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New Scandals Hit Catholic Church; Vatican Sex Blackmail Alleged; Raul Castro Says He'll Leave in 2018; Moody's Downgrades Britain; South Korea's First Female President

Aired February 25, 2013 - 12:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: She is. I'm Michael Holmes.

MALVEAUX: Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD in 60 minutes.

We begin in Vatican City. Well, Pope Benedict XVI's final days in power filling up now with scandal.

HOLMES: It is. A top British cardinal, the top cardinal, just resigned after four priests accused him of inappropriate acts. And the Vatican in damage control mode after reports of a network of gay priests at the Vatican blackmailed by a network of male prostitutes.

MALVEAUX: Details just minutes away.

And Cuba's president, Raul Castor, sworn into office for a second time, but announces this time is going to be the last go-round. He says he plans to retire in 2018. That most likely will put an end to the Cuban rule by the Castros that extends back to the 1959 communist revolution lead by, of course, Fidel Castro.

HOLMES: And South Africa, another Pistorius facing charges in a woman's death. Carl Pistorius. This is the older brother of Oscar Pistorius. He is charged with culpable homicide two years after he was involved in a car accident.

MALVEAUX: Prosecutors say Carl Pistorius had been driving recklessly. He was scheduled to go to trial last week, but that has since been pushed back to the end of March because of the murder charges against his brother.

Back to Vatican City. This is where alleged sex scandal and intrigue swirling around the catholic church right now. Happening just days before Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down.

HOLMES: And talk about timing. The Pope just issued an order allowing the cardinals, who will choose his successor, to start their work a little earlier. Now they don't have to wait 15 days after he steps down.

MALVEAUX: But there's one cardinal who is not going to be there when the conclave starts. That is Scotland's Cardinal Keith O'Brien. He has now resigned amid allegations that he abused four men studying to be priests in the 1980s.

HOLMES: Yes. Now, news of his resignation comes just a day after a British newspaper reported on that alleged abuse. Our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour joins us now from Rome.

Christiane, this report was in "The Observer," of course, the newspaper. It says one of these men was a 20-year-old seminarian back in 1980. The cardinal was a spiritual director. And that inappropriate approaches were made to him after night prayers. What do you know about the case and what Cardinal O'Brien is saying?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, we know, according to published reports, that there's this case and three other cases. A total of four cases now coming out and accusing Cardinal O'Brien of inappropriate sexual misconduct.

He himself is said to have taken up, obviously, legal counsel. He has, as we've said, resigned, but he was resigning months ago. It's just that today Pope Benedict accepted that resignation. He didn't have to accept it today. It could have been further delayed. But he did accept the resignation.

And now we've also known, because of statements that Cardinal O'Brien has posted, that he will not come here to Rome and take part in the election of the next Pope, in the conclave. He said that he would want the spotlight not to be on him but on the Pope.

But what is clear, Suzanne and Michael, is that, look, the sun is setting tonight on this eternal city. This was meant to be a sort of swan song for Pope Benedict XVI. Four more days in office and every single minute, it seems, one tawdry scandal after the other, comes to knock the socks off what should be a process of sailing off into the sunset.

MALVEAUX: And, Christiane, explain this for us because there is a difference. O'Brien is accused, quote, of "inappropriate acts" with priests who were young men at the time. This is very different than some of the pedophilia sexual abuse scandals involving young boys that we've heard in the church and the cover-up around that. Can you explain what they mean when they say "inappropriate acts"? Is this something that they suspect is of a sexual nature?

AMANPOUR: Well, Suzanne, of course, we don't know the full details. We don't yet -- have heard from these four who are alleging this sexual misconduct. Cardinal O'Brien denies it. We don't know. If it is a consensual situation, perhaps that is the case. But again, why would they then say it was misconduct? Why is it coming up now? Why were these allegations not brought up much, much earlier? Perhaps that's got something to do with the fact that because of his age, 75, he's had to resign. Perhaps these allegations are waiting for his resignation.

So about the details, we're not sure. But what we do know in response to the other question, the other part of your question is, that for decades, Suzanne, for decades the church has been plagued now by serious crimes. Not sins, crimes, of a sexual pedophile scandal by the priests in the catholic church. In the United States this erupted as of 2002 and it has touched virtually every diocese across the United States.

