Return to Transcripts main page
CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profile of Pope John Paul II
Aired April 3, 2005 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: A look at one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century.
REV. THOMAS REESE, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "NATIONAL CATHOLIC WEEKLY": John Paul II certainly changed the way in which the papacy is done in the Catholic Church, today.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's confronted Communism, survived an assignation attempt, and traveled tirelessly to reach out to followers.
MARCO POLITI, AUTHOR, "HIS HOLINESS": His engagement, as prompted, was not only to spread out the gospel, but also to transform the Roman papacy into the spokesman of human rights.
BITTERMANN: Through it all, he has maintained a traditional view of the Catholic Church.
WILTON WYNN, AUTHOR, "KEEPER OF THE KEYS": He realized that one thing that he had to do was to restore clarity to Catholic teaching.
BITTERMANN: One of his greatest challenges, working to restore faith in Catholicism in the wake of a sex scandal.
PROF. MARY SEGERS, POLITICAL SCIENCE, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: I think people, most horrified the fact that high-ranking church authorities covered this up.
BITTERMANN: Even when saddled with health problems, the pope continued his duties.
REESE: He showed us for 25 years, how to live.
BITTERMANN: From humble polish roots to the pinnacle of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, his story now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
BITTERMANN: "I believe," Karol Wojtyla said as a young man, "that the tidal wave hits the shore to hit a mark. The tidal wave is a creative power." The man who became Pope John Paul II was himself a tidal wave that washed through the last decades of the 20th century and into the 21st, leaving a very large mark on history's shores.
Rarely has such a wide combination of talents encountered such rich opportunity. Seldom has someone been so suited for his office as John Paul. Over the last quarter century, he was tested by Communist regimes in Europe, by women who wanted greater roles in the church, and even by his own failing health. But one of his toughest challenges was restoring faith in Catholicism after a child abuse sex scandal that cast a shadowed of fear and mistrust over priest and the church hierarchy.
Throughout his nearly three-decade tenure, Pope John Paul II never lost sight of his mission, to meet the faithful face-to-face, spending nearly a third of his time away from his Rome. He was, by far, the most traveled pontiff in history. And he never faltered from his message of traditional morality in social justice, championing the poor and suffering, staying true to his humble beginnings.
Born in a small town called Wadowice in Southwestern Poland, May 18, 1920. Karol was the second son of a frail schoolteacher named Emilia and a retired military officer for whom he was named. But young Karol would enjoy little of the family life he later so vigorously emphasized as a priest. His mother died of heart and kidney failure when he was 9-years-old and three years afterwards, scarlet fever claimed his older brother.
SZCZEPAN MOGIELNICKI, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: I would say he lost his childhood at 12 when he lost his brother. There was no youthful folly in him. Even when he played sports, he was very concentrated, but of course, he had a lot of passion. He was a very noble person, and he expressed things in a very noble way, but there was no folly.
BITTERMANN: Childhood friends say Karol's grief was obvious to everyone.
BOJES TEOFIL, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: He stood out among us. Starting out in fifth grade, we were smoking cigarettes and looking at girls, but he was very quiet.
BITTERMANN: Quiet perhaps, but still someone who loves socializing and sports, excelling at ski, hiking, and soccer. Jerzy Kluger, an old friend of Karol Wojtyla, remembers youthful soccer games, Catholic versus Jews. But in the predominately Catholic town of Wadowice, the Jewish population was small. Klugers says, on the playing field, his Catholic friend would volunteer to help him the odds.
JERZY KLUGER, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: There usually was not enough Jews and so somebody had to play on the Jewish team. And he was always, sort of ready, you know.
BITTERMANN: For the time and place, the friendship between the two men was unusual. Poland was rife with anti-Semitism and Catholics did not often mix with the Jews. When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, the targeted millions of Jews and intellectuals for extermination.
MARCO POLITI, AUTHOR, "HIS HOLINESS": He knew very well that unfortunately, a many relatives of his Jewish friends had died in Auschwitz.
