -- it isn't by uniformity. It's by innovation.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more right after these words. Don't go away.






KING: John Allen, in the Vatican, the National Catholic reporter, are you as concerned as Paul Wilkes is about this papacy?

ALLEN: Well, I think all kinds of people are going to bring concerns, Larry. Every time there's a transition in leadership, there's some concern about where it's going to go. But I guess my -- I'm of the mind that we need to give the pope a chance and see where he decides to take the church.

Let me come back to a point you asked earlier of Paul, about this business about the Hitler Youth. I think, what ought to be made clear about that, is that when Ratzinger was in the German equivalent of high school at the time, membership in the Hitler Youth was made compulsory. He and his brother were both enrolled. He actually then went to his instructor, and asked to be disenrolled. And so far we know, never took part in any activities.

He was later when he was in the seminary forcibly conscripted into the German Army, and spent a few months in an anti-aircraft battalion, guarding a plant outside Munich, and then he deserted. So, the point here is that there's absolutely no basis on the historical record that concluded that he had any affinity for the Nazis. Quite contrary, what we know of his family was that they were anti-Nazi. His father, who was a policeman in Bavaria, took a series of less significant appointments precisely to try to get away from the Nazis.

So, obviously, people are free to draw whatever conclusions they want about Ratzinger's public record. But I don't think there's any credible basis to say he has any secret affinities for national socialism.

KING: I'm glad you cleared that up.

Father Manning, do you have some of the same concerns that Mr. Wilkes has.

MANNING: I think I do. One of the things that I'm concerned about is the image. What's going to come across. And the one word that I hope he really comes across as a listener. There are so many people that could take him as this man that going say, well, you've got to do this, this, this. Well, that goes so far.

KING: He's called the "Rottweiler," what does that mean?

MANNING: Precisely. Well, it's that that's a dictatorial thing. But if he can really come with a -- now that he's -- now that he's the pastor and really be a listener, I think we can turn things around. I'm hoping that. That's what I'm looking for.

KING: Father Fessio, who studied under him, what kind of pope will he be?

FESSIO: First of all, Larry, he's already performed a miracle. We've seen it on your show. He got me to agree with Sister Joan Chittister, if he follows St. Benedict, he'll be a good listener. I agree with Father Manning too, he needs to listen. But you know something, I've know him for 33 years, I've never ever met a man who listens as well and as intently as Cardinal Ratzinger does. I've never heard him raise his voice, never heard him lose his temper. He's got a gentle sense of humor. But he always listens.

There are seminars with us poor students babbling forth, he'd listen for an hour and then he'd sum it up in one or two sentence. When he would be the synods, to be the relator or kind the being secretary, he'd listen and he'd put it all together in a beautiful German sentences, maybe one or two German sentences. In his office, the way he runs the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, you can ask the staff there, he's very, very consultative.

So, there's no one more collegial than Cardinal Ratzinger or Benedict. He will be a great blessing in that area. Also, I just have one regret, Larry, I had to come here pretty quickly, I didn't bring my red suspenders.

ZAHN: By the way. By the way, Father Fessio, he is, though, with all those things, very doctrinaire, is he not?

FESSIO: I wouldn't say doctrinaire. I'd say he's well educated. He knows the faith. He love literature, plays the piano. He's a great musician. So, he's widely cultured and educated. But he also knows what the Catholic Church teaches. He's the one with Cardinal Schoenborn, put together the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Which is a wonderful document, which gathers together all of the beautiful teachings of the Catholic Church. I mean, we believe in our religion revealed by God. And therefore we have to show it great honor and respect. That's not being doctrinaire, that's being faithful.

KING: Does he speak English well? FESSIO: You know, not really well. But it's gotten better over the years. When we first met, he spoke German, I spoke very little. We spoke in French together, because he speaks very fluid French. And then as my German got better, his English got better. And we used to try experimenting, when I would talk in English, he'd talk in German. When we started that, he always went back into English. He can speak English quite well. You can interview him sometime, you'd be happy.

KING: I'll take it tomorrow. Sister Chittister, is it -- is it true that some people rise to the office. Harry Truman was considered a lack luster senator, and a great president?

CHITTISTER: I think there's absolutely no doubt about that, and my hope lies in that. To be the enforcer in one administration, is not a necessary evaluation of the pastor in another administration. The fact of the matter is that a pope in this period, is not just a pope for Catholics. This is a pope who has spoken. He's following a pope who has spoken and been the word of God to every denomination on this earth. Everybody is watching us.

