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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Ambassador Ray Flynn

Aired August 7, 2003 - 19:36   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. We did get former Mayor Ray Flynn, his audio is now working again so we are going to join him. Ray Flynn is also the national president of yourcatholicvoice.org. He's also former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. Ambassador Flynn, thanks for joining us. I'm glad we were able to get the audio sorted out. What do you make of this document that has surfaced?
RAY FLYNN, AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN: As I read the document I find it relates to ecclesiastical crimes. In other words, crimes under the seal of confession and, of course, there would be a separate guidelines and regulations that would be spelled up in canonical law going back many, many centuries talking specifically about the seal of the confessional.

However, I'm not surprised that there are records, however, that go back many, many years, such as this one, 41 years and they're just becoming -- they're coming forward now. Monsenior Frank Meniskalcal (ph) of the United States Conference of Bishops says, you know, read the entire document don't just extract certain aspects of it. Don't take it out of context. I think that's what's happening here, is if there was some sort of massive cover-up directed by the holy father himself in directing that to all the bishops throughout the United States.

COOPER: But doesn't the document not call for silence, not only on the part of the -- any priests involved or the church, but also on the part of any alleged victim?

FLYNN: Anderson you made a good point there when you were talking to my friend, Phil, and you asked the question how is it that after all these years, 40 some odd years we're just finding out about it now? This document would conceivebly or this policy would conceivebly have to be forward to at least 195 bishops in the United States and across the world for that matter. Can you imagine a document as volatile and as explosive as that is suggesting a massive cover-up and nobody has ever heard of it and now all of a sudden somebody's come forward and saying they've discovered this document and reporting on it?

Look, there's no question about it, the Vatican deals in the level of secrecy like there's no other institution that I've ever -- I've been aware of and I worked there almost five years and they have to come forward. They have to open up the windows and let people know more about what's going on within the church, but to start because of their policy of secrecy, let's not, you know, misstate their entire intentions in the mission of the Catholic church, which has been a church of good in helping people and hope and justice for the overwhelm magority of people in this world for 2,000 years.

COOPER: Well, obviously this is not the last we've heard of this. I'm sure we're going to be talking about this for -- at least a little while to come -- and may play a part in lawsuits. Do you think that is part of the controversy around this? Do you think this is going to be brought up in lawsuits against the church used by people as way to get, you know, settlements from the church?

FLYNN: Anderson, look, if you were to sue somebody, and you were to sue a parish or a diocese that really doesn't have very much money, the church services, the poor, and you know that there is a limit to the amount of money you can get, you would look for a bigger fish to go after. You wouldn't go after the minnows you'd want to get the whale. If you could reach the Vatican in involving them in some sort of massive cover-up you would have yourself quite a lawsuit and you'd be well off. You'd get more money than you can possibly ever imagine spending.

COOPER: Well, I'm sure there are a lot of people that would take issue with that statement. But, we're going to have to leave it there. We do appreciate you coming in, ambassador Flynn. I'm glad we got the audio situation worked out. Thanks very much. Good to talk to you.

FLYNN: Thank you.

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