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Pope Benedict XVI Abdicates; Grammy Winners; California v. Texas: Warring for Business; Interview with San Diego Mayor Bob Filner

Aired February 11, 2013 - 08:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news is what we start with this morning. Pope Benedict XVI is resigning. He'd be the first Pope to resign since the year 1415. Farther James Martin is a Jesuit priest. He's also and the culture editor of "America" magazine. It's nice to see you again.


O'BRIEN: So, when you heard this news, what was your reaction?

MARTIN: Shock. You know, it had been talked about, but no one really thought it was going to happen. I think it's a very selfless act, a very noble act that the Pope is doing for the good of the church. And, his health had been deteriorating, but this, i think, has caught everyone by surprise.

O'BRIEN: Here's a little bit of what he said when he made the announcement to his cardinals. In part, he said, "I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," and went on to talk about how, you know, strength of body and mind are necessary, and he was recognizing his own incapacity to fulfill the ministry that was entrusted to him.

And yet, Popes again and again, over time, have all faced that same decision. Pope John Paul II certainly twice was in a position where he thought about resigning and ultimately did not. So, what do you think makes this Pope, Pope Benedict, do this? It seems very unusual to me.

MARTIN: It is. Two different men looking at the same situation two different ways. John Paul, I think, looked at it, in a sense, as an example. The Pope was suffering like everyone else would suffer, and so he was providing an example to the faithful. Benedict, you know, may see it more from a practical point of view that he no longer can do his job. And it is true that on recent trips he's looked very week. Even in the Vatican, some of his activities have been curtailed. And like any of us, he probably thought for the good of the church, now this makes sense right now, and I simply cannot do the job that's been entrusted to me. O'BRIEN: There's been a lot about the surprise appointments that he made of cardinals back in October. Is it enough -- he appointed an American, someone from Lebanon, India, Nigeria, Colombia, and someone from the Philippines as well. This was a big surprise happening, what, just three months ago. I'm wondering, is this an indication, as we look at it now, that, in fact, he was sort of getting ready to bring to the number 120, which is the maximum number of cardinals that would be allowed to vote on a Pope, that this has really been in the works for months?

MARTIN: I think that's very insightful. He obviously had been thinking about this for a while. I read something that said that his brother, who's a Monsignor, had said that the Pope was considering this. So, yes, the idea that he would want to put his stamp on the College of Cardinals and sort of arrange it so that someone, in keeping with his thoughts and his perspective, would be his successor makes a lot of sense. And also, it's the last time he can create cardinals from this group that he knows so well. So I think that's very insightful.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": But do you think that the church's explanation for what's going on so far will be enough? Or will they have to do something to give a detailed explanation about what's going on here and why he's decided to step down?

MARTIN: No, I think people know about his health, his deteriorating health, and the guy's quite old. So I don't think there's going to be any, you know, sort of scandal or anything about his resignation. I think it's just his advanced age, and I think the surprise is that no one has done it before. And it shows that he's a pretty independent thinker as well.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": You think this sets some kind of precedent going forward? Because this is a major shift.

MARTIN: It could. Interestingly, I'm a Jesuit, and our Superior General resigned for the first time in the history of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, and there was a lot of surprise about that too. But I think once it's done, it makes it a little more normal. And I think the next person is going to have to think of the same thing when he gets to this age.

O'BRIEN: What happens then with the resigned Pope? I mean, is he -- the history of the Catholic Church, certainly, when you look at the Popes over the last 2,000 years, has been fraught with intrigue and political power and sometimes people being forced to resign. Certainly, I think the one in the 1400s, 1415, was a forced resignation, not necessarily one of his own volition. So what would be the power and the role, potentially, of a Pope who's abdicated his position but still is physically and mentally there?

MARTIN: That is the question. Because it's really unprecedented. You've said for many centuries we haven't had something like this. He'll obviously be, quite obviously, a senior figure and someone that people will continue to look to. One doesn't know what he's going to do. He might decide to write, for example. He really enjoys writing books. He has said he'd like to take time off for that. He might retire to a monastery somewhere. He might stay in the Vatican.

I think what's very interesting is that it will be more difficult for his successor, whoever he is, to make any sort of big changes because it would be seen as, in a sense, a kind of a slight against a former living Pope.

O'BRIEN: Unless they pick someone who's philosophically very different, right?

