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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Pope Benedict XVI's Final Remarks; Deadly Blizzard on the Move

Aired February 27, 2013 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: And one of the fathers of the church. In Catholic order, we call that catechist.

But today, I would imagine that knowing the momentous nature of what's happening, it's probably going to be uncharacteristically personal for Benedict. I will imagine he will talk about what was in his mind and in his heart, as he reached this remarkable decision to step aside and what his hopes for the church are going forward.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRSPONDENT: And it is a moment of opportunity and possibility, many are saying that this needs to be a moment for reform. What kind of reform do you think needs to happen? Of course, in our minds, in the minds of many American Catholics and Catholics around the world are the desperate challenges particularly around the priest pedophile scandal that's rocked the Catholic Church.

ALLEN: Well, there are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world and they're not all of like mind. So there would be competing agenda for reform. But I certainly think when it comes to the child abuse scandals, I think the bottom line is everyone would agree that the ways in which Benedict has moved the church forward need to continue and the unfinished business, particularly accountability for people at the top of the food chain, that is the bishops, needs to be the next piece of the puzzle to fall into place.

AMANPOUR: And, of course, these scandals and stories have unwanted certainly by the Vatican cast a shadow at least over the beginning of this week and certainly many Catholics have wanted one of these cardinals at least not to come here, and there have been victims of the sex abuse scandals and crimes who have come here to plead for precisely what you're saying, finish the unfinished business, particularly hoping that the next pope will do that.

Remember, this is a faith of 1.2 billion people around the world. It is the single faith with such a huge following. The single faith leader, the pope, has such a huge following. No other faith leader does and frankly no other political leader except the leaders of China and India rules over such a massive flock.

We're going now to Ben Wedeman who's in Vatican Square to bring us some update and some color from the people who are watching.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christiane. I was here when Pope John Paul II died in 2005 and it was a much different sort of atmosphere, much sadder. This occasion, people are sort of stepping back and contemplating the last eight years of Benedict XVI and appreciating what he accomplished and what still needs to be accomplished for the Catholic Church.

Now, there's a very international audience here in the square. We've heard Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and Arabic being spoken from the stage. This is typical for the Catholic Church, a very international body.

Now, we're joined now by Sarah and Shalene (ph). They are students studying in Rome, both of them from Iowa in the United States.

Now, Sarah, you came here to study architecture and you have this unique opportunity to see history in the making. Your thoughts?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it's just amazing. I don't think anyone of us expected any of this to happen while we were here, because it's such a limited opportunity that we are in the least. So it's amazing that we get to experience this.

WEDEMAN: And Shalene, what are your thoughts?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we're kind of skipping class to be here, so sorry, professors.

This definitely took priority. All of our families back home are jealous that we got to be here for this experience and normally, this is a time of mourning because this would be when they need to find a new pope if one passed away. But this is definitely an excellent opportunity to see off the current pope and the new one brought in to papacy.

WEDEMAN: That's an interesting way to put it, seeing off. All right. Thank you very much.

So, Christiane, very well put, seeing off rather than mourning the passing of the pope -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Ben, thank you. And we just heard a giant cheer go up, the pope has started to speak and we will bring you the contents of his comments when they are done.

In the meantime, obviously, all eyes are on who will the next pope be. There is a conclave that will soon be convened. It is full of ritual. It's full of secrecy.

Becky Anderson has our report on just how the conclave unfolds.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is St. Peter's Square in the state of Vatican City, the spiritual and governing seat of the Roman Catholic Church. And it's here that tens of thousands of pilgrims gather to await the election of a new pope. And it's here behind me just in the corner in the Vatican Sistine Chapel that the new pontiff is chosen.

SUBTITLE: Where does the vote happen?

ANDERSON: Well, the Sistine Chapel was designed to be the papal chapel. It's one of the world's most famous galleries of biblical art. Its ceiling painted by Michelangelo, and it's here that the conclave of cardinals is held.

SUBTITLE: Who Votes?

ANDERSON: One hundred and fifteen cardinals are expected to gather to invoke the Holy Spirit for assistance before electing a pope by secret ballot. The cardinals behind closed doors cut off from the outside world will choose a leader.

SUBTITLE: How does the voting work?

ANDERSON: During the period of conclave, the cardinals will be staying in accommodation just over there. They will be bussed in.

And on the first day of conclave, eligible cardinals may hold a vote. If there is no result, on subsequent days, they'll vote twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon, until someone receives a vote of two-thirds plus one.

SUBTITLE: What does the smoke mean?