He is the pastor, the one who stands in the place of Jesus, who said to everyone, Roman soldiers, tax collectors, samaritan women, you come, you come. Not, you're not right. Not you are not wanted here. If this cardinal/pope can become the pastor who is present to this globe, open. If he listens more than simply hears, then this is a great new moment. And we must allow that moment to evolve. And yet, my fear is that, as John said earlier, there are going to be a lot of people tonight who are watching to see precisely what you're implying. Will the baggage from one position be able to be shed before the role of another position.

KING: Before John Allen leaves us, when is the invocation, if that's the right word, John?

ALLEN: Well, the new pope inauguration mass, Larry, will be on Sunday. Now, before that, we know that tomorrow morning -- of course, he's invited the cardinals -- well, invited -- he's asked the cardinals to stay with him tonight in the Casa Santa Marta for dinner. Tomorrow morning he'll have a mass at 9:00 a.m. in the Sistine Chapel, which we believe is going to be televised. But the full inauguration mass to begin his service as the successor of Peter, will be Sunday morning here in Rome.

KING: Thank you, John. John Allen, we'll be checking in with you a lot. Delia Gallagher will come in -- replacing John as we come back. We'll also be including your calls in the next half hour. The rest of the panel remains. Don't go away.


KING: A shot of the Vatican on an historic morning in Rome. Joining us now -- the panel remains -- John has left -- Delia Gallagher, the managing editor of "Inside the Vatican," a CNN Vatican analyst. What's your read on all of this, Delia?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Larry, I think certainly the name says it all, Benedict, and Sister Joan said it earlier that St. Benedict was a great listener. And my personal experience here at the Vatican is that Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, is also a very good listener. And one of the points we've been bringing out is that the personal side of Cardinal Ratzinger is often different from his public image and his role as the defender of the faith.

Now, he's moving into this role as pope. And I can tell you that in the good old days of the pontificate of John Paul II, when things were a bit more calm here before the frenzy set in, you could see Cardinal Ratzinger just walking across the square early in the morning. I'd come down on my scooter and have my helmet on, and I'd beep at him and say, "Your Eminence." And he sort of stopped and looked and he came over, and he knocked on my helmet, and he says, "I didn't recognize you with your helmet on." Very -- he has a very heavy German accent when he speaks English, but he is a man who, I think, has those pastoral qualities. Whether they can come out now as pope remains to be seen, but I think certainly they are there. Maybe not in the same sense as John Paul II. We won't see the big jamborees maybe of John Paul II, but he's got some of those qualities.

KING: Delia, does the nickname Rottweiler scare you?

GALLAGHER: No. Cardinal Ratzinger is not a scary man, personally. He is a very gentle, humble man. I can't say that enough.

KING: How did he get that name then?

GALLAGHER: However -- well, well, the Rottweiler comes from the fact that he's had to work in this role as the defender of the faith, if you will. And I mean, he is an intellectual. He is a man who is tenacious. He's tenacious about defending the Catholic faith and his understanding of receiving this tradition and having to translate it for the modern world. And that's going to be a continuing theme in this papacy. That's the fundamental fact that he feels he needs to get across, is maintaining this Catholic truth, which he has received in the name of the Catholic Church, that is, against the modern world. That's what he's been talking about in all of his homilies leading up to this election.

KING: Let's include some calls for our panel. They're all assembled. Auburn, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi there, Larry. Hey, my understanding...

KING: Auburn, are you there? Auburn?

CALLER: Larry, I'm here. Can you hear me?

KING: Yeah, go ahead.

CALLER: OK. My understanding of Catholic theology is that the pope is Christ's vicar on Earth. And what these cardinals just went through is rally letting Chris pick through them who, you know, the next man on Earth is for God. And so my question is, assuming there's no change in this theology, what is God telling Catholicism through Benedict XVI? All I hear people saying is listen -- will he listen, will he listen? How about isn't God saying, listen to me, this is the man I chose?

And the second question then is, if you disagree with this pope on his major doctrines, aren't you really ultimately disagreeing with the sovereign God?

KING: Father Bartunek, what is the story on that? Does he speak for God?

BARTUNEK: Well, the Catholic Church believes that God has chosen to work through people in order to spread the faith, and to work through the leaders of the church. And he's definitely present there, the one guiding the conclave and guiding the cardinals.

Now, however, we have to understand that the Holy Spirit doesn't dictate everything. You know, there have been mediocre popes in the past. There have been very bad popes in the past. So he gives room for us to make our decisions and to have an influence.

