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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Pope's Last Day

Aired February 28, 2013 - 05:30   ET

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


JOHN ALLEN, CNN SR. VATICAN ANALYST: Benedict recently made Monsignor Gainswine an archbishop and named him -- there we see, by the way, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, one of the 11 Americans who will be voting on this conclave. The pope named Gainswine an archbishop and made him the prefect of the papal household. A job, by the way, he will presumably continue to hold for the new pope which has set off a minor frisson (ph) about whether or not Archbishop Gainswin might be a back door channel for Benedict to continue to have a voice in the next papacy.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is right now 5:30 a.m. eastern time, and it is here in Rome where we are at St. Peter's Square. We welcome all our viewers in the United States tuning in right now and our viewers around the world. What we've been reporting this morning is this is the final day of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy.

And at this moment and for the last half an hour, he has been meeting with all the cardinals who are now here in Rome. This is not a policy statement. This is not about doctrine. This is about final face time with all these cardinals who have come to say thank you to him, who he is saying thank you to and whom many of whom, the majority, in fact, he may have elevated to their positions as cardinal.

And of course, a 115 of the voting age cardinals will convene at some point into the conclave that elects the next pope. We're talking about some of them who have held very significant posts in the Catholic Church. Many of them are aged, of course. And they are all now meeting with the pope.

As I say, you know, what was extraordinary is that this pope's speech yesterday has been touted, the one he gave in his -- after having gone around St. Peter's Square in the pope mobile his final general audience as the best speech that he's ever made. Certainly, it's the most emotional speech. He used the word in Italian that means to be moved. And we were talking about he writes all his speeches, all his writings in long hand.

ALLEN: This is not a pope of the digital age, really.

AMANPOUR: Although, he tweets.

ALLEN: Someone tweets in his name, Christiane, would be the better way to put it. That's right. I mean, Benedict XVI is old school in the sense that he prefers to do all of his writing in long hand. And I was mentioning off camera to you, one of the remarkable things about Benedict XVI is he a kind of encyclopedic memory.

I remember when I did biography of him in 1999, one of the things I learned is that he does his academic writings. Often, he will include passages in Ancient languages, Greek and Latin, which he can recall from memory. The only thing he ever has to do is go back up and look up the page number in the original text where they were found.

AMANPOUR: It is an extraordinary detail about him and he is known as the intellectual pope, the philosophical pope, the professorial pope. You were saying to me just a short while ago that if Pope Benedict had not been a cardinal and then pope, he would have been --

ALLEN: A university professor.

AMANPOUR: And his predecessor, John Paul, who is much more charismatic and much more of a rock star, so to speak, would have been.

ALLEN: A movie star.

(LAUGHTER)

ALLEN: Yes, absolutely.

AMANPOUR: That gives you a little bit of sense of the different temperaments. And yet, the emotion that is now being really demonstrated as these cardinals say farewell face-to-face for the last time. All of them kissing the fisherman's ring which we know will be defaced and destroyed once Benedict XVI's papacy ends.

ALLEN: That's right. There are sort of two instruments of the papal office, one is the ring and one is the official papal seal. Both of which the seal is actually kept in a safe in an office in the Vatican. Of course in the middle ages as you know, Christiane, these what were used to stamp papal bulls which made them official and the fear of all of this was that after a papacy had ended, someone might use those instruments to falsify papal documents, and that's where the custom of destroying them came from. And that will be honored at the end of Benedict's papacy as well.

AMANPOUR: All right. John, thank you. And we'll continue, obviously, to watch this with all of you. Back to you, John and Zoraida in New York.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is interesting to see this as history is being made at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI saying goodbye to the cardinals who have assembled and many of them will be part of the conclave coming up --

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And as you're looking there, sharing some private words with a lot of them and some nice laughter. We're going to head over to Jim Bittermann. He is at St. Peter's square. What can you tell us, Jim?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in fact, this is not exactly anything out of the ordinary today. This is kind of an ordinary tourist say here. The big day for the tourists was yesterday. It's one of those things, you know, you should have been here yesterday, basically, because that was when the pope had his major audience for the public.

