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Replacing Pope Benedict XVI; Iranian Nuclear Negotiations

Aired February 27, 2013 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour, coming to you tonight from Rome at the end of a bittersweet day here in St. Peter's Square.

The sun shone down on Pope Benedict XVI earlier this morning as he bid farewell to tens of thousands of the faithful who gathered here from all corners of the world. All of this comes, of course, one day before he leaves the papacy forever. That happens at 8:00 pm Rome time tomorrow. And the process of electing a new pope then begins.

But as he spoke today to a throng estimated by the Vatican to be around 150,000 people, Benedict was unusually frank. He mentioned moments of joy and light, but he didn't flinch from addressing the turmoil the church has experienced amid the swirling pedophile scandals.


POPE BENEDICT XVI (through translator): The Lord has given us so many beautiful sunny days of light breeze, days when fishing has been abundant. But there have been also moments where the water was stormy and there was a strong wind against us, as the whole history of the church has been, when the Lord seemed to be sleeping.

Today, in my heart, I am full of thanks to the Lord because he has given us always consolation.


AMANPOUR: Referring to his unprecedented decision to leave the papacy, at least unprecedented for the last 600 years, he spoke of how he struggled with the choice and understood the gravity of what he was doing.

He said he was, quote, "bearing always in mind the good of the church and not of himself."

And I can think of no one who can better help us understand the pope's final message than a man who participated in the conclave back in 2005 that ended up electing Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict XVI.

My guest is Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. He is the retired Archbishop, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., a man who has counseled thousands of Catholics and, indeed, world leaders. I spoke to him a short time ago.


AMANPOUR: Thanks for joining us.

CARDINAL THEODORE MCCARRICK, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH: It's a great privilege. You are one of the best.

AMANPOUR: You are so kind. Now you are not going to be taking part in electing. You've reached an age whereby you can no longer vote?


AMANPOUR: That's as kind as I can put it. You voted the last time around and you know that so many of the cardinals have either been elevated by Pope Benedict XVI or by his predecessor, John Paul II, conservative traditionalists, at a time when at least American Catholics are saying that perhaps there needs to be a new direction, at least 46 of them saying; 51 percent saying that it should stay the same.

What sort of reforms do you think should happen?

MCCARRICK: Well, you're asking me the $64 million question. But I think definitely we have to keep continue to keep involving the lay people. We don't have enough priests. We should have more priests. We must work on that. The Holy Father has done that. Bishops around the country have done that, around the world have done that.

We haven't done it well enough. We must keep praying for it. We must keep attracting the young people, priests and religions, too. We need -- we need wonderful religious women to continue the teaching function, the guiding function, the peacemaking function of our world.

AMANPOUR: Do you think, as some have suggested, including Cardinal O'Brien, who -- because of the troubles that he's in, has decided not to come here to this conclave -- but he said that he thought it was time that priests should be allowed to marry. That discussion should happen. Fifty- eight percent of American Catholics think that priests should be allowed to marry.

Can you imagine that happening and do you think that would be a good idea?

MCCARRICK: We have from the Lord, from the Epistle of St. Paul, that presentation of celibacy is a very important thing in the life of a priest. I was a bishop at the diocese for 25 years and, you know, there's not only a spiritual advantage, there's a very practical advantage there.

You want a man who's married with a family to move to another place where you desperately need him. And he says "I can't go. My wife has a job, my kids are in school; I can't do this." So there are factors -- these are not the major factors, but there are, for bishops who are trying to serve God's people, these are things that happen from time to time and they are very important.

But I think the nature of giving yourself to the Lord completely is hard to do. Maybe many of us don't do it as well as we should do. Maybe I'm not doing it as well as I should be. You're selfish sometimes; you plan on things. But basically just to give yourself to God, those are the priests who really touch God's people.

AMANPOUR: Do you think it's time for a non-European pope? We've had Europeans; we've had mostly Italians for hundreds of years, but the church is growing the fastest in places like Africa and Asia and parts of the developing world. Is it time for a pope from there and will it happen?

MCCARRICK: I need -- I need to say that many feel that way and I think there are so many wonderful bishops and cardinals from the third world. It would be certainly a beautiful thing to have -- to show the universality of the church in that particular personal way.

