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Each Cardinal Vows Secrecy; First Day of Voting in the Papal Conclave

Aired March 12, 2013 - 12:00   ET


JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: But in any event, there were many groups, particularly including groups, victims of sexual abuse, who believe that the participation of Cardinal Mahony, and we should say a few others in this conclave, was inappropriate.


FATHER EDWARD BECK, PASSIONATE PRIEST: Even because of that, interestingly enough, he's been one of the tweeting cardinals --


BECK: Since he's arrived.

ALLEN: Yes. Very active.

CUOMO: Draw your attention to the faces of the men waiting to take their oaths as you watch this picture.

ALLEN: When we see those tight shots, you'll notice that each cardinal is wearing a ring, which is the insignia of his office. Interestingly, the rings are different. The event in which a pope creates new cardinal is called a consistory. And typically a ring is designed for that consistory class. So these rings were not all identical, but they reflect the particular year and the particular time in which these men were inducted into the College of Cardinals by the pope who elevated them. As you'll recall, 66 of these 115 cardinals were named by Benedict XVI, and the remainder were named by John Paul II. So they are either John Paul II or Benedict appointees.

CUOMO: And yet we have heard that in the general congregations, robust debate and a lot of energy about what needs to be done in the church. So --

ALLEN: Well, sure. The fact that they may agree on big picture items points to doctrine doesn't mean that in terms of style and approach and personality and sense of priorities that there aren't enormous difference. Let's remember, these 115 men are all people who have reached, so to speak, the pinnacle of their profession. They all have strong ideas about which way the church ought to go and there is no simple solution to bringing those 115 personalities together.

The man we see in front of us is Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, Austria, one of those men considered to be a serious candidate to walk out of the Sistine Chapel wearing white rather than red. CUOMO: And one of the men who will be known to the entire 115 because he was so out front and demonstrative (ph) of his feelings about how the sex abuse scandal was handled and what needs to be done. Also known because he was a student of Pope Benedict's when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

ALLEN: That's right. He did post doctoral work under then Father Ratzinger at the University of Regansburg (ph).

This is Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, 76 years old. Wildly considered sort of the leading intellectual light of the American cardinals. And I believe will be the last American cardinal to swear his --

CUOMO: Now as they finish up taking the oath, what comes next?

ALLEN: What comes next, Chris, in fairly short order, will be the extra omnes.

CUOMO: So this is it. This is the last we get to see. Let's listen in because this is the last moment where our eyes are allowed to be on the conclave.


CUOMO: All the men speaking language, but you can still detect the different accents. How many different countries are represented, do we know, in 115?

ALLEN: I believe the number is 51. We know that all continents are represented. And, of course, in some -- although, you know, the composition of the College of Cardinals does not exactly reflect the demography of the church on the ground. Two-thirds of these cardinals come from the developed world. Two-thirds of Catholics today live in the developing world. And yet, you know, here we see a cardinal from Spain right now swearing his oath. Next will be Cardinal Napier from South Africa. Behind him is Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga from Honduras. So you do get a taste of the universality. Remember, the word "catholic" actually means universal.

CUOMO: Right.

ALLEN: Embracing the whole world.

BECK: Actually the cardinal next, Maradiaga, was considered a papal contender in past elections, but not so much this time, John.

CUOMO: That beautiful word that's so difficult to say, papabila (ph).

ALLEN: You're getting there, Chris, papabila (ph).

CUOMO: Papabila (ph).

ALLEN: Can you do the plural?

CUOMO: Papabile (ph). ALLEN: Very good.

CUOMO: Thank you. Well, you taught me --


CUOMO: You taught me, so that's why I know.