There were tens of thousands of people out here. But nonetheless, there are a few people here today who wanted to come by just to sort of see how things transpired today. The pope has been behind closed doors. The Vatican has done a lot, I think, to sort of discourage people from even coming because they've kept the TV screens here shut off, so there's no way for the public to actually see what's going on in terms of the pope and the cardinals that are meeting behind the Vatican walls.

And they've also taken down some of the crowd control barriers here. So, they're obviously not expecting any crowds, but nonetheless, we have with us today, Paul Vermulen from Belgium who is out here. Did you come hoping to see the pope or were you -- why are you here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, actually, we booked this trip before anything had been announced. And so, we came here on Monday and the elections were still going on, which we didn't know of, didn't anticipate, and then, of course, the news of the pope. So, in order to avoid the crowds, we came on Tuesday to see the cathedral. We're back here today to see the galleries, the museum, which is, of course, a crown in -- jewel in the crown.

BITTERMANN: Great. Thank you very much, Paul. Appreciate it. Back to you, Zoraida and John.

BERMAN: We are seeing some of the American cardinals. We have, in the past few minutes, meet and greet Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Timothy Dolan from New York City here a short time ago. What's happening right now is we've been saying is the cardinals are saying their final goodbyes to Pope Benedict XVI.

Later today, he will go to his temporary new home which is Castel Gandolfo, about 15 minutes by helicopter outside of Rome. And our Becky Anderson is there. Good morning, Becky.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A very good morning to you. And final preparations being put in place here at Castel Gandolfo in the main town square for the arrival of a very honored guest. This diocese is very much associated with popes of -- I mean, this Castel Gandolfo behind me, 400 years this has been the summer residence of a succession of popes getting away from the heat of the Roman summer.

It sits over the most wonderful, wonderful lake and the perfect, perfect place to spend a period of time in quiet and contemplation and that is exactly what Benedict XVI will do when he arrives here. He's here for a couple months before he goes back to the Vatican where they are redoing an apartment for him there, an old monastery that's being redone for his period of time when he effectively goes into isolation.

Before that happens, then today, he flies in by helicopter. He actually has his own pilot's license, but I'm told he won't be flying the helicopter today. He'll arrive here at about 5:15 local time, which is about 5:00 or so hours from now. We'll see him appear at the window behind me there to make a very brief salute to what will be something like 7,000 or 8,000 people gathered in this square.

We may hear a brief word from him. That will be the last thing we ever hear from Benedict XVI, his holiness, as he'll be called going forward. And then, John, at eight o'clock in the evening, the brown door behind me will slam shut and the Swiss guard who's been the papal body guards for centuries, will abandon their position, leaving Benedict XVI there to begin his life for, as I say, contemplation and isolation -- John.

BERMAN: Becky, you make it sound very dramatic, and indeed it is, because it is history we are witnessing today.

SAMBOLIN: Unprecedented.

BERMAN: Later today, all the action will be at Castel Gandolfo where Becky Anderson has just been reporting from. Right now, it is happening inside Vatican City where Pope Benedict XVI is saying goodbye to the cardinals who have gathered to hear his final words as pope there. The pope spoke to them a short time ago, and he made a very brief but poignant statement. Let's listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPE BENEDICT XVI, CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): Advice and presence has been very helpful to me in my ministry during eight years we have lived with faith, marvelous moments in the history of the church and also times when the world was covered by dark clouds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: He also spoke about the selection of the next pope. He said he hopes the Lord will help guide the cardinals to make what he called the right choice and he promised his obedience to the next pope.

SAMBOLIN: So let's talk about that. Let's talk about the next pope, and perhaps, the list of contenders. We have a list that we put together here. And we have Father Beck with us, also Monsignor Hilgartner to talk about that list. I gave both of you the list that you can look through it.

One of my questions was whether or not we would be looking at an American, perhaps, as a pope and also the age factor here, because Pope Benedict XVI was the oldest ever elected. And so, will they be looking for somebody younger?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, let's first begin with one of the younger candidates on this list. Cardinal Tagle who is the archbishop of Manila, 2.8 million Catholics, by the way, only a cardinal for about three months, so a newbie. And yet, he's very interesting in that reports say he's invited the poor to eat at his table in his residence. Very big on social justice. He actually addressed the cardinals last year at a meeting and said they have to start listening to the concerns of people. They have to be more open. And so, he said the church would listen more and admit its mistakes. He said this at the senate (ph) in Rome last October. So, for a cardinal to say that publicly, I think puts him out there, but he's only 55 years old, 56 years old. Do we really want some would say, another pope like John Paul II for that long of a papacy?