It then came here to Europe in 2010 under the (INAUDIBLE) of Pope Benedict XVI. He watched as these scandals, you know, spread like wildfire through the archdiocese here in Europe. And this has been something that has colored the catholic church and has really, you know, grieved so many Roman Catholics -- practicing Roman Catholics because of what happened and because of the lack of transparency and the lack of accountability that seems to continue to this day, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Christiane, thank you very much.

I know, Michael, being a Roman Catholic myself, I mean it really is painful time and time again to see this kind of thing happening.

HOLMES: It's been going --

MALVEAUX: I mean, and this is the latest bombshell.

HOLMES: Exactly. It's been going on for so long.

And, of course, that's just one part of this growing scandal. There is more. Investigative journalists in Italy have spent months now looking into allegations of wrongdoing at the Vatican.

MALVEAUX: And they actually say they've found evidence of a sorted history involving gay priests being blackmailed by male prostitutes. Ben Wedeman, he's got the details on that angle.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was his last angelus prayer. Pope Benedict XVI stressed again that he's not abandoning the church. To the tens of thousands who listened in St. Peter's Square and had come to voice their support, it was a sentimental farewell.

To investigative newspaper journalist Concita Di Gregorio, who has been delving into alleged wrongdoing at the Vatican for the last six months, Benedict's words carried much more significance.

"This doesn't mean to abandon, it means to fight," she says. "Last Sunday he said, we are fighting against the temptations of power."

Temptation that may have proven too strong for some. Di Gregorio is one of the two journalists who have reported, as this headline in her paper says, "sex and blackmailed careers are behind Benedict's resignation. Sordid tales of Vatican officials consorting with male prostitutes."

At stake, Di Gregorio contends, is the very integrity of the church. "A church governed," she says, "by a network of officials, some of whom are compromised by their homosexual activities." "Compromise, perhaps, to senior levels," says Ignazio Ingrao, a writer for the news weekly "Panorama."

WEDEMAN (on camera): How high is it? Cardinals?


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Ingrao says he believes Pope Benedict's attempts at reform were stymied every step of the way.

"In these eight years the Pope has repeatedly made calls to stop the divisions," he says, "to end the power struggling in the (INAUDIBLE) and to have more transparency, but these calls weren't heed."

The latest claims, flatly denied by the Vatican, are based on interviews with senior Vatican officials the journalists did not identify and dozens of other unnamed sources. Having struggled with controversy since the beginning of his pontificate, the two Italian journalists conclude Benedict lost faith in those who were supposed to support him.

"He decided by himself," says Di Gregorio, to resign because he no longer trusted the men around him.

POPE BENEDICT: Thank you for the prayers.

WEDEMAN: Benedict says he's not abandoning the church, but according to these accounts, the church may have abandoned him.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


MALVEAUX: We're going to get a different view in about 25 minutes. We're going to talk to the Reverend Thomas Reese (ph). He's a Jesuit priest. He is also author of "Inside the Vatican." He says all the new stories from Italy are what he calls "creative writing," not journalism. So, very interesting.

HOLMES: Yes. We'll get his viewpoint, too. There's plenty of them out there.

Now, to Havana, Cuba. President Raul Castro has been re-elected to five more years in office. That's not surprising. But what might be is that he says it's going to be his last time around.

MALVEAUX: So the 81-year-old says he's going to give up power in 2018. Our Rafael Romo joins us, as well as Patrick Oppmann, who's live in Havana.

So, Patrick, let's start off with you. Raul Castro's older brother, Fidel Castro, of course, making a rare appearance on Sunday. What is his feelings about the end of the Castro regime?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fidel Castro says he supports all the initiative that were taken yesterday at Cuba's national assembly. But, of course, it's very different from anything that Fidel Castro ever did during his some five decades in power. He very rarely talked about successors. He really didn't appear to have much of a succession plan in place when he suddenly had to step down because of illness in 2006.

So Raul Castro, as he has the last several years, is taking a very different tactic from his brother. And as you mentioned, you know, yesterday, when we were brought in hours after Fidel Castro had left, before the media was allowed to come in and see the end of these deliberations and the closed door election process that goes on here in Cuba, you know, to hear Raul Castro say that he was r-elected, that was not a shock. But to hear him talk about how in five years he's going to step down no matter what, and to also talk about a much younger successor, this is Miguel Canel Diaz.

