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First Papal Resignation in Almost 600 Years; Catholics Divided over Future Direction; Courthouse Shooting in Delaware; Tornado Devastates Part of Southern Mississippi; Fun Rocks the Grammys

Aired February 11, 2013 - 10:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, breaking overnight, the Pope resigns, the leader of the Catholic Church stepping down at the end of the month. This hasn't happened in nearly 600 years.

The Pope's last tweet even more telling this morning, quote, "We must trust in the mighty power of God's mercy. We are all sinners, but his grace transforms us and makes us new."

Just ahead, Benedict's health, his replacement and what's next for the Catholic Church. NEWSROOM starts now.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for being with us. I'm Carol Costello. We begin with a bombshell greeting that more than 1 billion Catholics around the world heard, their spiritual leader, Pope Benedict XVI, stepping down at the end of the month.

This morning's announcement is not only shocking, but historic. He becomes the first Pope to resign office in 600 years. John Allen is CNN's senior Vatican analyst. He joins us now live from Vatican City.

John, decisions are not made at the Vatican in a day or even in a millennium. Should we read more into this? It seems so sudden.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Hi, Carol. Well, at one level it obviously is enormously sudden in the sense that the Vatican had given us no anticipation whatsoever that this decision would be coming down the pike today. We've been led to believe that this was a personal decision by Benedict XVI that was not widely shared inside the corridors of the Vatican.

Even senior officials here were taken off guard and stunned by it. I can tell you personally, Carol, I was scheduled to have lunch today with a senior Vatican official who had to scramble just as I did to respond to this breaking news because he, too, had no inkling that it was coming.

Now on another level, it's not so surprising if we consider that two years ago Benedict XVI gave a book link interview to a German journalist in which this issue of papal resignation came up. He indicated that not only a Pope could resign under church law.

But there could be some situations under which he actually had an obligation to resign if he felt that his forces were flagging and he was no longer up to the job. So it's not so much the fact that it happened, it's the fact that it happened today sort of out of the clear blue sky that has obviously left all of us, Carol, scrambling to catch up.

COSTELLO: How much -- I mean, I know that the Pope says he's resigning in poor health and of course, I believe him, but there's the little thing in the back of my mind that says this has a lot to do with the lingering effects of the sex abuse scandal within the church and the dwindling number of Catholics both in the United States and in Europe.

ALLEN: Well, look, I don't think you're entirely wrong to connect the dots that way. It's not the case I think of -- I don't think you can read this resignation that it was because of the sex abuse scandal or because of the other challenges facing the church.

I do think, however, it is fair to say that Benedict is aware that although he has tried to be a great teaching Pope, leading a kind of global graduate seminar, if you'd like, on the intersection between faith and reason and their mutual dependence on one another.

It's also true that the Catholic Church in the last seven years on his watch has been rocked by any number of meltdowns and internal fires that he's struggled to put out. And I think it would be fair to say that Benedict's read is that to take the church forward, to recover in a sense from those internal difficulties.

Requires someone who can bring a level of energy and a dynamism to the job that he simply at this stage in his life, turning 85 in April and facing a kind of diminishing reservoir of energy that he personally is simply not prepared to give.

And, therefore, I think you could read this as hits decision to clear the way for someone else who can in effect give the church a new lease on life at what is undeniably a fairly difficult cross roots for it -- Carol.

COSTELLO: John Allen reporting live from Vatican City. American Catholics at least half of them hope the next Pope is more progressive when it comes to things like birth control and gay rights. Joining us by phone is James Salt from Catholics United. Good morning.

JAMES SALT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CATHOLICS UNITED (via telephone): Carol, great to be on the show.

COSTELLO: How do you feel about the Pope's resignation?

SALT: You know, I agree with John, it's a stunning day in the history of the church. It appears to be an act of humility. This comes right before Catholics begin to celebrate lent, the season of atonement where we ask for forgiveness. And I think it makes a lot of us ask the question of what's possible, you know. Like you mentioned, the leadership of the Catholic Church is facing a very great crisis. You mentioned the sex abuse.

But also the over concern for contraception and gay people and abortion rather than addressing the real moral issues like climate change or immigration, issues on our national borders.

These are the things that most Catholics are thinking about in the global context. And we're thinking now do we have an opportunity with the next pontiff to reorient the leadership of the Catholic Church.

COSTELLO: And we should mention that yours is a progressive catholic organization and we should also mention that many say that the majority of American Catholics believe in birth control. In fact, 98 percent of Catholic women have taken some sort of contraception in their life time.

And as far as gays being accepted into the church, the majority of American Catholics think that ought to be acceptable too. So let's talk about the next Pope. I mean, Italians are pushing for an Italian.

Americans are probably pushing for an American Pope. But both of those seemed unlikely right now. Maybe the Catholic Church will go to Africa or to Latin America where there are many, many Catholics and Catholicism is growing.

SALT: That's right. You know, for the church that has a billion adherences. It's vitally important that the leader of the church comes from the global south where most of that adherence resides. We're talking about Latin America, Africa, like you mentioned, and a couple points to note.

