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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Pope's Breathing Becoming Shallow

Aired April 1, 2005 - 16:00   ET

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


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN HOST: We're listening to CNN's Vatican analyst Delia Gallagher. We want to tell you it is now 4:00 on the east coast of the United States. It is 11:00 in the evening in Rome, one hour from midnight. We are keeping vigil as we watch the Vatican, as we watch the declining health of Pope John Paul II, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. 1.1 billion Roman Catholics in the world, around is the world, all of them, all of those who can are presumably watching, paying attention to what is happening with the health of this pope.
He is said to be by some clinging to life at this hour. Again, 11:00 p.m. in Rome. His condition has deteriorated, the Vatican says. His breathing is described as shallow, kidneys failing after complications from a urinary tract infection. And of course, all this in the wake of a hospitalization just a few weeks ago and complicated by the pope's Parkinson's disease.

Delia, I want to bring you back in, how much of what happens from now going forward is already set by the wishes of this pope?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Well, in terms of what happens in the future of the Catholic Church is a very broad subject, of course. But, let us say that the pope has put in place cardinals that he feels will be able to carry out those duties. That does not necessarily mean that those cardinals agree with the pope on every issue. And so, it really remains to be seen depending on who the next pope would be, where that future will go. I think we can say in a very general way, of course, it might continue some of the things that this pope has begun, but that is not to say that a new pope will not put an entirely new imprint on the church. It's a very much an open question at this point, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Delia, and what about in the more immediate term, right now. How much of the procedures that are followed in the wake of the pope's death, if he dies, how much of that has been set by Pope John Paul himself?

GALLAGHER: Well, this pope did revise the rules for election of a new pope. One of the important things that he did will be important for the cardinals who are coming is have new hotel dormitory place set up for these cardinals so they could be comfortable during those days when they had to make such an important decision. Before they had to arrange themselves around the Apostolic Palace around the Sistine Chapel in rather uncomfortable make-shift dormitory-type settings. So that was an important change that this pope made. Certainly it will be important for the popes coming up. But beyond that the pope revised some of the rules in the way of voting. But generally maintained the long tradition of the church for choose a new pope. Judy?

WOODRUFF: Delia, you deal with the Vatican every day, how are they, the people you deal with, how are they handling all this right now?

GALLAGHER: Well, the Vatican is a fairly unflappable place and I think at this stage of the pope's condition, most -- the sentiment I hear most often is that he has, he has led a wonderful life, he has led the church well and rather than the sentiment that we might have heard a few months ago, a kind of desire that he can overcome these crises and now we hear a very different tone from the crowd and from people in the Vatican that say we hope that he can be at peace. Judy?

WOODRUFF: All right, Delia, Gallagher, thank you very much. Delia is CNN's Vatican analyst. She's been doing yeoman's or should I say yeowoman's duty standing by pretty much non-stop since yesterday when we did learn that the pope's condition had taken a turn for the worst. Delia, we want to thank you and, of course, we are going to be coming back to you a lot in the hours and days to come.

Well, during his rein Pope John Paul II became history's literally most traveled pontiff. He's also refused to remain silent on matters of global significance. Joining me now to talk about that, that part of his papacy is Kevin Locke, a former Jesuit priest, a former public relations director for Vatican radio and currently a vice president at the Washington Theological Union. Kevin Locke, it's very good to see you.

KEVIN LOCKE, WASHINGTON THEOLOGICAL UNION. Very good to be here, Judy. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: As you think about this pope and what he has meant, what are the things that come to mind?

LOCKE: Well, I think one of the main things he has done, Judy, apart from all the very large things is personalize the ministry of the pope. He, as you mentioned, is the most widely traveled pope, he's everywhere. He has really brought the papacy the ministry of the pope face to face with more people than had ever occurred in history prior.

WOODRUFF: It seems to me there never was a pope, of course, I have only been around for a few of them, but the ones that at least we have read about or saw before this weren't as approachable as this pope has seemed to be. Is that an illusion or is that real?

LOCKE: No, I think that's real and I think it's a function of the times. The pope has been in his present office for over 20 years. The world has changed tremendously in 20 years. The type of information that you're receiving from the Vatican regarding his passing is unprecedented, when you go back to the ...

WOODRUFF: It really is unprecedented?

LOCKE: Yeah. I think so. So, you're getting updates from the Vatican on the pope's condition, whereas, in the past, you wouldn't have that kind of information because the communication age wasn't what it is now. Forty years ago, I think it was around 40 years ago when Pope John XXIII died. There was the news bulletin and that was about it. They did not have much by the ways of information or means of communicating that. They did through Vatican radio.

WOODRUFF: I want to talk some more about this pope's worldwide impact. We were talking about how approachable he seems. You've met with him. Tell us about him.

LOCKE: He's very personable and I suppose approachable but not in the American sense of that word. You are in a - You're in a court ...

WOODRUFF: We have a photograph we're showing. Tell us when this was?

LOCKE: This was about four years ago on January 1. It's a tradition that the Holy Father receives all the Jesuits living in Rome on New Year's Day after the ....

WOODRUFF: So this is at the Vatican?

LOCKE: Yes.

WOODRUFF: And tell us about that encounter. Did you speak with him?