AMANPOUR: A lot of Catholics, certainly in Europe and in America, believe the church to be in a certain element of crisis, mostly because of these sex abuse scandals that have rocked the church? Do you accept that there is a crisis that needs to be ended?

MCCARRICK: I accept there is a crisis but I don't -- I don't think this is the only crisis. The crisis is the world that we deal in. We're living in a world at war. We're living in a world where there's so much persecution, of Christians and of Catholics, too, all over, not just in Muslim countries but in other countries, too.

There's a secularism in our society. That's the crisis that, maybe more than anything else, the church is facing today.

AMANPOUR: But again, just to push you on this, because there's so many Catholics who love their faith but feel very let down and disappointed by the hierarchy and by these priests who have been implicated and by higher-ups who've hidden these abuses.

What must the church hierarchy do to let people love their faith again and their prelates?

MCCARRICK: They must continue to do what Benedict XVI has done very clearly in so many -- in so many instances and other bishops, hopefully most of us, have tried very clearly to say we cannot continue to have this problem in the church.

We've got to make sure in our seminaries, in our -- in our training centers, in the psychology of dealing with people, we've got to be able to present our priests, our sisters, our lay leaders to the world as people who are interested in them and not in themselves.

AMANPOUR: I was very interested to hear this time around the pope -- well, his spokespeople, saying that it was up to certain cardinals -- certain cardinals to decide whether or not to come here -- and we're talking specifically about Archbishop Mahoney of Los Angeles.

There's a petition going around; as you know, people say he shouldn't come because of all these documents, because of all the allegations that he shielded priests from accountability. Do you think that it was up to him to decide? Do you think he should have decided to come and take part or not?

MCCARRICK: You know, it's hard to get inside a man's mind, inside a man's heart. We make mistakes. But I know Father Mahoney and I think this is a good man who wanted to do the right thing and who felt at the time this was the right thing to do. Turned out he was wrong and that's a shame. That's unfortunate.

But this is a good man who really tried in so many areas to take care of people and we can all fall in some -- in some -- in some mistakes, every one of us, and when this happens, obviously it hurts the church. It hurts people and it hurts the man himself.

These things really are so complex, Christiane. They are so complex. And the -- you know, you have to get into a man's heart, into a man's mind when these things are happening.

And then there's always the possibility and the hope that you grow in your understanding and you grow more clear about what your -- what your duties should be and you follow it through. I think you have to give -- you have to give somebody the grace of saying, you know, maybe that was a mistake 10 years ago. I've learned since.

AMANPOUR: As we go into a new conclave, we're not sure exactly when it's going to start but perhaps sometime in the next -- in the next two weeks, certainly, do you feel a pain at what's happened to the Catholic Church and the way it's being viewed in many quarters?

And how do you think this conclave might or might not be affected by these challenges?

MCCARRICK: I think we all feel the pain. We all -- we all would like to see if we could all walk in with everything fine and the sun shining. But we know that's not the world today. And so this -- these internal problems in the church are hurting us all.

But then the external problems -- I keep talking, this is a world that's really in trouble and the church is there to cure the troubles of the world. The church is there to say God loves you and Jesus Christ is Lord and all these wonderful things that we believe deep in our heart, how do we express them to the world?

AMANPOUR: Now, I know that in the conclave no cardinal is allowed to speak outside the conclave or tweet or do anything like that. But you've been there. Tell us what it's like in there when you all get together and try to make this incredible choice and decision?

MCCARRICK: Can I tell you the story that i've been telling in many, many conferences over the last few weeks?

The key moment in the conclave, you have your ballot in your hand; you're going to put it in the urn, this ballot on which you have written the name down of one of the cardinals.

And in front of you is Michelangelo's Last Supper -- Last Judgment, rather. And before you put the ballot in, there's a -- you read an oath. And it's something like this.

I call on Jesus Christ my Lord who will be my judge -- and there's Michelangelo in front of you -- who will be my judge that I am voting for the man that I feel under God should be the pope, the man that I feel God wants to be pope.

