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Pope's Final Remarks; Benedict's Final Public Appearance; Deadly Blizzard On The Move; Big Companies Back Same-Sex Marriage

Aired February 27, 2013 - 06:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: -- speaking for the final time before he steps down and disappears into solitude and prayer. He just thanked the crowd for coming to see him off. He's just leaving right now. There are tens of thousands live at the Vatican.

Christiane Amanpour is standing by live. Christiane, this has to be a very emotional time for the pope.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it must be. You know this is a pope not known for wearing as my colleague says his heart on his sleeve. But how can you fail to be moved by this enormous cheer that has gone up in St. Peter's Square.

He's just delivered his final blessing and the crowd is saying goodbye. He will start to exit St. Peter's Square in the pope mobile. We understand he will go under the arch of the bells and there he will be met as always by the Swiss Guard, the sort of Vatican Army if you like, which protects the pope and protects the Vatican.

John Allen, what would you make of his farewell speech? He talked about how difficult it was to leave. He talked about the gravity and the enormity and he also talked about what has buffeted the church on this very, very high and tempestuous seas over the last more than a decade.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: As someone who covers the pope all the time, I was struck by this was one of the rare occasions where he lifted the curtain and gave you a sense of what goes on inside.

We have all imagined since February 11th that the process to arrive at this decision had to be in some ways agonizing. This is a man so conscious of and so devoted to Catholic tradition. You know, he knows how novel this decision is in so many ways.

AMANPOUR: He's in the pope mobile now, as I said, he is exiting St. Peter's Square, going out of public view now, until he leaves tomorrow. What about specifically what he was talking about? It hasn't been easy, he said. Far from easy these last many years?

ALLEN: Well, I think anybody looking at this story of this pontificate would have to say he's right. I mean, that the reality is that although a magnificent teaching pope in so many ways. He left a rich legacy of writing and speeches behind. It's also been a pontificate that has been serially buffeted by meltdowns, controversies and scandals.

Some of it coming in at the pope from the outside and some of it in some ways if not by the pope personally, by his own Vatican team, self-inflicted. So when he says that there have been moments of light and joy, but also there had been tough times, I think we all know what he is talking about.

AMANPOUR: We're going to go to Ben Wedeman who is in the crowd now. Ben, what has it been like these final moments?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly we've seen people listening very closely. It's interesting that unlike back in 2005, it seems everybody now has their cell phones and they are recording it for themselves, this truly historic moment.

So very much eyes focused on what's going on, just in front of the Basilica of St. Peter. We were told as many as 200,000 people would show up in St. Peter's Square today. It seems the number somewhat less, but still very crowded and people paying very close attention to what is going on in this square -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Ben, thanks a lot. And obviously all eyes are going to be on the last 24 hours or just over of this papacy. We know that Thursday, tomorrow, 8:00 p.m. Rome time, Benedict XVI will no longer be the pope. His papacy ends and then all eyes are going to be on the next pope and the procedure to elect him. Give us a sense of how it's going to -- how it will be from 8:01 tomorrow?

ALLEN: Well, we asked the Vatican spokesperson if Benedict had any plans after 8:00, and his charming response, I suppose he will have dinner.

AMANPOUR: So opaque.

ALLEN: Yes, precisely. But in terms of the procedure of electing the next pope, we'll have the news at the top of the next morning. That is Friday. The dean of the College of Cardinals will formally notify all the cardinals of the world that the seat is vacant. This is a mere formality because all of those cardinals are here right now. They know very well.

AMANPOUR: So they get a fax at home?

ALLEN: Well, the letter is going to be sent home for their archives. But we're told they will get e-mails and fax here as well. But in any event, it's all kind of silly because they know what's going on.

At some point, probably on Monday, the cardinals will meet for the first time in a general congregation meeting where the first order of business will be to set a date for the conclave. Right now, the precedent is to do it reasonably early. Perhaps the 7th of March.

AMANPOUR: Definitely before Holy Week begins?

ALLEN: Well, what they want is to have this whole thing wrapped up before Holy Week begins. They want to have a new pope in place because, of course, that is the peek ceremonial and spiritual period on Catholic calendar and would like to have a new pope in place to lead the church through.

