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The Pope Resigns; Electing a New Pope; Pope Benedict XVI's Legacy
Aired March 1, 2013 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program, a look back from Rome at an extraordinary week of change in the Roman Catholic Church.
On Thursday, as the sun set over the Vatican and to the sound of the bells of St. Peter ringing over Rome, a white helicopter ferried Pope Benedict XVI away from one of the most powerful seats in the world, to Castel Gandolfo, the traditional papal summer residence and Benedict's temporary retirement home for the next several months.
From the balcony of Castel Gandolfo, Benedict made his last public papal pronouncement, blessing everyone and declaring his papacy over a full 2.5 hours before his retirement officially went into effect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENEDICT XVI, POPE EMERITUS (through translator): It is I am no longer the pope. But I'm still in the church. I'm just a pilgrim who is starting the last part of his pilgrimage on this Earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now the church must choose a successor and he -- for it will be a he -- will face a full docket navigating Roman Catholics through opportunities that lie ahead, but also through what Benedict himself called stormy waters, the financial and sex abuse scandals that have rocked the church, reaching right up to the highest levels of the Vatican.
After saying his own goodbye to the pope, New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan prepared to enter seclusion along with the other cardinal electors, who will choose the next pope. And before he did, I sat down with him here in Rome to talk about that, about what the next pope will face and about whether it's time for an American pope.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, ARCHBISHOP OF N.Y.; PRESIDENT, U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS: It's good to be with you. I appreciate the invitation. Thanks for your interest in all these events.
AMANPOUR: We are very interested and, you know, the whole world is interested in what transpires here because a pope is not just the head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, but whatever he says and does affects Catholics and non-Catholics.
Let me ask you first -- we showed for the world the meeting of the cardinals with the pope today. You were amongst them, obviously. You were able to get some last-minute face time with this pope.
What was it like for you? What did you say to him?
DOLAN: It was very touching. And I don't mind admitting that it was kind of somber; it was kind of sad. I love him. We call him our Holy Father. I'll miss him. And that dawned on me today that that's the last time I'll see him as the pope.
This morning, Christiane, when I -- like every other priest in the world, when I offered mass and its tradition is, you know, during the mass, the most important prayer of the mass you say for Benedict our pope -- and I stopped because I thought that's the last time I'll say that.
So there was a touch of sadness there. He was -- first of all, I would tell you that seeing him yesterday at the audience -- you were there -- and seeing him today, it dawned on me how fragile he is. I was privileged to be with him for almost a month in October during what's called the synod of bishops.
And I could see that he had aged a bit, but, boy, oh boy, he still seemed to be very strong, very alert, very spry.
But yesterday and again today I saw that he was very, very frail. He didn't speak long. It was kind of a fraternal, informal meeting, the College of Cardinals and himself. He only spoke for maybe six or seven minutes.
I was extraordinarily moved, Christiane, when he said -- now you think about this; I don't know why I was surprised -- but when he said I look forward to giving my allegiance and my complete obedience to my successor.
AMANPOUR: I was precisely going to ask you about that, because he looked out and he said, "One of you perhaps -- "
DOLAN: One of you will be the next pope and I look forward to -- and I thought, my, oh my, now he -- now he will have a pope. He will have a Holy Father. And that was very moving to me to know that the life of the church goes on. Jesus provides for his church. There will be a new occupant to the chair of Peter.
When I went up, Christiane, you were kind enough to ask about the personal meeting. And I went up and, I, first of all, I started to introduce myself and he said, "Oh, I know who you are," and he called me by name. I like that when the boss knows your name.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Yes, indeedy.
DOLAN: And then I said, "Holy Father, can I just tell you I love you very much and I thank you. And I'm praying with you and for you and I speak on behalf of all the people of the Archdiocese of New York."
And he said to me, "Well, I thank you." And he said "I remember my visit to New York."
AMANPOUR: Well, that's wonderful.
DOLAN: So it was -- it was very moving, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: That is wonderful. And, of course I need to ask you now, in that vein, are you going to be the next pope? You are on many people's lists of frontrunners.
DOLAN: Well, I've been on my mom's list for a while. But I don't know how many other lists that I've been on.
But I don't think so. As you know -- you're a pro -- that's tough for us to talk about and it's uncomfortable to talk about. I'm flattered that you would even think that, but I don't think that's a possibility.
AMANPOUR: You have used extremely colorful language, in fact, to play that down. I think you said, you know, that you might be smoking marijuana or something.
DOLAN: I said people who say that might be drinking too much grappa or smoking marijuana.
They asked me today, and they said, "Do you have a chance to follow Pope Benedict?"
I said "I've got a better chance following A-Rod at third base for the Yankees than following Benedict XVI as the bishop of Rome."
