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Catholic Church Changing Its Tone?; Documenting War Crimes with the E-Team; Imagine a World

Aired October 17, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): In focus this weekend, the worldwide Roman Catholic Church works out how to be more inclusive. So

will gays be welcomed instead of ostracized? A senior cardinal on a mission for Pope Francis speaks out.


CARDINAL DONALD WUERL, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: A homosexual person, a person who has this orientation has the dignity of being who they are.

And so the church is simply recognizing that.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): And later in the program, they are the men and women on the front lines not in uniform, but armed with cameras and

notebooks, documenting war crimes. We introduce you to the E-Team.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

Who am I to judge? The pope's simple but revolutionary words a year ago causing a pastoral earthquake now, says a long-time veteran Vatican

watcher. Church dogma on homosexuality, divorce, communion and relationships are being thoroughly aired out at the Vatican in a special

synod on the family, which has been called by Pope Francis.

This week Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., told us what all this could mean for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. And his voice

carries, as he is one of a handful of prelates who've been entrusted by the pope with sending him the final report.

When Francis began his papacy 19 months ago, he made clear from the very start that he favored mercy, compassion, greater acceptance and a

warmer welcome for everyone.

Embattled conservative bishops are now warning against sliding down the slippery slope of more tolerance and straying away from traditional


So we asked Cardinal Wuerl to tell us what's happening in those hallowed halls and what all this Vatican mulling will really mean for the



AMANPOUR: Cardinal Wuerl, thank you so much for joining me from Rome.

WUERL: It's a great pleasure. Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: This is an amazing time. We seem to be hearing a lot of monumental change possibly coming from where you are standing right now.

Is that the case?

How do you describe what you're all discussing now?

WUERL: The way the synod began was the invitation from Pope Francis to open our hearts, open our minds and speak very, very freely. And then

he said, and then to listen, to listen humbly, listen to one another and listen to the Holy Spirit.

But he also -- and I think this is very important for us to remember - - he also said, "This is the beginning of a process."

So whatever we're saying and struggling with together and searching to find creative ways to be pastorally present, none of this is definitive.

We're all trying to find the best path to follow.

That's why I find this so exciting. There's an openness. There's a creativity but all of this is within the framework of: what has the church

always held?

AMANPOUR: So then let me ask you because there are obviously hot button issues that many, many people around the world, particularly

practicing Catholics, want to understand where you all now stand.

So the interim report -- or at least the reports about the interim report -- states that gay people have gifts and qualities to offer to the

Christian community.

Is that a new stance?

Because obviously, in the past, homosexuality was considered a disordered state, a mentally, you know, disordered state.

WUERL: If you take what you're reading in this interim-interim report, it's saying what the catechism of the Catholic Church also says,

that every person has a dignity all of their own, a worth, a value, a God- given dignity. And a person, a homosexual person, a person who has this orientation has the dignity of being who they are.

And so the church is simply recognizing that and saying it today in a way that perhaps is being better heard.

One of the -- one of the efforts of this synod is to help us formulate the teaching of the church and most particularly the openness, the welcome

of the church, the outreach of the church in a way that is actually being heard by the people we're trying to reach.

And I think that's what you're seeing in the language, not so much a change in the teaching of the church, but a way of saying it that is far

more inviting, far more welcoming.

AMANPOUR: I can hear you voicing a huge amount of caution. There does seem to be some quite sharp divisions between members of the synod.

Some of the Catholic bishops there are saying that what's going on is not what we're saying at all. It's not a true message.

Others are saying it advances positions which synod fathers do not accept; a great number of synod fathers found it objectionable regarding

some of what came out about homosexuality or about cohabitation.

WUERL: I think what we need to do is we need to separate what actually is being said from what's being said about what's being said. And

where I think we are right now in the synod is we're at a point where we have yet to reach a formulation that has been presented to everybody to

even take the first pass at.

What we have is simply an echoing of everything that was heard. And when you open up the discussion and you try to be creative and you try to

be as inviting as possible, some of the language may sound a bit jarring to some people.

That may not be the language that we all settle upon in the end. My caution would be -- and I think it's a legitimate caution of the synod --

give the process a chance. Give it a possibility to work its way through so that we don't settle on any given word at any given time and say this is

the final word.

The process has just begun. Remember we still have another synod to conclude this in 2015. So we're going to be at this for a while.

AMANPOUR: Exactly. And you bring me to the next point, which is that you are going to be one of those cardinals writing the final report that

you will present to the pope.

Do you believe the final report will and should be made public?

WUERL: I think that when we -- what we conclude with is something that really will probably be made public because it's going to be the

report on the next step. It's going to be the paper that we'll use for the next step in the process.

I suspect that whatever is finally produced is going to be made public. There doesn't seem to be any effort so far to keep any of these

things from being public.

AMANPOUR: May I ask you about the very hot button issue of divorce?

Communion and so-called living in sin, let me ask you first of all, divorced couples now cannot remarry inside the church and they're not

allowed to have communion if they remarry outside the church, in civil services.

