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Pope Francis Visits U.S. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired September 23, 2015 - 16:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What a moment for these people here. What a moment for them, Anderson.

As you know, I'm Catholic, but whether you or not, the excitement is so palpable here. And what a special day for the people, 1,000 concelebrants. Other priests will have the occasion of their life, 3,500 seminarians, all of these students. They choose to believe.

And what a restitution of that faith, to have the head of their church. And he's just beaming, Anderson, the smile on his face, the enthusiasm as he greets the crowd. He wants to be here every bit as much as they do.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Chris, let's just listen in to the sounds and watch the sights of Pope Francis meet this crowd that has been waiting out there last night.

They have been waiting an awfully long time. Let's just listen in. You really get a sense of the excitement there.

Chris, explain what is going to happen now for the next several hours there.

CUOMO: Oh, sure.

Let me bring in Rosa Flores, who's with me. She was on the papal plane, personally blessed by Pope Francis, and again for a Catholic it's just a really big deal. He's the head of the church.

And to see your enthusiasm and having grown up in the church, as I did, what a great thing. I was so jealous, but now he passed by.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're blessed too.

CUOMO: So, I was blessed as well. I feel a little bit better now.


CUOMO: But this is a big deal, a canonization mass, but what does it mean to the U.S. to have a saint made here and to the Latino community. What does it mean that he is Hispanic?

FLORES: It's a really big deal. But I think I have to backtrack a little bit, because there's a lot of controversy about this particular priest.

CUOMO: Junipero Serra.

FLORES: Junipero Serra.

And I have to go back to something that a priest told me who knows Pope Francis very well. He says, Pope Francis looks at your shoes when he first sees you coming back from the seminary, because if your shoes are dirty, that means that you were out in the community, you were evangelizing, you were with the people.

And that's what he likes. Now, if what we learned in South America is any indication, he very much is in tune with the activist priest, the priest that defends the rights of people, the priest that will fight with the government in order for them...


CUOMO: (SPEAKING SPANISH) Explain what that means.

FLORES: (SPEAKING SPANISH) He used it in Brazil. You know that very well, telling the youth, I want you to make a mess.

CUOMO: Make a raucous.

FLORES: Make a raucous. And that actually goes back to something that Pope Francis said. He said, I would rather have an injured church than a sick church, because if you isolate yourself, don't talk to anybody, you're going to grow mold.

We know what houses that are closed in smell like. He's like, I don't want that for the church. And so it's kind of all in the same lines of what we have been hearing. Now, about the controversy, because we cannot not talk about the controversy.

CUOMO: That's right, especially for the Native American community and Latino community also.


FLORES: Absolutely.

So, Junipero Serra came here as a missionary, but it was Mexico then. Now it's California. This is a missionary in Mexico and he started evangelizing, in other words, converting Native Americans into Catholicism. So, there's a lot of criticism about that and a lot of pain. You know our history, Native Americans, Latinos, Mexicans.

This was Mexico back in the day. And so there is a lot of pain. And those groups say, you know, these are open wounds. And now the Catholic Church is celebrating someone that we were hurt by.

CUOMO: And we had a professor on who was part of the resistance movement of 50 tribes that got together to voice this criticism. And one of their complaints was that they hadn't heard from the Vatican. Delia Gallagher reports to us that the pope is in fact going to meet

with a group of Native Americans and answer their concerns. As to Anderson's question about what's going to happen here, this is definitely a mass, it's Pope Francis' first mass here in the United States, but it's more than that. It's a canonization mass.

That is the process of making a saint. There's a long process. First he was beatified, Serra, by John Paul II. There will be a relic, which is a piece of Junipero Serra, that will be brought up to the altar during this. Anderson, 1,000 concelebrants will be there, but the mass will be said by Pope Francis and a saint will be made in just a few moments.

COOPER: And we should point to our viewers the pope has gone inside probably for just about two or three minutes. He will then be coming back outside. This mass will be celebrated outside.