ANDERSON: Since the cardinals meet in isolation, the only way the public knows about the proceedings is one of the most famous traditions of the papal succession ritual, the appearance of smoke from a chimney over there at the conclave room. The ballots are burned after each vote. Black smoke from that chimney indicates a failed ballot. White smoke means a new pope has been elected.

Shortly after the decision is being signaled, the new pope will appear in front of a throng of onlookers and give his first apostolic blessing from the window over there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: And that was our Becky Anderson, explaining the conclave. As far as we know, the early years when the conclave will start will be on Monday. Meantime, Pope Benedict is giving his final address and we'll have more of what he has to say and explain to you what he says shortly after we return to New York for more of the world's headlines and the morning news with John and Zoraida.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Christiane. Amazing to see what's going on over there in Rome.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: You can hear the horns in the background. A lot of celebration happening there.

BERMAN: I know.

Pope Benedict XVI just speaking right now. We will get back to that as soon as we can. Meanwhile, lots more going on this morning. The deadly, deadly blizzard that stranded motorists, canceled flights, and cut power, it is on the move and we will tell you where it is headed next.

Plus --

SAMBOLIN: Strange but true. Dennis Rodman in North Korea, we're going to tell you why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to a special edition of EARLY START.

You were looking at history right there. That is a live picture from St. Peter Square where Pope Benedict is speaking publicly for the final time as head of the Roman Catholic Church. St. Peters Square is simply packed this morning. Tens of thousands of pilgrims there to witness his final papal farewell.

SAMBOLIN: A very unusual sight because typically we're having a burial, and this is the first time that the pope has actually resigned while in reign. So, it's really interesting to watch.

We're going to continue to bring you coverage of this. Christiane Amanpour is live in Rome. We're going to head to her in just a minute.

But, first, we would like to get you up-to-date on some of the other big headlines.

It's a lethal storm is on the move right now and portions of Texas, northwest Oklahoma and southern Kansas are still feeling the effects of a deadly winter storm that canceled a lot of flights. It cut power, it stranded motorists from Texas all the way to Illinois, and officials say there are three people dead.

More than four inches have fallen at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago Tuesday night and, of course, that forced cancellations of more than 300 flights.

The National Weather Service says this storm is still a very active one and a very dangerous one, folks.

Our Ted Rowlands is live in Chicago this morning. And, of course, Jennifer Delgado is manning the severe weather center in Atlanta.

Let's start with you, Ted. How does the morning commute look there?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's going to be another long one, Zoraida. The temperatures are hovering around 30 degrees. The snow is wet and it is very heavy. So, it's a problem for motorists and it keeps coming.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS (voice-over): The massive storm system roared into Chicago late Tuesday, creating havoc for commuters and reporters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been stop-and-go for some time now because of the constant snow that we have. Whoa!

ROWLANDS: That's what happens when a snowplow crosses over you on an overpass.

Roads became treacherous all over the region. Hundreds of flights were canceled. And Illinois was not alone. Snowplows hit the streets of Kansas City Tuesday to wage war against Mother Nature, some parts there saw a foot of snow from a massive blizzard.

Lindsey Hughes (ph) spent much of his day shoveling.

LINDSEY HUGHES, COMMUNITY MEMBER: Heavy, wet and we're just trying to get it all.

ROWLANDS: The hard wet snow has made getting around difficult, whether it's behind the wheel or on foot. Falling branches have wreaked havoc with the power system and look what happened to a building roof in Belton, Missouri, as TV news crews were rolling.

Elsewhere in Kansas, 100-year record in Wichita is no more. That area has now seen 21 inches of snow for February, taking down the old mark in just six days.

The huge snowstorm began its march into Texas Panhandle. Check out these amazing images shot by a CNN iReporter outside of Amarillo on Monday. Parts of the panhandle saw 19 inches of snow Monday, forcing out tow trucks in whiteout conditions.

And from the ground to the air, no snow, but plenty of wind was on hand to whip around planes at the San Antonio International Airport. Gusts hit more than 54 miles an hour at the airport. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. Back in Kansas City, people say they just want a break from all the snowfall.

HUGHES: It's been a long, what, seven, 10 days. So I'm ready to go home.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS: And right now, Zoraida, because it is just above freezing, it's almost turned to rain. So, it's very heavy and if the temperatures drop in the next few hours, with the commute starting in the next few hours, it could be very bad because the roads are of course so wet.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Ted Rowlands, live for us in Chicago -- thank you for that.

We're actually going to head back to Rome now. The pope is actually addressing the crowd now, talking about leaving, his farewell speech. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED) POPE BENEDICT XVI, CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): -- of our togetherness in Christ. These people don't write to me the way they would have written to a prince or important man they don't know. They write to me as brothers and sisters, as children, son and daughters with a sense of affection which is overwhelming. They can touch with their hands.