Will that at all change in the final document, by the time the final document is made?

WUERL: I wish I could give you an answer to that. But I don't know what the final document is going to say. The final document of this whole

process isn't going to exist until the process is done. And our Holy Father said that process won't conclude until the end of the 2015 synod.

But what we're looking at is it's true. As part of the received teaching of the church, as part of what the gospel says, we are not

permitted to divorce and remarry.

But what does that mean in the life of individuals?

And what does that mean in the -- in relation to their sacramental life?

That's what we're just beginning to talk about. I don't know what the answer, the final answer will be because we haven't gotten anywhere near

that part, that point in this ongoing discussion.

But the fact remains, the teaching remains that marriage is indissoluble and that goes all the way back to Jesus telling us marriage is

not able to be dissolved by human beings.

AMANPOUR: What about what is colloquially known in the church as living in sin, cohabitation?

Apparently the interim report suggested that pastors should recognize that there are, quote, "positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation."

Where do you come down on that?

WUERL: Well, I think we have to begin with the recognition this is going on all around us, that this is a fact of life.

And so if you're going to reach out to people, if you're going to go and meet people where they are in the condition in which they are living,

you have to recognize what is that condition.

We now need to talk about where would Christ want you to be, where would the Lord ask you to be in light of His gospel, in light of His


And that's, I think, what was meant when we said there are some positive aspects. At least try to meet the person where they are and then

walk with them.

AMANPOUR: Cardinal Donald Wuerl, thank you so much for joining us from just near the Vatican there, on a windy day.

WUERL: You're very welcome. Thank you for having the opportunity to be with you.


AMANPOUR: And now from doctrinal front lines to battlefield trenches, meet the real-life action heroes who go to watch out for human rights. A

Netflix latest, a true reality show -- when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

President Obama closed out this week by clearing his diary for two straight days and hunkering down with his administration to map out a more

effective response to the Ebola crisis in the United States. And he also contacted his fellow world leaders as the United States, Britain and France

take the lead in helping contain Ebola in the hot zone, West Africa.

As experts warn the disease is out of control in Sierra Leone and Liberia and Guinea remain on the precipice, the first response to this

outbreak in March came from the non-governmental organization, Medecins sans Frontieres.

Indeed, in times of war and crisis, it's often these agencies that are first on the scene, such as Human Rights Watch, with its own emergency team

to gather evidence of war crimes and other abuses all over the world.

Their work is difficult and is methodical, sounding the alarm sometimes even before the journalists get there. They are the E-Team, and

now the focus of a new Netflix documentary.

Investigator Anna Neistat and director Ross Kauffman joined me to talk about their very vital work.


AMANPOUR: Anna Neistat and Ross Kauffman, welcome to the program.

Let me start first with you, Anna.

After all the heavy lifting you've done and the front line reportage that you've done, what is it like to be the subject of a film?

ANNA NEISTAT, HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATOR: It was difficult. It was difficult to be a subject and being referred to as a subject. But I think

at the very beginning, I saw this film as essential for our work. I was very much led to be part of this project because I think that's something

that gave us a completely different way of telling people about what we do and how --


AMANPOUR: Well, what did you want people to know?

NEISTAT: I wanted people to know what is behind this line in the report that says Syrian government has committed war crimes.

I just wanted people to understand that it's not that we roll out of bed in the morning and come up with these types of accusations but that

actually it's days and months and years of meticulous work in the field, putting all this evidence together, that allows us to make these kinds of


AMANPOUR: You've heard what it is about Anna and her colleagues, why they wanted to make this film.

What was it for you that made this an attractive subject for a film?

ROSS KAUFFMAN, FILMMAKER: We wanted to find out more about Human Rights Watch and we went in, talked to them. We discussed that we would

like to make a film that -- where we had total creative control, an independent film that would show the organization, warts and all.

And then we met the emergencies team. And we literally -- we went out to dinner with them in Manhattan and at that point we knew we had four

incredibly diverse, rich people to make a film about.

AMANPOUR: We want to play one of the clips to show you and in fact your husband as well who worked for the same organization in Syria.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They bombed this house just half an hour ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should we go there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it really a good idea to go there?


How many houses here?

(Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the hospital was also hit.


AMANPOUR: What did you see there and how long did it take to draw a judgment of what happened?

NEISTAT: Well, I think that's actually an interesting situation there, because it was one of the very first airstrikes that was when

Assad's forces started using airplanes and then for us that was not about months and years of investigation. That was about getting this information

out as soon as possible.

So that was followed by, of course, we went to the hospital. We talked to all the people there. We even looked at the remnants of

munitions on the ground so we collected as much as we could.

AMANPOUR: But then you were calling for a no-fly zone to try to protect the civilians in Syria.

Is that your job?

Are you meant to be an advocate in that kind of political military sense?

Was there a sort of a conflict?

NEISTAT: Well, first of all, we did not call for a no-fly zone. Human Rights Watch didn't do that --

AMANPOUR: But you wanted them to. There was a bit of an internal struggle over it.