And I mean that. I'm flattered that people think that, but I wouldn't bet the house payment on it.
AMANPOUR: So who do you think might be -- and I know you're not going to tell me a name -- but what kind of personality do you think the cardinals are thinking of right now at this point in the process?
DOLAN: You're asking the right question. What qualities do you look for? I've never been through this before, OK? I'm still a rookie for a conclave, so I -- there's no -- there's no rule book or anything. There's no guide book as to what to look for.
I say this, Christiane, with all the sincerity I can muster, but knowing that some people will dismiss this as being overly pietistic, I mean it when you say you look for a man who reminds you of Jesus. Now every Christian is supposed to do that, OK, but in a particularly radiant and personal way, the pope is supposed to remind us of Jesus. We call him the Vicar of Christ.
So when we see him, we're immediately elevated to the things beyond, to the eternal truth and to the man who described himself as the truth, Jesus Christ. So we need somebody to remind us of Jesus. That's sort of the -- what you might call the supernatural characteristics that you look of -- look for.
St. Thomas says grace builds on nature. What are the natural characteristics that we're looking for?
Well, you need -- you need a good pastor, OK? Somebody who's good with people, like Jesus was. You need somebody who is thoroughly versed in the tradition and the profound theology of the -- of our Catholic wisdom.
Number three, you need somebody savvy about the church universal, who kind of is aware and conscious of the diverse needs of the Catholic family.
Number four, you need somebody who can get by in at least English, Italian and preferably some other languages, too.
And number -- where am I? What -- ?
AMANPOUR: Five, six.
DOLAN: Whatever; five -- seven sacraments, seven. Let's do that.
What -- you need somebody with some governing capacity, some managerial skills.
I would presume those are the -- those are the qualities --
DOLAN: -- we'd look for.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you, if you were pope -- you've said you won't be -- but what would you do the very first day on the throne of St. Peter? What is the big challenge right now for the Catholic Church?
DOLAN: If I were elected pope, the first thing, I'd say get Christiane in here for an interview. We'd --
AMANPOUR: Apart from that -- oh, that is a good -- I can't believe I nearly let that go.
DOLAN: (Inaudible) --
AMANPOUR: Yes, please tell the next pope that that's exactly what should happen.
Look, we are in a state of some turmoil, I think that would be fair to say --
DOLAN: Sure it is.
AMANPOUR: -- in the Catholic Church; American Catholics are fairly divided on which way the church should go. Should it stay in the very conservative traditional mode? Should it be more progressive, more liberal?
And then, of course, what we have is this -- is this sex abuse scandal that has rocked your church, our church, for the last 12 years.
DOLAN: Sure. The turmoil that we see in the church today, not new. We've had tension, we've had turmoil in the church since the beginning. We've got it today.
It's probably more glaring today because the church is under such intense scrutiny because of what we're going through now: a call to purity, heroic virtue, sanctity, especially when it would come to what you mentioned, the terribly nauseating and painful episode of clergy sexual abuse.
We have to remind ourselves that that happened not because of the church's teaching; that happened because church teaching, what's best in the church, was not listened to and obeyed. This was a complete denial of everything that -- good and decent, noble and honorable that the church stands for.
We're going to have to work, Christiane, on the renewal of the sacrament of marriage. That's the great vocation crisis today, isn't it?
AMANPOUR: We -- you talk --
DOLAN: People -- our Catholic people aren't getting married. And the ones that are, aren't able, for some reason, to obey what we believe marriage is all about.
AMANPOUR: You talk about marriage and, in fact, in a new poll done by the Pew Institute, about 58 percent of American Catholics believe that the next pope should start talking about allowing Catholic priests to marry.
Do you think that's a possibility?
DOLAN: That he might start talking about it?
AMANPOUR: And should it happen?
DOLAN: Or that it should happen?
AMANPOUR: Should it and would he?
DOLAN: He -- I would say he might talk about it and think about it, but I don't think it's going to happen. I think the past popes have listened and spoken about it and talked about it. So it's not going to be new.
It startles me sometimes, they say why won't -- why won't -- why doesn't church talk about married priests? I think we talk about it -- I can't get my haircut without my barber asking me about married priests. I mean, every --
AMANPOUR: I'm sure there's a lot of talk --
DOLAN: -- everybody talks about it.
AMANPOUR: You don't think it's going to go anywhere in terms of --
DOLAN: I don't think he would on that one. I don't think there would be that kind of change. Well, you know, this is what's difficult to understand, because we -- and I include myself in this -- usually think of leadership models in an earthly managerial way.
So whenever you have a new leader, whether that be the President of the United States, whether that be the CEO of CNN, what are they talking about, what changes do I want to make?