CHARLES BLOW, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": That's the problem, right? If you have a new Pope who basically takes the church in a slightly or dramatically different direction, and you have a living Pope, a lot of people kind of have emotional investment in the Pope now, how does that -- how do you have these two constituencies with two different living Popes around, and how do they make that work?

MARTIN: Well, I think it's probably unlikely because, if you think about it, the people that he has created as cardinals and the people who are in the College of Cardinals, they're essentially the people who voted for him, right, just a few years ago. So they'll be thinking along the same lines as he is, right? And the people, as Soledad was saying, who just created cardinals, in a sense, solidify the people who would be thinking about the church.

O'BRIEN: Stacking the deck a little bit.

MARTIN: A little bit. And thinking about the church in the same way. So you probably won't see much of a shift in his successor. But it is interesting to think of the successor looking over his shoulder at Pope Benedict.

O'BRIEN: It's bizarre. Let me ask you a question. The last time they talked about the Pope potentially resigning, and I know there have been rumored over time, is when his butler leaked these personal, private documents. How much -- and there has been sort of scandal that has enveloped the Catholic Church in the time that Cardinal Ratzinger went on to become Pope Benedict. How much of that is playing a role in what we are seeing now?

MARTIN: Honestly, I think probably zero. This is something he's been thinking about something for obviously the last year, I would say, because of his declining health. I don't think those things would have affected this. This is too much of a big decision. I mean, this is a historic decision.

And, you know, it's somewhat, it's a personal decision. It's someone who has to deal with his own personal health. Only he knows how he's feeling and how he can do and how he can go on these trips. So I think it's more kind of personal rather than related to those scandals.

NAN HAYWORTH, FMR. U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Father, do you think there's a cultural element to this in that the image of the church needs to keep pace with the times, that perhaps we need a Pope from the developing world, from outside Europe, who is young, who's vigorous? MARTIN: Well, it could. I think that it may be more just a practical decision. Frequently, Popes, because they're cardinals, they're elected later in life, in their 70s, sometimes 80s, so it's not surprising you would have someone who's old. We'll probably get another older person, maybe in their 60s or 70s. It could be someone from the developing world.

But I think he's looking at this simply from the practical point of view: can I get up in the morning, go to work, do all these trips, make all these decisions, run this sort of international organization? In a sense, he's running an international corporation and I think any CEO would probably make the same kind of decision.

HAYWORTH: And he's under more scrutiny than --

MARTIN: Than anybody.

HAYWORTH: Than any other Pope.

MARTIN: Than anybody.

HAYWORTH: In this era.

MARTIN: Yes, and I think, once again, I think it's a very selfless thing because it's someone who is giving up the reins of power voluntarily, which, I think is very selfless, frankly, and very noble. Others of us would want to hold on to it.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. That's why I would imagine most Popes end up keeping those positions and very rare to have a Pope say that he will resign or abdicate his position.

Father Martin, nice to have you with us. We appreciate it.

MARTIN: My pleasure.

O'BRIEN: Other stories are making news this morning and John's got that for us.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad.

Picking up the pieces. Several neighborhoods trying to recover from a tornado that tore a path through Southern Mississippi. A storm chaser caught this twister crossing a highway. Amazing pictures right now. The funnel cloud is almost a mile wide. Thousands are still without electricity there, and more than a dozen people are injured. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has declared a state of emergency for those affected areas.

U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford is taking charge of the NATO-led international security assistance force in Afghanistan. He will oversee the final two years of the war and the withdrawal of nearly all troops. At the change of command ceremony in Kabal, Dunford said, "Today is not about change, it's about continuity." He replaces General John Allen, who has been nominated as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander. We have an interesting medical story to tell you about this morning. Researchers at the University of Michigan report that obese mice that were given a drug used to treat mouth sores lost weight. And the mice did not eat less or exercise more, so the question is could the drug work for obese people? Researchers don't have an answer on that yet, but they say they will test this drug on humans later this year. That should be interesting.

A startling new report just released from the Federal Trade Commission that found up to 42 million Americans had errors in their credit report, about half which are considered significant. The Consumer Data Industry Association is hitting back, saying, quote, "Credit reports are materially accurate 98 percent of the time, and when they do contain mistakes, our members work to resolve them quickly and to the consumers; satisfaction 95 percent of the time." Again, there is some dueling math there.

A little folk, a little fun, and not as much flesh at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles last night. British folk brand Mumford & Sons got top honors with their album, "Babel", while Song of the Year went to "We Are Young" by the New York indie group Fun, who were also named Best New Artist. Almost everyone took CBS's, quote, "tone it down" wardrobe request seriously.