LOCKE: Yes, I did. But I would travel with the pope because, in my position as director of public relations of Vatican Radio, Vatican Radio actually owns the voice of the pope and wherever he goes, Vatican Radio goes and also broadcasts. So, it's almost like the Vatican's private network. And, in my position, I would do some pre- press work in advance of the pope's arrival. But I could tell you an interesting story. We were at St. Patrick's cathedral when he was here in 1995. When the pope travels there is a book that is very, very thick and every moment is accounted for.

WOODRUFF: Down to the second.

LOCKE: Down to the second. Well, we were in -- the papal party was whisked out of the cathedral at the back door into the limousines after the service concluded. The pope was to go down the nave to Fifth Avenue, greet several pre-selected people, go into the Popemobile and then be brought around to the back of the cathedral, put into the limousine so we could go to our next appointment.

But, the pope liking people, being personable, being approachable, he went out St. Patrick's and took a left and the secret service found him somewhere below Saks Fifth Avenue on Fifth Avenue talking to people.

WOODRUFF: He didn't let anybody know ahead of time he was planning to do this.

LOCKE: No. Sometimes you could see him, he would push his aides away and just go on. Very, very motivated by the interaction with other people. It enlivens -- And especially younger people. Many, many people said that earlier.

WOODRUFF: So you were around him more than once if you were ...

LOCKE: Yes.

WOODRUFF: What was it like? What is he like?

LOCKE: We don't have, it's like asking what is Queen Elizabeth like. I really don't know. When you're in the papal court, you speak to the pope, if you're presented. You don't go and talk to him unannounced or unasked, if you're not requested. But there were certain situations where my boss would present me. Very, very warm man, powerful, spiritual, holy, maybe even saintly.

WOODRUFF: Extraordinarily well read.

LOCKE: Extraordinarily well read. He's an actor, he is an athlete, poet. So he's really a well-rounded renaissance man and I think -- an intellectual, of course. I think because he is such a modern-day renaissance man and he has the world captivated, he's able to use that to the benefit of the church by using his charisma in a very natural way.

WOODRUFF: Do you think, of course, there is no way to know who a successor would be once this pope passes, but does that raise the bar? Does it make it -- are the expectations higher for the next pontiff, do you think, because of this?

LOCKE: Well, I don't know about the College of Cardinals, but I think John Q. Public on the street has certain expectations and this, as they say, is going to be a very tough act to follow.

WOODRUFF: All right. That may not be the last time we hear those words. Tough act to follow.

LOCKE: I guess not.

WOODRUFF: Kevin Locke, a former Jesuit priest who has worked at Vatican Radio. We thank you so much for being with.

LOCKE: You're quite welcome. Happy to be here.

WOODRUFF: From Washington, we're going to turn back to Rome and to CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. Christiane, I'm assuming you're near the Vatican. What are you learning from your sources about the pope's condition?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there has been no further official word on his condition for the last several hours when he was pronounced to be rapidly deteriorating, his kidneys and other organs failing. But still the Vatican says he is lucid, although they have been saying all day he is preparing to surrender himself to the Almighty.

Now, a few moments ago I was behind where I am now in Vatican Square which is gradually filling up. Thousands of people there, not only the curious, but the faithful, as well. I stopped and talked to quite a few of them, including there were Americans, Italians, Poles and others who have come to basically pay their respects. All the people I spoke to said, of course, they pray for a miracle but they believe this is the end. People told me that they believe that this is a great man, a man with incredible charisma, moral fortitude and one of the great figures of the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st century and they've come, they said, to say prayers.

And an element of the finality and formality of what seems to be gathering here. There were screens put up and a formal rosary was said. The rosary said along the mysteries of the pope himself introduced during his own papacies.

I saw couples young and old holding on to each other, holding candles, heads bowed in prayers. Some of them had tears. I spoke to an American couple who said they had come simply to pray and they believed that this was a time when they needed to pray. So a great deal of emotion really beginning to pour out.

But having said that, St. Peter Square, Vatican Square is almost silent. It is amazing to see all these people in here and it's not this huge hubbub, people are very, very quiet, it's a very somber moment. Even though many, many Catholics disagreed with some of the conservative views of the pope held all throughout his papacy, many women regretted that women weren't furthered in power in the Catholic Church. There's been a dwindling of the flock in many parts of the developing world, certainly.

A problem with recruitment of priests and the like, but still at this time people recognized that he was an incredibly strong person. They point to his role in the collapse of communism in his native Poland, which in many ways started the dominoes falling and many of the other moral stances he has taken in international affairs. The fact that he is the most traveled pope, that he cemented relations with so many countries that have been broken for so many years and he is the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. All of these firsts make him very special for those who come to pray with him. Almost, as one analyst said, they came to pray in mass at his death bed really around the world in the Catholic flock. Judy?

WOODRUFF: Very special to many, indeed. We're talking with Christiane Amanpour who is of course our chief international correspondent. She is now reporting at the Vatican. Christiane, we associate you, of course, with so many international stories, with wars because you've covered those. This pope has traveled to countries that have been racked by war, among them Bosnia and Kosovo. Tell us about your coverage of this pope, what you've seen and what you heard from him.