For a pope, the mission statement is to conserve, in the best sense of the word. His job description is to -- is to conserve, to preserve the patrimony of the church, I mean the spiritual patrimony of the church, the timeless teaching as passed on to us from Jesus to his apostles through 2,000 years of the church.
Now, that doesn't mean that he might not change the way it's presented. But to tamper with the immutable teachings of the church, he wouldn't see that as his role. He would see it as his sacred responsibility to preserve that.
AMANPOUR: What do you think -- and again, this is all part of how Catholics view their hierarchy now. I mean, Catholics are expected to -- and they are preached to by bishops, priests, cardinals, the pope -- to live a very, you know, life according to the rules of the Catholic Church. And yet Catholics have watched many of their priests -- and we touched on this briefly -- violate those rules.
DOLAN: Oh, yes.
AMANPOUR: What does have to happen in this church to bring Catholics back to being able to respect their prelates?
DOLAN: Sure. There has to be -- there has got to be a recovery and a renewal of purity and holiness and virtue in the life of the church. You know what Pope Paul VI said, he was -- he died, remember, in '78.
But he said modern men and women learn much more by witness than by words. So he said what you just said, that very often the way we do things, the way we live has more of an impact than what we're saying.
And if what we say doesn't gel with how we're living, it's counterproductive. Right? So --
AMANPOUR: You know, 63 percent or so of American Catholics look at this sex abuse scandal in the priesthood and they say that Pope Benedict XVI -- although he instituted zero tolerance, he met with abuse victims, he apologized -- did only a poor to fair job of dealing with it.
And I want to ask you yourself, because you've had to deal with all of this; you were deposed in New York --
DOLAN: Last Wednesday --
AMANPOUR: -- last Wednesday.
AMANPOUR: You were the Archbishop of Milwaukee and one of the most egregious violations happened there.
DOLAN: Before my time.
AMANPOUR: Father Lawrence Murphy (ph) -- before your time. Many would say that you did your best to try to account for that.
DOLAN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: But others would say also, the critics, that, you know, you didn't allow the names of the abusers to be made public. Some would say that, you know, some of the desires to bring in an independent litigator may have, you know, prevented some of the money, some of the reparations and settlements going to the victims.
What do you say about all of that, since you had to be deposed about that?
DOLAN: I was deposed about that and grateful that I was. I have been -- I had said two years ago, please come, I want to tell the story and the deposition went rather well.
By the way, the deposition was about the fact that I did reveal the names, so that's something I did that they agreed with.
In fact, the victims said do that, please, and we did.
We have to remember, Christiane, that there are certain groups that are never going to be happy with what we've done, OK? All I can tell you is that, even though in the past the Catholic Church was a model of what not to do in this, I would maintain that today the Catholic Church is a model of what to do. And I'm not bragging about that; that would be self- serving.
Outside independent people tell us this, that now the church is doing it right, OK? So we could dwell on the past. We could go back decades and decades and decades of this nauseating abuse or we can say mea culpa for that; we have learned from it and now, thanks be to God, there is a rigor and a renewal and a responsibility in the church that is laudable and exemplary.
And I think that is 100 percent true.
You mentioned a good point, though, Christiane, that we can't seem to get that news out --
AMANPOUR: Would you say a lot of effort needs to go into, you know, finally calling to account and stopping, not just the abuse but the hiding, the shielding of the abusers, which is another big complaint?
DOLAN: I think we've done it. My Lord, if we're -- if we're trying to hide abusers, we're sure doing an awful job, because every day it's on the front page of the newspaper, so --
AMANPOUR: From before, holding people accountable, from having tried to shield them before? You know there was a huge controversy and there remains a controversy of Cardinal Mahony.
DOLAN: Cardinal Roger Mahony, the archbishop of Los Angeles.
AMANPOUR: Indeed, coming here. He had also been deposed. There were thousands and thousands of pages of documents that his own archbishop said made terribly painful reading, the consistent shielding of priests from any kind of accountability.
DOLAN: Yes, from decades ago.
DOLAN: I think as a church we've said that was a wrong thing to do, should never --
AMANPOUR: So you're confident that there will be zero tolerance?
DOLAN: (Inaudible) we can never -- we can never let up and we can never forget it and we can never say oh, thank God that's over, let's move on.
It's constantly got to be before our eyes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, I'll talk to the journalist who wrote the book on Pope Benedict. I'll ask Marco Politi where the church goes from here and who is likely to lead it.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. A historic week here in Rome; Benedict XVI has officially transitioned in his own words, "from pope to pilgrim," right before our eyes. Now 1.2 billion Catholics and the rest of the world are watching to see who will quite literally fill the pope's red shoes.
Journalist Marco Politi is a close observer of the Vatican. He's the author of a biography on Pope Benedict in which he actually foresaw the possibility that Benedict might resign. He's the ideal person to help us reflect on these remarkable events.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, Marco.