And now the cardinals are continuing to queue up for this in a rotation. Obviously there are too many for a single line. And they've gone in order from the oldest or longest as cardinal, to the youngest or the newest. Once that is done, we will then have the moment where it becomes all about them. Right now they know not only are they on television, but they know they have literally the eyes of the catholic world upon them. And interestingly we've been talking about how they all come from different countries, maybe 50 represented among the 115 cardinals who are electors, which they are united, 48 countries we believe they represent. They're united in their purpose and in their faith. But it's also a window into their not knowing each other. You know, their being from literally different worlds in some cases, right?

ALLEN: Well, that's true, although one of the things about being a cardinal is that you -- typically means that you come to Rome quite often, you take parts in events here, such as synods of bishops and other Vatican events. Most of the cardinals of the world come when new cardinals are created. So they do have opportunities over the years to get to know one another.

One of the things that makes this conclave quite different with respect to the last one, Chris, is that in 2005 there were only two cardinals who had ever been in a conclave before. It was Cardinal William (INAUDIBLE) of the United States and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI. This time, 50 of these men have been through the process before. So they do know one other better, arguably, than last time, which actually, in some ways, makes this process even more complicated because they -- not only do they know one another quite well, but you've got a much larger group of guys who are veterans who feel they know the lay of the land and therefore are more inclined to be active players in the process.


Let's listen in now because the next cardinal is Angelo Scola. He is, of course, from Milan. He's the archbishop of Milan. Let's listen to him.


CUOMO: In a field where there is no favorite, I've been saying to you all week, John, and you, Father Beck (ph), that I'm lonely as a reporter on this story because it's so hard to get information. But what are the hard facts that make Angelo Scola someone who must be considered at the top or near the top of the list of who could be pope? ALLEN: Well, I think the first (INAUDIBLE) of that background conversations of cardinals over the last two weeks constantly hear his name. Further, I think there's sort of universal agreement among people who sort of handicap this feel for a living. But this hasn't just taken shape over the last two weeks. For the last several years I think it's been understood. And I think also when he was named the archbishop of Milan, his previous job had been as the patriarch of Venice, everyone knows that historically Milan has been a springboard to the papacy. And so when a pope chooses to put someone in that position, it's not that he's appointing him his successor, but he's not naive, that by putting someone in that job, you are putting him into the mix as someone who's going to be considered.

BECK: Attractive to many because he hasn't worked in the Vatican. He's done --

CUOMO: Has not worked in the Vatican?

BECK: Correct. So he's been a pastoral cardinal, experiencing the administration of a large diocese. Before Milan he was in Venice. And so he has a lot of on the ground experience and that's attractive to many of those who will be voting.

CUOMO: Scola, of course, also Italian. There's a little bit of a cultural bias and also numerically they have the most cardinal.

Now, here is Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana. Let's listen.


CUOMO: Cardinal Turkson also being considered somebody who could be pope, papabile (ph), from Ghana. Could be the first Sub-Saharan African pope. What makes him somebody who is worthy of mention, John?

ALLEN: Well, Chris, basically I think the cardinals this time are looking for a kind of insider/outsider combination. That is, they want somebody who has enough experience at the Vatican. They -- it's realistic to believe he could get the place under control, but remains enough of an outsider that he's not wedded necessarily to its traditional ways and means of doing business. And Cardinal Turkson fits that profile. He's been a pastor in Africa, in Ghana, for a number of years. Was an officer in the African bishops conference. Has a lot of on the ground nuts and bolts experience. But he currently now heads the Vatican's pontifical council for justice and peace. So he's had a taste of what it's like to move inside the system. And it's that kind of insider/outsider appeal that I think many people believe has made Cardinal Turkson one of the leading African candidate.

We should say, he's not the only one. There's another cardinal in the Vatican, African cardinal, Cardinal Robert Sarah from Guinea, who has much the same appeal. There is some concern, actually, that those two African candidates might cancel one another out.

CUOMO: Because they're too similar?

ALLEN: Well, they're quite similar. And in addition, if there's going to be a vote for an African candidate, mathematically it would be nice if there's only one so that all of the African votes would concentrate on that guy rather than being spread over different ballots.