AMANPOUR: Through to Easter. Is it going to be easier or more difficult this time to elect the next pope? Obviously with the hindsight and benefit of resignation rather than a sudden death, they had a lot of time to think about this, since the pope first said he would resign at the beginning of the month?

ALLEN: Well, Christiane, you remember in 2005, the sensation, was that John Paul's papacy had been a massive success. You remember watching this 5 million to 10 million pilgrims here. It was hard not to draw that conclusion. I think that made the job a lot easier last time.

Because the job number one was continuity with John Paul and they look from the end and would then the intellectual architect of his papacy for 20 years it seemed a slamdunk.

I think this time the calculus is a little bit more complicated and then that could mean the job of trying to connect the dots of who exactly is the right man to lead the church forward that could be a bit more difficult.

AMANPOUR: Now, you don't think that it is a revolutionary new direction. Whoever is the pope is going to by and large cue to the rather traditional conservative line that John Paul II and Benedict XVI have already made?

What about though this challenge and this real reform that so many Catholics are calling for to finish the job of finally paying the account -- I don't mean that in terms of dollars and cents, but legally, morally, ethically, full accountability for this raging priest pedophilia scandal?

ALLEN: Well, listen, I think that child sex abuse scandal is already in the mix in terms of the politics in this conclave. I mean, immediately I think virtually every cardinal speaking privately or on background will tell you. That it is extraordinarily important to elect a pope who is perceived to have clean hands on the crisis, who is profiled as part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

More long range, I think there is a consensus that Benedict move the church forward in significant ways, but left behind some unfinished business, perhaps the matter of accountability, not just for priests who abuse, but bishop who's dropped the ball and covered it up and there is a desire to elect a pope who is in a way tough enough to get that job done.

AMANPOUR: You think that's why Benedict left? He knew he didn't have the strength to be as you say tough enough to clean house?

ALLEN: I think fundamentally he left for the reasons you said. He's old and he's tired. But I think he also recognizes there are some serious business management matters that have to be dealt with. And Pope Benedict XVI is not a business manager. AMANPOUR: Indeed. John Allen, thank you very much.

And let's not forget the pope is not a leader of faith. He is the single faith leader with the biggest flock in the world, 1.2 billion Catholics around the world. He's almost like a head of state because what he does, where he goes, what he says matters not just to Catholics, but reverberates amongst people of other faiths around the world.

So obviously there is a good reason we're paying so much attention to this transition and why so many people, Catholics and non-Catholics will be watching to see who is elected the next pope. John and Zoraida, back to you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, well, history being made in St. Peter's Square in Rome. There are a lot of news going on here in this morning. The deadly blizzard stranded motorists, canceled flights and cut power, it's not done yet. We'll tell you where that storm is headed next.

SAMBOLIN: Governor Chris Christie takes a gamble on internet gambling. We'll have that story as well coming up.


BERMAN: The big story this morning, of course, Pope Benedict XVI giving his final public farewell to Catholics around the world today, a very dramatic and historic speech from St. Peter's Square.

SAMBOLIN: We just witnessed him leaving moments ago, his final public appearance. As of 8:00 p.m. tomorrow evening, he will be known as pope emeritus. The first time we have ever spoken those words, pope emeritus.

BERMAN: Meanwhile, other big stories going on right here in the United States, a fierce winter storm on the move right now, portions of the plains being hit. They are still feeling the effects.

We're talking canceled flights, cut power, stranded motorists from Texas all the way to Illinois. Officials say three people are dead. More than 4 inches have fallen at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago Tuesday night, forcing the cancellation of more than 300 flights.

The National Weather Service says this storm is still very active and very dangerous. Our Ted Rowlands is live in Chicago this morning. Ted, what's the morning commute. You know, it's never easy to commute in Chicago. How much worse is it this morning?


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The morning commute is horrible in Chicago. Zoraida, you know that. You lived here. But, you had a little bit snow, a little bit of rain and it gets even worse. Right now, the snow has diminished. It's almost turning to rain because we were hovering around 34 degrees right now. The temperatures if they do drop, it could cause some problems. The good news is that it seems to, hopefully it will hold for commuters, have drop a little in intensity. You mentioned those flights, actually when you combine Midway and O'Hare, 700 flights.

