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THE SITUATION ROOM
Pope Francis in New York. Aired 18-19:00p ET
Aired September 24, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It will be interesting to see if, in fact, the pope in fact does stop on his way here to St. Patrick's, whether he chooses to just stop in one of the tighter security areas, like just in this general area.
And there are people pre-selected who are either side of the entrance to St. Patrick's, some schoolchildren on one side, other workers who have been involved in the refurbishing of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And they have all gone through metal detectors. They have all been checked. So, they're leaving nothing, nothing to chance.
And, as you know, Anderson, even though U.S. officials repeatedly say they are not aware of any specific direct threat against the pontiff, they are aware of general threats that ISIS and other terrorist groups have made in recent months against the Catholic Church and against the pontiff.
COOPER: I should point out the pope is now in the Fiat, his photographer, you could see, taking pictures of him, though you could actually see him. You could also see the hem of his garment as he got into the vehicle. He's now inside that vehicle.
And as soon as everybody else sort of gets into their vehicles and they get the convoy ready, they will take off and head up the East Side north in the island of Manhattan.
BLITZER: We once again want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're live outside St. Patrick's Cathedral. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
COOPER: There is -- we should also point out the location that Wolf and I are in now, there is not a better vantage point to see this pope arriving at St. Patrick's.
It is -- the car is going to stop literally about 100 feet behind us. And you can only imagine the scene in really just a few short minutes, when finally he does get here. So, stay here with CNN because you can see just right over our shoulder, that is the front door of St. Patrick's that the pope is going to be going through. You can see the assembled crowds behind us and, of course, there are crowds all the way up Fifth Avenue in that direction and a little bit down in this direction as well, all hoping to get some sort of a look at this pontiff as he begins the journey.
BLITZER: And you see that Fiat getting ready to leave that heliport in Lower Manhattan, head up here toward St. Patrick's Cathedral.
I just want to point out that shot that we're showing, those live pictures of Fifth Avenue in New York, the lower part of the right-hand screen, that was Donald Trump standing. Like most New Yorkers, they all want to get a shot, they all want to get a look to see what is going on. And that includes a New Yorker like Donald Trump from Trump Tower over there on Fifth Avenue. He wanted to get a shot as well.
There you see the Fiat. There you see the driver, the escort, and the pontiff is there getting ready to leave this heliport and head here where we are to St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Father Beck, walk us through what the pontiff will do once he gets here behind us and goes inside.
REV. EDWARD BECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He will be greeted by the rector of the cathedral. Monsignor Robert Ritchie will greet him.
And also, of course, we have city dignitaries here. I think the governor is here, Governor Cuomo is here. And the mayor is here. Once he gets inside, the first thing he's going to do, he is going to pray by the shrine of Mother Seton. She's the first native-born American saint canonized. And he will go and say a prayer at her shrine right here in St. Patrick's Cathedral and then they will begin the vesper service. Vesper simply means evening prayer.
This will not be a mass. It will be a vespers evening prayer service.
BLITZER: As we see the motorcade get ready, I got to tell you, Anderson, I have seen a lot of motorcades in my many years covering politics, covering all sorts of foreign leaders coming to the United States. I don't remember a small little car like that in the middle of a huge motorcade.
COOPER: That was one of the most extraordinary scenes yesterday as he approached the White House, this huge elaborate official state welcome for the pontiff, as big a welcome as the United States can possibly give to somebody, with all the pomp and ceremony that the White House can conduct on the South Lawn, and yet to see this Fiat drive up to the gates with President and Mrs. Obama there to welcome him was an amazing sight.
BLITZER: As we await the pontiff leaving the heliport -- by the way, that's a shot in the lower right-hand corner. You see Donald Trump over there. He's trying to get a look and see what is going on from Trump Tower.
I want to bring a prominent Catholic scholar and voice within the Catholic Church here in the United States to join, the Reverend John Jenkins. He's the president of the University of Notre Dame.
Thanks so much, Father, for joining us.
As we await the pontiff getting here to St. Patrick's Cathedral, what goes through your mind as the leader of Notre Dame University?
REV. JOHN JENKINS, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME: Thanks, Wolf.
Just tremendous excitement and joy. I was at the White House yesterday when the pope arrived. I was at his mass and I was at the joint session of Congress today.
