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Pope Francis Wins Hearts, Wades into Politics; Refugee Crisis Testing European Unity; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired September 23, 2015 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: from Washington, the land of immigrants welcomes one of their own to the White House.
POPE FRANCIS: As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Speaking in English and diving right in, the pope takes on immigration, climate change, poverty and marriage in his first
speech to the American people. Joining me live, President Obama's former spiritual adviser, Joshua DuBois, and veteran Vatican journalist and
author, Marco Politi.
Also ahead, refugees on the pope's mind and on the mind of Germany while one of that nation's biggest brands is in deep trouble. Volkswagen's CEO
resigns; the German ambassador to Washington joins me live.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Washington, D.C., where Pope Francis is winning
hearts and putting his distinctly pastoral stamp on some hot-button political issues during his visit to the United States.
It's his first ever here to America and the pontiff arrived at the White House today in his Fiat. No armored black limousine for him, as Capitol
security mounts its biggest operation in history.
And for those who expected him to talk about tough issues, Francis did not disappoint. Immigration, marriage, Cuba and climate change, telling the
American people that, on that, it is time to act now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE FRANCIS: Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution.
POPE FRANCIS: Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And he got a lot of applause for that. Joining me now to talk about all of this is Joshua DuBois, former and current spiritual adviser to
President Obama, And Marco Politi, the Italian Vatican journalist and author.
First to you, Mr. DuBois.
JOSHUA DUBOIS, PRESIDENTIAL SPIRITUAL ADVISER: Yes.
AMANPOUR: You saw the president today, you saw the pope; you were out there.
What did it feel like being out there?
DUBOIS: In a word, joy. The look on the president's face when he introduced this pope to this country was just one of overwhelming joy.
And the president is not Catholic himself, of course, but one thing that people often overlook is that he has a long history with the Catholic
Church. His first work in Chicago was funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, working among the poor there.
One of the great moral figures of his life was Joseph, Cardinal Bernadine, the archbishop of Chicago. So connecting with Pope Francis, I'm sure for
him, must have felt like reconnecting to that social tradition in the Catholic Church.
AMANPOUR: And to an extent, an ally. The pope did address him very clearly on his leadership in terms of climate change; there's obviously a
huge international meeting on this in December in Paris.
DUBOIS: That's right. They're great areas of synergy on some of the most important moral issues of our time: climate change, refugees, immigration.
Over and over again, the pope and President Obama have showed that there are real areas where they can work together, although they do disagree on
some things as well.
And you know, Marco, there's been a huge amount of previews of this pope's trip here, because we were in Washington; Washington is a very political
city, very divided city, and everybody has wanted to talk about the political divisions that this pope is going to create.
Does he come as a pastor or as a politician?
MARCO POLITI, VATICAN JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Well, certainly, he made a political speech, but not as a politician, because President Obama told it
very well, the pope looks more like a disciple of Jesus, who went on the streets of Galilee.
So the pope goes on the modern streets of the global Galilee and speaks about issues, hot issues -- poverty, discrimination, the cry of the
outcasts -- or when he quoted Martin Luther King, saying there is a promissory note which has to be honored.
The special thing of this pope is that when he tackles these issues, it's not because he has read some dossier, some document. He has lived in a
medium town --
POLITI: -- it's the first pope who doesn't come from a village, a Bavarian village, a Polish village, an Italian village. He has lived in a medium
town with all the contradictions --
AMANPOUR: Buenos Aires.
POLITI: -- a capital where there are 30 millions of people and where the problems of poverty, social exclusions, he has seen them year after year.
And the second interesting thing is that, today, of course, also the other popes have spoken about social justice but, today, these problems of
poverty, of the widening gap between the very at the top and the stagnant majority and the problem of the immigrants, of the refugees, are problems
also of the first world.
They are problems in the United States, in Italy, in Europe. So, he is a real pope of the globalized world.
AMANPOUR: And he is the pope for global poverty, as he has said many times, and injustice. But he comes here and, as you said, there's some
issues that they really agree on and some that they don't.
For instance, same-sex marriage has been passed by the U.S. Supreme Court, even Ireland, a very Catholic country, passed it overwhelmingly in a
He goes to the Cathedral of St. Matthew's and looks out onto this sea of men in red hats.
And there are people here in the United States, particularly Catholics, who want to know, is there going to be a greater role for women?
What is going to happen in the social realm to keep Catholics coming back into the church rather than leaving as they are?
DUBOIS: Well, I think there's already been a great influx of Catholics back to the church because of the change of tone that Pope Francis has
You know, these policies, these points of theology are not going to all change -- and certainly if they do change, they are not going to change
rapidly. This is not an institution that changes rapidly, but he is changing the tone.
