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Selecting The Next Pope; Tensions At A Breaking Point

Aired March 12, 2013 - 05:30   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN's special live coverage of the selection of the next pope. In about six hours, a 115 cardinals from every corner of the Earth will take an oath of secrecy, and then all eyes will be on the cover chimney atop the Sistine Chapel as they begin voting for the next spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

So, right now, the cardinals are holding a very special mass at the Vatican for the election of the Holy Father. At 10:45 eastern this morning, those cardinals that you're seeing are scheduled to leave their residence at Casa Santa Marta and head to the Pauline Chapel. Forty-five minutes later, they will enter the Sistine Chapel and the pope watch officially begins.

So, let's get right to Chris Cuomo. He is live in Rome with all the details for us this morning. Good morning to you.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All right. Good morning, Zoraida. Thank you. We're at the midpoint of the mass right now. A deacon is reading the gospel from the New Testament. After this, we'll follow what you could say is the most important part of this particular mass. Angelo Sodano, cardinal, the dean of the cardinals, is going to deliver the homily.

It will be the last major influence on all 115 voting cardinals. In the room are, we believe, well over 150 cardinals. Remember, you have to be under 80 years of age to vote, so they are there to celebrate together and to witness who will be the next pope. That man is also in the audience today, by definition, the 266th pope.

Now, the rain has started to come down here, but it has not dampened the spirits of expectation here so close to Vatican City. Miguel Marquez is weathering the rain right now closer to the mass this morning. Miguel, what is the mood?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a wet mood, I will tell you, and I don't know what one thinks about rain, but it has been raining every pun intended, biblical proportions there in the last few days, and it's just started to downpour now during the middle of this mass. I want to show you a little bit of what's happening here.

We're obviously at St. Peter's Basilica, but you can see right over that taxi, there are big screens out on the basilica. A lot of people have cleared out now because of the rain. If you pan over, the basilica itself is just over to the left. The reading that they -- the first reading is from the prophet Isaiah.

To Christians, he's important because he not only prophesized the future of the church, they believe, he was so good, they believe, he knew the past as well. And basically, he was telling people what happened in the past. And the reading basically says I'm sending you good news to the poor, to the broken, to the captives, those who are in prison.

This is a guy, they believe, the reading clearly indicating that they want to bring somebody to fix this church, to bring good news to Christians around the world that the new pope will be taking care of their everyday needs. The red curtain just behind me above the doors of St. Peter's basilica is where the pope, once he is named, will appear to the world for the first time.

Despite the rain, there is great excitement here as this afternoon voting gets under way for the first time -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Miguel, thank you. Check in with you in a little bit. Let's bring in John Allen now, senior Vatican analyst. This is the last major influence, politically, to use the words loosely. The last time we had a conclave, 2005, this mass, the homily is given by the dean of cardinals.

That was joseph Ratzinger. So, it was a major moment for him. What is the context this time with Angelo Sodano?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Well, slightly different, Chris. I think a lot of people will tell you that the homily Ratzinger gave in 2005 sort of solidified his status as the front- runner going into that conclave. Now, this time, the dynamic is not the same. Cardinal Angelo Sodano is already over 80.

He's 85, so he's not going to be in the Sistine Chapel. For that reason alone, probably, he would be a radical long-shot to be elected pope. But in addition, he's also identified with sort of the old guard in the Vatican, and as we were talking earlier, there's a kind of a strong anti-establishment mood among these cardinal electors that indicates many of them would like to see a change.

And so, I don't think anyone believes Sodano is in a position to propel himself forward as a candidate. However, this is sort of a last opportunity for the ruling regime in the Vatican, so to speak, to be able to make its case as to why continuity, rather than discontinuity, would be the wisest course for these 115 cardinals to embrace.

CUOMO: Father Beck also joining us, CNN contributor, passionist priest. They believe, these men, that the holy spirit will guide them toward the selection that God has already ordained for the next pope.

FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: With some clarification. Interestingly, the past pope, the previous pope, Pope Benedict, was asked about this. What role does the Holy Spirit have in the election of a pope? And he was very guarded in how he put it. He said, I don't actually think that the Holy Spirit picks the pope. I think the Holy Spirit is present to us, he moves in the assembly, and helps us to come to the right decision. So, he just put it in a context that it's not a divine intervention, it's God working through the assembled gathering to pick the pope.

CUOMO: Was it the pope or was it someone else who said that he doesn't help us pick it but he keeps us from messing it up?