I grew up in -- my earliest memories are in the 1960s. And JFK, my dad was devoted to JFK. And there's always a bit of a suspicion about being a Catholic and American. To see the pope address the joint house of -- of Congress today was just a tremendously moving experience for me and I'm sure for many, many other Catholics in this country, and it was just a joyful moment.
BLITZER: What was the highlight from your perspective of that address?
JENKINS: It is hard to pick out one.
I think the highlight was this august setting and this very simple elderly man coming in and really moving such a body like the joint session of Congress, but he clearly was appealing to the highest American ideals. He was appealing to the best in us. He wasn't speaking about Catholic teaching, per se, but the best in American ideals and inspiring us to live up to who we are. And the kind of reception he got, I think that in various moments was the highlight for me.
COOPER: Reverend Jenkins, one of the things just in doing research on the pope for his visit I was really struck by is his emphasis on reaching out to people where they are, reaching out to people in need.
And one of the writers I was reading said that for him it's Matthew 25, that is the heart of the Gospels, in which Jesus says in the final days you will be asked not how much money you have or what your accomplishments were, but whether you fed the hungry and whether you clothed the naked, whether you visited the sick.
And I think we have seen that already from this pope in Washington, but certainly I think that's something else we will continue to see in the days ahead.
You know, it's really at the heart of his message, the message of Jesus, the message of love and the message of mercy. And it begins with really a kind of sense that we have been loved by God, we have been shown mercy, therefore, we have to turn around and show mercy to others. If you were to pick one thing, one theme that goes through everything this pope says, that may be the theme.
BLITZER: Do you believe, Reverend, that the sensitive issues of immigration, climate change, income inequality, all the issues that the pope really addressed in his speech before Congress will really have an impact on the political leadership?
JENKINS: I don't expect us to completely change tomorrow, but I do hope that we can move beyond at least a bit the kind of fractiousness, that acrimony that so characterizes our political environment.
There are great people working in Washington, great people working in Congress, but we can't even pass a budget because of that acrimony. And we're not serving the people. I hope that left, right, center, I hope that we reflect on his call to serve the common good, recognizing our differences, respecting our differences, talking about our differences, but moving beyond them to serve the common good.
I think that's what the pope is talking about and I hope we can -- I don't think it will solve all our problems, but I hope we can inch ahead to move beyond the kind of gridlock we see so common in our public life these days.
BLITZER: I assume you agree with so many that this historic visit by the pope to the United States will really strengthen the Catholic Church here in the United States and bring more people, including a lot of young people, back into the church.
JENKINS: Well, yes, and you know, but I hope it most importantly changes not numbers, but hearts. You know, I think sometimes we can call ourselves a Catholic and I'm a Christian and we can feel satisfied in that, but what the pope is calling us to do is really look at our lives and follow Jesus and really change our hearts.
And so I measure it, I hope there are more numbers, that's great and I want to encourage that, but at the same time, even for me, even for me, a Catholic priest, I hope I live the Gospel more faithfully because of the pope's visit.
COOPER: It's interesting you say that, because a lot of people early on had talked about the idea of a Francis effect. Would this pope, his popularity around the world, his popularity in the United States among many, would it have a greater effect in terms of bringing, filling pews, bringing people to church?
What you're really saying is for you at the very least the Francis effect is one of spirit among believers, of a kind of a rejuvenation of emphasis on mercy, on flexibility and on faith.
JENKINS: Yes, we can measure numbers, we can measure seats in pews. It's hard to measure the human heart. We can't -- but you can see it. You can see people enlivened by their faith.
He spoke today about Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, people who were transformed by faith. If I hope for anything, it's not -- numbers are great. I'm not speaking against that, but I hope we can be more vital, more vibrant, less acrimonious, more embracing of the radical challenge of faith in daily lives, and I'm talking about me as much as anybody else.
BLITZER: As you know, Reverend Jenkins, it's been reported that Catholic bishops here in the United States are struggling to adjust their messaging to fit this pope's priorities, that there has been some supposed tension between U.S. bishops and the pope. Do you believe that?
JENKINS: I think it's clear that there are different approaches and different beliefs and different views. There is no doubt about that.