CUOMO: Father Beck (ph).

BECK: And, unfortunately, Cardinal Turkson has had a few public gaffes that have not helped him.

CUOMO: Now, OK, you mentioned that. Is it really a gaffe? I mean I was looking over what he had said publicly. It didn't seem like he was politicking.

BECK: Well, I don't only mean the fact that people thought he was politicking, but when he spoke at the bishop's conference last year and obviously in Africa, Muslim question is paramount, and he showed a video of --

CUOMO: This is cardinal -- one second, father.

BECK: Yes.

CUOMO: This is Cardinal Peter Erdo. He's also someone worthy of mention.


CUOMO: Let's listen.


CUOMO: That was Cardinal Ouellet from Canada. OK. Very interesting. My correction. But an important distinction because this is somebody who we're talking about how candidates sometimes drop out becomes relevant. So let's listen for a second.

BECK: You can see coming up in the line someone who's garnered a lot of attention here in Rome, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, with the beard.

CUOMO: Right.

BECK: Will be fourth up.

CUOMO: Now before we get to Cardinal O'Malley, with Cardinal Ouellet from Canada, why is he somebody? You'd explained to me, John, that when two main candidates aren't getting to two-thirds, sometimes the cardinals will believe, well, God must not want either of them to be pope. Let's find someone new. Ouellet's name comes up.

ALLEN: Sure. Well, I think if you -- if you run the list of what cardinals are looking for, somebody with a global vision, somebody who could be an evangelizer, that is who could inspire people in terms of the faith, and somebody with governing capacity, the ability to make the trains run on time, Cardinal Ouellet spent 12 years of his life as a missionary in Latin America. He speaks six or seven languages comfortably. That's the global vision. Evangelical capacity, he was the archbishop of Quebec City. One of the most -- probably the most secular environment in North America. He knows what it means like (ph) to present the faith. And he's worked in the Vatican. He's (ph) a governor.

CUOMO: Here's Cardinal Sean O'Malley from Boston, the American. Let's listen.


CUOMO: Sean O'Malley. Now, interestingly, we know for sure this is the first time that Americans have ever been in the dialogue for who could be pope. The attraction, as I understand it, to Cardinal O'Malley is that he has done hard line reform on things that are now very important in the general congregation, yes?

ALLEN: Well, I think for church insiders, that's certainly the appeal. I mean he profiles as a reformer on the child sexual abuse scandals. And not merely because of the kind of reclamation operation he had to do in Boston, but prior to that he had been in two smaller diocese that had similar difficulties. You could make a case, nobody has spent more time in the trenches on that issue than O'Malley.

But I think his popular appeal on the streets of Rome is something else. I think it's because he's a Capuchin Franciscan. He wears the simple brown Franciscan habit. It's the beard. It's the simplicity of the man. You have to understand, Chris, that in this country, Franciscans are rock stars.


ALLEN: I mean they are seen as the complete polar opposite of all the clerical stereotypes about power and prestige and all of that. They're considered simple, humble men of the people. Interesting footnote about O'Malley, by the way. If he were to be elected, he would be the first bearded pope in 213 years.

CUOMO: Would he be allowed to keep it?

ALLEN: He's be pope, Chris. He can keep it if he wants to.

CUOMO: So there would be only one person, only one energy that could tell him what he would do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I also wonder, if he's elected, and I've said this before, he might step out on that balcony in his Franciscan habit. We know that at times he has not worn the cardinal red, preferring his own simple Franciscan habit.


CUOMO: Here's Cardinal Bagnasco. Let's listen to his oath.