BECK: That was Benedict, and he added that the proof of that is that historically, there are too --

CUOMO: Oh, he didn't like that joke, as the thunder comes.

ALLEN: He said historically, the proof of that is that there are too many popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked, Benedict XVI.

CUOMO: Now, there are applause. What we're hearing at this point in the mass is the homily. Angelo Sodano is delivering a message. What he is doing now is welcoming everybody. We've been given an advanced copy of the homily. We're going to let it be delivered first before we parse it, but John, what are some of the major themes that we can expect?

ALLEN: Well, first of all, I believe that applause is for a line in the homily where Cardinal Sodano expresses thanks to Benedict XVI, and obviously, the crowd here feels the same. The major points will be, a homily is designed to be a reflection on the readings from scripture. So, we had a reading from the Old Testament, a reading from the New Testament, a reading from the gospel.

So, at one level, it's a spiritual meditation on what the scripture is -- what God is trying to say to us through the scriptures. At a another level. Obviously, as you indicate, this is one of the last two things the cardinals are going to hear. They will also get a private meditation this afternoon from another cardinal, Prospero Grech, another over-80 cardinal from Malta.

But this is the last public opportunity in any of them for Cardinal Sodano to sort of lay out before this 115 electors some food for thought as they file into the Sistine and cast their ballots.

CUOMO: This is really, and after this, it's go time. I mean, they're at the mass. These are holy men. They're trying to draw inspiration, and hopefully, some guidance today, because when this mass is over, sure, they'll go back to where they're all staying, Casa Santa Marta, and they'll have some lunch, but then, they really do have to get down to business.

And the church, at this point, as we go back to John Berman in New York, the church has not faced the kinds of issues that it does right now in a long time, John. So, these 115 cardinals have some serious work cut out for them.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So true. So, too, Chris, the stakes are incredibly high right now as we watch these ceremonies unfold before our very eyes in Rome. Chris, we'll come back to you.

Back here at home, New York City mayor, Michael Bloooomberg, promising to appeal a court ruling that struck down his controversial ban on sugary soft drinks that was to have started today.


BERMAN (voice-over): In his 11th-hour ruling, the judge called the law banning drinks larger than 16 ounces arbitrary. The mayor says he's confident that he will win on appeal.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Former vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, is ready to roll out the Republican budget plan today. He claims it will cut $4.6 trillion from the federal debt and balance the budget in the next ten years.

According to Congressman Ryan's op-ed piece in the "Wall Street Journal," the plan calls for increased oil drilling, repealing President Obama's health care reforms, overhauling Medicare and the welfare system and rewriting the tax code with only two brackets, 10 percent and 25 percent.

BERMAN: Close call to show you here. A dramatic rescue caught on camera. You have to see this. Dash cam video shows Iowa police officer, Zach McDowell (ph), in a race against time, pulling an unconscious man from this burning car. What happened, the car crashed into the side of a church on Sunday night.

Others jump in and are able to pull the driver to safety. The driver was eventually able to put the fire out.

SAMBOLIN: Unbelievable. Heroes there.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): All right. These are anxious hours along the border between North and South Korea, where a six-decade ceasefire agreement has been cast aside. We are going to go live there coming up.

BERMAN (on-camera): Of course, we are also following this morning's papal mass at the Vatican right now. And later today, the first voting for a new pope will begin. EARLY START is back after the break.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. You are looking at live pictures from the Vatican where a very special mass for the election of the Holy Father is under way. In less than six hours, 115 cardinals that are all present there from around the globe will begin their conclave to elect a new pope.

BERMAN: A lot of news going on around the world. Tensions at a breaking point right now between North and South Korea. South Korea warning that it is ready with U.S. help to respond to any provocations, their words now, resolutely and destructively. Within the last 24 hours, tensions on the Korean Peninsula really hit a new level. The north saying it scrapped an armistice credited for keeping uneasy 60-year ceasefire between the two sides.

Our reporter, Anna Coren, is at the Korean demilitarized zone for us right now. Good morning.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, that's right. We are at the border very close to the demilitarized zone. You can probably see over my shoulder a rail line. Well, that used to go to Pyongyang. Now it just goes across the river to the DMZ. And just to give you an idea, this area has become extremely sensitive. The South Korean military came up to us a little bit earlier and basically said that we cannot reveal the outpost or their bunkers.