He's only 52. He has much less military experience than many of the other top officials in Cuba's government. He was actually born after the revolution -- after Fidel's revolution took power here. So he's a very different figure. And that can only help him. He doesn't have a lot of the negative baggage that perhaps other officials who have been in power for decades and decades have here. He comes from the provinces and his reputation there in the provinces was that he got things done. Of course, that kind of experience is sorely needed here in Havana, where there are any number of economic problems. He'll have five years as first vice president and then we'll see if he will be the first official to succeed the Castros in power here in Cuba.

MALVEAUX: All right, thank you, Patrick.

HOLMES: Yes, let's bring in Rafael Romo now.

Rafael, any official reaction to this? I mean this really is literally the end of an era.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: That's right. Not necessarily official, but what the Cuban-American community is saying, many in the community, is that this is just another example of the travesty of democracy that the Cuban government is. And essentially what they're saying is that the Castros are sort of paving the way for what will be the new generation of leaders that will have the same ideology, the same political ideology, and will ensure that the Cuban revolution remains alive.

Now, I had an opportunity to speak with a leader of the Cuban-American community and he said -- and I'm talking about Mauricio Claver-Carone. And this is what he said. He said, "Cuba remains a totalitarian dictatorship where power is concentrated in the hands of the Castro brothers. Sadly, while the world was distracted by Castro's spectacle, over 100 peaceful pro-democracy activists were violently arrested for gathering in the streets of Havana."

Now, to me, an even more interesting opinion that I collected this morning was that of Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez. He is now, for the first time ever mind you, outside of Cuba, traveling in Brazil. She was just given a visa. And this is what she said about developments in Cuba. She said, "the original sin of the Raul Castro government is that he was not elected. He inherited power as if Cuba were a family fiefdom." Those are very, very strong words. And again, the reaction of Cubans -- many of the Cubans who for decades have been asking for real democracy in the communist island.


MALVEAUX: So they really don't expect any change? Not much change at all?

ROMO: No, just paving the way to what will be a continuation. Listen, Fidel Castro is going to be 87 years old this year. Raul Castro is 81 years. By the time he finishes this term, he will be 86. So they know that they have to do something to make sure that a younger generation continues their policies. And that's exactly what they're doing.

HOLMES: A lot of cynicism out there about this succession.

ROMO: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: Absolutely.

HOLMES: All right, Rafael, good to see you, mate.


ROMO: You too. Thank you.


HOLMES: Yes, South Korea making history today. The first woman president taking office.

MALVEAUX: And the movie "Argo" won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. We're going to introduce you to the people the film is actually based on.


MALVEAUX: Britain has a bitter economic pill to swallow today. Moody's, the biggest credit ratings agency, has now downgraded the country's rating.

HOLMES: Yeah, now, the U.K. used to have that highly prized AAA- rating, but no more.

MALVEAUX: Well, Nina Dos Santos, she is in London for us this morning to talk about what has happened here. What is the big concern? Is it the debt?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah. In one word, it really is here. The U.K. government has done an awful lot, especially since this coalition government came in a few years ago to try and rein back spending, raise some of the taxes, and implement these austerity measures to try and scale back the deficit.

But what we have learned as of last week is that the country isn't managing to cut back on its borrowing as much and as quickly as it had hoped. As you were just saying before, Suzanne, Moody's, which is one of the three major credit ratings agency, has now taken away that coveted crown of the AAA-rating, but a lot of people are expecting now Standard & Poor's and Fitch to follow suit at some point soon.

HOLMES: Yeah, now, when we talk about what it actually means, I mean, there are those certainly in the government there who are saying, yeah, no big deal. It's not going to change how we run the economy. But is that what people are saying there? I mean, what are you hearing? Higher interest rates are going to play in here?

DOS SANTOS: What many economists here in London will tell you, Michael, is that obviously these ratings agencies had given an indication that they're already earmarking the U.K. for a cut because they put it on negative watch.

So, a lot of people will say this was essentially priced in, but it does leave a lot in the government with red faces, not least the U.K. finance minister, the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, because he consistently sent the message that because he'd had managed to maintain the AAA-rating was a good thing and a sign that obviously he'd been doing a good job. But no more, it seems. He doesn't have that rating anymore to plug on television, Michael.

HOLMES: Yeah. Nina, good to see you. Nina Dos Santos, there in London.