CUOMO: And what is the appeal of Bagnasco? What is Angelo Bagnasco mentioned? ALLEN: Well, you know, when Bagnasco was named president of the Italian bishops conference -- and, by the way, it's the only bishop's conference in the world whose president is named by papal appointment rather than being elected by bishops -- he was considered kind of a compromised candidate and not much was expected of him. But he's really grown into the role. He's become a very effective spokesperson for the church on the Italian national scene. And I think his real appeal is that he's seen as a guy who can hold diverse currents together, who can bring the progressives and the conservatives, Italy's north and south, you know, people who are interested in internal church affairs and people who are interested in stuff outside the church, he can bring them all together and broker compromise.

And in a church that is often quite divided, Chris, and we know that reality, he is seen as somebody who might be a reconciler, a unifier.

CUOMO: It looks like the line is coming to its end. There's nobody else queuing up right now.

BECK: There's a person coming up right next.

We have Daniel DiNardo from Houston here and immediately behind him is Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer from Brazil.

CUOMO: OK, now, that will be important, obviously. And we'll talk about why after we hear him take his oath.

Here's Cardinal Scherer.


CUOMO: OK, now, looking at it on paper, Cardinal Scherer, and I know you guys know much better than I, but here's my novice take.

He seems to check a lot of boxes. He's from Brazil, the most Catholics in the world. He's in charge of the largest single population as a diocese. He has European descent in his name, in his blood.

He is also known, though, by people in the Curia, in the Vatican. He's a known quantity. He's seen as one of the guys for them.

It seems to be a lot of different boxes to check, making him attractive. Fair assessment?

BECK: I think that's an imminently fair assessment and that's why he's at near the top of a lot of handicapping sheets.

I think the problem, Chris, is that, in the last week and a half, he's been styled in the Italian papers not merely as somebody who knows the old guard in the Vatican, but somebody who is almost a creature of the old guard in the Vatican.

He's a protege of Cardinal John Batista Ray (ph) in the Congregation for Bishops. That, in an electorate that has a kind of anti- establishment mood at the moment, that perception, might, some people believe, might end up hurting Cardinal Scherer in the early rounds of balloting.

BECK: Also, at a time in the (INAUDIBLE) that's so important, some have said, why have we lost so many Brazilians to Pentecostalism with him there and would the same thing happen if he were pope.

CUOMO: It's interesting to hear being part of the Curia, part of the Vatican, is now seen as a negative. It used to be the all-stars, didn't it?

BECK: Well, it's particularly -- this is Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, by the way, who some people believe might be a third American who could get a semi-serious look in this process.

CUOMO: Let's hear his voice. There he goes.

Why could he get some discussion?

BECK: Well, in a conclave in which governance, that is business management, is of paramount concern, Cardinal Wuerl is seen as one of best business managers among the American bishops.

I mean, most people would see him as the dead center of the American bishops conference.

It's no accident he continues winning election after election for committees within the conference because he's seen as a guy who can move the ball and get things done.

Further, he has Vatican experience. He was in Rome from 1969 to 1979 as the secretary of then-Cardinal John Wright.

Footnote, Chris, he actually is the 51st cardinal to have ever been in a conclave before because, in the conclave of 1978, Cardinal Wright was in a wheelchair and was allowed to bring his priest-secretary with him into the conclave to attend to his medical needs and that priest- secretary was Cardinal Wuerl.

He was also the man who organized Pope Benedict the XVI's visit to the United States in 2008 when Benedict visited, of course, Washington and New York, had that memorable, first-ever meeting with the victims of sexual abuse at the papal ambassador's residence in Washington.

CUOMO: So, there is some distinction on that resume, also.

It's difficult in talking about this process because you have to balance what seems like overtly political considerations that we would make, say, if it were a U.S. Presidential election and then respecting the solemnity of how these men see it, regardless of whether or not you respect the faith itself.

To them, personal ambition isn't supposed to be allowed. To them, you're not allowed to politic. To them, there is an external force that's more powerful than themselves that will control this.

It's an interesting thing to balance with something we ordinarily see as a function of avarice. BECK: Don't forget. The men in the room want a holy man elected. They want someone who's going to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

So, it can't be someone who is full of ambition or just his own self- interests. They really want someone who is going to be open to the will of God as the church moves forward.