SAMBOLIN: Well, but he's younger, right? And he's addressing, you know, head on the crisis within the Catholic Church. But the fact that he hasn't been a cardinal for very long, does that weigh against him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably. In some ways, because the other cardinals don't know him, because he's only been a cardinal for a few months. He's one who has not interacted. And he's in Manila. He's not worked in the Vatican. So, it's just a question of he's an unknown candidate where other candidates you look historically when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected and became Pope Benedict.

He would have been one of the most well-known among the whole college of cardinal. And all of this, it's so hard to predict. There's the old saying that if you go into the conclave as pope, you come back out a cardinal. Meaning if you're the likely contender, you're the likely candidate, it might not happen.

BERMAN: Nevertheless. Give us one of your top names.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last week, when the curia (ph) was on their retreat, the preacher for their Lenten retreat was Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi who is the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. And he's well-known as someone who understands the modern world.

He's 70. I don't know where things would be relative to age, but they say he very much understands the modern world and is very in touch with the culture of the world and maybe somebody who could address those kind of things.

BERMAN: And Cardinal Ravasi is Italian. And you know, John Paul II, Benedict XVI really the first who non-Italian popes we have seen in hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years. How much of a pull is there to go back to an Italian, do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, there is a pulling at the majority of Europeans who are going to elect, but many are saying why not a pope from the third world? That is where the church is growing most rapidly in Africa, in Asia. And interestingly enough, we have a candidate from Africa, Cardinal Peter Turkson.

Now, he's 64 years old. He's from Ghana. And he is the head of the Vatican Justice and Peace Bureau. And he's a very interesting fellow. There's been some controversy around him because he showed an anti- Muslim video that got some attention, and people worry about how well -- we don't want another Islam controversy to begin with on new pope.

However, some Americans have said to me, wouldn't be something the first African-American president in our history if you had an African pope also? What a remarkable cultural symbol that might be?

SAMBOLIN: Is that something that they really think about going in, because in 2005, this very discussion was being had, can we have an African or a Latino pope? And here we are again revisiting this. Is that a possibility, a real possibility? Is that something that is considered that that is where the Catholic Church is growing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's clearly something that's being considered. And, I think at the last conclave, those were considered long shots, and suddenly, the conversations are very different.

SAMBOLIN: And what about -- when you talk about being in touch with the youth, perhaps? And we talk about social media and how that's not part of the conclave now. As a matter of fact, they're taking some real serious efforts to make sure that nobody tweets from there, that no information is shared.

Is that something that they're considering, the youth movement? Because every year, you know, they flock to Rome, and you know, they are riveted by what the pope has to say. And that's really the future of the church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last year, the church hosted -- on what we called the new evangelization, which is really a whole -- the synod (ph) was a time to reflect on how we preach, how we teach the faith in the modern world, how we preach to people today. And so, last fall, the church convoked the synod (ph) with many of the cardinals who will be going into the election, to the conclave, participated in that very gathering, in that very meeting when they reflected on such things.

And suddenly, we've got -- as they take all the cardinals' cell phones away for the conclave, I'm sure some of them will be going into social media withdrawal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: However, I think with regards youth, it's going to have to be more than simply tweeting. I think young people, especially in the United States feel as though they need a church that's relevant to their lives, that speaks to them, that they can sit in a church and not be bored by a homily.

And that, you know, that maybe their local priest doing that, but they want a pope that's going to inspire them to get involved and active again. And again, in the United States, that is an issue.

BERMAN: Let me remind you what you are looking at here. These are cardinals who have gathered in Rome to say goodbye to Pope Benedict XVI, each and everyone who is there already, getting a private moment to say goodbye. And have seen several Americans.

We saw Timothy Dolan, Cardinal -- the archbishop here of New York City, Sean O'Malley of Boston, Donald Wuerl, Washington D.C., and of course, at the mere mention of these American cardinals it begs our favorite question which is, is there any possibility we might see an American pope?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, we never know. SAMBOLIN: But?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But --

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's fun to dream about that possibility. And we talk about speaking to a culture of young people. You talk about speaking in the modern world. We have our American perspective. And in some ways, there's a little bit of fandom there. Wouldn't it be great to see that guys we know. There's Cardinal Stafford who's a retired cardinal from the United States who worked in Rome.