I think the pope addressed those with the bishops yesterday and says, look, let's move beyond polarization. Again, I just come back to it. Let's be pastors, as Jesus was a pastor. Let's work together toward the spread of the Gospel. Let's stop fighting with one another.
If I hope for anything, I hope that we Catholics can move beyond. It seems like we're our own worst enemies -- can move beyond those internal battles to do the work of the lord in serving the poor and giving people joy and showing people mercy. Yes, I think it's present, but I'm hoping for the grace of God through this Holy Father that we can move beyond that.
COOPER: Reverend, one of the things that pope said in the past, not on this trip, but in the past, is he wants pastors to be shepherds, shepherds who smell of the flock, who smell of the sheep, which I think is a wonderful way of saying really what you just said.
If there is anything true about Pope Francis, about Jorge Bergoglio, he is close to the people. He is calling us to be close to the people in their good times, but also in their suffering and in their failures as well, that we -- as he said today, we take people where they are and we go from there.
And if there is any -- again, that is a central theme of his, not to judge, not to stand off, but take people where we are and walk with them. That's what a pastor does. That's what a pastor does with sheep. That's what a pastor should do, a pastor of Christ should do.
COOPER: Reverend Jenkins, thanks for walking with us for these last few minutes. I really appreciate it. It was very educational. I appreciate that.
As we wait here at St. Patrick's Cathedral for the pope's arrival, let's bring in Bishop David O'Connell of Trenton, New Jersey. He's the former president of Catholic University. Also with us, CNN religion commentator, the Reverend Edward Beck is joining us here outside St. Patrick's, and CNN Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher, of course CNN anchor John Berman is here with Wolf and I.
Delia, Pope Francis, he will be visiting St. Patrick's. Can you explain the significance of this visit? How important is it, the importance of New York as well?
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: It's clearly the center of the world still in a certain sense, New York, and so it's very significant that if he comes to the United States, that he comes first to Washington and then to New York to visit not only the people and the priests and bishops of New York, as he will be doing tonight, but because of the U.N.
And so when he goes now kind of transitioning into what will be the sort of peace and justice phase of this trip, because his mass in Madison Square Garden is for peace and justice. His talk towards the U.N. will be geared more towards the peace and justice themes and speaking out to the world vs. his talk in Congress.
COOPER: And, Father Beck, he's also going to Ground Zero of course tomorrow, which will obviously be a very emotional visit for this pope and for all of us who are going to be watching this.
In terms of what is going to happen inside, though, this is not a mass. This is vespers, evening prayers.
And he will enter. He will kiss the crucifix here also in St. Patrick's and go to that shine I mentioned of Elizabeth Ann Seton. He will sprinkle some holy water.
Now, remember, this cathedral has just undergone a multimillion- dollar renovation, to some controversy. I think it's going to be like $147 million to restore this beautiful building behind us. And you have now Pope Francis, pope of the poor, pope of the people walking into this very palatial cathedral and he is going to bless it and he's going to revel in it, but I think we can't miss that maybe he might have an opinion on that.
BLITZER: Let me bring in Bishop O'Connell.
Bishop, the pope will be meeting with Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the clergy here in New York City. You were honored to host both Pope Benedict XVI at Catholic University during his visit to the United States back in 2008. How much work goes into a papal visit?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL, FORMER PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA: It's tremendous, tremendous work. It took me several months when I was preparing for the pope's arrival at Catholic University almost meeting daily with Secret Service, with police, with representatives of the Vatican to make sure that everything was perfect when the pope arrived. [18:15:00]
BLITZER: It's a tough assignment.
We see the governor of New York, Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, Senator Schumer there. They're standing outside St. Patrick's Cathedral right behind us.
Very, very emotional moment for all New Yorkers, dare I say for people all over the United States, indeed, around the world who are watching.
John Berman is with us as well.
John, you have been here all day gathering information, seeing what is going on. Explain how complex this visit has become.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: First, as we're looking at the three men, I'll get to that in a second, Wolf, it's very interesting.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, of course, is Catholic, Chuck Schumer, the senator, Jewish, and then Mayor Bill de Blasio, no official religion. He says he's spiritual. He doesn't belong to any church. Yet these three leaders of this city and this state gathered in front of this cathedral right now, this glorious cathedral, all to meet the pope who could be here any minute from now.