CUOMO: And there, looking up at the frescoes, Cardinal Dolan from New York. You see him. Right now, he's eyeing the ceiling. He's eyeing the room around him.

BECK: Although it's striking, you know, normally, when you see Tim Dolan's face, he's got a belly laugh on it, but even he seems to be struck by the awesomeness of the moment.

CUOMO: He does. Let's listen in.


CUOMO: So, those of us from the United States, from New York, are we kidding ourselves?

You've been allowing us build up a measure of enthusiasm, John. I wasn't going to take it up now during the coverage.

BECK: First, the reality of the situation is in a field without a clear front-runner, which you've got three or four candidates who could have strong support in the early rounds, one plausible scenario here is that none of those three or four candidates looks like they're going to that magic threshold of two-thirds of the vote. At that stage, all options are on the table.

CUOMO: Let me ask you a quick question. This cardinal's costume, what does it designate?

BECK: He is one of the cardinals from India. He represents one of the Eastern-Right churches. There are 22 so-called "Eastern-Right" churches that are in full communion with Rome, so they use traditions that come from the Orthodox world, but they're loyal to the pope and the vestments that you see represent that Eastern-Right church.

CUOMO: The vestments, and I said costume.

I'm trying to balance the secular and the religious. I'm sorry for that.

So -- and again, I think it's an interesting principle for people to understand, as we watch this process. Usually, in elected politics when you have people who are neck and neck, there are going to be concessions to form consensus.

Something that is anomalous here is that, because of this extra power, this looking for clarity outside yourself, when people are very close, they may remove both candidates and look for someone fresh and new and, until then, untested and unmeasured. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which, of course, happened with John Paul II.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaking of fresh and new, Chris. Here is Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle from the Philippines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Untranslated Latin).

CUOMO: Fifty-five-years-old from the Philippines. Very charismatic, respected inside the Vatican, outside, relatively new, though.

Why are we hearing about him so much, Cardinal Tagle?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if -- remember we said one of the items on their wish list is an evangelizer, somebody who can put a positive face and voice on the church's message and get people excited about it.

Tagle is an extraordinarily effective evangelizer. I have been at international meetings where he's delivered a keynote address and there's not a dry eye in the house.

He has one of the highest-rated, weekly television programs in the Philippines not just in terms of the religious world, but generally.

He writes best-selling books. He's an extraordinarily charismatic figure, but it's not the kind of brash, in-your-face charisma of Timothy Dolan. It's a much quieter and simpler sort of style, but it's equally effective.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's actually known as a very simple, humble man who would invite the beggars from the square into the cathedral to have lunch.

There's a famous story about a woman who was looking for her alcoholic husband who she assumed was in a bar and she found him at the table of the cardinal having lunch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see here Cardinal Leonardo Sandri who is another name that has appeared on a lot of lists, Cardinal Sandri born in Argentina, but worked his entire career in the Vatican, a diplomat, a centrist.

If what they are looking for is a governor who can make the trains run on time, I think a lot of people believe that Cardinal Sandri would be a very serious contender.

CUOMO: Once again, the line is shortening, but as I have learned by making this mistake as we've been going through coverage, they come out by row of table. There are people there who are helping them move, so they're trying to control the queue, and that's why they kind of come in waves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's worth making the point, actually, because it's not entirely clear from television, the Sistine Chapel is relatively small.

CUOMO: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, if you look at these tables, they are actually shoulder to shoulder with one another, and it actually something of a logistical challenge to set up seating for 115 guys, and particularly when you're having processions like this, the choreography has to be fairly exact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In fact, they put platforms in not to protect the floor, but to make it easier for the cardinals, some of whom are elderly, to walk, so they don't have to do too much stepping up and down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right because, over the centuries, you've got grooves and sort of mini-peaks and valleys in the stone floor, the marble floor of the Sistine chapel is.