So it ceases to be an election. It becomes a discernment. You don't pick your buddy. You don't pick someone who's going to move to you a better place. You don't pick someone who's going to give you a lot of auxiliaries. You pick the man -- you -- by your -- by your oath, you pick the man you think God wants to lead his church in the next how many years.

That's the real thing that you go -- that's -- and I can talk about that because that's in the document that we all have to do, the public document.

But when you go inside and do it, and we did it more than once. But every time you do it, you feel that same thing. Lord, am I doing the right thing? Have I picked the right man? Is this what you want me to do? Maybe if we had a little more of that in our lives, we'd have a better opportunity to serve God's people.

AMANPOUR: Let me tweak you a little but ask you a serious question. You say pick the right man. Do you think there's any chance that one day they'll pick women to be priests at least?

MCCARRICK: I sort of have to go back to what Blessed John Paul II said. He really issued a document that makes it of faith.

So I'm a man of faith and I'm a man of the church. And I don't -- I don't see that's going to happen. But that doesn't mean -- that doesn't mean that we shouldn't develop more and more opportunities for women to serve, because they come with so much -- so much strength, not just goodness, so much strength. We need a lot of that today.

AMANPOUR: Faith and hope spring eternal.



AMANPOUR: And just after our interview, Cardinal McCarrick reminded me and wanted me to know that in various positions of authority in various diocese around the United States, he told me that he had elevated women to high managerial positions in the church, to chancellor and other such positions.

Now the next excitement in the Catholic Church will be, of course, when the conclave convenes to start the process of electing the next pope. And for more than 50 years, no matter who has been pope, the Vatican has maintained diplomatic relations with Iran.

And Pope Benedict has repeatedly called for peaceful dialogue between that country and Israel, and indeed Cardinal McCarrick has been to Iran. He was the one who helped bring back those hikers when they were released after so many months in captivity then.

When we come back, I will ask Iran's lead negotiator if today's nuclear talks on their program meant a breakthrough or is an agreement for more talks a breakthrough in itself?

But before we go to a break ourselves, how will Pope Benedict spend his retirement? We know that he loves books and he loves cats. But ever since he was a young priest, he's also loved playing the piano.




AMANPOUR (voice-over): Welcome back to the program. And we're showing you pictures of St. Peter's Basilica, and that is where Pope Benedict XVI will leave tomorrow at 5:00 pm Rome time to his summer residence to spend a few months there. And at 8:00 pm Rome time, he will no longer be pope.

But turning now to another story, Iran's nuclear program. For the first time in eight months, negotiators for Iran and six world powers, the U.S., France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain, sat down across from one another and talked for the past two days in Kazakhstan. Now the talks came to an end with an agreement to meet again in March and again in April.

And Iran says the proposals presented by the world powers were a positive step. What exactly does that mean? I had the rare opportunity this morning to speak to Iran's lead negotiator, Dr. Saeed Jalili. He is also the supreme national security adviser. I wanted his thoughts on the meeting and whether this could be resolved diplomatically.


AMANPOUR: Dr. Jalili, thank you very much for joining me from Almaty.

I'd like to start by asking you to characterize what you were offered, what is the proposal on the table; Iran has characterized these meetings as upbeat and more realistic.

SAEED JALILI, CHIEF IRANIAN NEGOTIATOR (through translator): In the name of God, the compassionate and merciful, what was raised today was in line with the suggestions we had from the 5+1 in Baghdad.

According to what they raised, in Moscow, we provided a comprehensive plan. Our plan was a realistic one and it included five elements and five steps. With regard to fact that both sides wanted to remove the concerns of one another's side and respect the rights of one another.

AMANPOUR: Can you tell me in more detail what the proposal is? Does the P5+1 want you to suspend your enrichment at your various facilities? And to close down Fordo? Have you agreed to that?

JALILI (through translator): This proposal -- the proposal they raised, the -- this proposal is supposed to be discussed in an expert meeting.

But the important thing for us was that, for example, our facilities, the nuclear facilities which are working under the supervision of the IAEA, such as Fordo, there is no logic from our point of view to be shut down while we saw that they have paid attention to this point.