We can't identify their troops or show their defense systems against the North Koreans. And of course, this is all in the wake of North Korea scrapping that armistice agreement that fundamentally ended the Korean War back in 1953.

Now, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, he has been down to the board, visiting his front-line troops, and he basically gave them a big war cry, saying to lull the enemy into the caldron, to break their waist and crack their wind pipes, a very visual and motive language, but we are used to that rhetoric coming from him, but while he was rallying the troops, the South Koreans and the U.S. military are holding those joint military drills on the Korean Peninsula.

And South Korea has said that if there's any military provocation from Pyongyang, that it will respond in a resolute and destructive manner, John.

BERMAN: Anna, we're looking at pictures of these military drills just a second ago, and the U.S. and South Korea, we have conducted drills like this before. So the question is, why is North Korea really reacting so aggressively here?

COREN: Yes. It's a great question, John, because as you say, this is something that happens every single year. The Americans and the South Koreans, they are using some pretty advanced weaponry, the F-52 stealth fighter (ph), the B52 bombers as well as a nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

So, these drills are really getting up the nose of the North Koreans. So, let's have a listen to what General Jim Jones, a former national security adviser, had to say about North Korea's reaction.


GEN. JIM JONES, FMR. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: There are a lot of reasons why dictators behave the way they do. Number one, they're insecure to start with. Number two is they have an internal audience they have to play to, and I would imagine that Kim Jong-Un is playing to his military as well. And he's also playing to the South Korean administration, new President Park.


COREN: Kim Jong-Un is definitely out to make his mark. He's untested. He's been on the job for just over a year after taking over from his father, and he really wants to be a player on the world stage. So, Kim Jong-Un, he certainly wants to make his mark. He is unpredictable, and he's determined, John, to develop a nuclear weapons program.

BERMAN: All right. Anna Coren, our thanks to you. As we said, Anna Coren really in the middle of a place where the tensions are boiling, live on the Korean Peninsula for us this morning. Thanks, Anna.

SAMBOLIN: It is 45 minutes past the hour.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): We're learning more now about that SUV crash that killed six teenagers. This is Warren, Ohio. Police say the Honda Passport was reported stolen. It was carrying eight people but is designed to seat five. And the driver was reportedly speeding on a two-lane road when that vehicle went off the road, flipped, and then landed in a pond.

Two passengers did survive the crash, and according to police, none of the eight teenagers was wearing a seat belt.

BERMAN (voice-over): Harvard University officials are now offering a limited apology to some resident deans after admitting it conducted a secret search of their e-mail accounts. The school offered an apology to the deans if they felt that communication at the conclusion of the investigation was insufficient.

The search was sparked by the leak of a confidential e-mail about last year's cheating and plagiarism scandal.

SAMBOLIN: This is something you've got to see to believe. Washington State police say this cell phone video shows a mother letting her 22- month-old son take a hit off her marijuana bong. Police received the video anonymously. The mother, 24-year-old Rochelle Brayton (ph) and 25-year-old Tyler Lee (ph) were arrested. The boy is in the custody of protective services now.


A blunt assessment by former first lady, Laura Bush, as some of the Republican candidates who ran last fall. During an interview on CNNs "Erin Burnett's Out Front," Mrs. Bush was asked about the emphasis that some of them place on social issues and how that may have affected women who voted.


LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Every candidate was different, you know, each one of them. There were obvious examples of candidates that I think frightened some women, but they were the exception rather than the norm in the party. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: She went on to say that she understands that people view social issues differently and that the Republican Party has room for all those different viewpoints.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Forty-seven minutes past the hour. Ahead on EARLY START, it is a soggy start to the day for some across the nation. Jennifer Delgado will join us with a look at all of your weather woes this morning.

BERMAN (on-camera): In the meantime, we will show you more of these amazing pictures, live pictures from the Vatican, where the cardinals are celebrating a special mass before heading to the Sistine Chapel later this morning where they will begin the process of electing a new pope.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. These are live pictures from Rome, where cardinals are celebrating a special mass. Later today, they will head to the Sistine Chapel to elect the next spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

SAMBOLIN: I could listen to that music all day.

BERMAN: Beautiful.

SAMBOLIN: So peaceful, isn't it?

All right. Meantime, back here at home, threats against NFL quarterback, Michael Vick, have forced him to actually cancel a book tour. He spent 18 months, as you know, in prison for his role in a dogfighting ring, but since his release, Vick's been rebuilding his image as a changed person.