Oh, my goodness, we're starting to see some of the security driving down the street and the people are getting very excited. They see sirens and they cheer because they think the pope might be near. They have been gathered out here. I have been out here since about 11:00 today, Wolf, and people have been beginning to line the streets about then, gathering more and more every hour.
As you have noted, if you want to be close by where we're standing, you need to go through a magnetometer to get here. Other people just hoping to catch a glimpse of this pope. It won't be easy over the next couple of days. He's only in Manhattan, in New York City for 39 hours.
His motorcade will travel some 54 miles while he's here, but there aren't that many official events, so this may be the one chance they get to lay eyes on the pontiff -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It will be an amazing moment indeed.
All right, let's take a quick break. The pope will be arriving here at St. Patrick's Cathedral momentarily. We want to be live once he's here. We will take a quick break. We will be right back.
BLITZER: We're waiting the pope and his motorcade to make it up Fifth Avenue. There you see Trump Tower. It is only about five, six blocks away from where we are right now, St. Patrick's Cathedral. He will going up Fifth Avenue.
Anderson, that's about 55th, 56th Street, down to 51st, 50th Street here, where St. Patrick's Cathedral -- should only take a minute or two for him to make the quick trip down Fifth Avenue.
COOPER: And a lot of these people, thousands of people now have lined Fifth Avenue, many waiting for hours trying to get a prime spot to get a glimpse of the pope, hoping perhaps even that he might stop, wade into the crowd.
Obviously, in an area like this which we're seeing, this is a less secure area. These people have not gone through metal detectors. They have backpacks. This is obviously an area where the Secret Service, the NYPD would be a little bit more concerned if the pontiff was to do that.
A little further, as we said, down Fifth Avenue, closer to St. Patrick's Cathedral, it's more secure. People have gone through X- rays.
BLITZER: Alexandra Field, you're down there. Where are you now right now? What are you seeing? What is going on?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
We're at 56th and Fifth Avenue, which is just about a block north of where you see the Popemobile, which has been sitting in and waiting for the pontiff to arrive, but basically we're in the midst of a huge crowd. These are people who came to this spot because this is the closest that they could get without tickets.
And really these are people who are very commented to sticking it out, not only for the pope's arrival, but through the prayer service, hoping that they will get a glimpse of him when he travels in the motorcade back to the papal residence later tonight, but really, this is a global event on this street corner in Manhattan.
We're speaking to people from all over the world who came here, not just across the country, but some Argentineans who came. Obviously, this visit has special meaning for them. People from France, from Mexico, really from all over, Catholics who believe that this could be possibly their only opportunity to see the pope in the flesh in their lifetime.
It is truly a significant moment for them. It has been pretty quiet, almost a hushed tone here right now, as people have seen parts of the motorcade go through or different vehicles with lights and sirens. People know that the pontiff is going to be here shortly. They have waited for hours for this moment. And they have got the selfie sticks out and the cameras ready to take it in when he finally comes.
COOPER: And if you're just joining us, we should point out that the Fiat which the pope was loaded into after getting out of the helicopter coming from John F. Kennedy International Airport, he's now switching from that Fiat to the Popemobile, this Jeep Wrangler specially built here.
It will be much easier to get a glimpse of him. He will be standing. As we saw down in Washington, the sides of the Popemobile are open. There is glass on the front and on the back for security reasons. But those sides are open. And so that's the vehicle he's going to be using to proceed down where all these probably tens of thousands of people have gathered.
BLITZER: I just want to remind our viewers on the left part of the screen, the governor of New York, the mayor of New York City, the senator from New York. They are there, among all the other dignitaries getting ready to welcome this pope to St. Patrick's Cathedral.
You were pointing out, Delia, that this Popemobile, as it's called, it is open on the sides. It's different than the Popemobile that other popes have used.
You can have obviously different variations on your Popemobile. So, sometimes, they have a glass-enclosed Popemobile, depending on whether security concerns or just generally what the pope prefers.
And, you know, Pope Benedict used a glass-enclosed one quite a lot in terms -- also because of the air that bothered him sometimes. It was colder and so on. And Pope Francis obviously wants it to be as open as possible.
That being said, if you're security and you say, Pope Francis, you cannot get down from this Popemobile, he's obvious willing to abide first by whatever security tells him.