There are just so many people, too many people to fit inside, though this is the largest basilica in the United States.

I'm joined by our senior Vatican analyst, John Allen, also by our Vatican correspondent, Delia Gallagher.


John Allen, you have seen a lot of events like this, a lot of masses celebrated by this pope. Explain some of what really stood out for you so far today and what you expect later today.


I have been covering papal trips for almost 20 years. At some level, it's easy to become jaded when you see these crowds and you see the adoration. I was with Francis in the Philippines in January when he had a crowd of 6.5 million people.

And you could say by way of comparison that the turnout here, while impressive, is dwarfed by that. But as an American, I have to say that there is something special about seeing the kind of universal appeal this pope has, because if you looked in the streets as he was moving through them, yes, there were a lot of Catholics there for whom this was a kind of religious experience.

But there are plenty of other Americans of all stripes who turned out in part I suppose out of curiosity, but in part because this man exercises a kind of appeal as a voice of conscience and a moral point of reference that people are hungry for. You asked what stood out to me today? I'll tell you, the first thing that stood out to me in listening to the pope speak...

COOPER: And let's just listen to -- let's just listen to his welcome as he walks inside the Basilica.

Delia Gallagher, just explain a little bit about what's going to happen, because just listening to this response and to see, I mean, priests and nuns, friars, people reaching out, I mean, the excitement is just extraordinary.


Well, what happens in a canonization mass is that the canonization happens first. As soon as the pope announces the words of the canonization, then that actually happens. And then they go into the mass. So, what we will see is, the postulator of the cause, the man who was in charge of gathering all the information, will read out part of the biography of Junipero Serra.

Then they will do that wonderful litany of saints, which we also hear at the conclave, when a pope is elected singing and invoking the blessing of the saints, and then we have the canonization announced by the pope.

COOPER: The pope is inside for a few minutes.

We're going to take a short break. We will be right back.



COOPER: Welcome back.

Pope Francis now not yet beginning the celebration of the mass, but we are beginning to see him emerging. We're going to replay some images we saw just a short time ago, Pope Francis praying before the mass begins.

We're joined here by John Allen, CNN senior Vatican analyst, Delia Gallagher, our CNN Vatican correspondent, and Father Timothy Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference of America.

Father, in terms of what we should expect and what viewers should expect to see over the next hour or so, can you just explain what's going to happen?

FATHER TIMOTHY KESICKI, PRESIDENT, JESUIT CONFERENCE: It's going to be a very familiar mass to many Catholics.

At the beginning, though, there's going to be the rite of canonization. It's not very long, but it's in a sense a ritual that proclaims Junipero Serra a saint. And so people will be very familiar with the mass as we watch it, but it takes on a very festive quality because it's mass with the pope.

So, you're going to see a great deal of exuberance, particularly in those who are attending and concelebrating.

COOPER: Just the welcome that the pope received, I mean, I have never seen such excitement among priests and nuns. I mean, I have been obviously in St. Peter's Square and seen some of that, but it was just an extraordinary welcome.

KESICKI: Well, he's a superstar, there's no question about it. But I think we realize that pope doesn't really mean much to us. Pontiff is the bridge between really people and God, Christ.

And so the people who really pushed the security aside and wanted to touch him, that's almost like touching the person who can touch the face of God. And that's why there's such a clamor to get near him.

COOPER: And these are some of the scenes we saw just moments ago before the commercial break, just an amazing, amazing welcome.

Delia, in terms of -- he spoke earlier today to bishops at St. Matthew's. What stood out to you there? Because he talked about immigration a lot and about himself as coming from the south.

GALLAGHER: Well, I think this is really something that the pope sees as he -- this is his time for the Latino community. He said to the bishops, you know, your Christian communities have been very good at welcoming immigrants. As a pastor from the south, I ask you to welcome this new influx of Latino immigrants, so kind of taking a special care and saying, I myself am one of them, and I want you -- I want to entrust them to you, and I want you to take special care of them.