BERMAN: You're a fantastic spotter.

SAMBOLIN: No kidding.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's over 80, so he will not be a voting cardinal. Who knows? I mean, there's been talk of Cardinal O'Malley because of his work in Boston, especially in terms of addressing the sex abuse scandal. We certainly talk about Cardinal Dolan because of his place publicly in the media and also as president of the Conference of Bishops at this point.

There's been mention of Cardinal Wuerl. He had one of the key positions at the zenith last November. He was the general (ph) which then he summarized all of the interventions of all of the other participants at the zenith and kind of would summarize those and had a chance to do some of the minding of all of the content during the zenith. So, very influential position there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go back to Cardinal O'Malley for a minute, the cardinal of Boston. And interestingly, it was the Italian press that put him forward, a Franciscan, never gave up his traditional Franciscan guard (ph) of simplicity, known to have gone in to clean up after Cardinal Law in Boston.

And so, with the sex abuse scandal, he's gotten high marks. So, if you're looking at an American, it may indeed be Cardinal O'Malley, if anyone, who has the front run.

BERMAN: And I do think, you know, we often say, we often ask about Americans and the general answer we get is no, you can't have an American because America is the only super power and they would be seen as having too much power there, but, this time around, you do have American cardinals with an unusual level of prominence, I believe, in the church.

If it isn't an American, if there's not someone from United States, there is someone being mentioned in every discussion who's at least, you know, from a place close to the United States, the Canadian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cardinal Marc Oullet who is the prefect of the congregation for bishops, which is a very powerful influential position in Rome. He's a North American, but he has a lot of European root. He was the archbishop of Montreal. So, he's from the French part of Canada. He spent time in missionary lands. He's done missionary work in South America.

But he's got a very European kind of feel, and he's been in Rome for a little while. So, he is mentioned to somebody who could potentially be the North American candidate, even though -- because he's got the European kind of roots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One negative, I heard that the last time he addressed the assembled group, he put them to sleep.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: This type of discussion, though, is fascinating. And I guess, I'm wondering is, is it the type of discussion already going on amongst the cardinals or that will be going on the next several days?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is. You want someone intellectual, obviously. You have to have someone who's a linguist, who can speak in many languages, but you want someone, I think, with a little of the charism of John Paul II.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need someone who can stand on a world stage, represent the world church, and inspire people.

SAMBOLIN: And what about conservative versus progressive?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, more than half of the cardinals, 67, currently were appointed by Pope Benedict. The other 50 who are voting were all appointed by Pope John Paul. So, there is kind of a mold in some ways. So, we talk about, you know, the church thinking outside the box. There are some who are saying, well, how big is the box anyway and how far outside the box could people think.

SAMBOLIN: Well, there are some key issues, right? There's the issue of celibacy and there's the issue of women in the Catholic Church and the role that they play. Is that something that they will be discussing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it certainly will get discussed. Whether or not it goes anywhere remains to be seen. Celibacy probably before women in the church, I would think, because of the sex abuse scandal. Whether or not it should be linked, people have linked it. I don't think it should be linked, but they have.

And the whole idea that we have accepted from the Anglican tradition, married men with children who are now functioning as Roman Catholic priest, which means it's happening. They're in parishes right now. So, if they are ministering now as Roman Catholic priests with wives and children, you are saying it is possible. Why not extend that then to those who are Roman Catholic? SAMBOLIN: All right. We're going to head back to Christiane Amanpour. She is live in Rome for us. Christiane, are you there?

AMANPOUR: I absolutely am, Zoraida. And it's so interesting listening to the conversation with Monsignor as well, particularly, on this issue of marriage or celibacy. You know, 58 percent of Americans polled in that Pew poll say that they do believe the next pope should move in that direction, to allow priests to marry.

For all sorts of reason, not list of this is now (INAUDIBLE) as you were just saying, that those who have come in from Anglicanism or other Protestant denomination are married, and we know that the Catholic Church needs more and more priests. So, to put that issue in perspective of what certainly American Catholics would like to see happen.