BLITZER: Security comes first, as much as this pope would like to go touch and meet and greet people along this motorcade.
All right, stand by. We're still a few minutes away from the pope reaching here to St. Patrick's Cathedral. Let's take another quick break.
We will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back. You're looking at live pictures, Fifth Avenue here in Manhattan. The motorcade bringing the Pope to St. Patrick's Cathedral. It's moving along. There you see the Popemobile, Anderson.
[18:30:53] We're awaiting the pontiff to get on that Popemobile. He'll go down Fifth Avenue. He'll pass all those people along the way, including outside Trump Tower, 55 -- 55th 56th Street, and make his way down here, 51st, 50th Street; the St. Patrick's Cathedral evening prayers will await the pontiff. COOPER: And we were remarking during the break, Fifth Avenue,
many you have not been to Manhattan, obviously, is one of the most expensive avenues, particular think this stretch in the 50s. You have some of the biggest shops, Tiffany and Gucci and all these stores, very expensive watch stores.
So it's interesting to see this pontiff, who has placed so much emphasis on reaching out to people, on people in need, on taking care of the least fortunate among us in his Fiat to be driving...
BLITZER: Here it comes. Here is the Fiat. You'll see the pontiff exit the Fiat and go on to that Popemobile. You know what? As we see this, let's pause for a moment. Let's absorb the sights and sounds.
COOPER: Yes, I think we're really going to hear the crowd once he gets into that Popemobile and once it actually starts to move, once that crowd is really able to start to see him. Right now he's really surrounded by Vatican security, by Secret Service, by officers from the NYPD.
BLITZER: Only going to take a few minutes for him to come down.
On the other hand, Delia, we've seen this Pope make these unscheduled exits, if you will. I think he's going to board the Popemobile right now, but it wouldn't surprise us completely if he decides, "You know what? I want to pause and go greet some people."
COOPER: He's talking, by the way, to the commissioner of the NYPD, Commissioner Bratton.
GALLAGHER: Yes, if they haven't told him otherwise, you know, if they said, "You can do it," then I'm sure he would be happy to, but it sure doesn't look like they're giving him a whole lot of possibility.
One interesting thing is...
COOPER: And let's listen in just as they get a glimpse of him.
GALLAGHER: It's very rare to see something like this, because normally when the Pope travels, or even when he's at the Vatican, they don't like to show you the transfer moments. You just see him in one place and then you'll see him in the next place already ready. They don't like to show you the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of the Pope.
A similar idea: you don't see the Pope eating in public and that kind of thing. They're very into the bella figura (ph), making a good impression. And so you'll tend to get just the one shot of him ready to go in the Popemobile. So we're actually kind of getting a fun bird's eye view of something going on behind the scenes, and the security chatting with each other, getting him set up.
COOPER: I love it when you drop Italian phrases. Bella figura (ph).
BLITZER: Is that Cardinal Dolan...
BECK: Yes, it is.
BLITZER: ... in the back there? Who's a very popular figure, Father Beck. Tell us a little bit about him.
BECK: He is -- well, he is the gregarious cardinal of New York. He's known to love his food. He always pats his belly around New York. And he's looking in his element. He's grinning from ear to ear. This is his moment. The Pope has come to his New York, and he is going to enjoy it from beginning to end.
BLITZER: Father David O'Connell is with us, as well, the bishop of Trenton, New Jersey, the former president of Catholic University.
Father O'Connell, this is an exciting moment as we -- as he goes down Fifth Avenue, where there are a lot of -- lot of very fancy stores. He'll make his way here to St. Patrick's Cathedral, which has been restored beautifully in recent years at great expense. And he will go in for vespers or evening prayers. Tell our viewers here in the United States, Father O'Connell, what we can expect inside St. Patrick's Cathedral.
FATHER DAVID O'CONNELL, BISHOP OF TRENTON, NEW JERSEY: Well, there will be a little bit of a ceremony, as Father Beck mentioned earlier. He'll kiss the cross. He'll be greeted by the rector, and he'll proceed up towards the sanctuary at the top of the church. And the prayers will begin.