AMANPOUR: I remember very vividly in 1994 when the pope was making a trip to the Balkans and he wanted to come to Bosnia and it was a period of relative calm. There was sort of a no-go zone around Sarajevo in the early months of 1994 and he wanted to land in Sarajevo Airport even though it was still under siege by the Sebrian forces. He wasn't able to because Radovan Karadzic, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs, the wanted criminal who is still at large, refused to quote "guarantee the pope's security."

And, so, his own officials and the generals on the ground, the UN generals felt that it would be best for him not to come. He desperately wanted to come and three years later he did come. It was after the war and he covered that trip and amazing to come Sarajevo the scene he talked about so many times. The scene of so many suffering and hold an open-air mass in what used to be the stadium that had really been the subject of such intense bombardment and right around that stadium were the graves of so many Sarajevans who fell and had died in that war.

So it was a very powerful scene. He always spoke about reconciliation and that moment in Sarajevo in 1997 was special because for many, many years it was the symbol of ethnic tolerance and ethnic conciliation and he went there to try to promote that.

I also covered him in Cuba in 1998. The first pope ever to go to Cuba and there was a huge sense of excitement when he came to Cuba because he had extracted so many concessions form the dictator, Fidel Castro. And for a moment there people hoped that there would be Havana spring, that the religious tolerance that had been accepted for his visit, the openness, more openness and the ability of Christians to worship in Cuba. People hoped that that would lead to perhaps the end of the dictatorship there, well, it didn't, but his visit was considered a successful one and that was very exciting and intense visit to cover.

WOODRUFF: We're talking with Christiane Amanpour who's at the Vatican, of course, in Rome, as we watch this live pictures at St. Peter's Square. A great vigil now under way as we wait for further word on the health of Pope John Paul II. Christiane, we spend so much of our time talking about political leaders and military leaders, of course, the Vatican has no army. This pope has no army and, yet, he has been an enormous political force on this planet.

AMANPOUR: Indeed. Perhaps I'm getting it wrong but I believe it was Stalin or the like who asked once, how many divisions does the pope have? None, as you say, militarily, but certainly morally. Many legions of soldiers and warriors in his moral crusade. As I say, his particular orthodoxy was quite controversial amongst many Catholics. There were many Catholics under his papacy who became, if you like, a la carte Catholics who simply refused to abandon their religions but also refused to stick by what they considered harsh and orthodox rules that he himself imposed.

And they prefer to follow their own religion according to their own conscience. Many Catholic officials would say that is not an option. It is either doctrine or it is not doctrine. But there have been many triumphs under his papacy, most notably the greatest, most would agree was his singular role in supporting the workers in Poland, supporting the Solidarity movement and supporting then the shipyard worker Lech Walesa and really being the moral force, along with Lech Walesa and some would say also President Ronald Reagan of helping to usher the end of communism. That was a very, very big page in his historic legacy. And then, afterwards, talking about peace and reconciliation. The many, many times that he reached out to other faiths. That he restored diplomatic relations, for instance, with Britain and the Anglican Church which had been ruptured for hundreds of year since Henry VIII broke relations with the church when he wanted to divorce his Catholic wife and marry another. And rather then -- and basically created a new church because of that and broke with Rome. It was this pope who restored relations with Great Britain and relations with the Anglican Church.

It was this church, this pope who restored relations with the United States of America which have been suspended since the 1800s. It was this pope spoke out against forms of discrimination and forms of slavery, certainly poverty, ethnic intolerance, religious intolerance, who apologized many times for the injustices done to the Jews, for instance, by the Catholic Church. Apologized for not doing enough -- the Catholic Church not doing enough to stop the Holocaust, reconciled and reached out to Muslims, he's the first pope ever to step foot inside a mosque. That was at the incredible, magnificent Umayyad mosque in Damascus, Syria.

In fact, I was there about a week ago and was shown the inside of the mosque that the pope visited where St. John the Baptist is entombed and where the pope went and kissed the mausoleum that surrounds the remains of St. John the Baptist. So this pope has reached out - and we have spoken so many times about him being the most traveled pope in the world. A hundred and four different trips, 129 countries and created a sort of international foreign policy for the Vatican, if you like.

WOODRUFF: Indeed. An international foreign policy. And Christiane, as we've touched on, as you were just saying, he's spoken out against war time and again, specifically he spoke out against the war in Iraq. He has spoken out against other wars. But Christiane, in your experience, do you know the political leader who did more than listen politely to those arguments? Was it polite listening or do you know of an example where a leader stopped and said, maybe the Vatican, maybe the pope is right we shouldn't go ahead with whatever we have in mind here.

AMANPOUR: Well, you know, there were many leaders around the world who agreed with him when he opposed the war in Iraq. That is an issue of great controversy. The pope was on the side of the majority when it came to the war in Iraq. On the other hand, he has been known to talk about just war and he did talk about, for instance, the intervention in the Balkans to stop genocide as a just intervention and just wars. So, he wasn't just a knee jerk anti-war president. I think he believed very strongly that there were cases where war and intervention were vitally necessary and equally, he believed that there were cases that other method, perhaps, may have been better suited to the times and to the case at hand.