BITTERMANN: Wojtyla, already by then a budding philosopher and playwright was firmly opposed to the teachings of the Nazis, so he put his beliefs into action. He helped smuggle Jews out of Poland and founded an underground theater company writing and acting in plays that frequently dealt with oppression.
DANUTA MICHALOWSKA, CHILDHOOD FRIEND (through translator): He was really talented. He was wise. Not only in the usual meaning of the word, but also in the artistic sense. He knew what to do with a word. He knew how to say it.
BITTERMANN: In addition to his theater, Wojtyla began secretly stood studying for the priesthood, even though the Nazis were actively killing priests who opposed them.
MICHALOWSKA (through translator): The rest of us, we were like most intellectuals at time, practicing Catholics, but our Catholicism was rather superficial, there was a distinct difference between him and us.
BITTERMANN: Because of his clandestine studies during the war, Wojtyla was able to be ordained a priest barely a year after it ended. Yet, after the Nazis were defeated, another repressive regime came to power in Poland, a Communist one and one of the pillars of Communist philosophy was atheism. Wojtyla, with his strong belief in God, found himself again at odds with the political rulers. Strongly opposed to the government in Poland and its neighboring countries, he was vocal in his resistance. He took the risk of publicly Nova Huta, Poland, a model socialist town that was purposely built by the Communists without a place of worship.
POLITI: For many years at Christmas, Karol Wojtyla went there to Nova Huta in the place where the church had to be built and celebrated mass in the cold, in the winter, in the snow just to remember that gold existed.
BITTERMANN: By the time he was 38, Wojtyla was named bishop, an archbishop. And then, in 1967, Karol Wojtyla was made Pope Paul VI, youngest cardinal. In church terms, it was a meteoric rise. In retrospect, perhaps, a sign, bigger things were in store.
When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, an attempt on the pope's life and speculation it was a political plot.
BITTERMANN: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
(END VIDEOTAPE) BITTERMANN: When he returned to his hometown of Wadowice, Poland in 1999, some with him could only wondered it how it came to pass that a young man from this small grimy industrial town, first under the jackboot of Nazis and later under the control the Communist could have risen above it all to become the leader of the world's largest and oldest religious institution? The circumstances leading up to his election were highly unusual.
REV. THOMAS REESE, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "NATIONAL CATHOLIC WEEKLY": 1978 of course is the year of three popes. We had Paul VI as pope, and when he died, the cardinals elected John Paul I, and they didn't realize that he was really a very sick man, and he died within a month of being pope. And then the College of Cardinals turned to this surprising election of a polish cardinal.
BITTERMANN: With the white puff of smoke that surprising choice of a new pope was announced on an October evening in 1978.
And yet when he stepped out of the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica, Karol Wojtyla hardly seemed to be at the right spot at right time. Few outside church circles even recognized his name, or knew anything about him.
The newly elected pope was an unusual and inspired choice. He became the first non-Italian chosen in over 450 years.
POLITI: Karol Wojtyla was elected specially because of the archbishop and cardinal of Vienna, Franz Koenig, was pushing for a great change to have a pope, which didn't come from the Roman bureaucracies.
BITTERMANN: John Paul II with his background in philosophy and activism against fascism and Communism brought a new way thinking at the papacy.
REESE: John Paul II certainly changed in the way in which the papacy is done in the Catholic Church today. His travels, first of all, were extraordinary. He spent about a third of his time outside of Rome.
BITTERMANN: One of his first trips as pope was back to his native Poland where he urged his countrymen to be strong and stand up for moral order.
POLITI: His first speech in Victory Square was clearly aimed to show that Christ was an open book for the future, was not a matter of the past.
BITTERMANN: Many saw an immediate change among Poles, a change which would spell the beginning of the end of Communism.