Almost everyone.


JENNIFER LOPEZ, SINGER: As you can see, I read the memo.



BERMAN: In addition to J.Lo's leg, it was the performances that really turned heads, including Justin Timberlake.

O'BRIEN: It's a nice leg, though.

BERMAN: It was a leg.

Justin, he returned to the stage (INAUDIBLE) with Jay-Z. But what everyone's talking about this morning, this picture -- Chris Brown and Rihanna, no distance between them. They were cozying up watching the show.

There's one other picture, I think it's safe to say, that everyone is talking about. It's trending online right now. Let's take a look at this. I think the caption contest right here, the only winner would be "Busted!" on so many levels. Ellen Degeneres staring at Katy Perry right there, thinking probably what a lot of people were thinking.

O'BRIEN: That was a very hot dress she had on. And I think it's against the rules, if I remember the memo.

BERMAN: I'm sure it's against the law in some places. O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to continue to talk about the resignation, really the abdication, of Pope Benedict XVI. Who does he resign to? He can't resign. He has to abdicate his position. We're going to follow this breaking news this morning.

Also, the state of Texas trying to woo businesses in California. We're going to take a look at what this jobs war, if you will, is doing to both states. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back right after this.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everyone. You're watching STARTING POINT.

The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, is doing a little shopping in California. He's trying to buy businesses from the Golden State. He's trying to get them, in fact, to set up shop in his state. California's governor has been dismissive of Perry's attempted poaching, but some are warning Governor Jerry Brown he should be taking Governor Perry of Texas more seriously.

Dan Simon takes a look.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPODNENT: Rick Perry's Texas throwdown began with a 30-second radio ad.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible. This is Texas Governor Rick Perry, and I have a message for California businesses. Come check out Texas.


SIMON: California Governor Jerry Brown immediately dismissed the spot and the media.


GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: You take a little radio ad, and all you guys run like lap dogs to report it. It's not even a burp. It's barely a fart.


SIMON: Governor Perry's answer was to buy a plane ticket to the West Coast. What it really is is an all-out war for jobs as the nation's two biggest states each try to grow their economies by attracting business.

Brown brushed aside his fellow governor. But Governor Perry appears to be serious in his quest to lure businesses away from California. He's got meetings this week with CEOs all across the state, including here in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Some say Governor Brown shouldn't be taking all of this lightly.

What do you think of governor brown's response?

AARON MCLEAR, RICK PERRY ADVISER: Well, it's disappointing. I wish the leaders of state took this issue a bit more seriously.

SIMON: Aaron McLear worked for a former California governor, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's advising Perry, who may have plenty of ammo.

MCLEAR: We have the third highest unemployment in the country. CEOs, year after year, say California is the worst place in the country to do business.

SIMON: Still Perry is likely to encounter some resistance, especially from Silicon Valley. Ruzwana Bashir is the CEO of the hot new travel Web site called "Peak".

RUZWANA BASHIR, CEO, PEAK TRAVEL GROUP: Those of us that want to build big technology companies don't see that there's anywhere else to go but California to be.

SIMON: But Perry has his sights on other industries, including Hollywood where a lot of film production already has left the state. His visit there seems fitting for what is becoming a high political drama.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.


O'BRIEN: I want to bring in Mayor Bob Filner, he's the Mayor of San Diego, a city where Governor Perry has done a little scouting in the past. So what's been your reaction to this ad campaign? Do you dismiss it, as we heard from the Governor?

MAYOR BOB FILNER (D), SAN DIEGO: We take it seriously. But it shows the allure of California when he's coming as a tourist. So we welcome his money. Even if you take the Governor's arguments at face value, which I don't, it's only part of the story. You know we have an incredible innovative economy in California, you know unparalleled lifestyle, quality, education, spectacular beaches and climate.