He is setting a context and a climate of civility where we can discuss very difficult matters but do it in a way that's respectful and that honors the
common dignity that we share as human beings and that's a very new thing. Certainly in Washington it is.
And I hope that it has an impact on Congress when he goes to speak to them as well.
AMANPOUR: Well, we'll talk about that because there's some pushback in Congress. And we will talk about that.
But let me ask you first, Marco, because your book here, "Pope Francis among the Wolves," is basically the story of how his reforms are getting
considerable pushback in the Vatican. Tell us about the challenges that he is facing.
POLITI: Yes, there are a deep conflict is going on within the Roman curia but also within the universal church. One of the cardinals, Cardinal
Casper, just at the -- just before the beginning of the next Senate which will deal about homosexuals, about --
AMANPOUR: Divorce and remarriage --
POLITI: -- the communion. he said, "Let's pray because a battle is underway."
Pope Francis doesn't want to change the doctrine but he wants a healing church. He wants the church, as he said, like a field hospital, who must
help people who are around it, women and men who are around it. And so he doesn't want to make doctrinal crusades.
And in this sense there are many people within the church, not only in Rome, but in the universal church, also in the United States, among
bishops, among clergy, who are afraid that, if you are not on the same road of the tradition of the past centuries, you become something protestant,
and so they are very against the pope.
And if he wants to heal the wounds, how is he going to be able do it? Because he wants consensus; he wants to not act like a dictator or
authoritarian and, yet, a large group of traditionalists don't want to hear anything about this change.
They say that he's the biggest threat to the conservatives since Vatican II and Cardinal Burke, who has been demoted now, an American cardinal,
basically said the church seems to be without a rudder under this pope.
DUBOIS: But one of the things that they can't argue with is the influx of new people and new energy and attention to the church. And so I think that
will help him on doctrinal matters.
When you look out into the pews and you see young people, you see people of color coming back to the church, you see disaffected Catholics, who are
saying, you know what, perhaps this is an institution that I can return to, that will help him in his argument with -- arguments with bishops.
AMANPOUR: And interestingly here in the United States, where he is, the biggest growing part of the Catholic Church is amongst the Hispanics, the
Latino communities out West.
I mean, here in the East, in the Midwest, we are seeing parishes and churches shrinking in numbers.
DUBOIS: Yes. And today was a remarkable example of how the Catholic Church can cut across ethnic lines. You had the first Latin pope quoting
Martin Luther King Jr., standing next to the first African American president with Catholics from Southeast D.C., one of the poorest parts of
this city, represented and attending today's ceremony.
It was a really remarkable show of how this pope --
DUBOIS: -- can reach across these lines of division and bring new people in.
AMANPOUR: Marco, what do you think is his biggest mission here in the United States, beyond the pastoral, beyond trying to get Catholics back
into the church and sitting on the benches and the pews, what is it?
What is he trying to tell the world and say to the church?
POLITI: Well, the biggest mission here in the United States is on one side to let understand also the conservative part of the American church, that
the church has to be merciful, that the people have to be helped.
And the pope doesn't want to do it in an authoritarian way, he doesn't want an imperial church. He doesn't want a papacy where the pope is an emperor
who says, from tomorrow we make so. He wants a collegial church; this means he wants a participatory church and that's because he has given this
next synod the power to make practical proposals.
We don't know how the votes will be. It is like in the parliament. Maybe he will not get the majority he needs of two-thirds but he has opened the
way to a process of a more collegial and communitarian church.
In the same time, he wants also -- and we don't know what was the personal conversation with President Obama -- he wants also the United States to
take their responsibilities in these three issues, the great poverty issue, the refugees issue and also the stopping of the IS caliphate, but which
must be an action of the United Nations.
It can't be one nation only, the pope has said it, like John Paul II.
AMANPOUR: He also addressed one of the greatest controversial and really upsetting issues in the last many, many years and that is the priest sexual
abuse scandal. He used the words "crime" to the speech at the bishops there at St. Matthew's Cathedral, saying this must never happen again,
But he is also being perceived as targeting the very heart of what America is, capitalism, he called unfettered capitalism "the dung of the devil" and
he is going to face some boycott in the Congress tomorrow.
DUBOIS: Yes. There are a number of folks, my friends on the conservative side of the aisle, who will probably wish that this visit is not occurring
right now, because the pope is speaking directly to issues of poverty and economic inequality, the same issues, quite frankly, that President Obama
has been speaking about over the last number of years.