WILTON WYNN, AUTHOR, "KEEPER OF THE KEYS": All of a sudden, they ready realize they had power. They had been subdued and they had been submissive, but all of a sudden, they realize they could challenge the regime and get away with it. As one bishop said, a polish bishop said to me then, they crossed the threshold of fear. BITTERMANN: Less than two years later, Poland was on strike. And for the rest of the decade under the guiding hand of the pope, the Vatican would play a subtle but certain role keeping unrest smoldering in Poland elsewhere in Eastern Europe, and not so subtlety warning the Soviet Union.
WYNN: Once the Poles got away with it, all the rest of the satellites realize they could do it too. And one-by-one the dominos fell.
When you think in all of the 20th century this was one of the most significant moments, his trip to Poland.
REESE: That was the beginning of the end of what we call the Soviet empire. I think he brought that empire down, but not with missiles or not even with economic sanctions, but just by being a man. By being a man of faith.
BITTERMANN: Many believe the pope's faith was such a threat to Communist, Moscow tried to assassinate him. He very nearly died after a Turkish gunman Ali Agca fired from the crowds of Saint Peter's Square on sunny May afternoon in 1981.
ALI AGCA, GUNMAN: I am Jesus Christ and in this generation, all the world will be destroyed.
BITTERMANN: It took the pope months to recover. Agca came to trial and said he was hired by Bulgarian secret agents. It was a conspiracy the prosecutor could never prove. And later the pope went to Agca's jail cell to forget the man who killed him. "What we said to each other is a secret between him and me," the pope told reporters, "I spoke to him as I would speak it a brother whom I've forgiven and who enjoys my confidence."
Confidential dialogue between individuals and between countries was a mainstay of John Paul II's papacy. Under the pope's leadership, the Vatican quietly mediated Lithuania's breakaway from the Soviet Union.
REESE: When Argentina and Chile were at each other's throats and almost going to war, he stepped in and mediated that crisis because he was seen as someone that was respected by both sides.
BITTERMANN: He mediated a civil war in Mozambique, and ended the United States invasion of Panama by convincing Manuel Noriega to give himself up.
REESE: Whenever he could do that, he offered his services and tried to help bring people together to avoid war.
BITTERMANN: Ahead on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: The peace-loving pope demonstrates his less diplomatic side.
POLITI: Pope John Paul II became very hard in his face, very tough. Raised his index and say, you must get in order with the church. You must get in order with the church. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BITTERMANN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
BITTERMANN: In 1982, John Paul II was three years into his pontificate. He had confronted Communism in Poland and survived an assassination attempt, but at age 62, the pope had just gotten started. While recovering from his gunshot wounds, he orchestrated a campaign to ban nuclear weapons, one of many campaigns if which he cross swords with superpower leaders.
POPE JOHN PAUL II: This is not only the absence of war, it also involves reciprocal trust between nations, a trust that is manifested and proved through constructive negotiations that aim at ending the arm's race.
BITTERMANN: But he believed strongly in preaching moral justice to the point that Vatican observers argue, he changed the fundamentals of the papacy.
POLITI: His engagement as pontiff was not only to spread out the gospel, to spread out the faith, but also to transform the Roman papacy into the spokesman of human rights.
POPE JOHN PAUL II: Social organization exists only for the service of man and for the protection of his dignity, and that it cannot claim to serve the common good when human rights are not safeguarded.
REESE: He's also been an extraordinary prophet and spokesperson for the third world. You know, speaking out in favor of forgiving third world debt, pointing out the downside of the globalization of the economy, the impact that has on people's lives.
BITTERMANN: Pope, as he traveled the Catholic world through the 1980s, put the church squarely on the side of the down trodden and underprivileged, but apparently because of his lifelong struggle against Communism, he could never accept what some of his priest and bishops call "liberation theology." It too champions the cause of the downtrodden against right-wing dictatorships in Latin-America. He disciplined the left-winging churchmen who supported it.
JOHN ALLEN, JR., NATIONAL CATHOLICS REPORTER: They were using, in some way, the conceptual language of Marxism, the idea of class struggle and, of course, the pope coming out of the experience of Communist oppression in Poland, I think, was scandalized, by that idea.