MARCO POLITI, AUTHOR: Hello, good evening.
AMANPOUR: Good to see you. You just heard what Cardinal Dolan was saying to me; you've been witnessing all of this. What are your reflections today as the pope flies off into retirement?
POLITI: Well, it's really a turning point in the history of Catholic Church, because in the past, if popes were deposed or even killed, it was just a personal happening. There came a new pope, a triumphant pope and the papacy was as it was.
But today, flying away, Pope Benedict left the Catholic Church and especially the papacy in a sort of after-earthquake situation because the sense, the essence of the papacy is changing. With his humble gesture, he puts a break in the tradition when popes were semi-divine, eternal emperors, like emperors of the Roman Empire and they were forever. They were absolute monarchs.
And he has changed the -- just with few words, the sense of the papacy, because he said the pope is a servant. The real head is Jesus Christ. And if a servant is not no more ready to do his job, then it's better that he leaves a place to another one.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you this, because there have been a lot of questions and particularly by Catholics who may want to see slight opening up in various directions, the kinds of things like allowing Catholic priests to marry.
I mean, let's face it, there is kind of a double standard right now because Anglican priests, who the Catholics need so badly to fill their diminishing ranks, are coming in with families. In any event, all of these kinds of things, even women ascending to the top ranks of priesthood and other managerial ranks in the Catholic Church.
Since the -- since this pope has now set this precedent, do you think it means that these others are no longer taboo, that perhaps other precedents can be broken in this regard?
POLITI: Well, first of all, resigning, Pope Benedict opened the way to a greater accountability, even of the popes to the public opinion and to the public opinion of the Catholics.
We had here an unprecedented happening that a cardinal who was ready to enter the conclave, Cardinal O'Brien from Edinburgh, had to resign because it came out that he was accused allegedly to have inappropriate relations to priests. So this never happened in the past.
But the issue is that there are no more enough priests for the parishes in the first world and in the third world. So the church has to find new ways.
And the second big issue certainly is the issue of the role of the women. Here in the Vatican, there are only two women who have a role of undersecretary. So let's say a leading role, but all the other people are always staffers in a certain sense. And it is not possible that the women who are half and more of half of the believers are not in the position to be there when it comes to strategical (sic) decisions.
AMANPOUR: Now let me get your prediction to the question that everybody wants answered: who do you think will be the next pope? Who do you think is the front-runner at least?
POLITI: The problem is that, in this election, there is not a clear front-runner. In the year 2005, there was clearly Cardinal Ratzinger, because there was a very conservative lobby who was pushing for his candidature. And there was a clear opponent for the reformist bloc, Cardinal Martini (ph) of Milan. And who died a couple of months ago, saying in his last interview, the church is behind 200 years. There must be changes.
So this time, there are too many candidates, at least now. And these candidates have not yet a package of voters, a bloc of voters behind them. Next week, the first general sessions and meetings of cardinals will begin. The quiet negotiations will begin, contacts, little contacts with 2-3 people or greater contacts. And then at the end of the week, maybe we'll have some front-runner.
But what is interesting is that the conclave has to decide whether to go back to an Italian pope or whether to continue the internationalization of the papacy. And this means that, for the first time in history, there is the real chance -- I don't say it will come out so -- but the real chance that there is a pope from North America or from South America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The images were breathtaking and moving as the most elaborate retirement party in history was beamed around the world. But while Benedict begins the rest of his life, the pope who came before him, the late John Paul II, is on a different journey. And we'll explain when we come back.
AMANPOUR: And finally, now that Pope Benedict has left the stage and flown off into the sunset, imagine another kind of papal exit. Benedict's predecessor, the charismatic late John Paul II, is rapidly moving up the celestial ladder.
Back in 2011, just six years and one month after his death, John Paul was beatified. It was the fastest such ascent ever, and it left him one step and one more confirmed miracle away from sainthood.
Accordingly, his body was exhumed from the grotto beneath St. Peter's, and it was brought upstairs to the Chapel of St. Sebastian, a prime location right next to Michelangelo's Pieta, which is one of the first stop on any Vatican tour.
But to make room for John Paul beneath St. Sebastian's altar, another pope, Innocent XI from the 1600s, had to be relocated. It seems that even when it comes to pontifical tombs, the cardinal rule of real estate applies -- location, location, location.
And this is the city of the sirens; this is Rome. And that's it for the weekend edition of our program and what's been a truly extraordinary and historic week, Benedict walking back through that window at Castel Gandolfo. We will not see him again in public for many, many months.
CNN will be here from the beginning of the papal conclave to the puff of white smoke that heralds the election of the next pope. In the meantime, thanks for watching and goodbye from Rome.