The church is not -- is an organization or an association with their leaders, and (ph) the church is a live body. It is a communion of brothers and sisters in the body of Jesus Christ where we are embraced.

To feel -- to experiment this feeling is to touch with your hands his truth and your love which is the reason for the light in -- I love all of you and praise the light of the church today.

In the last month, I have felt that my strength has diminished. And I have requested God with insistence in my prayer to illuminate me with his light to make me come to the right decision not for my own good, but for the good of the church. I have taken this tact in full awareness of the gravity and seriousness and novelty, but also with a profound serenity in my soul. Loving the church also means to have the courage to make difficult choices, having always before you -- having always before you the good of the church and not your own.

Allow me now to go back to the 19th of April 2005, the seriousness of the decision then was also in the fact that from that moment on, I was committed always and forever to the Lord, always to take on the Petrine ministry. That he who takes on the ministry has no privacy, he belongs totally to everyone and to the whole church. And so, life, his life -- because no private, I have felt like I do today, that one receives his own life in the moment that he gives it away.

I have said that Paul has true brothers and sisters and sons and daughters throughout the world. He feels safe in the embrace of your communion. They call -- the pope doesn't belong to him any longer.

Pope belongs to all and all belongs to him. And always and forever, there is not more privacy.

My decision to resign the active exercise of my ministry does not include it. I will go back to private life, a life of journeys, meetings, conferences and so on. I will not abandon the cross, but in a new way, I will be close to the crucified Lord.

I continue to offer my service in prayer and I like to -- I will continue to be in the area of Saint Peter and may I always be an example of a life which be it active or passive, it belongs totally to the work of the Lord. I would like to thank every one of you for your respect and understanding in the way you have accepted my decision.

I will continue to accompany you on the way and the church in prayer and reflection and I will continue to be dedicated to the Lord. I have chosen to lead every hour, every day close to him. I would like you to remember me before God. And especially the cardinals, pray for the cardinals who have such a difficult task to do to choose the new successor of the Apostle Peter. Let the Lord accompany you with the light and the triumph (ph) of his spirit, that has involved more their intercession of Virgin Mary, mother of God and the church, to accompany us, all of us in our community, and let us devote to her with profound faith.

Dear friends, God leads his church and sustains it always especially in difficult moments. Let us not lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the path of the church and the world.

In our heart, in the heart of each of us, have always the delightful certainty that the Lord is near you, that he does not abandon you, that he's close to you and that he shelters you with his love.

Thank you.

(CHEERS)

(END LIVE FEED)

SAMBOLIN: You have been listening to Pope John -- Pope Benedict XVI as he says his final farewell from Vatican City. There we are at St. Peter's Square live.

You heard him say let us not lose the vision of faith. Those are his parting words to everyone. It's a very personal and special message.

Christiane Amanpour was saying, will he really address the crowd personally? And he has.

BERMAN: Absolutely. He says he will not abandon the cause. He says he takes this step, retirement, with full knowledge of the seriousness of the action, but he says loving the church means having the courage to make difficult choices.

SAMBOLIN: You're watching the cardinals there standing up and giving him a standing ovation.

The pontiff also said this office is bigger than he is. And that as we expected, that he will now retire in prayer, keeping the church always foremost on his mind and praying for the health of the church.

And again, I want just want to reiterate his final words saying let's not lose the vision and faith for the church, which is the message that, you know, everybody is grappling with right now. There is so much controversy surrounding the Roman Catholic Church, where it's heading. And, you know, the cardinals tasked with this monumental effort of selecting the next pope.

So, we're going to continue to follow all of these developments for you. We're going to take a quick break and be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Twenty-six minutes past the hour. A sophomore at coastal Carolina University in South Carolina has been shot to death on campus. The incident happened last night at a residence hall at the school which is not far from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Police are searching for the gunman at this hour, who they say left campus in a vehicle.

BERMAN: And in just a few hours, Chuck Hagel will begin his first day the work at the Pentagon. The Senate yesterday finally confirmed Hagel as the new defense secretary, the vote was 58-41 with four Republicans voting for Hagel.

He is the first man enlisted -- actually he's the first man who served in combat as an enlisted man to head up the Defense Department.

More of our coverage of the pope's final public address ahead.

Plus, we're also following the fight in Syria, and the possibility that U.S. might help the rebels there directly.

SAMBOLIN: And the worm worms his way to North Korea. What Dennis Rodman is doing there?

And if you are leaving the house right now, you can watch us anytime on your desktop or your mobile phone. Just go to CNN.com/TV.

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