BITTERMANN: Though only a few city blocks in area, Vatican City is a sovereign country with vast diplomatic influence. John Paul II, as head of state, and spiritual leader one-sixth of the world's population was an immense political force on the world stage, but not an easy force to understand.
REESE: On so many political economic justice issue, the pope is way to the left of liberal democrats in this country. On the other hand, he's, you know, he's against abortion. He's very strict in his views on sexual morality. Suddenly, he becomes branded a conservative.
PROF. MARY SEGERS, POLITICAL SCIENCE, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: To the extent he keeps reminding people about social justice, you know, that seems to be a very progressive aspect of his papacy, but to the extent that he fails to apply those canons of justice to the internal matters that affect all Catholics within his own church, then he appears to be more reactionary than progressive.
BITTERMANN: The most consistent tenant John Paul's reign was a demand for discipline. While he initiated numerous consultative bishop's conferences called Sinids, some those who attended said dissent was not an option. He did not want his churchmen believers with different versions of the faith.
POPE JOHN PAUL II: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) destructive criticism have not less place among those who are of the household of faith.
WYNN: When he came to power and he was elected, he realized that one thing that he had to do was to restore clarity to Catholic teaching. And he says, OK, maybe they won't obey, maybe they don't accept, but at least they'll know what church stands for.
BITTERMANN: Down on the front lines, the pope's priestly foot soldiers reported that his fixed teachings on issues such as sexuality, divorce, abortion, and the role of women were driving Catholics from the church.
SEGERS: Pope's conservatism on issues such as artificial contraception or abortion comes, I think, from his view of women. I think the pope grew up with that, it's reinforced in Poland by a fierce devotion to the Virgin Mary as the patronists of Poland.
BITTERMANN: Others defend the pope's purist interpretations, and his opposition to the ordination of women priests.
HELEN HULL HITCHCOCK, WOMEN FOR FAITH AND FAMILY: Catholics believe what the priest is doing is in sense representing the sacrifice of Christ. He's standing in the person of Christ. He represents Christ in a way, and it makes sense, then that someone who is representing Christ would be male, as Christ was.
(CHANTING): Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!
BITTERMANN: The pope also stood firm in his opposition to abortion.
SEGERS: And the pope wrote a very famous apostolic letter in 1988, and that the choice is, well, you're involuntarily pregnant, well then you should, as Mary accepted her role as mother of God should accept your role. BITTERMANN: Not only did the pope not budge on his beliefs, he also used the Vatican's diplomatic resources to press his ideas outside of the church.
SEGERS: Vatican delegation to the U.N. Conference in Population in Cairo, in 1994, was fiercely fighting delegations from Western European countries that were trying to make sure that the European Union did permit legalized abortion and the like. And even in 1995 at the Beijing Conference on the Status of Women, again, a big U.N. conference, the Vatican was there doing its best to influence these ideas.
BITTERMANN: With the Vatican's observer status in the U.N. and close relations with governments around the world, John Paul II never shied away from asserting his morality.
REESE: These are moral issues. These are the kinds of things that the church should speak out on.
BITTERMANN: Ahead on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS the pope takes on a glaring sex scandal that shook the church and stunned Vatican insiders.
SEGERS: They were taken aback and really shocked by this and didn't have a clue as to how to respond.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR, PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: Hello I'm Betty Nguyen at the CNN Center in Atlanta. "People in the News" on the legacy of Pope John Paul II continues in just a moment, but first, happening right now in Vatican City. A vigil for Pope John Paul II. It was this time yesterday; we got the official word that the Pope had died. There had been a number of special tributes and services today, like this one at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. The body of Pope John Paul II lies in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace. Vatican officials have now released the cause of death, septic shock and cardio circulatory collapse.
Now tomorrow the Pope's body will be transferred to St. Peters Basilica for public viewing. Funeral services are expected to be by the end of the week. You want to stay with CNN for continuing live coverage.