In excess of 700 flights were canceled yesterday. So today, a huge headache trying to get the airports up and running, moving, getting all of those stranded passengers out of Chicago.

And as you know, if O'Hare is down, that creates problems nationwide because planes get stranded. Passengers get stranded and it really does put a lot of pressure on the airline industry.

Hopefully the heavy snow has moved out of this area and away from Chicago and specifically O'Hare so that they can get everything rolling.

BERMAN: Now, a lot of the parts of the Midwest, you know, Kansas City especially, this is the second big storm that they've had in less than a week. You know, it's February 27th here. How much storm fatigue are we dealing with?

ROWLANDS: Well, I think every February 27th there is winter fatigue in the Midwest, and then you add two heavy storms, it could be debilitating, quite frankly. People are getting through it. Actually it's great packing snow, so last night my kids and my wife, out in the front yard, made a huge snowman. But I think it's safe to say enough is enough.

BERMAN: All right, Ted Rowlands, hang in there, man. We're pulling on for you.

SAMBOLIN: Ted, send us some pictures. We would love to see that.


SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

ROWLANDS: We have a couple, all right.

SAMBOLIN: I appreciate that. All right, so right now, a gigantic storm front moves northwest, upstate New York and central and northern New England can expect heavy snowfall, brace for that. Jennifer Delgado is in the CNN Weather Center.

Tell us exactly who is in store for this next wallop?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, we are talking about more snow out there. But, Zoraida, look at some of these totals out there. For Chicago, we picked up 4.8 inches of snowfall O'Hare. Kansas City, nearly 10. So, you're right, a lot of people are tired of the snow. But the reality is, it is still coming down. You can see from Chicago, we're also dealing with from Milwaukee. Even in Kansas City, St. Louis, light snow out there.

Overall, we're talking about one to possibly maybe two or three more inches of snow being squeezed out. Over towards the East, so really talking about some rain from New York and Interstate 95, for areas like Manchester, Interstate 93. You start to see some of that snow working in to parts of Vermont, as well as into New Hampshire. But overall, the Midwest is going to be quieting down, that's why we have light to moderate snowfall.

However, ski resorts are going to be doing some big business coming up. We're talking about potentially eight to 12 inches of snowfall in some of those higher elevations as we go through tomorrow, as well as tomorrow, especially for New England. But overall, in a wider view, out towards the West. It's fairly quiet. Ridge of high pressure in place. Sunny, we are on a kind of cool-down for the weekend.

Zoraida, John, nice to have a slight break in the bad weather, but still a lot of snow out there.

SAMBOLIN: Can we say when February is over, it's all over? All the snow and the craziness?


DELGADO: We're still away, away from spring.

BERMAN: You can say it, it may not be true. You can go ahead and say it.

SAMBOLIN: That's true.

DELGADO: I can say it for you. How about 50/50 chance?

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Jennifer. Yes.

BERMAN: Sixteen minutes after the hour right now.

And new overnight in California, two officers in the Santa Cruz police department killed in the line of duty while responding to a report of possible domestic violence. The police chief called it the darkest day in the history of the Santa Cruz department, which until now had never lost an officer patrolling the city.


CHIEF KEVIN VOGEL, SANTA CRUZ, CALIF. POLICE: We at the Santa Cruz police department are like family. I've known both of these officers a long, long time. And there just aren't words to describe how I feel personally about this, and how my department is reacting.


BERMAN: Police officials say the gunman was killed later in a shoot- out with police.

SAMBOLIN: And only two days to go until the forced budget spending cuts kick in. And now there, are no meetings scheduled between the White House and congressional leaders to try to find a solution. Keeping the pressure on Republicans, President Obama visited a defense ship building facility yesterday in Virginia to highlight the negative impact of the impending cuts.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are too many Republicans in Congress right now who refuse to compromise even an inch when it comes to closing tax loopholes and special interest tax rates.


SAMBOLIN: Congressional Republicans hit right back, dismissing the president's business as a prop to support his tax hike proposals.

BERMAN: Speaker Boehner even used some swear words which was --


BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) yesterday.

It's day one for Chuck Hagel in his new job as secretary of defense. The full Senate finally confirmed Hagel yesterday by a 58-41 vote. Hagel is expected to address service members and Pentagon employees before getting down to business today.