Cardinal Tarkson who is one of my favorites comes out of Africa and he's been the most outspoken on economic inequality. He's the one who offered that great letter on the need to reform the world's financial industries because of its lack of accountability to the common good.

All that to say cardinals from the south are going to be much greater in their awareness of it of inequality, but they'll also be fairly conservative on issues like perhaps contraception or gays for that matter.

COSTELLO: James Salt in Catholic United, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

It's been a busy morning at St. Patrick Cathedral in New York City. That's where Deborah Feyerick is standing by. Have you talked to any parishioners, Deb?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We have as a matter of fact, but you know, think about it. The timing is very surprising. It is just before lent, just before Easter. The resignation caught many by surprise, among them the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan. He said he's heard rumors at various time, but when the official cord came this morning, he said he was startled and he's waiting for in- structure like other leaders, he said clearly the Pope would have confided to his closest staff, so there must be some sort of transition in place.

But Pope Benedict XVI is the one who made Timothy Dolan a cardinal and the cardinal today spoke of his affection for the man and the humility he must have for the office to make such a drastic move and resign. Take a listen.


CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK: My admiration for him is even higher because of his humility. I would presume, I don't have any insider information, but I would presume that his esteem for the office as the successor of St. Peter and the chief pastor of the church universal, that esteem is so high that in all humility he simply said I can't do it anymore.


FEYERICK: And Cardinal Dd=olan said, you know, it is physically grueling to be the Pope, not just keeping up the schedule, but also so many people want to get close to you, they want to touch to you, and they tend to jostle the Pope.

He told us a story about the fact that Pope Benedict even before he was named Pope was frail, knew his own frailty, wanted to step down, but his colleague at the time, John Paul II, wouldn't allow him to.

The words of parishioners today, strange, skeptical, graceful exit, but one woman did say make sure to remind people he is a good Pope -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Deborah Feyerick reporting live from New York City. News of the Pope's resignation stunned Catholics around the word, not just laypeople, but also priests and nuns who make up the clergy.


REVEREND RAYMOND A. LEBURN, SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR, BASILICA OF THE NATIONAL SHRINE: Frankly, one of admiration for this man who is so dedicated to the church, but also aware of his own limitations. And willing for the greater good of the church to resign knowing that he doesn't now have the energy he needs to fulfill his duties.

EILEEN REID, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN: First of all, I was shocked and absolutely pleasantly surprised. I really think we have to look at our church and see how it should go going forward and I think this Pope has been very holy. But I think some of the appointments he's made have been what I would say less than creative in terms of dealing with the church and the world as we know it today.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: Even Pope Benedict's strongest supporters concede the Pope leaves behind a mixed legacy, a conservative reign marked by intellectual leadership, but tainted by a series of scandals. We'll have continuing coverage of Pope Benedict XVI resignation throughout the day on CNN.

It's a busy morning here at CNN. We have breaking news to tell you about out of Delaware. Police in Wilmington say a gunman has opened fire at a courthouse there. Several people have been hit, including a constable. No immediate word on the exact number of victims or the severity of their wounds.

Police say the shootings took place at the new castle county court of common pleas. Wilmington's police chief was scheduled to be in Philadelphia today attending a forum on gun violence with Vice President Joe Biden.

A cruise ship is stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. It has no propulsion and running on emergency power. Another carnival ship is en route to deliver food and water to the more than 4200 passengers and crew members stuck on board.

COSTELLO: People in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, will be cleaning up today from a gigantic tornado that tore through the town. You see it here. This is from one of our I-I-Reporter, today schools are closed including the University of Southern Mississippi. The storm left at least 16 people injured, two of them critically about 4,000 customers have no power.

All lanes of the Long Island Expressway are open in New York, but it was a slow process clearing all that snow. This is what parts of the area looked like on Saturday. Alison Kosik is in Roanoke, New York, and Long Island with an update. Good morning, Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. You know that commuting on an average day in New York can give you more than a headache, but when you close off a big stretch of a major highway that can become a huge migraine. So both east and westbound lanes, a 30 mile portion of the highway, was closed from Sunday morning all the way through Sunday night.

And they just opened it up in time for rush hour. The side streets are a big mess. They've barely been paved. Even the tow trucks are getting stuck. We have a tow truck pulling out a tow truck. So this is the situation that still remains days after the blizzard hit -- Carol.

COSTELLO: A tow truck pulling a -- sorry. I said the town's name wrong. But the Long Island Expressway is open, but the side streets are terrible?

KOSIK: Exactly. And it's a little frustrating say especially since we heard that the governor went ahead and said that when he heard that Suffolk County, the county that we're in was going to be hit the hardest. He put out all the resources they could to get right on this, but the problem is it hardly looks like anything was plowed here. A lot of people have been getting stuck just on this street and this is just one little street in Suffolk County.

COSTELLO: It looks terrible. Alison Kosik reporting live this morning.

Gun violence is a growing problem in this country. Chicago residents know that all too well. Now President Obama plans to go home and talk guns.