Also in the news, an Amtrak train has derailed in Washington State. As we've been reporting, it happened during a leg between Spokane and Portland, Oregon. Officials are calling it a minor accident, but several passengers were injured, none seriously, 115 people were on board that train.
Nine weeks after its historic election, Iraq is another step closer to a new government. After weeks of deadlock, the country's transitional national assembly elected a new speaker and two deputies today. The new speaker is a Sunni Muslim and current ministry of industry. The decision clears the way for the selection of president and prime minister. Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad has committed to pull his forces out of Lebanon by the end of April. Now that's according to a United Nations envoy who met with the Saud today. Most of the Syrian forces remaining in Lebanon are in the Beckal Valley, which is near the border. Several thousand have been withdrawn from Lebanon in the past few weeks.
We'll have a complete wrap-up of today's news on "CNN Live Sunday." that will happen at top of the hour.
Right now, PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Pope John Paul II continues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throughout his pontificate and third longest in church history, John Paul II always taught by example.
JOHN ALLEN JR. NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER: Karl Rononare, probably the most famous Theo Legian in the 20th centuries. Said in 1984 before he died that this Pope came to teach and to preach. He is not Pope of dialogue. And I think in many ways, that's true. I think that captures what John Paul wanted to do as Pope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everywhere the Pope went to preach and teach, though, enormous crowds came to see him. The Pope so traditional in his interpretation of doctrine, never missed an opportunity to take advantage of deciding modern-day methods like jet travel, the Internet and the media to spread the word to the masses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Available for the very first time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 1994, for instance, John Paul went pop. Sanctioning a CD recording of his recitation of the rosary sent to music. Then came a book deal, John Paul's answers to 20 questions about life and his philosophy, which were published in the same year as the CD. Crossing the threshold of hope became an international best seller, allowing the Pope's views to reach an audience wider still. He also instituted World Youth Day, which became a revered tradition around the world.
To the astonishment of those around him, young people by the millions flocked it see him, even when the generation gap grew as the Pope's age and infirmity took their toll.
ROBERT MOYNIHAN, INSIDE THE VATICAN MAGAZINE: With the end of the left of communism, he was left as one of the voices in the world that was speak out against everyone who runs things. Strangely enough, and so in the year 2000, 2 million young people came to Rome. And they said John Paul II we love you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Paul II, he loves you.
MARCO POLITI, AUTHOR, "HIS HOLINESS:" Strange, who would think that a Pople, an old man who tells people not to do things, would be loved by young people. If the Pope succeeds of satisfying these people for some days or for some hours during a mass feel they can live and they can engage for a better world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As Pope John Paul II labored it make a better world, there were predictions he would not reach his most cherished goal, taking the church into the third millennium.
When the jubilee began to mark the 200th anniversary of Christ birth, the Pope was leading the celebrations. During that year, he accomplished two further goals; the first was a day of atonement.
POPE JOHN PAUL II (TRANSLATOR): Let us ask for forgiveness for the divisions that have come between Christian, for the use of violence that some of them have resorted to in serving truth and for the attitudes the mistrust and hostility adopted sometimes towards followers and believers of other religions.
REV. THOMAS REESE, EDITOR IN CHIEF, AMERICA: He felt it was important to acknowledge our sins against our Jewish brothers and sisters. To acknowledge our sins in the crusades against the Muslims.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His second goal during the jubilee year a rigorous and politically challenging trip through the holy land. There will be no more enduring image of his papacy than his trembling hand placing a note in Jerusalem's wailing wall, asking the Jewish people to forgive the church for its mistreatment of them over the centuries.
RABBI JAMES RUDIN, AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE: He has made Catholic Jewish relations a main part, main part of Catholic teaching. The other lasting achievement is that this Pope has said again and again and again that anti-Semitism, hatred of Jews and Judaism is a sin against God, that's very, very important.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the Popes efforts in the later years of his papacy to reach out to Judaism and other religions met with only mixed success.