And he's challenging this notion that unfettered markets with no controls whatsoever, with no concern for the poor, are necessarily a good thing. He
is going to put inequality on the national agenda in a major way.
AMANPOUR: And while those people may boycott in Congress, they need to realize that, across the world, actually, income inequality is the defining
political moment of our time.
DUBOIS: What Republicans are going to have to decide, are they going to stand on the side of Pope Francis and President Obama or folks like Donald
And they are really going to have to make a decision about that in this moment that we're in.
AMANPOUR: Joshua DuBois and Marco Politi, thank you so much for joining me on this very special day.
DUBOIS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And just as the pope talks about tolerance and mercy here in the United States, we know that in Egypt today, President Sisi is putting that
into practice just before his upcoming trip here to the United Nations in New York.
He has pardoned 100 prisoners, including and finally, the Al Jazeera journalist, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who were detained two years
ago on charges of collaborating with the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Also the palpable joy of their colleague, Peter Greste, who had been deported
earlier this year, says it all. Peter was also caught up in that criminal charges.
Coming up next, the German ambassador to the U.S. joins me live as Volkswagen, one of his nation's biggest companies, is in chaos. We'll also
talk about the refugee crisis hitting Germany and all of Europe. We will be back after a break.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, live from Washington on the first day of Pope Francis' visit to the United States. He brought up the plight
of Syrian refugees with President Obama while, at the same time in Europe, leaders there are holding an emergency meeting amid growing divisions on
how to tackle the crisis.
They approved a quota plan finally to relocate 120,000 people across the bloc's 28 states. But of course, not everyone agrees. Four Eastern
European countries voted against and Slovakia even says that it will challenge this decision in court.
While my next guest believes this crisis is a litmus test of European solidarity. Peter Wittig, Germany's ambassador to the U.S., joins me here
PETER WITTIG, GERMANY'S AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: It's good to be here --
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to --
WITTIG: -- Christiane.
AMANPOUR: -- to our show.
So what do you make of this incredible challenge that's flooding your countries, that today the leaders tried to get some sort of quota, some
have agreed and others haven't?
WITTIG: Well, Christiane, this is a historic crisis, we have never seen anything like that since the Second World War, this flow of refugees. In
my country alone, we expect 1 million, up to 1 million this year. If you put this into proportion to the U.S., it would equal about 4 million coming
to the U.S. in one year. So this is huge.
And small wonder that Europe was ill prepared for this. But now that the leaders are meeting, I think now this is seen as a European, as a common
European challenge and not a challenge for individual countries.
AMANPOUR: Except that we are still only talking of 120,000 when many, many more have come in. And we are still talking about divisions. I'm going to
show you -- well, listen to what the Slovak prime minister has said about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT FICO, SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER (through translator): As long as I am prime minister, mandatory quotas will not be implemented on Slovak
territory. We will take all the necessary steps but the people responsible for this disgrace are those who decided to push forward majority opinion
They intentionally and senselessly created deep dissension on such a key issue as migration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, that's pretty tough, it sounds like he's -- first of all, saying, no, not in my backyard but also perhaps blaming even Chancellor
Merkel for encouraging this migration.
WITTIG: Let's not forget that the minister of homeland security, the 28, agreed on a fairer distribution of the refugees. They didn't agree on a
mandatory, binding distribution.
AMANPOUR: So this isn't binding right now?
WITTIG: Four of them didn't agree that it would be binding. But the ministers agreed on a distribution.
Let's not forget. We are 28 sovereign nation states in Europe and, sometimes, it's cumbersome. We all have our domestic politics. But I
think we will get to a European solution. In the end, we will rise to the challenge.
AMANPOUR: Do you think, even with these holdouts, because, to be fair, the Hungarian prime minister, who, for a long time -- still is -- sort of the
poster child for not welcoming the refugees, turned around as soon as Chancellor Merkel had to control your borders, the German borders,
basically and said, "I told you so."
WITTIG: Well, we shouldn't do finger pointing. And we would be the last to do that. We are now called upon to have a common European approach to
this momentous refugee crisis and we have got to do a couple of things.
First, we got to do -- to enable those front-line countries, Italy, Greece; also outside the European Union, Turkey, to cope better with the protection
of borders and with border management.
We have to speed up our asylum procedure and we have got to see this as a solidarity challenge. So we will get there; it will take time. And
there's no magic wand here. Don't forget. This is the worst and the most dramatic refugee crisis since the Second World War. But Europe will
eventually shoulder this immense challenge.
AMANPOUR: I'm coming back to that in two seconds, but just a quick diversion to Volkswagen. Today, the CEO has resigned, all this scandal and
crisis about falsifying emission records. Chancellor Merkel has said there must be a potentially criminal investigation into what happened.