And again, here as we're watching the procession of cardinals go up and say their final farewell a few moments with the pope before the butler in charge there moves them swiftly along. We have talked about and listened to you talking about the possibility of the next pope. I interviewed the retired archbishop of Washington, Cardinal McCarrick yesterday, who said that as much as you all might want to see an American pope, it's unlikely to happen this time around.

And one of the front-runners if there's any such thing as a front- runner John Allen, would be perhaps -- that there is cardinal law. Let's just talk about how he was somewhat controversial over the years and then we'll talk about the next one.

ALLEN: Cardinal Bernard Law would be one of a number of cardinals who fairly or unfairly have been linked to the sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church. He, of course, was the archbishop of Boston when the American scandal exploded, really, in late 2001, 2002. And of course, Cardinal Law resigned amid the pressure of the scandal.

Interestingly, it was Friday 13th, December 13th, 2002, and then came to Rome, took over a ceremonial position here. And you'll remember, Christian, of course, that in 2005, Cardinal Law's participation in that conclave was controversial for those reasons, much like the participation of Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles is controversial this time around.

AMANPOUR: Well, precisely. And I think many Catholics do worry because the majority again of American Catholics certainly while they approve of Pope Benedict's papacy still don't feel that the full issue of the sex abuse scandal has been fully and acceptably finally dealt with. So, yes, that is a point of controversy here in Rome. And of course, we are likely to see any moment Cardinal Mahoney coming up and saying --

(CROSSTALK)

ALLEN: Cardinal Law is now over 80 and will not be voting in this conclave. Cardinal Mahoney will be.

AMANPOUR: And just explain for viewers who may not fully understand, when members of the church have been discipline or have to step down, what is the ability of them to continue to operate at such elevated levels in the hierarchy?

ALLEN: Well, there's often a point of misunderstanding here, because for example, if we take the case of Cardinal Law, he resigned as the archbishop of Boston which means he was no longer the chief spiritual authority in Boston. But that does not mean he's no longer a cardinal. So, the cardinals remain cardinals forever.

They also continue to sit on various Vatican offices. Each of the departments in the Vatican has a commission or a board of cardinals that sets policy. And you hold those positions until you turn 80. And so, once a cardinal, always a cardinal.

AMANPOUR: And I think as we see this incredible pomp, we were talking about that amazing plush red that the pope is wearing, not just his formal robes to this occasion, but because it's cold in that hall.

ALLEN: Well, Christiane, as you know, it's a somewhat chilly day here and -- that is that ceremonial room in the Vatican, of course, the floors are marble. There's a draft down that corridor and it's not particularly well-heated. So, I'm sure Benedict is feeling a bit of chill on the bones today. And so, the fur-lined mantle around the shoulders help to ward it off.

AMANPOUR: And just for all viewers as all of you to know just what a mine of information John Allen is, as we saw a bearded cardinal come up, he remarked to me, that if he was pope, he would be the first bearded pope in --

ALLEN: 213 years.

AMANPOUR: For some reason, we have not had a bearded pope in 213 years. And talking about front-runners as close as there is to a front-runner or at least somebody who there's been a lot of attention focused on is Cardinal Scola.

ALLEN: He saw Cardinal Scola greet Benedict or earlier in this procession. Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan who would be considered -- I don't think there's anyone who is an obvious front-runner, but certainly, he'd be one of the most talked about candidates. He's an intellectual protege of Benedict XVI, was director of the Lateran University during Rome (ph) but has a bit more of a popular touch, lot of pastoral experience running complex diocese.

In addition, Christiane, he's considered one of the church's experts in relationships with Islam. He founded a project in 2004 called the Oasis Project creating a platform for dialogue between Christians and Muslims, particularly, in the Middle East. A lot of qualities there cardinals would find attractive.

AMANPOUR: And you said that, of course, the Roman Catholic Church has always been very interested and eager to see a political settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. That having said -- having been said, it was Pope Benedict XVI who actually caused a bit of a storm of controversy with the Muslim world in one of his first speeches shortly after being elected.