REESE: I think one of the biggest disappointments of the pope in his papacy is -- has been his failure to really reestablish good relations with the orthodox.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Orthodox churches were especially suspicious of the Pope's motives. His greatest goal, to bridge Christianity's great schism, the thousand-year-old split between the Church of Rome and the eastern churches proved elusive. The more he reached out, it seemed the more they backed away.
REESE: Theologically the orthodox and the Catholics are very, very close together. Their disagreements on the role of the papacy, and the Pope wanted to be able to talk to them about this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Pope's tenure was marked by grand lessons and subtle defeats while he persevered with his academical efforts, problems were brewing inside of his church. Coming up on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, John Paul II fights to preserve faith in a Catholic church shaken by scandal.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
By 2002, John Paul II had made great strides in inner-faith relation and international affairs but it was an internal scandal that made 2002 a year of anguish for Catholic leaders.
BISHOP WILTON GREGORY, FORMER PRESIDENT, U.S. CONFERENCE OF BISHOPS: One can hardly talk of the priesthood today without mentioning that some priests and bishops have seriously failed to live up to our vocation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All rise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In January 2002, former Boston Priest John Geoghan (ph) faced charges of molesting a 10-year-old. Trial was not usual. Pedophile cases between priests were not uncommon and are certainly not unheard of in the United States.
MARY SEGERS, AUTHOR, "CHURCH POLICY & AMERICAN POLICIES:" The Pope himself earlier in about 1993, after an earlier wave of these abuse scandals, he condemned them. All he could do was make statements. Saying that this is clearly not behavior that is expecting of clergymen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prison for law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Geoghan's (ph) behavior was unexpected, the accusations level at a superior were staggering. This wasn't Geoghan's (ph) first defense. Local papers hinted that this priest and others like him were simply reassigned a new post whenever parishioners complained about sexual molestation.
SEGERS: I don't think they grasp a significance of these revelations that were coming out increasingly from the "Boston Globe" and other papers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The news coverage of Bolden's former victims. In February more than 200 people came forward to say local priest had abused them. The church was shaken by the charges.
SEGERS: They were taken aback and really shocked by this, and didn't have a clue as to how to respond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cardinal John Law head of the Boston Archdiocese issued a hasty apology but within weeks, church records turned over to the courts clearly show that cardinal's history of ignoring complaints about sexual misconduct. The lawsuits continued to pile on. In March, the Archdiocese agreed to a $30 million settlement for 86 alleged victims only to renig two months later because of mounting financial problems.
Meanwhile the crisis spread. Bishop Anthony O'Connell of the Palm Beach Diocese resigned after admitting he fondled teenagers in the 1970's. Other scandals began to spring up elsewhere in the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In April, John Paul II summoned America's top Catholic clergy to Rome.
REESE: The Pope wanted to meet with the American cardinals to discuss the sex scandal in the United States. To hear directly from them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was Cardinal Law's second papal meeting since the scandal broke. Two weeks earlier, he had secretly flown to Rome to offer John Paul his resignation.
SERGES: He urged Cardinal Law not to resign, and may really have thought that you've got to baton down the hatches about against this unruly bunch of Catholics up there in the Boston Archdiocese and against these media folks who are explaining this issue to sell newspapers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In June, the U.S. Bishops men in Dallas to draft a nationwide policy for abusive priests. They proposed stripping accused priests of their ministerial functions but stopped short of automatically defrocking the accused. The Pope expressed concern about bishop's ideas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are, and I quote, difficult to reconcile with the universal law of the church. And, therefore, quoting again can be the source of confusion and ambiguity.
REESE: The Vatican's main concern was, well, how do you deal with the priest who says, I'm innocent? So they wanted to make sure that there was due process.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bishop's final policy approved by the Pope set up measures to protect both parishioners and the accused with an eye toward due process.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I stand before you with a far deeper awareness of this terrible evil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By December 2002, due process was taking its toll. After sifting through more church records the "Boston Globe" reported incredible cases that had been swept under the rug. Priests trading drugs for sex, priests assaulting church employees. Though the reports did not imply cardinal law was aware of the allegation, they did indicate a widespread crisis of morality.