And he's speaking to or praying with bishops, priests, deacons, others, sisters, religious and lay folks. And it's going to be a beautiful -- a beautiful prayer, as it was yesterday, when the bishops prayed with him in Washington.
COOPER: It's extraordinary when you look at all the vehicles surrounding this Pope on the sides and also behind him. You just get a sense of just the sheer number of security personnel who are involved in this operation.
GALLAGHER: I wanted to point out, Anderson, that the main man -- he's just moved out of the screen, but the head of Vatican security and the main guy who's in charge of the operation, at least from the Vatican point of view, is a bald man with glasses that you'll see walking close to the Popemobile.
And he's the one, if the Pope wants to stop or if -- there he is on the bottom right hand of your screen there. If the Pope wants to stop, if he wants a kiss a baby, if he wants to do anything, he's the one that is going to know about it and is going to take care of it. He's running the show from the Vatican side, at least.
BLITZER: And he's standing, waving and, who knows, is it unusual, Delia? You're in Rome. You're in the Vatican all the time. Would he stop that Popemobile and get out and go talk to people? GALLAGHER: Like I said, if they have told him that that is a
possibility -- they would have agreed beforehand whether or not he can do that. And then he would give the signal to that gentleman that I was talking about before to say, "Let's stop here." I don't know if they've given him that possibility, frankly, Wolf, and that would depend on the host country.
BLITZER: For Catholics, Father Beck, who are watching, who are along Fifth Avenue on both sides -- they're crowded in -- this is a moment that they will always remember.
BECK: They will cherish this moment because how rare it is that anyone gets to see a Pope, and yet he has come here to the United States.
We think of other popes who have been here. And I was thinking as I look at this Popemobile, it's only in recent times we have any kind of protective covering. And that's because John Paul II, there was an attempt on his life twice. And it was only after that they began to use this kind of enclosure. Benedict had a full enclosure, this Pope has a half enclosure, because he wants more accessibility.
But yes, for Catholics, this is a moment. And for all people of faith, this is a moment right now.
BLITZER: And they will want to be blessed by this Pope, as well, and the Pope when he raises his hand, in effect, he's blessing all those people.
BECK: That is right. He'll make the sign of the cross and bless them, or by the extension of his hand. It is indeed a blessing.
We have all if these motorcycles behind us.
COOPER: Got about two dozen -- two dozen NYPD motorcycles passing right now by St. Patrick's Cathedral. That still blocks in front of the pictures you're seeing right now, where the pope has now gotten onto the Popemobile and is gradually slowly moving down Fifth Avenue. As you can probably hear also, the bells of St. Patrick's Cathedral are ringing out to welcome this pontiff for his first visit to this shrine.
BLITZER: And Anderson, you can only imagine how many videos and pictures are going to be posted on social media, as a result of what's happening here in Manhattan right now.
COOPER: There's some people -- I mean, they're so deep on Fifth Avenue, some people in the back probably can't even see the pontiff, but they're holding up their cameras, just hoping that they'll get something, some images that they can look at later to register that they were, in fact, there.
But just the excitement of being in that crowd, you can really feel it when you talk to people, as we did when we were coming here.
BLITZER: Alexandra Field, are you there in that crowd right now? If you are, tell us where you are and what you're seeing.
Unfortunately, I think we don't have Alexandra. We don't have Jason Carroll. We're going to try to reconnect with them.
But you see all these vehicles. You see all the protection for the Pope.
Jim Sciutto, you're watching what's going on, and it's a moment New Yorkers certainly will always remember.
SCIUTTO: No question. It's a special moment. You want to focus on that moment but really, you can't help but notice the enormous phalanx of security around him.
We watched the security in Washington when he did the brief circle of the White House Ellipse and that parade route. That security looks intense. This even a level up.
And some of that is the nature of the threat. Some of it is the style of the security on the ground here. And it is more security than he would have in Rome. That's partly style. But it's also the perception that there is a greater threat here.
And just again, we know that the Pope said privately to his staff that he's a bit frustrated by the distance he's had to keep from the crowd most of the time. We saw him bridge that distance when he landed at the airport at JFK. But you know this Pope; we know this Pope. We know where he likes to be, how close he likes to be to the crowd. It's not ideal for him but a decision made by the Secret Service, done with the New York Police Department, with the FBI and Vatican security.