WOODRUFF: Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent. She's now with us from Rome reporting from the Vatican as we keep a vigil, you can see the live picture there's at St. Peter's Square as we watch the health, perhaps the last hours in the life of Pope John Paul II. Our coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Enormously influential Pope John Paul II, he may be in the final hours of his life. His health has taken a turn for the worse, according to official Vatican statements. We are watching. This is the huge crowd that has gathered at St. Peter's square there in Rome at the Vatican. This pope has enjoyed a close relationship or partnership with American presidents throughout the years. And with me now to talk about the pope's influence on this country and its politics is our senior political analyst Bill Schneider. You know, Bill, many people think of this pope and they think conservative. But you and I were just talking and it is much more complex than that.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN ANALYST: It certainly. Conservative certainly on doctrinal issues. He was opposed to abortion, critical of homosexuality did not want, would not allow any discussion women becoming priests or celibacy, contraception, divorce. On all those social and moral issues he was very much a defender of church orthodoxy. But on a lot of political issues he would be considered progressive. He called himself a voice for the voiceless. He defended what he once in a book called "the poor, the disinherited, the oppressed, marginalized and defenseless."

In fact, some people called him the socialist pope because he called for new world economic order. Well you put those two together and you get a kind of ideological mix that can be called populist, progressive on economic issues, conservative on moral issues.

WOODRUFF: Well, that may make it uncomfortable for some of those woo would like to associate themselves politically with this pope.

SCHNEIDER: Which is probably the way he likes it. He did not want to be put into a box and I'm not sure he would be comfortable being called a populist. But I do think that's why he was beloved by hundreds of millions of people around the world whose views he embodied and reflected.

WOODRUFF: Bill, I was just looking. There are, let's see, 61 million Catholics in the United States. They are always a sought- after voting bloc in this country. But they don't vote as a bloc.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. In the last election there was a bit of a surprise. We had the third Roman Catholic candidate for president after Al Smith and John F. Kennedy. But the big surprise is he lost the Catholic vote by a narrow margin. Thee exit polls showed 52 percent of Catholics in the United States voting for George W. Bush who, of course, is not a catholic. That was a bit of a surprise.

Well, there has been division in the Catholic vote as there have been among Protestants and other faiths. Observant Catholics who are followers of the pope's doctrine on social issues have become more and more Republican. Those Catholics who are non-observant and don't follow church teachings have become more Democratic and that's happened to a lot of religions. A division between the churched and the unchurched so to speak and it's shown up on Catholics and changed the Catholic vote.

WOODRUFF: Bill, how would you describe the relationship between President Bush, this President Bush and this pope?

SCHNEIDER: President Bush a lot about the culture of life. It's become one of his themes. He talked about it in the last few days when he talked about Terri Schiavo. He talks about it with respect to abortion. He brought it up in his radio address when he talked about the tragic shootings in Red Lake, Minnesota.

Well, the "culture of life" is a phrase that he borrowed from Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical, talked about the culture of life, the culture of death. Pope John Paul talked about the culture of life. He put together his opposition to euthanasia, the end of life and to abortion at the beginning of life. What the pope means by that phrase is the strong must protect the weak. A doctrine that really infuses everything he talks about.

Well, critics of President Bush say, well, he's using the phrase "the culture of life" to talk about protecting unborn children and protecting the disabled at the end of life, but the pope also talked about the weak, the disinherited, the voiceless at all stages of life and that's what a lot of people say the president doesn't pay enough attention to.

WOODRUFF: Well, it's no surprise to observe that people often will seize on a part of what the pope has said use it to bolster their argument and they may ignore the rest of it.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. And he's said so much on so many issues and he's been influential on so many issues that it's possible to do that.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider our senior political analyst. Thank you, Bill. Appreciate it.

We're going to turn from Washington back to Rome where we find our Jim Bitterman who has been following what's going on at the Vatican. Jim, you are in the CNN bureau there. Tell us what you're hearing and is there any further word from Vatican sources?

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No further word at all, Judy. The latest we heard from the Vatican sources is fairly grim announcement from Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the pope's spokesman who said earlier in the evening that the pope's condition worsened. More than that we don't know. We've heard grim words from a lot of people this evening, including some of the top churchmen.

A little earlier there was a recitation of the rosary at St. Peter's Square led by the Vatican's vicar general and he told the crowd that the pope had opened the doors to Christ for the faithful and now this evening or this night Christ opens the door to the pope making it sound pretty inevitable and then earlier at a mass that was celebrated to pray for the pope in St. John Lateran Church on the other side of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Runi, who is the vicar general of Rome said that the pope already sees and touches his lord. He's already united with his sole savior.

So a lot of very downcast churchmen and faithful here around Rome tonight as people are waiting, I think, for the inevitable. Judy?

WOODRUFF: Jim, have you ever seen anything quite like this?

BITTERMAN: Actually, I have, Judy, because I was here back in 1978 when Paul VI died and also then when John Paul I died very suddenly after only 31 days in office. In fact, I think the church goes through these transitions and goes through them fairly smoothly. It may look a little bumpy on 24/7 news channels, but, in fact for the church, it manages to get over these things. It has happened 263 times in the past, papal transitions and it is likely to go on for some time. So I think they'll get beyond this. It's kind of a moment where we're raising expectations a bit with our 24-hour news coverage.

Twenty six years ago, when Paul VI died and John Paul I was elected, there was no satellites. There was no television. We were still shooting our pictures on film back then. I think a lot of things have changed to make this look a little bit difficult in an age of the 24/7 news. But the fact is, the church actually has a lot of mechanisms in place, which will get it through this period and the period that's going to come ahead here with the conclave and the election of the new pope -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jim, I'm assuming there has never been as bright or as constant a spotlight on the Vatican as there is right now.