And into the cardinal's detractors a crisis of leadership. In December, the cardinal made another trip to the Vatican to discuss church finances and the possibility of resignation. While away 58 Boston priests published letter demanding the cardinal step down, and on December 13, the Pope accepted law's resignation.
MOST. REV. SEAN O'MALLEY, ARCHBISHOP OF BOSTON: Holy Father has seemed fit to name the archbishop in this very difficult time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Father Sean O'Malley to take over the Boston Archdiocese. The brown rope Franciscan having already cleaned up two other scandal-ridden dioceses quickly went to work.
O'Malley hired the same law firm that settled abuse cases in his previous post.
O'MALLEY: I have always said, if that is a moral obligation, we must step up to the plate. People's lives are more important than money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In July 2003 the archdiocese reached an $85 million settlement with more than 550 alleged sex abuse victims. The agreement effectively settled the major cases against Boston church.
O'MALLEY: Settlements are not hush money or extortion or anything other than the rightful indemnification of persons who have suffered gravely at the hands of a priest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we come back, the Pope continues his ministry through the ravages of age.
REESE: He showed us for 25 years what -- you know, how to live. Now, he's showing us how to die.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
October 17, 2003, on the 25th anniversary of election as Pope, John Paul II celebrated an open air mass. He set with dignity the accomplished leader of a billion people. He brokered peace, stirred up controversy, and torn down empires but not even Pope could conquer accumulative ravages of age.
REESE: He was shot. He had a tumor removed from his intestines that was the size of an orange or a grapefruit. He fell and broke his hip.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Paul's most serious medical challenge began to appear in 1994. A tremor in his left hand soon became interpreted as Parkinson's disease, something the Vatican never fully denied. From then onward, observers would not stop nattering about the Pope's health but year after year he befuddled them all. Keeping up a busy schedule with few accommodations for his physical problems.
REESE: He won't stop if he's in pain. Just like a football player, or anybody else, any other athlete. He just ignores the pain and keeps going. And he does that because he sees his role as Pope, his job as Pope as a calling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Late in life, the Pope's struggled to finish statements. Standing for long periods became difficult. But even his most feeble performance packed a powerful message.
REESE: He showed us 25 years how to live. Now he's showing us how to die. Which is something we're all going to face. This may be the most important lesson he gives us. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a line in one the Apostles of St. Paul, I have run the race, and a runner runs into the finish line, then collapses. Even though he's tired the whole last lap.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As John Paul II ran his final lap; he grappled with a legacy marred by scandal and criticism.
SEGERS: I think he's left a lot of angry Catholics who may have left the church or who were just barely hanging on over the positions on the status of women over the suppression of dissent, and other things like that.
JIM BITTERMANN: Yet many are certainty Pope's reign will be remembered not for shortfalls but its achievements. Decades before he became Pope, John Paul wrote in his book title "The Acting Person" that a person's actions define what he stands for. It is the epitome of the Pope's life. Whether it was standing at the western wall or kissing the ground after a fight, the Pope took pains to show respect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After all, he was a trained actor. He's used the world as a stage to project his message. To preach the gospel. Both through his words and through his actions.
BITTERMANN: Later in his pontificate, John Paul once against surprised and befuddled his critics by naming 75 new appointments to the College of Cardinal. The exclusive club of high churchmen who will vote on its successor. The cardinals who will select next Pope all but five were appointed by John Paul II.
REESE: John Paul II did exactly what you or I would do if we were Pope. He appointed people that basically agreed with him about the major issues facing the church.
BITTERMANN: As well, John Paul clearly shifted the geographic center of the college toward Latin American and the underdeveloped world. Many church historians believe this will be John Paul's single most important legacy. Ensuring his church's future by directing it firmly down the path of tradition. At the sight of those who like the Pope himself come from humble beginnings and believe faith can help them persevere.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com