CUOMO: Now, is it true that some of the substructure in the chapel has been designed to allow for electronic capabilities for jamming devices and like that to keep some of the privacy of this intact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this is actually a debated point, believe it or not.

Back in 20005, we were told that the structure that was erected off the floor, that there were jamming devices under it.

Now, we were told by the Vatican this time that it's not the case. The jamming devices are elsewhere.

So, we've been told they're not actually under the floor, but in any event, you can rest assured that wherever those devices are located at the moment they've been switched on for today.

CUOMO: Now, are they on to keep the cardinals from sending messages out or from the media for trying to listen in, both?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a little from column A and a little from column B. I mean, I think we're presuming the cardinals know the rules of the game and, therefore, are not going to updating their Twitter accounts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially after all of this swearing on the oath.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Although we should say, there are a few cardinals who are quite adept on Twitter. One of them is Cardinal Napier from Durban and South Africa who posted a tweet yesterday saying he was going to be suffering from Twitter withdrawal while the conclave rolls on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cardinal Turkson also posted a tweet just yesterday saying please pray for me as we enter this most solemn time.

CUOMO: Interestingly, something we learned about the process from you, John, is that -- or at least I did -- that the cardinals are heavy-minded right now about whom to vote for, but they don't have to worry about voting for themselves, right? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's exactly right. It's actually an aspect of the rules that a cardinal may not vote for himself, and this is all part of the broader picture, which is you that should not be campaigning for the papacy, not merely because it's unseemly, but over the years more than one cardinal has said to me that, if I guy actually wants this job, he has no idea on earth what it's actually about.

Because if you really understood the impossible expectations at the human level and then the kind of awesome spiritual nature of the role, it really is the last thing you would actually get out of bed in the morning and aspire to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that the next cardinal up after this is also (INAUDIBLE), Cardinal Ravasi. He gave the retreat this year to the chorial (ph) cardinals.

It should be noted that two previous popes did the same, John Paul the II and Pope Benedict gave that retreat and this is the man.

CARDINAL RAVASI: (Untranslated Latin).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if you were picking a quiz bowl team in the college of cardinals, Ravasi is the guy you would want on it. He is perhaps the best read member of the College of Cardinals you'll ever find.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He actually quoted Amy Winehouse music.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually wrote a column in which I said that Cardinal Ravasi coughs up literary illusions the way two-pack-a-day smokers do phlegm, naturally and without thinking about it.

CUOMO: Now, what does that mean when someone of Gianfranco Ravasi's station takes not just to social media, but quotes someone like Amy Winehouse? What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said that he wanted to make sure that he knew that the youth were listening to so that he could understand the culture because he's ministering to the culture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's actually founded an outreach project in the Vatican called the Courtyard of the Gentiles which is designed to engage the worlds of art and culture and science and so on.

He staged these dialogues with a vow to atheists in various European capitals, mostly recently in Stockholm.

He did a book with a French atheist philosopher by the name of Julia Kristeva. They collaborated on a book about St. Theresa of Avila.

So, he's a pope with a long and rich history of being able to meet people outside the church and engage them in conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard that that has hurt him among some of the cardinals. They've been suspect of his association with that group. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I think there is some concern about Ravasi about whether he's just too out there, but I think the main knock against Ravasi is that he's never been a parish priest and he has never run a diocese.

And, so, it's that lack of practical pastoral experience that would concern some people.

CUOMO: We keep hearing the cardinals give an oath. It is in Latin.

They say their name. They say, and I, Cardinal Whatever-Their-Name- Is, I promise, I oblige, and I swear, OK?

And then the masters of ceremonies chant in response, so that may God help me and these holy gospels which I touch with my hand. That was the original chant in unison.

This is Cardinal Aviz, obviously, from Brazil.

Also being mentioned, South America, of course.