SAMBOLIN: The lines are drawn, and some major corporations are taking a stand on same-sex marriage. We'll have a closer look, coming up.


BERMAN: We're minding your business this morning. Stock futures are pointing to a flat open. Not a really big surprise, because Wall Street is so nervous about the government's forced spending cuts, which is now days away.

SAMBOLIN: And also today, an exclusive from our corporate cousins at "Fortune."

Some big name companies are taking a stand in favor of same sex marriage.

Christine Romans has the details.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: They'll be filing a brief on this. Sixty companies, and according to "Fortune," they expect by the end of the day, it will be a lot more than just 60 companies.

On Thursday, dozens of these American corporations are expected to file this brief, so interesting, including Apple, Alcoa, Facebook, eBay, Intel, Morgan Stanley, an amicus brief in the landmark Hollingsworth v. Perry case, broadly arguing with the U.S. Supreme Court the laws banning same-sex marriage like California's Prop 8 are unconstitutional under due process equal protection laws, and they go on to say it's more than just fairness, it's also a business imperative for American companies that you don't have different standard for gay couples across state lines. Recognizing the rights of same-sex couples to marry is more than a constitutional issue, it is a business imperative. I mean, think about it. And this brief goes on to say, if you are trying to retain top talent and they don't want to move to say, California, or they don't want to move to a state that doesn't have the same rights as Massachusetts, New York, or Iowa, for example, that -- that kind of breaks down the free market of finding talent in -- a really interesting and I would say business-oriented but progressive mood for many, many of the companies.

It comes in the same week we saw an interesting report from another group that found that some beneficiaries of same-sex couples, including the children, adopted children of same sex couples, are being denied Social Security benefits, and some big concerns among progressives about that.

In some states, there's no monthly benefit if a spouse dies. There's no one-time payment for burial. And in some states, the second parent adopted children are denied monthly benefit if parent dies. And that can come down to thousands of dollars a year in benefits.

One family may get but another one doesn't. And is that legal? Is that fair? Are there two classes of American families? And should that be something that should be addressed in federal level?

Interesting to me that companies are being so progressive on this. Someone this morning said it's the anti-Chick-fil-A. This is the other -- the other movement among big American companies, 60 signed up so far, according to "Fortune". But expect to se a lot more of them by tomorrow.

BERMAN: And it's a difficult (ph) case before the Supreme Court. Interesting they are weighing in.

ROMANS: Yes, it really is.

BERMAN: What's the one thing we need to know about your money?

ROMANS: Federal Reserve is going to keep staying the course, keep propping up the economy. The Fed Chief Ben Bernanke reiterating his support of stimulus yesterday on Capitol Hill. That is the takeaway from the Fed chief this week. Gold prices soared 2 percent, the biggest gain of the year yesterday, because apparently that market believes the Fed is going to stay in the business of propping up the American economy. The one thing you need to know. The Fed is still in the game.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-four minutes past the hour. Something you don't see every day.

BERMAN: Dennis Rodman in North Korea. We've never seen that at all.

Plus, the king of beers being served up with a lawsuit. Some people claiming they are just not getting the buzz they paid for.

SAMBOLIN: Brouhaha.

BERMAN: Oh, that's good.


BERMAN: Pope Benedict XVI offering up a final farewell. Just moments ago, he told tens of thousands of followers in St. Peter's Square his decision to step down is for the good of the church.


POPE BENEDICT XVI, CATHOLIC CHURCH: I am also deeply grateful for the understanding, support and prayers of so many of you, not only here in Rome, but throughout the world. The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust of God's will and a deep love of Christ's Church.


BERMAN: Christiane Amanpour will join us live from Rome in just a moment.

SAMBOLIN: And a deadly shark attack off the shores of New Zealand. A surfer killed by a great white barely 200 yards from the beach. And police try to take that shark out.

BERMAN: And the deadly storm still on the move, crushing homes, closing down highways. It's going on right now. There could be a lot more misery ahead for millions of people in its path.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Great to see this morning. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: Kind of tired of that storm.

I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 29 minutes past the hour.

One last public audience before the sun sets on his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI addressing pilgrims who flock to St. Peter Square for his final public audience.