BLITZER: I talked to a former Swiss Guard last night, who used to guard the Pope. And one of the things he was saying is that it's a balance. For the Vatican security, it's a balance between securing the Pope, protecting him, his physical safety, and also his mission, his mission to reach out to people. And Secret Service, they obviously err on the side of security, but for the Vatican security, when they're in St. Peters and elsewhere, for them they have to walk that line.
GALLAGHER: Yes. We should say also, Anderson, that you know, this Pope and others have already taken into account the fact that, yes, their security is important, but that's not really the main thing. And what's going to be is going to be. And I think, you know, we saw that with John Paul, the assassination attempt right in his own front yard in St. Peter's Square. So after that, they didn't -- they tried to increase security but still allowing the Pope to be Pope.
COOPER: Let's see -- as the Popemobile approaches the camera, let's just kind of listen to the sounds to see if we can hear the crowd response to the pontiff.
COOPER: He's about 200 feet from the St. Patrick's Cathedral right now. I can actually see him now from our location. And I've got to say, it is an extraordinary sight to actually see the Pope. For having covered him for so long, to suddenly see him in person.
He is now pulling up right in front of St. Patrick's. You can see the media risers. That is where we are. And he's just about to be greeted by the mayor of New York, the governor of New York, senator of New York, Chuck Schumer, and others.
BLITZER: You know, it's amazing when you think about this, Anderson. The Pope, he's been up since early this morning. He delivered a lengthy address before the United States Congress. He then had lunch with homeless people in Washington D.C., making his way here. And look, he's about to get out...
COOPER: Pope, turn around. He's right here. Stop looking the in the monitor.
BLITZER: And he looks so alert. He looks so pumped. He looks so excited. It's an amazing moment.
COOPER: And he's right there. It's extraordinary. This is an amazing, amazing vantage point. For the kids who are waiting for him, this is incredibly exciting. Let's just listen in here as the crowd greets him.
BLITZER: All right. There is the pontiff speaking with the governor of New York, Governor Cuomo. You see Chuck Schumer, the senior senator from New York. He's here, as well as the cardinal here in New York City. They're all getting ready to go inside for evening prayers.
A huge crowd here, Anderson. I must say, I haven't seen you this excited in a long time.
COOPER: It's cool. It's cool. I mean, it's the Pope. You don't get to see the Pope every day.
BECK (?): That is true.
COOPER: Awesome. I mean, I was in -- I was in St. Peter's when he came out on that balcony and, you know, that was an extraordinary moment.
GALLAGHER: Because it seems a little bit more normal.
COOPER: It does. To see him in New York...
GALLAGHER: On Fifth Avenue.
COOPER: In the Popemobile, which is such a cool vehicle.
BECK: Anderson, if you'll remember, I was there with you there and when his name was announced, we said who?
BECK: We never could have imagined who that who would be.
BLITZER: John Berman is with us, as well. John, you're right across the street from the Pope, and you have a bird's eye view.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's just really unbelievable to see Governor Cuomo speaking to the Pope. Perhaps in Italian. Governor Cuomo does speak some Italian, as does the Pope.
BERMAN: Governor of New York speaking to the Pope right now. The mayor, Bill de Blasio, there. They're posing for photos. You can see the smiles on all those men's faces.
And by the way, they're three large men. Very tall. Andrew Cuomo, very tall. But Pope Francis, I think, up to the moment. The size of the moment per see, now waving to the masses of people who have been waiting here for hours and hours just to see him.
COOPER: He was just pointing out to the school kids who have been waiting to see this pope and that's who the pope is waving to, school kids, which are off to his left on his left side to his right are some of the workers who have been working on St. Patrick's Cathedral.
BLITZER: Amazing moment.
BERMAN: $177 million.
BLITZER: Watching on television, but as much as it is amazing for people watching, those of us here right across the street, watching the pope get out of the pope mobile and walk up these stairs into St. Patrick's Cathedral for this evening prayers, it's a moment we will always, always remember.
And, Delia Gallagher, you spent years at the Vatican, covering the Vatican, this is a moment you will cherish as well.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've seen a lot of papal entries into cities and cathedrals, but honestly, this one beats them all. I mean, really with the security, with the crowds, the lights, the bells, even for the pope it's a bit overwhelming at this point.