And now, of course, going into this mass in which he will give the homily in Spanish, and in which he's canonizing a Spanish-American saint shows that kind of special attention for the pope towards the Latino community.

COOPER: And, John, obviously, the pope is very well aware the -- in the United States, you know, some 32 million U.S. Catholics who are brought up in the Catholic faith have left the faith. That's obviously a concern long-term for the church. This is in part a mission to revitalize, to bring excitement back to many people maybe who have left the faith and want to come back.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Sure. And another thing we know, Anderson, is this, despite the fact one in every ten Americans these days is an ex-Catholic, the Catholic share of the American population is holding steady around 25 percent. Now, how do you square these two things because of a rising tide of immigration particularly Hispanic immigration?

The dominant trend in American Catholicism these days according to the head of the pew form is what he calls the browning of the American church, meaning this mounting Latino constituency. And I think the pope in part today -- now, the heart of this is to declare an individual figure a saint. But I think a bit of subtext here is it's a sort of papal tip of the zucchetto to the Latino/Latina community here in the States saying, you're not only our present, you're also our future.

COOPER: And, Father Kesicki, this -- you're a Jesuit. This is the first Jesuit pope in history. And as such, though, there's no change in doctrine of the church. His emphasis is really seemingly unique to him in that he's -- he wants the church to really reach out to people where they are, to roll up their sleeves, to be out there with the people. Tomorrow after speaking to a joint meeting in Congress on Capitol Hill, he's not having lunch on Capitol Hill. He's lunching with Catholic charities, with the homeless, with the mentally ill. That's representative of who this man is.

REV. TIMOTHY KESICKI, PRESIDENT, JESUIT CONFERENCE OF THE U.S. & CANADA: Yes. We have not had a pope from a religious order since the mid 19th century. This is unique in our era. And remember, Jesuits are a missionary order. And missionary orders go beyond their comfort zone. They go beyond what's familiar.

And that's what he wants the church to do. He doesn't want the church to be self-preferential. He wants it to go out. I love that image he uses of the church as a field hospital. The way in which he preaches through symbol, recognizing that symbol is often more powerful than any words he's going to say. So I think we're going to see a lot of his Jesuit training and his Jesuit formation come alive in this visit as I think we already have.

COOPER: One of the things I read that he had said a while back is describing pastors as shepherds who in his words smell of the sheep, which I thought was really interesting way of putting it that sense of being out there where the people are.

KESICKI: I'll never forget when he said that at St. Peters at the chrism mass, it was really a mass where priests recognize their calling to priesthood. And he really gave that vivid image which he's really called upon bishops to instill in their seminarians and priests.

It's a beautiful image. It has sunk in with the people of God. The people of God want priests and bishops who have in a sense the smell of the flock.

COOPER: And, Delia, I mean, again, this is a pope who has talked about change within the Vatican structure, within the curia, obviously within the Vatican bank, all things, problems he inherited from years passed. How big a change has he made within the structure of the Vatican itself?

GALLAGHER: Well, look, it's very tough to change the Vatican bureaucracy that's been around for a millennia. But he has made inroads on that, started by Benedict XVI with the bank, but certainly Pope Francis has been very adamant that there be further transparency, that the board of directors there be replaced and renewed, that he put in an oversight board. Cardinal George Pell on the economic secretariat from Australia who is a kind of outsider of the curia, who is a kind of outsider to the curia, he brought him in. So he is trying to make some important changes there that are still going on.

COOPER: We're going to take a short break before this mass begins. We'll be right back.


[16:23:39] KESICKI: So, it's not -- it's part of the mass and it's a shortened rite. Pope Francis himself shortened the rite. He, as we know from his very first mass as a pope, he doesn't like long, long liturgical celebrations.

COOPER: And, John Allen, as we're waiting for this, I mean, he spoke to U.S. bishops earlier in the day, early on, he criticized what he termed "airport bishops", bishops who traveled around the world a lot as opposed to focusing on the need --