He's now out with an autobiography. It called "Finally Free," but threats, apparently, have been made against him and book stores that he planned to visit, so they scrapped them.

BERMAN: Wow. Another wow coming up here. Former NBA star, Dennis Rodman, says he will be going back to North Korea to visit his friend, Kim Jong-Un.


DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I don't condone what he does, but he's my friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you anticipate going over there again?

RODMAN: Yes, I will, in August.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going over there? RODMAN: Yes, I'm vacationing, yes.


BERMAN: So, his visit a few weeks ago came at a time of heightened tension between the U.S. and North Korea over Pyongyang's pursuit of a nuclear program. The stakes are really even higher now when during yesterday's interview, Rodman insisted that the North Korean leader does not want war.

SAMBOLIN: Crazy story.

BERMAN: Dennis rodman, ladies and gentlemen.

SAMBOLIN: Unbelievable.

Prosthetic limbs can be made for people, why not animals? Meet Mr. Stubs --


SAMBOLIN: -- an alligator with a new, three-foot-long, prosthetic tail. This is a reptile preserve in Arizona. His real tail was bitten off by another alligator when he was just a baby. It's believed to be the first time scientists have designed a rubber tail for a gator.


SARAH JARVIS, CORE INSTITUTE RESEARCH ASSISTANT: It's just a process of figuring out how to make a mold and then getting the mold and then playing with the material, and I made some little models and stuff and figured out that it's going to be pretty good for the full tail.


SAMBOLIN: That is so cool. A lot of science went into this particular project and his handlers say it could take up to six months for Mr. Stubs to learn how to use his new tail. I wonder what it feels like.

BERMAN: You know, my kids, they love the movie about the dolphin with the prosthetic tail.

SAMBOLIN: I don't remember the name of that --

BERMAN: If you know it, please tweet us, because we can't remember it.


BERMAN: Fifty-four minutes after the hour. Lots of rain in the forecast across the country today. Will it affect you? Jennifer Delgado has all the answers for us at the weather center in Atlanta. Good morning, Jennifer. JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. You know, the crew just told me the name in the movie is "Dolphin Tale." You're talking about the one with Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, right?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, that's the one.


DELGADO: Is that it?


SAMBOLIN: Yes. Thank you for that. We appreciate that. They're paying attention. That's fantastic. Thank you.

DELGADO: You're welcome. All right, guys. We are talking about a rainy start for areas right along the east coast. We're talking from the north all the way down to areas including Tampa. Now, the rain is going to be heavy at times, and we're really concerned about parts of New England where they potentially could see one to two inches of rainfall, and that includes New Hampshire, Vermont, parts of Massachusetts as well as Eastern New York.

Well, the problem is, all this heavy rainfall coming down on top of snow, well, you can see we're talking about concerns of flooding. We could start to see some of these rivers rising, so that is going to be a concern as we go through Wednesday morning. That's why we have flood watches in place. As we show you the wider view, sunshine down towards the south.

We are going to dry things out, out towards the west, high pressure out of the Pacific Northwest. Some locations could pick up between four and six inches of rainfall as we go through Thursday. Here are your high temperatures. In the upper Midwest, temperatures running 10 to 15 degrees below average for this time of year, a lot of 30s.

That will sweep into the east by Wednesday into Thursday, and then, the south is really going to start to warm up. Guys, send it back over to you. I guess, we'll continue more coverage.

BERMAN: All right. Jennifer Delgado --

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: -- our thanks to you.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Really appreciate it.

Coming up on EARLY START, the work begins to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

SAMBOLIN: And we continue to watch the mass being celebrated at St. Peter's Basilica. We're going to continue our live coverage from Rome right after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BERMAN (voice-over): Conclave day one. Cardinals celebrating mass right now. Secret voting on the next pope just hours away.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Sweet victory for big, sugary drinks, that is. A New York judge cans the city soda ban just hours, hours, before it was supposed to kick in.

BERMAN: Shaken but not stirred. California's biggest earthquake in a few years captured on camera in a live television broadcast.

SAMBOLIN: That's like my worst nightmare come true.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): I have not lived through one of those and I don't want to.

BERMAN (on-camera): Earthquakes? Oh, man. You know it when they come. You can feel it when they happen. Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Nice to have you with us. It is Tuesday, March 12th. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east.

And you are watching CNN's special coverage of the selection of the next pope. In just over five hours, 115 cardinals from every corner of the Earth will take an oath of secrecy, and they will begin voting for the next spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.