BITTERMANN: And the Vatican doesn't respond to that always very well. In fact, I think in some ways it's quite a creaky organization that hasn't quite followed the Pope's lead always toward the modern media. The fact is that there are a lot of things that have only changed just in the last few days around the Vatican press office.

There was a rather startling announcement today that the Vatican press office is going to stay open 24 hours. That has just never happened in the history of the church, that the press office has needed to stay open 24 hours. And of course, it leads everyone to speculate, that, of course, they have got something that they want to announce.

WOODRUFF: Jim, I know you're not right there where we see the crowd. We're showing you, in a portion of the screen -- the other portion we're showing this enormous crowd at St. Peter's square. Is it your sense that the people who are there are simply going to wait until we know something more, one way or another?

BITTERMANN: I think so. I think that there will be a small crowd, maybe a little smaller at 3:00 in the morning than right now. It's on towards 11:30 now here in Rome. And I think the crowd will probably dwindle as this drags on through the evening.

But I am sure that there are going to be plenty of people who will stay out all night long waiting for some kind of word or some kind of indication of what's happened. And I think it's a real mix of people. I think there are some people that are there simply out of curiosity. Others are there out of their faith and they want to be there for this moment to support the Pope.

It's a mixed crowd. But I think there is going to be people that will want to stay all night long and make sure that they're testifying to their faith -- Judy?

WOODRUFF: Jim, this is kind of a small question, but do they always keep the bright, bright lights on this late at night there?

BITTERMANN: No, no, this is totally exceptional. This started last night. And a lot of people read some things into it last night. It didn't seem to mean much.

One thing should be said, it's completely contradictory. In one way, perhaps, it's a sign that the Vatican is saying the Pope is still alive, that the lights are still on in the papal apartment. In another way, some people remember that when John XXIII died, in fact, they lit the lights in the papal apartments to indicate that the Pope had died. So once again, signals from the Vatican which can be read in many different ways.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jim Bittermann, keeping watch for us there in Rome as we follow the story of the health and perhaps the final hours in the life of Pope John Paul II. Jim, thanks very much. And of course, we're going to be coming back to you throughout this evening.

With me now in Washington is someone we've talked to whenever there's been a story around this Pope. His name is Robert Moynihan. He is the editor of the Monthly Roman Catholic Magazine, Inside the Vatican.

Now, you and I were just talking, Robert Moynihan, and you've learned that there is a portion of one of the psalms that this Pope wanted read to him.

ROBERT MOYNIHAN, MONTHLY ROMAN CATHOLIC MAGAZINE: Yes.

WOODRUFF: Tell us about that.

MOYNIHAN: Well, if we think back to this morning, the Pope had had a fever and was still lucid but was told by his doctors I think about dawn this morning in Rome that it was very grave. And he said, "What I want to do today is not go back to the hospital. I want to stay here. And I want to go through some prayers. And I want to take time to meditate and prepare myself."

So he prepared himself in part by going through the Stations of the Cross, which is something that Lent on each Friday the 14 stations -- very similar to the "Passion of the Christ."

WOODRUFF: The movie that we know. And of course, it has a much greater meaning.

MOYNIHAN: Yes. It's a remembrance of the final hours of the life of Christ. And so the Pope meditated on that as he, himself, was facing his final hours. And then he said, "I would like to hear the prayers for terse (ph) in the Breviary. And it's the longest psalm in the bible, and Psalm 119. And he asked to hear verses 25 to 32. And this is how it begins.

"I am lying on the ground. Give me the life that your word promises to me. My very great sadness has made me tired. Make me strong again as your word promises. I will run in the way of your commands because you give help to my heart."

And the refrain for the prayers is, "Christ has risen from the dead. Now he lives the immortal life. Alleluia, alleluia."

WOODRUFF: And you know this, obviously, from a very good source that he asked to have this read to him.

MOYNIHAN: Well, yes. But actually, it was revealed by Navarro Valls in the public press announcement. You just have to read very carefully what actually happened, and then you can reconstruct it.

WOODRUFF: Why do you think he, the Pope, asked for this verse?

MOYNIHAN: Well, he knows he's going on his last journey. And rather than just take a painkiller, he said, "I want to take the final steps consciously," even if he's in pain. I think he was in pain today. And meditate on the things that he's lived throughout his whole life and try to run right to the end, finish his race.

WOODRUFF: Is this Pope leaving the Roman Catholic Church, Robert Moynihan, in the strongest condition it's ever been in? How would you characterize the condition today of the church?

MOYNIHAN: Well, each Pope is a human being. And I was just mentioning earlier that they change their names. So this man's name was Karol Wojtyla, but he became John Paul II when he was elected. And he followed on John Paul I who reined only for 33 days. And John Paul I was following on Paul and John.

So these last four Popes are all connected, but they're all connected to previous Popes, Gregorys and Piuses, and they're all connected back to Peter. So they're not really themselves as men. They are in a role. They put on someone else's slippers. And someone is going to have to put his slippers on.