NEISTAT: There was a big internal struggle over that of course, because it's a huge decision to make.

And Ole and myself, when we saw it on the ground, when we saw that no- fly zone could actually prevent at least some of the killings that are happening, but at the same time then we had to go into the whole analysis,

whether -- what would be the outcome, whether it would actually do more good than harm.

And I think as an organization we made a decision not to make such a call.

AMANPOUR: Today, that's a nonsense. Of course it would have done more good than harm. Today they're calling for the same thing. Today

there's a very intervention that they didn't want to do back then.

Do you sometimes think you had a missed opportunity?

NEISTAT: You know, you're damned if you do; you're damned if you don't. It's really -- I think it was a very difficult call. I think on a

personal level for Ole and myself, who spent so much time in Syria, that was -- that was difficult.

AMANPOUR: Precisely.

And I need to go to Ross now, because I want to ask him what you thought of this wife and husband team who were there in this really

dangerous zone, who had left their kids at home, like many of us reporters do.

And I think you even, Anna, found out that you were pregnant on that trip.

Ross, that's all unfolding before your cameras.

What went through your mind?

KAUFFMAN: I was amazed throughout the whole time filming, at not only Anna and Ole but Fred and Peter, the sacrifices they make but also the

passion with which they go into these situations.

You know, I went -- I go in and out of these situations but they stick with these issues for years.

AMANPOUR: At great personal cost.

KAUFFMAN: It's incredible to see -- yes, absolutely.

AMANPOUR: And that leads me to the next sort of segment that we have to show and that is Peter Bouckaert in Libya way back then, finding all

these weapons that had been left by the government.

And also you had met James Foley, who now we know and we've been mourning his death brutally at the hands of ISIS.

But he was there with you in Libya. And he took a lot of the footage.

KAUFFMAN: It's interesting; I met Jim when he literally walked into my frame one day when I was filming in the hotel, in the Radisson in Libya.

And he gave Peter a big hug. They were friends. And there were times where I couldn't go to Syria or Libya.

So we hired Jim to shoot in Libya. And he shot some wonderful footage and you know, the film honors the work that he dedicated his life to.

AMANPOUR: There are sometimes really great results. Often they're great results. In Syria, you didn't have great results. I mean, you put

out the crisis but nothing much changed.

But in Yugoslavia, some of the work that one of your colleagues you mentioned -- Fred -- did, finally got him as an expert witness in the

trial. And at the time, the first sitting head of state to be indicted on the most serious crimes under international law.

We just want to play that clip and have you react to that.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This trial is about the crime of this accused power, power that exercised without accountability, responsibility

or morality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Yes, let the witness take the declaration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): I joined the prosecution. They wanted an expert witness who would lay out the context of the conflict. It

was completely horrifying; deep, deep fear. You're talking to the guy you were tracking for 10 years, who's sitting there smirking with this

horrible, slimy, arrogance.


AMANPOUR: I feel that. I covered that as well, obviously.

But it must give you a certain amount of satisfaction to see -- obviously he died before he was judged and sentenced. But nonetheless, he

was put before justice.

NEISTAT: I have to say this is my favorite scene in the film. I think this interaction is just such a quintessence of our work because it

gives -- it gives hope. It gives hope to everybody who watches this film and it gives hope to us. And of course we all keep reminding ourselves

that it took more than 10 years for this moment to happen.

And when Fred started and the colleagues started this documentation, nobody believed that it was possible.

So of course now when we look at this completely hopeless situation, be it Syria or Iraq or some many other places where we work, we have to

keep this scene in mind, this moment in mind for ourselves, that justice is out there and sooner or later these guys will end up behind bars.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Ross Kauffman, Anna Neistat, thank you so much for joining me today.

NEISTAT: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And another glimmer of hope in a dark world, coming up, this little girl has broken free from a silent prison of the mind with a

paintbrush and an imagination. Her remarkable achievement when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, a dreaded disease that brings to mind the scourge of the Black Death, religious wars with echoes of the Middle

Ages, the headlines do paint a very dark picture indeed.

But now imagine a world where a child who cannot speak or communicate with others has painted a vision of hope and light. These paintings,

filled with color and vitality, might remind you of one of the Impressionist masters. But it's actually the work of a 5-year-old English

girl who's been painting since the age of 3. That would be remarkable enough. But there's more to this prodigy's story.

Iris Halmshaw is autistic. Her parents say that when she was 2, she began to show the telltale signs, unable to pick up words or make eye

contact with others. She was soon diagnosed with a condition whose exact cause still remains a mystery.

But while researchers look for answers, Iris has found a way to break through the wall of silence and isolation that is autism. She paints. And

she paints, spending as much as two hours with a paintbrush in her hand and her therapy cat by her side.

And the world has taken notice. Her paintings are in demand and they're available for sale on the Internet. With one in every 68 children

affected by this baffling and tragic condition, the search for its cause and its cure goes on.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always watch our show online at, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.