At the same time, however, I think the second part of the question was very interesting. You know, we talk a lot about hoping for a big change in the church, and you know, no pope can reinvent the Catholic Church. No pope can reinvent the gospel. It's there. It's not -- popes don't change policies. They're leaders who try to find better ways to bring the truth of the gospel to more people.

And so, you know, if we're hoping for a new -- a new gospel or a new church, that's not going to happen. But at the same time, I think that the fact that these cardinals agreed so quickly shows that I think they were in tune with the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit -- you know, what John Paul II contributed to the church was great. My own vocation came through his own influence. And he's inspired so many young people. And I think that the Holy Spirit was telling us something even during the days of the funeral, and that this man who has worked so closely with John Paul II through the next years is the next pope, I think going in the same direction, there's a lot of hope there. There is a lot of light there.

KING: Detroit, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I guess being a Catholic and also being an amateur historian of the Holocaust, I have to ask, couldn't we have let this generation of Germans pass into history without elevating them to be Christ's representative on Earth?

KING: Father Fessio, his point is, this is part of a generation that Germany's not very proud of.

FESSIO: That's absolutely right. But one thing the pope learned while he was in Germany and in Europe was that the 19th century attempt to raise man's life and dignity by denying God, that is what was called the drama of atheist humanism, was a failure. To leave God out of our lives is to invite destruction and the debasement of human culture. It leads to fascism, it leads to national socialism, it leads to communism. It leads to the bloodiest century of all history.

So Pope Benedict knows that. And that's one reason that he stands so firmly for the truth.

Larry, he's not doctrinaire. He will die for the truths he believes in. And you know, people really flocked around John Paul II, as they rightly should have, but not just because he was a great actor or rock star. Pope John Paul II, as Ratzinger so beautifully expressed it in the homily at the funeral, said yes to God at every turn in his life. He's a man who found the truth, lived the truth, communicated it even in our society which is skeptical about the truth. In the human heart, there's a desire for something which is beautiful and good and ultimately true. And when John Paul spoke, they knew, this man believes what he says. This man is living what he believes. We love that. We respond to that.

And so who came to that funeral? All the saints? No. All the ordinary Catholics and non-Catholics who struggle with their lives, who have concerns about their families, about their society. But they saw in Pope John Paul II a man who lived the truth.

They're going to find the same thing in Benedict XVI.

KING: We'll be right back with more and more phone calls. Don't go away.


KING: We're back. By the way, Sister Chittister is a reporter for the "National Catholic Reporter," writes for the "National Catholic Reporter."

Monroe, California. Hello.

CALLER: Oh, this is Monroe, Louisiana.

KING: Oh, Lousi -- they said California. Louisiana, go ahead.

CALLER: I'm a traditional Catholic. With our new Holy Father being so conservative and, notably concerning the liturgy of the mass, my question to the panel is, do you believe that our new Holy Father will foster a more -- a widespread availability of the pre-Vatican II mass here in the U.S., or at least more to Latin or Gregorian chant in our novus ordo mass?

KING: Paul Wilkes, what do you think?

WILKES: Well, I happen to love Gregorian chant and spent time at a Trappist monastery. But you know, we had a revolutionary thing in our church called Vatican II, in which we took the mass, the beautiful Latin mass, and made it into the vernacular, so that real people could say it along with the priest. And I hope that we move in that direction.

There's nothing wrong with the Latin mass, but I think our caller is one of those Catholics that wants to pull our church backward instead of forward. These -- these -- those of us who lived in that church before Vatican II know how kind of restrictive it was. And then came this wonderful kind of Prague-spring of Vatican II that was so wonderful, and the outpouring of grace, and people getting excited about Catholicism. That happened. And I think we ought to pursue that direction.

KING: Do you agree, Father Manning?

MANNING: I do. I do. Very much so. I think that we're on the verge of something that can be very great. I am concerned, though, that, when I've read about Cardinal Ratzinger, he did want to go back to the Latin...

KING: He did?

MANNING: ...and he likes the traditional...

KING: Could he ordain that?

MANNING: Oh, he certainly could.

KING: He could say -- and then you would have to conduct a mass in Latin.

MANNING: He could. The problem is that he couldn't do it in light of the cardinal in the church and the direction of Second Vatican Council. That wouldn't do it. But the permission to do that...

KING: But he could. He couldn't, but he could.

MANNING: He couldn't but he could.

KING: Chester -- who could say no? -- Chesterfield Township, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry, being that the pope is older, does anybody know about his health and stamina right now and, you know...

KING: Father Fessio, what kind of health is he in?