ALLEN: That's right. The famous Reagan's bird (ph) speech in 2006 when he quoted a 14th century byzantine emperor named Emanuel II (INAUDIBLE), sort of linking Mohammed with violence and that did set off a literal firestorm. There were churches firebombed in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip. An Italian nun was shot to death in Mogadishu.

On the one year anniversary of that speech, an Italian missionary in priest by the name of Don Andreus Santora (ph) was shot to death in Trabzon, Turkey. But on the other hand, on the back of all that, it should be said that Benedict has actually made some great strides in terms of trying to create new avenues of conversation with the Islamic world.

And I was actually on the Holy Father's trip to the Holy Land in 2009. He gave his great alliance of civilization speech in Amman, in Jordan, in which he proposed an alliance between the west and the Islamic world. Ironically, shortly after President Obama had given his famous Cairo's speech, and I did a textual analysis, they were actually quite --

AMANPOUR: And despite all of that, he also offended some Jews because of the rehabilitation of one of the holocaust denying Roman Catholics. Let u's talk a little bit about the contrast between this incredible pomp, the circumstance, the formality of the Vatican and what we were talking about Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines., guess (ph) in New York

We were talking about how he was a young and prominent cardinal and really a cardinal of the people , a bishop of the people who brings the poor and destitute into his area to have dinner and chat.

ALLEN: Before he went to the Philippines, Cardinal Tagle was the bishop of a smaller diocese. The cathedral was in the main town square and people who were out of work and so forth were famous for sleeping in that piazza. And a story has told that one day, a woman who had a chronic alcoholic as her husband who was famous for sleeping it off in the square, in the cathedral, went looking for him and couldn't find him.

And somebody finally explained to her after about an hour that the reason she couldn't find him is because the Bishop Tagle had come out and invited him in for lunch. He also was famous for riding his bike in his diocese or taking the bus rather than being driven, that kind of thing. It's that common touch that I think people find very attractive.

AMANPOUR: And certainly, many of us who grew up seeing priests and nuns really in the field, using that common touch, compassion, mercy and justice, that's how many of us grew up really knowing catholic nuns and priests. Back to you in New York.

BERMAN: We are watching history right with you this morning as the cardinals give their final goodbyes to Pope Benedict XVI, each, you know, kissing his hand and so much laughter. SAMBOLIN: There's been a lot of laughter. Yes. They seem to be enjoying there brief dialogue.

BERMAN: Let's give you a brief look at the process today one more time, step-by-step as Pope Benedict's historic unprecedented final day plays out. Right now, right now, as we said, the pope is meeting cardinals who are already in Rome, many of them. He is expected to greet each and every cardinal. He's making these brief comments -- he made some brief comments a short time ago.

At 10:45 eastern, the pope departs the courtyard of San Demaso for the heliport. At 11:15, his chopper will take off. Now, he is a pilot, but he will not be flying today.

SAMBOLIN: Are you sure?

BERMAN: That's what they tell us.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: It's a short trip to Castel Gandolfo, just 15 minutes. He will land there. That will be his temporary retirement home, a place that's been the summer retreat for popes for close to 400 years. He will greet the crowd there from his window at 11:30 a.m. eastern time. That is an important moment, because we expect those to be his last words spoken in public as pope.

Then at two o'clock eastern, which is about 8:00 p.m. in Italy, the pope will no longer be pope. The Swiss Guards will leave their posts. The doors and the peluso (ph) will close. A very symbolic moment and a chapter in history will be closed.

SAMBOLIN: And coming up at 10:00 a.m. eastern time, a CNN's special on the pope's last day. It's anchored by Erin Burnett and Chris Cuomo in New York. And of course, Christiane Amanpour who is live in Rome. It will be simulcast on CNNI as well.

And happening right now, the world and its 1.2 billion Catholics witnessing a sitting pope in his final hours on the throne of Saint Peter.

BERMAN: A historic day to be sure, because eight hours from now, Pope Benedict XVI will become Pope Emeritus. Of course, before that happens, there is a lot else that will go on today. The pope, as we say, at this moment meeting many, many of the cardinals. Many of them have gathered in Rome.

Some are still arriving for the expected conclave that will happen probably a week, week and a half from now. We don't know the exact start date. The pope has been meeting and greeting each one of them, sharing a moment. Earlier in the day, about 45 minutes ago, he did deliver some brief remarks to them.