COOPER: It is an extraordinary avenue to be driving down, it's almost a cement canyon of glorious buildings on either side, beautiful shops and end up at this extraordinary cathedral and let's listen inside the church.
GALLAGHER: And, of course, he's going in to meet with his own priests, bishops and nuns of the archdiocese of New York and that's one of the main aspects of this trip, as well, of course, to encourage the people who are working in Catholic schools and Catholic churches and Catholic hospitals here in New York.
COOPER: Let's listen.
COOPER: They are singing "You Are Peter".
GALLAGHER: Peter being the first pope.
[18:53:59] BLITZER: All right. There you saw the pope deliver a prayer at the St. Elizabeth Altar. He's now going into a back room. He will be changing, I understand, and going back for the formal evening prayer.
Erin Burnett is with us here in New York.
Welcome back, first of all, Erin. I know you've been on maternity leave. You picked an excellent day to come back to work.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: I did. It's an absolutely beautiful day. I was raised catholic and baptizing my children Catholic in no small part because of this pope, like a lot of Catholics in this country.
BLITZER: Really? So he's had a huge impact on your life.
BURNETT: He has, in terms of liberalizing the church and a lot of the things that he said, and I think that's part of the reason you're seeing such enthusiasm and joy on the streets of New York.
BLITZER: Have you seen anything like this in New York city recently?
BURNETT: I've lived here for 15 years, Wolf. I have never seen anything where you have such an overwhelming sense of happiness, positive feeling as we are seeing today.
BLITZER: And even non-Catholics are extremely excited.
[18:55:00] Delia, you've been covering this pope ever since he became the pope but you've been covering the Vatican for 15-years- plus. And this is an extraordinary moment.
GALLAGHER: Yes. And I was even here with Pope Benedict in 2008, a number of trips with John Paul II who certainly rivaled Pope Francis in terms of popularity, but the show that the United States has put on so far certainly takes the cake in terms of papal trips.
BLITZER: Let's walk a little through the service, Father Beck, that is about to begin. Is it a lengthy service? A short service?
FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: It's not too lengthy, Wolf. It's an evening prayer service. There will be Psalms read. There will be Scriptures read. The pope will give a homily in Spanish. So, I'm glad he's giving it in Spanish, but he tends to throw away the text a little more and go off script when he's speaking in Spanish. It will be interesting to hear what he says and doesn't say in that homily here at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
BLITZER: Erin, the crowd here that gathered outside, those invited guests inside, this is a moment that certainly they will appreciate. But what's so extraordinary is that people here in the United States and indeed all over the world, they are watching.
BURNETT: This is a moment for the world to see. I think that's something about it, that gives you pause and you realize as he was slowly moving down the street, Wolf. Just how important this moment is, that one man could make so many people so moved.
BLITZER: He's got a unique ability of the people's pope. He delivered a beautiful, powerful speech before the United States Congress. Tomorrow he's got another speech, Erin, scheduled for tomorrow morning only a few blocks away at the United Nations.
BURNETT: That's right. He's going to be speaking at the U.N. and visiting the site of the 9/11 attacks, visiting children up in Harlem, making that whole mission about children and those who are impoverished a core part of his visit here today, right? He didn't spend time with Congress at lunch. He spent time with the poor.
BLITZER: Like the homeless in Washington, D.C.
Delia, this has been an extraordinarily long day for this pope. He's not a young man. He started off in Washington early this morning, Capitol Hill, lunch with homeless, making his way to Joint Base Andrews, flying to New York, helicoptering here at the Manhattan and now inside St. Patrick's Cathedral.
GALLAGHER: Yes. And let's remember he did Cuba for a few days before he even got here. Here's the pope now coming out for evening vespers, his vestments.
BLITZER: And these vestments, Father Beck, these are special?
BECK: He's wearing a cope, it looks like, yes, a cope and it's green because it's ordinary time. And so, that is a color for ordinary time and it is a vestment that is worn for a prayer service as opposed to a mass.
BLITZER: This prayer service is going to begin. I'd love our viewers to listen in now.
BURNETT: And welcome to all of us just joining us. You can see the pope here, Pope Francis, right now about to lead an evening prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. We are right outside watching this. We're going to be bringing this to you in full.