So he's tried to leave the Church in good shape, but there are enormous problems facing the Church. It faces problems from modernity, from secularism, from people who no longer believe in the teachings of the Church and have left, and there has been a mass exodus. There's no doubt of it.

WOODRUFF: So what are the main challenges facing the Pope who follows this Pope?

MOYNIHAN: Well, he has to keep going. He has to try to explain how the religion, the idea of the spiritual, the idea of something that transcends what we can see and touch, has some meaning. And in a world where we're very much connected with everything that we have produced in modern times, that's a hard sell.

WOODRUFF: You know, we talk in this country about how the presidency has evolved and how it's now expected that the president be someone who can come across on television. Is the papacy now at that state, where the church is going to need someone who can come across?

MOYNIHAN: Well, sometimes they could even decide to choose an entirely different type of person. Maybe we could have a little silence now. They could choose a monk. He could go and pray with his back to the people. And they could say, "What's he praying about?" And questioning in that way, they'll say, "Maybe there is something here that we have to search for."

The Pope made a tremendous effort to bring this to the people. He was on television. He was speaking to millions of people. He traveled everywhere. It's still not clear how much of that remains deep in the societies where he visited, among the young people that he visited.

And the structures of the church, which I think Delia referred to, or Jim referred to, as creaky in the Vatican. Everyone recognizes it. There were religious orders that were extremely strong, 40,000 Jesuits. I think we're down to 20,000 and dropping. And there's a lot of renewal that needs to take place in the Church, and not too many people know exactly which way to go.

WOODRUFF: Robert Moynihan, he's the editor of the Monthly Roman Catholic Magazine, Inside the Vatican. We turn to you whenever we have questions about this Pope. Thank you very much. And I know we're going to be continuing to turn to you throughout this day and this evening and in the days to come.

We want it get a very quick update now on the Pope's condition. We don't have a new report from the Vatican. The last information we had was that the Pope's health had taken a turn for the worse, that there had been an infection, a kidney infection, that there had been blood pressure issues, a fever.

And let's bring in our medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, help us understand everything we know about the Pope's condition?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: About 24 hours now we have been talking about this, Judy. It started with what appeared to be a significant infection, a urinary tract infection. You can look back to Wednesday morning, even taking a step further back. That nasal feeding tube was inserted.

Most didn't think much of that, except that he needed some extra calories. Then yesterday a blood pressure drop followed by this urinary tract infection. You and I talked about that, concerned about it at the time, give the high fevers, antibiotics.

And then we started had some information saying it looked like he was responding to the antibiotics, his condition had stabilized. And then by 1 o'clock in the morning, this is all Eastern Standard Time, he was deemed very serious, in septic shock, Judy, meaning that the bacteria from his bladder had actually spread into his blood stream, always a concern medically if that happens. And his heart and his blood circulation was not working well. They call that a collapse of his cardiovascular system. And then by 5:30 this morning, very serious blood pressure, unstable.

And then by noon, we heard that the condition had worsened, the heart and kidney function both insufficient. We also heard something that I thought was interesting, that he had visible participation in prayers at that time.

It just doesn't all add up, Judy, quite honestly, in terms of consistency. It is hard for someone who is in septic shock to be lucid. It is hard for someone who is in septic shock, even if you were otherwise a healthy person, to be participating in prayers. So I'm not exactly sure what this means. But I think this is not in doubt, that he is very sick and probably all of these things that we're talking irreversible at this point, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Sanjay, why does that contradictory? What would septic shock do to someone that would prevent them from being lucid enough to, say, ask for a specific prayer?

GUPTA: Yes, and I'm not saying that it absolutely couldn't happen, but what happens in septic shock is that there's an overwhelming infection in the body. That leads to your blood pressure dropping, significantly dropping, dangerously low. But more importantly, the organs in the body, the kidneys, the liver, and the brain aren't getting enough blood flow as a result of that, Judy.

And that's where some doubts, some eyebrows sort of raises. How can someone be absolutely lucid, interacting, being able to carry on their daily mental activities, if they have had periods of time now where their brain hasn't gotten enough blood flow? That's the part that doesn't add up completely for me.

But again, we're hearing, as of noon, the last former report that he was participating in some of these prayers, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We're talking to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of course, who's CNN's medical correspondent, even as we see these live pictures from St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in Rome.

Sanjay, I asked you the last time we spoke within the hour about what more would you like to know about the Pope's condition, if you could. And you named several things that we don't know. At the same time, we're hearing from our Vatican correspondent, Jim Bittermann, that he's surprised at the amount of information the Vatican is putting out. Help us square that circle.

GUPTA: The Vatican has a long-standing history of just not providing much information. And we've been following along the Pope's health conditions for a long time, but more intensely over the last couple of months. And it's been hard to get information, Judy, as I have been trying to report on the Pope. So they certainly have been more forthcoming than before. But still, we don't really know exactly everything that's going on. If I wanted to get more information, I would like to know the status of his EEG, for example, that's EEG, which is measuring the electrical activity in his brain.

I would like to know if he is needing a breathing machine of any sort. I would like to know what his heart status is now, what his EKG shows. I'd also like to now, is he fighting this infection or is this infection for sure taken route and got on the better of him? These are questions I would like to know.

Of course, these are pretty specific medical questions. And I'm not surprised that the Vatican's not providing all that information. But some of that may continue to trickle out over the next minutes and hours, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And Sanjay, again, and I think we talked about this, as well, the fact that he's not at the hospital, does that tell us anything?