AMANPOUR: How bad is this for Germany?
How do you recoup the brand?
WITTIG: There is an investigation here in the U.S. underway, there's an official investigation in my country underway. The leadership of
Volkswagen has said it will cooperate fully with the American authorities; the resignation of the CEO is a company's affair and I really can't go
AMANPOUR: Going back to Germany and the refugee crisis, you even have your interior minister, the minister for refugees, who had to resign, basically
struggling to cope now.
It's not that you don't want them in but perhaps that you have said that there are too many who you should have in, a million every year,
potentially. And there just isn't the space for them, there isn't the infrastructure, not to mention the rise in certain popularity in the neo-
Nazi groups or the anti-immigration groups in Germany and even in Sweden, which has taken per head more than any other country; their anti-immigrant
party is seeing a rise in its polls.
How difficult is that?
WITTIG: Well, first of all, our minister of interior didn't resign. It was --
AMANPOUR: No, the minister of refugees, sorry.
WITTIG: -- it was the head of the agency for refugees and migration.
But, look, our reaction in Germany was we are very welcoming and still is. Lots of volunteers. I'm proud of my fellow countrymen and the leadership,
they were so welcoming.
We now got to focus on those who are really in need -- refugees, the asylum seekers, those who are persecuted in their countries or fleeing a war zone,
like the barrel bombs of Assad in Syria.
We have got to focus on that and we have got to distinguish those refugees and asylum seekers, those in need, from those who are coming for other
maybe just economic motives. And we have got to come to a more orderly, safe and legally sound procedure to take the refugees in. It's a security
AMANPOUR: You talk about the barrel bombs in the war and there has been, even here, I'm sitting in Washington, the bureau chief of development, I
think it was, wrote last week that actually Germany is reaping the result of its own inaction, along with many other countries, in trying to stop the
war in Syria.
People now are saying no refugee stoppage without stopping the war. Germany is not an interventionist country; it hasn't encouraged
intervention to stop the war.
WITTIG: We are doing and we have been doing a lot to address the root causes of that conflict and that is the crisis in Syria. And I think now
is the time when leaders meet in New York in a couple of days to give new urgency to a political process that should include all segments of the
Syrian society and all the countries with influence in Syria.
And that includes, whether you like it or not, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran. So we have got to be inclusive with all the stakeholders. We have
got to address the political challenge for Syria, come to the cease-fire in order to stop this most dramatic humanitarian disaster of our time.
AMANPOUR: I wonder if you can comment on a couple of issues, the German anti-ISIS intelligence official was found dead in Northern Iraq.
And inside Germany, some of your intelligence officials are saying that hard-line Salafis are trying to infiltrate the refugees, draw them into the
mosques and already tried to basically turn them.
WITTIG: Well, on the death of that German national, I have no further comment than to say that what our army said, it seems that there was no --
AMANPOUR: Foul play?
WITTIG: -- no third party involved as it seems and no suicide, up to now. But I really can't comment on that.
Now, on the foreign fighters, that's an issue we take very, very seriously. That's a challenge for our security agencies and we are cooperating here
with all other security bodies, especially also in the USA. That's something we take very seriously.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador Wittig, thank you for joining us, incredibly important issues. As you mentioned, next week at the U.N., there may be
some more movement on the Syria issue.
So as Washington comes to a virtual standstill for the pope's visit, we reflect that he came here from Cuba, the land of baseball or El Pelota
And next we turn from the pope to a Yogi who was once king of that game, remembering Yogi Berra, one of the most famous baseball players ever to
grace the field and pretty fine with the wordplay off the field. That's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where one is endlessly, sometimes even unknowingly, quoting a baseball player -- not just any
baseball player though, but the iconic Yogi Berra, one of the best catchers ever to play the game, who won 13 World Series with the New York Yankees.
Well, Yogi died last night at the grand old age of 90. And tonight, we remember not just his play but his remarkable and incomparable wordplay,
which made him something of a philosopher as well.
His Yogisms, uttered by presidents, politicians and generations of ordinary Americans, made their way into the modern lexicon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was Yogi Berra who said, "You can observe a lot by just watching."
BOB DOLE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It ain't over till it's over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's deja vu all over again.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Yogi Berra once said, when you come to a fork in the road, take it.
AMANPOUR: For his outside personality, for his outsized personality, that is, perhaps even inspiring Yogi Bear, the cartoon character, and for his
oft-quoted words of wisdom, we imagine a legend that will never die.
And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always see all our interviews at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks
for watching and goodbye from Washington.