MALVEAUX: The furniture store, Ikea, now front and center, this is the horsemeat scandal you and I have been talking about that has rocked the meat industry. This is in Europe, of course.

Ikea has now stopped selling its Swedish meatballs in Sweden because they might contain traces of horsemeat.

HOLMES: Yeah, companies across Europe pulling beef products, of course, from grocery stores, but meanwhile a pub in London, well, they're having a little bit of fun with the scandal.

MALVEAUX: The Lord Nelson Pub, selling horse burgers for one week. Known for selling its exotic meats, in the past, the pub has served zebra and crocodile burgers.

I don't think your daughter would like the whole horsemeat story. She won. She run the horse race. Tell me real quick. Give a shout out to your daughter.

HOLMES: She won the flat course for the Atlanta regional finals for the equestrian association here, so she goes to southeast regionals.

MALVEAUX: She is awesome. We're going to see her in the Olympics one day, I think.

HOLMES: We were very proud, very proud yesterday, a lot of screaming going on, and no eating of horse.

MALVEAUX: No, that's not for her. HOLMES: No.

MALVEAUX: All right, coming up "Around the World," South Africa's -- rather South Korea's first woman president facing a big challenge as she enters office.

HOLMES: She does. North Korea's nuclear program, that's what she's going to be looking at. She's vowing a bit of a softer approach. We shall see.


MALVEAUX: Welcome back to "Around the World." Here's the stories making news right now.

South Korea has a new leader and, for the first time in the country's history, it is a woman.

HOLMES: Yes. Anna Coren reports she is the daughter of a man, however, many considered a dictator.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: While the world may not know much about South Korea's first female president, the life of Park Geun-hye and her family fill the nation's history books.

Born into politics, her father Park Chung-hee was described by some as the country's first dictator. He seized power in a military coup in 1961 when the young Park was just nine-years-old. He would rule South Korea with an iron fist for the next 18 years, overseeing huge economic growth as well as human rights abuses.

Personal tragedy hit Park Geun-hye while she was studying overseas in 1974. Back in Seoul, her mother was shot by a North Korean sympathizer. The bullet was intended for her father.

The botched assassination attempt drastically changed the course of Park Geun-hye's life. Her dreams of being a professor were replaced with the role of de facto first lady as she put the nation's interests above her own.

Five years later, there was another assassination attempt on her father. This time it was successful. His intelligence chief shot him at a dinner party, saying he wanted South Korea to become a free democracy.

It was two decades later before Park Geun-hye decided to return to the public spotlight and launch her own political career. And, last December, as the head of the conservative party, the 61-year-old, who never married and doesn't have children, was elected president with an overwhelming majority.

One of her major challenges as president will be dealing with North Korea. She met the late Kim Jong-il in 2002 in an attempt to end the bad blood between the two families. Park Geun-hye says she wants to resume talks with North Korea and restart the aid program on the condition Pyongyang abandons its nuclear weapons program.

But after its third nuclear test, analysts believe North Korean leader Kim Jong-un clearly isn't interested.

PROFESSOR JASPER KIM, ASIA PACIFIC GLOBAL RESEARCH: I think that North Korea will do -- is test her through these provocative acts. I think this nuclear test will be one of many, traditional, nontraditional, military, paramilitary, and even cyber. They'll use everything at their disposal to see basically what President Park's mettle is, what is she made of.

COREN: Kim Jong-un may have found a formidable adversary. Park Geun- hye is the ultimate survivor, overcoming personal tragedy to seize the nation's top office in a male-dominated society.

Anna Coren, CNN, Seoul.


MALVEAUX: Park Geun-hye joins a small but elite group of female heads of state around the world. They are only 18 other female presidents or prime ministers out of almost 200 countries.

The most well known are Germany's Angela Merkel and, of course, Australia's Julia Gillard, but women also rule in India, Liberia, Argentina and a dozen other countries. That's pretty cool, huh? When is it going to happen here?

HOLMES: Well, that's up to you. My people have already done that, Julia.

MALVEAUX: You can't vote.

HOLMES: Not very popular, though. I like her, though.

MALVEAUX: OK. Oh, you can vote.

HOLMES: Oh, yeah, I've got the passport.

All right, stick around. Coming up in "Around the World" ...

MALVEAUX: It's the Pope's last week before retirement and it comes at a time of high controversy scandal in the Catholic Church. We're going to take a look at the others.