Therefore, it is considered from our point of view a positive step. (Inaudible) working under the supervision of the IAEA and they have peaceful activities. They have recognized this right, while these are at the positive steps which we need further discussion on.

AMANPOUR: I think I heard you say positive steps about your enrichment facilities. Can you just confirm to me what the proposal was from the United States and the security members and also Germany?

Have they asked you to suspend enrichment totally?

JALILI (through translator): No, we didn't have such a discussion because we consider enrichment as our whole right. We said it before, therefore enrichment of -- the issue of enrichment is not a legal issue, and they did not raise such a thing.

AMANPOUR: Is it possible to have direct negotiations between Iran and the United States as both President Obama and Vice President Biden recently have, again, asked for, have again proposed?

JALILI (through translator): We think that the field of the 5+1 in the capacity of 5+1 is the capacity that the Americans are there. Therefore, they could raise their points and their issues.

What is important for our people is that how they are behaving, the fact that while they are seeking and they're breaking (ph) sanctions against Iranians and they have seen that these sanctions have been fruitless and they should take this lesson that the path of talks and pressure is not a -- is not an appropriate path.

The path which could help and somehow open the road is the path of cooperation. And they should show it in practice and in action, not just in talking.

AMANPOUR: Dr. Jalili, Mr. Hossein Mousavian, who was a spokesman for Iran's nuclear negotiating team, has writing in the "Financial Times" that both sides need to change their attitude towards resolving this conflict but that Iran needs to understand several things, including that this will only be resolved through direct talks and that this U.S. administration is the one which has proposed direct talks and others may not.

And that if this continues like this, it will ensure that it continues with potential hostilities and, in fact, an outbreak of military action. Do you agree with your own fellow negotiator that this time is crucial to come towards the United States to try to resolve this?

JALILI (through translator): What is important is that Islamic Republic of Iran has showed during the last few years that it is determined to defend its right. It has a clear logic and it, this logic, is defendable. International community repeatedly, the majority of the international community, has repeatedly supported and defended this logic.

The United States, if the United States want to move against this wave, the thing that is accepted by the international community somehow would isolate itself and would be in pursuit of the wrong policies and wrong proven policies that they have pursued. And they -- I think they have realized that these policies have been wrong and were not responsive.

AMANPOUR: Dr. Saeed Jalili, thank you for joining me.


AMANPOUR: And just to remind everybody, there will be more talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 next month and the month after. An after a break, we'll return to St. Peter's Square for the story of a priest who never became pope, but who still inspired millions of Catholics long after his death, the legend of Padre Pio when we return.




AMANPOUR: And finally, today we saw St. Peter's Square overflow with the faithful. It reminded me of a journey that brought me here to Rome in 2002 when tens of thousands of people gathered not to say goodbye to a pope but to celebrate the sainthood of a mystic Italian monk. His name was Padre Pio.

And to learn why he inspired so much devotion, I ventured deep into the Vatican archives, where the records date back over 400 years. There I discovered Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione back in 1887.

At the age of 15, he joined the Capuchin order. As he prayed so fervently over the years that he often went into religious trances until one day the faithful were told that the bloody wounds of Christ, or the stigmata, appeared on his hands and his feet and in his side. Skeptical church officials sent in doctors to examine them, but they could never find any physical explanation.

And so for the next half century, Padre Pio's legend only grew. People flocked to take communion from the priest with the gift of healing, the ability to be in two places at once and the smell of flowers that would announce his presence.

I spoke back then to Father Joseph Martin, who had been Padre Pio's personal caretaker. I asked him to explain the miracle that stamped itself on Padre Pio and drew so many to him.


FATHER JOSEPH MARTIN, PADRE PIO'S CARETAKER: The explanation is religious. It's too strong because it's the crucified Savior still hanging on the cross and still saying, "I thirst."


AMANPOUR: The story of Padre Pio was really a story of deep faith. When he died in 1968 just hours after celebrating what would be his last mass, to the amazement of all who saw it, the wounds had disappeared. The power of faith indeed.

And that is it for tonight's program. Meantime, you can always contact us on our website, Thanks for watching and we'll continue to have our program from here, Rome, as the pope finally says goodbye tomorrow.