COSTELLO: It's 17 past the hour. Time to check our top stories. Catholics around the world are waking up to news Pope Benedict XVI is resigning. The 85-year-old pontiff cited his advanced age. The Vatican spokesman says it was a carefully thought out decision. The Pope's resignation is the first in nearly 600 years. He'll leave at the end of the month.

City of Los Angeles hope as $1 million reward will help police catch a fugitive ex-cop, Christopher Dorner, in a revenge plot targeting the LAPD. Investigators have scaled back their search in a mountain resort community. Some officials think Dorner may have left the state.

Chicago police have not made an arrest, but they're questioning two people in the killing of Hidiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old was killed about a mile from President Obama's Chicago home just a week after purchasing at his inauguration. Pendleton's mother is one of the invited guests at the president's state of the union address tomorrow night.

President Obama will head home to Chicago on Friday to address the ongoing issue of gun violence. Chicago is already seeing its share of violence. So far this year, 42 people have been murdered. And last year, more than 500 people were killed in the nation's third largest city.

That's where Ted Rowlands is live. Ted, the president's trip, people of Chicago are most likely welcoming it.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Absolutely, Carol. In fact a lot of community activists have been asking the president to weigh in and to come to Chicago to his home city and weigh in on this horrible violence problem, which is taking the lives of so many young people.

The president is expected to talk about the things that he lays out in his "State of the Union" on Tuesday when he comes here on Friday. In January alone as you just said 42 murders. That is the most in the month of January since 2002.

We had a bad year last and it has not gotten better this year. One of those deaths is the 15 girl who had everything coming in to her, going to a great school here in Chicago, her life cut short. That death has really struck a nerve not only here in Chicago, but across the country. People are saying enough is enough. We've got to save these kids.

COSTELLO: Ted Rowlands reporting live from Chicago this morning. The president's trip comes on the heels of the much anticipated state of the union. Tomorrow night's speech will focus on the economy and according to "Politico," the president is expected to use political capital to push Republicans to raise taxes and to inflict fewer budget cuts. CNN will have 34r50complete coverage tomorrow night starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern and of course the president will also address gun control tomorrow night.

It was a fun time for music lovers, a great time for fun as the hit band makes its mark on music's biggest stage.


COSTELLO: Mumford and Sons takes home music biggest wins album of the year last night at the 55th annual Grammy awards. The other big winner of the night at the Grammy, Fun, as in the New York based band fun. The band took home the Grammy for best new artist and their tune we are young, which you cannot get out of your head now because it will be in my head forever, that song named best song.

Joining us from Los Angeles, Jermaine Hall, editor-in-chief of "Vibe" magazine. Good morning, Jermaine.

JERMAINE HALL, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "VIBE" MAGAZINE: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

COSTELLO: I want to -- are you tired this morning?

HALL: Just a little bit.

COSTELLO: You sound exhausted. I know you were up with the Grammys. Before we get to the music, I want to talk about the fashion because CBC put that dress code forward and not everybody obeyed.

HALL: Well, I think that's all part of the show, the dress code, all part of the theatrics. So trying to take it away is almost taking away from the show a little bit. But for the most part, I think people adhered to the rule.

COSTELLO: Yes, for the most part. J. Lo came out with a dress with her entire leg exposed and she was standing aside her dress from Versace. That was my favorite moment, but I guess we have to go back to talking about music now. Let's talk about fun because it was quite a night for them.

HALL: Yes, so happy for those guys. Glad they took home the awards they took home. I was actually expecting them to have a bigger flare testify because I really thought the Grammys would set them up to be the (inaudible) this is year because like last year with Adelle and the passing of Whitney, there wasn't one expansive narrative.

COSTELLO: I was kind of glad for that because Adelle was like oh, thanks, I got to go almost like whatever.

HALL: I mean, the other reason it's really important that fun had the night that they had is because I think on the surface, people think that it's just a pop record, but it's a lot deeper than that. It's kind of like Freddie mercury just jumped into the body of Neal and took him over.

COSTELLO: And talking about Mumford and Son, you would never think of them lip-syncing ever. They're not that kind of a group.

HALL: I think they are in a way. For the last in our years, the Grammys have gone with these somewhat I said artists. And the fact that a folk rock group can take home the biggest honor of the night, I think it's great.

COSTELLO: True, it brings us into --

HALL: Show as lot of diversity.

COSTELLO: Chris Brown was certainly there as was Rihanna and were there together. There's the photo and I kind of find that disturbing in a way.

HALL: I thought it was going to make a lot more noise than it did. I think the fact that people are starting to see them together all the time, it's starting to become a little less polarizing. What I was more disappointed in was the fact that Chris didn't stand up when frank won his award because I thought it was an opportunity for him to show, you know, a lot of maturity. And just a little bit of humbleness.

COSTELLO: Chris Brown humble? No people who don't know, Chris Brown got into a fight with Frank Ocean. I don't know. I don't know what it was over. But you're right, it would have been great. Jermaine hall, thank you so much.

HALL: Thanks for having me.

COSTELLO: Talk back coming your way next.