GUPTA: It tells us one of two things. One is that maybe he's just too sick to go to the hospital. You know, sometimes people can be too sick to even transport. Or two is that, as per his wishes, he just wanted to stay at the Vatican despite the fact that he might be better served in a hospital. And that could just be his own preference, if he believed that there was nothing more that should be done or could be done for him.

WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he is our medical correspondent. Sanjay, thank you very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And I know we are going to be turning to you often in the hours and the days to come, as we watch the condition of Pope John Paul II.

We are looking at live pictures of the Vatican, St. Peter's Square. These are the lights in what has been described as the Pope's apartment inside the Vatican. Our live coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: It is just about a quarter before midnight in Rome at the Vatican where a great vigil continues as everyone -- you see thousands of people gather there in St. Peter's Square waiting for further word on the health and the life of Pope John Paul II. The word from the Vatican is that the Pope's health has taken turn for the worse, kidney infection, low blood pressure, septic shock, all the terms that indicate this Pope's condition is serious, if not grave.

As we watch these Vatican pictures, I want to quickly turn to Robert Moynihan with Inside the Vatican, the Catholic Monthly Magazine. I want to ask you about something we heard from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our medical correspondent. He said it doesn't make sense to him on one level that this Pope could be in such serious straights and on the other hand be making decisions like which part of the Bible to have read to him and whether he goes to the hospital or not. How do you explain it?

MOYNIHAN: Well, there is a little mystery about exactly what his condition was this morning and even what it is right now. We don't know if at all he has fallen into any coma or not. There were reports of that.

This morning, Cardinal Ruini visited him, said that he participated in the Stations of the cross, and made a sign of blessing at each station, and then listened to the prayers that were said at that time, which were the ones that I remarked on earlier, the psalm.

Our doctor seems to feel that he should have been less able, even to move his hand, because of the shock of this...

WOODRUFF: Infection.

MOYNIHAN: ... infection. What Ruini said was reported by the Vatican press office, and it's been reported all over the world. Whether we have absolute certainty that what Ruini reported is accurate, I don't know.

WOODRUFF: It's one of those ambiguities we live with until we know more or not.

Robert Moynihan, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

WOODRUFF: Well, as we know, well, we can tell you that more than 2 million Catholics live in and around the city of Boston. Many of them, of course, closely following the Pope's condition, as are all of us. They're offering their prayers.

CNN's Gary Tuchman joins us from Boston. Gary, tell us where you are.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, right now, we're outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. This is the main church in the archdiocese of Boston, which is the fourth-largest Catholic archdiocese in the country. A special mass will be held about an hour and 15 minutes from now to offer prayers for Pope John Paul II.

Now, Boston is known as a Catholic city. It wasn't always that way. In the early decades in this country's history, there were very few Catholics in Boston and Massachusetts, but it was the Irish potato famine in the mid-19th century that brought tens of thousands of Irish Catholics to the city and hence, since then, you have a state which is about 50 percent Catholic.

It's actually not the most percentage Catholic. Rhode Island has about 63 percent of its residents being Catholic. But this church behind me, this was the very first American church that Pope John Paul II went to. I want to show you, on the front of the cathedral is a plaque, and that plaque talks about Pope John Paul II coming here October 1, 1979.

He was Pope for about one year when he delivered a homily here. The leader of the Boston archdiocese then was Umberto Medeiros. That was two leaders ago. We had that before that Bernard Law, who was the cardinal, who has since left. He is now in Rome. He actually left his post after the priest sex-abuse scandal. The archbishop now is Sean O'Malley.

But he came here, the Pope, in 1979 in this church. And then he came to the Boston Common, which is the oldest park in the United States, where between 1 and 2 million people in a driving rainstorm came out to greet him. And they really greeted him like a rock star.

This was a 59-year-old pontiff back then. This was before the assassination attempt, so you see in the motorcade he was waving in an open motorcade. People were cheering.

And right after that motorcade -- and I was here back then. I was a college student back here in 1979 here in Boston watching that. Right after the motorcade delivered him to the Boston Common, the rain started coming down. The heavens opened up, so to speak, but people stood out here, listened to him. It was quite a visit for the pontiff, his first visit to the United States as the Pope. And something here that was very memorable that people who were in Boston at the time who witnessed it will never forget.

Judy, back it you.

WOODRUFF: You know, Gary, it seems that so many people who had any contact with this Pope, whether it was watching him in a huge crowd, catching just a glimpse of him from a great distance, have such vivid memories as the one you describe.

Gary, before I let you go, what are the plans there at the cathedral? And are you able to talk to many people? What are they saying there?

TUCHMAN: Well, first of all, the archbishop right now is laying kind of low. We are told that if indeed the pontiff does pass away that he will talk about it afterwards. But he will not be leading this particular mass that's taking place at 6 o'clock Eastern time today. That will be lead by a priest, Father Robert Karr (ph). But as far the people around here, everyone is very saddened, but they also know that this man is 84-years-old and has been very sick.

WOODRUFF: All right, Gary Tuchman reporting for us this afternoon from Boston.

Gary, thank you very much.