FESSIO: Larry, he's in good health. He's had some problems in the past. He had a little collusion of the eye when he fell in the bathroom once. He's not an athlete like John Paul II. He's more a musician and a scholar. He's got a very sturdy, robust health. So, I'm hoping and praying that he'll have many years of faithful service.

I want to say one thing, Larry, about Vatican II, too -- there's kind of a myth here. The Pope Benedict -- I've seen him celebrate the mass in English. He does that beautifully. But Vatican II actually did not call for an anti-Gregorian chant, in fact, it said specifically, the Gregorian chant should have the pride of place in the Catholic liturgy. Vatican II did not abolish Latin. In fact, it said specifically that Latin should remain the language of the mass with some vernacular for the readings especially. So, to claim that Second Vatican Council was responsible for abolishing Latin or for abolishing Gregorian chant is simply misunderstanding the council at which Ratzinger was present helping the people that wrote those documents.

KING: Delia, as with John XXIII, are there people there saying this might be an interim pope?

FESSIO: Well, sure.

GALLAGHER: Well, uh...

KING: I asked it of Delia. Go ahead.

FESSIO: Oh, I'm sorry.

GALLAGHER: Yes, I think that there is that idea that is this a sort of transitional decision by the cardinals, in one sense to prolong the papacy of John Paul II and the legacy which Cardinal Ratzinger had a lot to do with.

However, I wonder about that sort of analysis, because I don't think there's very much transitional about Cardinal Ratzinger. I think this is a confirmation of somebody who is very firm in creating a papacy which will go in new directions, not necessarily directions that a lot of people expect. But I don't think that there's not going to be a sense of creativity in this papacy. I mean, Cardinal Ratzinger is one of the outstanding intellectuals of the church and one of the outstanding men since Vatican II. So I don't see in any way that this is just a kind of holding pattern for the church.

KING: We'll be right back with more, and more phone calls. Don't go away.


KING: We're back. Port Richey, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi, good evening, Larry.


CALLER: This question is for Father Fessio. Father, do you know if the holy father's brother is also a priest?

FESSIO: Yes, his brother is a priest and he was the choir director of the famous Domspatzen Choir in Regensburg, which is a children's choir in Regensburg.

KING: And he also didn't want him to take this post?

FESSIO: Probably not, and you know, Cardinal Ratzinger made a great sacrifice. He wants to write theology. He's a wonderful scholar. He loves research. For years he wanted to leave Rome and go back to writing and studying, but the pope asked him to stay, and he did, and he was hoping now, finally, he could go to Bavaria and kind of relax and do the work he want to do. But he made a great sacrifice for the church. KING: How many languages does he speak, Father?

FESSIO: Well, he speaks English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, but I don't know what else.

KING: Manteca, California. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. I just want to know, after the mass that Cardinal Law celebrated the other night, I was so sick over that. I want to know how seriously the Vatican takes this whole scandal that's gone on in this country? It's almost like they just schlepped him out of this country and took him over there and gave him a posh position, and I was sick over it. Do they take this seriously at all?

KING: Sister Chittister, what about Cardinal Law?

CHITTISTER: Well, there's no doubt that that's a great issue in the United States. And it makes a point that I'd like to go back to. There are some things going on in this conversation itself that concern me. For instance, indeed the pope is the vicar of Christ, but the pope is not the church, the church is the church, and the Holy Spirit works through all of us.

We're hearing that that kind of concern come from the United States. It does deserve some sort of response. We're hearing that the pope cannot change policy. The fact of the matter is that policies change all the time in the church; it's the faith that doesn't change.

At one time, the Roman Catholic Church taught that charging interest on money was a mortal sin. That's no longer obviously the case. That theology and that practice, that policy has evolved.

What has not evolved is the church's concern for the just distribution of resources and our relationships with one another.

When this woman says, did the church take this material or this issue seriously? Obviously, the church took it very seriously. People everywhere are concerned, bishops everywhere are concerned, priests are very concerned. And I have no doubt that the Vatican too is also concerned.

Now, that there should have been a conversation, that there could be a conversation that would link all these arenas in the church and show us the Holy Spirit working everywhere, is an important part of that early definition about listening. We're going to have to hear the cries of the church and respond to them in ways that honor the Holy Spirit working in all of us.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with some more moments and more phone calls. Don't go away.


KING: In case you're just joining us, that was the Vatican. Ottawa, Ontario. Hello. CALLER: Since the pope is the bishop of Rome, why do the cardinals vote for the supreme pontiff instead of the bishop of Rome? The supreme pontiff was an old pagan title, and why did the church take it away from my pre-Christian ancestors? I resent that.