I mean, you've got to you know include that in the quality of life attraction that -- that the Governor has. But even at taking it at its own value -- and it's a challenge for us and the Governor of California and I working on streamlining regulations, but what he's saying is that he's going to sacrifice the long-term investment in our environmental protection and in our quality of education. That's how you keep all that stuff low that he's talking about. You're sacrificing that for a short-term corporate gain. That is not the way the future of our state should be expressed. O'BRIEN: Well but if you're a corporation, then maybe sort of having someone focusing on the corporation and making those have more strength and vitality might be a worthwhile match. For example, this guy, Peter Farrell, is the CEO of ResMed; it's in San Diego. It's a medical device company. They're you know -- they're thinking about moving to UT in San Diego. Let me -- let me play you a little bit of what --


FILNER: And -- and you know --

O'BRIEN: -- let me show you -- let read a little bit of what this guy, Mr. Farrell, had to say about why he wants to leave. "We just see costs going up, benefits going down, we see more regulation, more taxes, the kind of anti-business kind of environment. Unemployment rate in Texas is seven percent. We, meaning California is over 10 percent. They must realize" and I think by "they", he means you know a elected officials like yourself "must realize that the policies here are incredibly negative. They're just anti-growth."

How do you answer something like that?

FILNER: Well, you know in fact we are using that ResMed case study in San Diego to focus on just exactly what we might do, say, as a city or as a state to keep a company like that here. I mean -- we hear a lot of generalities. I want to know the specifics. And we're going to use that as a case study, and we take it seriously.

But -- but we're not going to sacrifice in California or San Diego the -- a high quality of life based on educational investment, innovative economy, lifestyle, for again a short-term corporate profits.

There are some companies, especially if they're low wage companies or established technologies that might profit from that and make that move, but when you're talking about our future and what we in San Diego especially are doing is trying to recover from our economy with innovative based technologies and companies, that kind of -- that kind of allure is just not -- is not -- is not sufficient. We want to concentrate on a quality education, for example, not only for a work force, but for the children of those employees who work there.

We want to concentrate on housing and affordable housing for everybody and the arts and culture of a community, all that is part of a decision-making process, not just a short term profit and loss.

O'BRIEN: Bob Filner is the Mayor of San Diego joining us this morning. Thank you, sir. I appreciate your time. I've got to take a short break.

FILNER: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning we'll talk about how Catholics are reacting to the surprising news this morning about Pope Benedict XVI resigning. We'll take you live to the Basilica of the National Shrine and do see Shannon Travis is speaking with members of faith. We're back after the short break.


O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. We're covering breaking news for you this morning as we've been talking about all morning.

Pope Benedict XVI, the leader of the Catholic Church, is now resigning. He's set to step down at the end of February.

I want to bring you right to Shannon Travis who is at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. for us. What has been the impact and the reaction, Shannon, when you've been talking to those of the Catholic faith about this news?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes I mean, Soledad it's actually been a range of reaction, from obviously shock and dismay, as you can imagine, but surprisingly to one nun based here in Washington, saying that she's thrilled about the Pope resigning. We're obviously here at the Basilica, as you mentioned, which is just next to the Catholic University of the United States.

But back to some of that reaction. One of the spiritual directors here at the Basilica said that he actually thinks it's a good thing that the Pope is relinquishing his grip on power at the Vatican. But again, back to that nun. Take a listen at her reaction to this, Soledad.


SISTER EILEEN REID, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN: I'm 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.


TRAVIS: A similar sentiment, Soledad, from another parishioner I spoke with who said "You know she's actually happy as well because she thinks it's time for a younger person to ascend to the papacy -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: So Shannon a quick question for you. People have been as stunned as some of the members of the clergy that we've had opportunities to hear from this morning.

TRAVIS: Yes. I mean, people have been very vocal here today. Again, most people -- we went to the very early mass, the very first one this morning. Most people were just learning of the news and again, it's been shocking to most people. Some of them actually heard it from us, but again, a mixed of broad range of reaction from these people saying, "You know what we that think this might be a good thing. Especially given his declining health, as he cited himself." So it's been a pretty -- a pretty broad range of reaction, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: There are many people who look to areas in which the Catholic Church is growing, for example in Africa or in Latin America. Are they talking to about where they would hope the next Pope to be from?

TRAVIS: Right, no. No one has specifically said that they -- that they have a preference for where the next Pope should come from, but back to that nun, I did ask her, what would be your message to the cardinals who will be attending conclave in terms of picking another pope? And she said essentially be brave and be bold in picking his successor.

O'BRIEN: Whatever that means. Be brave and be bold. It will be interesting to see it now as we hear that on February 28th that the Pope will be leaving his office. That will be the last day.

Shannon Travis for us. Thanks, Shannon. We appreciate the reporting from there. We're going to continue, of course, to cover this breaking news of the Pope's resignation. It will continue in special coverage right after this short commercial break.

Stay with us.