We are continuing to see live pictures from the Vatican from St. Peter's Square. All the lights are on there in the Square. We heard Jim Bittermann say a few moments ago it is very unusual for this time of night. It's eight minutes before midnight in Rome, for those lights it be on, but they are on. The crowd is enormous.

Pope John Paul II's life as spiritual leader of the world's billion-plus Catholics has spanned, we know, 26 years. And it has been an era of enormous change. Here to talk about his life and legacy is the Reverend John Langan. He's a professor of Catholic social thought at Georgetown University in Washington.

Father Langan, how does one even begin to get one's arms around what this Pope has done?

FATHER JOHN LANGAN, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, it's a big task for a big man. And part of it is just the impact of his own personality, his engagement with the world, his skills as a communicator. I mean, he used the platform or the bully pulpit of the papacy to the maximum, at least until his health began to fail.

I think there are two major contributions. One is that he aimed at stabilizing Roman Catholicism in the period after the Second Vatican Council. And I think one of the key instruments for that was the Catechism. I think also that he stood for human rights and human dignity in a comprehensive way.

And that led him to oppose Marxism. It led him to be highly critical of dictatorships in such Catholic countries as Chile and the Philippines. It led him to promote peace and reconciliation in divided societies like South Africa.

So that that's a crucially important part of what he stood for. And it meant that the Church was bearing witness in a political setting. And he was not afraid of that kind of involvement.

WOODRUFF: We're talking with Father John Langan. He's at Georgetown University.

Father Langan, I want you to stand by for just a moment because as we approach midnight in Rome, I want to quickly turn back to our correspondent, Jim Bittermann, who's at the scene and bureau there.

Jim, for an update on anything you're learning or hearing from the Vatican?

BITTERMANN: Judy, there's really nothing to update officially what's going on. I mean, we've heard again, once again in the last hour, that a possibility there might be an announcement from the Vatican. But there's no sign of that happen.

The Vatican television network says that they're not preparing for any statement. However, the Vatican press office remains open, and as you can see, I think, from the live pictures that you have been taking in the square there, there's still tens of thousands of faithful who are in the square this evening waiting, and watching, and showing solidarity with the Pope, but also perhaps waiting for some news of the Pope's condition.

It looks like it will probably go on all night here. The lights of the Vatican are still on. The Pope's apartments are still lit this evening. So it looks like it will be an all-night vigil here. And I'm sure people will be in the square praying all night long -- Judy?

WOODRUFF: Jim Bittermann standing by for us as he has been throughout this day and will continue to be in the hours and the days to come. Jim, thank you very much.

Back here in Washington with Father John Langan. You, clearly, were part of the Church before this Pope came on the scene. How did the Church -- how does it feel differently to you under this Pope than it felt before?

LANGAN: Well, the Popes that -- the Pope, when I was growing up, was Pius XII. And he was very Italian. He had a kind of remote style, which was very different from this man. And then John XXIII, who was not remote at all, was very jolly and outgoing, but who was quite elderly, even when he started, and whom we treasured in a special way, but it was only in the position for five years.

And then Paul VI, who was a very thoughtful and impressive man. But again, in a somewhat subdued intellectual style. And so there was a significant just contrast of personalities. And that's probably the most striking thing.

Because all of these men, I think, would have wanted to say what they were doing was in continuity with the people that had gone before them. I mean, it's not as if you can talk about papal transitions in the way that we do here in Washington, where you will have Republicans followed by Democrats followed by Republicans.

WOODRUFF: Can you say in simple terms that this Pope has made the world a better place to live in?

LANGAN: Oh, I think that's quite true. He's been a great international figure. I think the contributing part that he played in the end of the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe is very significant. I think that he stood for a lot of the things that are most important in maintaining international order and building a world in which there are real possibilities for justice and reconciliation. This isn't to say that he hasn't been controversial.

WOODRUFF: He has been.

LANGAN: He has been. And I think honesty requires that one says that. And a lot of the controversy is internal to Catholicism, that there are questions about how the Church is to renew itself. There's an ongoing personnel crisis in the clergy. There are questions about the way in which the Vatican administers the international Church. There are questions about how to deal with the rising tide of secularization in Europe, and questions about how to situate the Vatican and the Church with regard to the U.S. re-interpretation of its role in the world.

WOODRUFF: How comfortable are you, Father Langan, sitting here in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2005, the next leader of the Catholic Church is going to take the Church in a direction that's going to make you and most other Catholics comfortable? LANGAN: Well, I think it's not so much comfort, it's a matter of witness to the way in which God will be working in the world. And sometimes that will mean discomfort.

I don't think that the next Pope will follow a very heavily American agenda. And a lot of the things that matter a lot in this culture, if you think about them from an international perspective with a Church with a billion members, most of whom live in the southern hemisphere, some of our concerns don't carry that much weight.

I think that the next Pope will be deeply concerned about matter of social and economic justice. I think that he'll be anxious about a kind of American assertiveness that puts at risk some important values in the world.

WOODRUFF: As someone said this afternoon, a tough act to follow he will be.

LANGAN: Oh, indeed.

WOODRUFF: And some tough decisions to be made. Father Langan at Georgetown University, we thank you very much for being with us, for being part of our understanding of what this Pope's contributions are.

As we continue to be part of the vigil watching the health and perhaps the final hours of Pope John Paul II, I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. We thank you. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf?

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