KING: Paul? An angry viewer. Let's ask Father Fessio.

FESSIO: Well, yes, pontiff comes from the Latin word "pontifex," which means a builder of a bridge. And of course, the Catholic Church doesn't destroy culture; it ennobles and elevates culture. So just as it did with the Greeks and the Romans, it did with the Roman religion. It took their priesthood, their pontifex, their pontiff, and gave it a whole new meaning, a whole new level.

So the pope, papa, father, is also the builder of a bridge between Earth and heaven, with man and man and women and women. So he takes the name because he fulfills the name.

KING: Delia, on Sunday at that mass when he is -- the invocation, does he make a major speech?

GALLAGHER: Yes, he'll give a homily, as he will presumably tomorrow in the Sistine Chapel, if we're able to view that. So there will be two important speeches coming from Pope Benedict XVI, the first of his papacy to be looking out for, some indications of where he intends to go with this church in the future.

KING: Boise, Idaho. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. I just want to say, being a young Catholic I really find this coverage of the death of our Holy Father Pope John Paul II and the election of our new Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, massively interesting. I really like it. Thank you to the members of the media.

To my question, though, doesn't anyone think that such a gentle- seeming, kind humanist might take a bit more moderate stance as the Holy Father as opposed to the stance he took as the Rottweiler cardinal?

KING: Father Bartunek, what do you think?

BARTUNEK: Well, yeah, I definitely think, you know, he could definitely do that. He could take a totally different approach. He has a different role now in the church. And it's been mentioned earlier.

And I think he's very well aware of that as well. You know, he was a pastor before he came to work in the curia, up in Germany, so he has that experience. He knows what it's like to be a bishop, to be an archbishop, to be -- you know, that kind of a pastoral role. And I think we'll see that.

It has been mentioned also tonight, and my own experience has been that he really is that kind of a gentle man, a very kind man, with a good sense of humor. I think one clue that he's already given to us is a point that he mentioned in his homily the other night -- the other day before the conclave began that hasn't been discussed very much. He emphasized the primacy of love in the legacy of John Paul II and for the church. Love -- the love of God for us and our love in return. And I think that really in his own writings, that's really the key as well to his own life, focusing on receiving God's love and then spreading and sharing that love.

And that's why he also emphasized the importance of going forth to bear fruit. So I think that he's not going to be someone who pulls back. He's going to continue what John Paul II started, of bringing the love of God, the love of Christ, the message of Christ into the city squares and to the city streets. And I think that's going to be a priority for him, as he mentioned the other day in his homily.

KING: Father Manning, are you optimistic?

MANNING: I am optimistic. I'm filled with the Holy Spirit coming with a mighty way with him, and I really am looking forward to this being a pastoral experience for him, opening up the world and hearing perhaps the voices of people in different ways than he's heard in the past. And I'm hoping that he is going to open up with great, great, great action.

KING: Father Fessio, do you think we'll see a pope who will be interviewed in the media?

FESSIO: Oh, absolutely, I'm sure he will. He always has been.

KING: So he'll be -- Delia, that should be encouraging to us and anyone around the world in this business.

GALLAGHER: Well, yeah, we're looking forward to it here, Larry. I think that he will be fairly open. Maybe not initially. He's got a lot to do in the first instance, but our experience has been that he is generally open to talking to the press. And how the rapport will work out exactly we're not sure, because he's not Pope John Paul II, who had that immediate charisma, but I think in his own manner, in his slow and gentle way, he will be able to have a good relationship with the media.

KING: Thank you all very much. Delia Gallagher, Father John Bartunek, Sister Joan Chittister, Father Joseph Fessio, Father Michael Manning and Paul Wilkes, on this day in which -- second day of the conclave, a pope was selected.

Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, we'll look back on the -- we'll look at the current occurrences -- there seems to be something big occurring every day -- at the Jackson trial. And we'll have a major panel on that and include your phone calls.

And let's check in now with New York. It's nice to talk to him again. He's been kind of in and around. He's in New York! It's novelty night!

AARON BROWN, HOST, "NEWSNIGHT": Where will I be tomorrow?

KING: Here.

BROWN: Yeah.

KING: That's right. And I'll see you...

BROWN: Dinner. 8:00 o'clock.

KING: Thursday.

BROWN: No, Wednesday.

KING: Oh, it's Wednesday?

BROWN: Yeah.

KING: Oh, good, I'm glad you told me.

BROWN: Thank you, Mr. King.

KING: You can't make it at 8:00; you get off at 8:00.

BROWN: I'll be there.

KING: OK, I'll see you.


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