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New Pope Elected

Aired March 14, 2013 - 16:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour. A new beginning for the Catholic Church, a new pontiff of many firsts, the first from the New World, from Latin America, where nearly half the world's Catholics live and the first Jesuit. From his very first appearance as pope, it was clear that he would be doing things his way.

He wore a simple white cassock and on his neck a metal cross. None of the rich finery we've come to expect from his predecessors. He refused a chauffeured ride to his residence, choosing instead to take the bus along with the other cardinals. And at dinner, he raised a toast to the cardinals who had elected him, "May God forgive you for what you've done."

Jokes aside, the pope's very name, Francis, speaks volumes about simplicity, humility and service. St. Francis of Assisi cared for the destitute and the powerless and he's also the patron saint of the environment. His love for animals is so beautifully depicted by Giotto in these unforgettable frescoes in the basilica in Assisi.

Most of all, the new pope's name echoes St. Francis' own mission from God, "Go, Francis, and repair my church in ruins." With decades of scandals buffeting this church, sexual and financial, will the new pope go where his predecessors did not, to confront dysfunction in the church bureaucracy?

And will the new pope have to again confront uncomfortable questions about the Argentine Catholic Church collaboration with the military dictatorship in the 1970s? Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C. Though over the voting age for the pope's election, Cardinal McCarrick is in Rome to welcome him. And I spoke to him earlier.


AMANPOUR: Cardinal McCarrick, welcome to the program again.

CARDINAL THEODORE EDGAR MCCARRICK: Thank you so much. It's great to be back with you.

AMANPOUR: You must be delighted, not just a new pope but one from the Americas for the very first time.

MCCARRICK: It is one of the -- it is really one of the historic times in the -- in the history of the Catholic Church. The church really is in Latin America more than anywhere else in the world. So that I think we -- the fact that we have an American, you know, from (inaudible), the new hemisphere, I think that's going to be great for the church.

It will be great for the church throughout the world. I think we've had -- we've had wonderful European popes for hundreds and hundreds of years. But now it's time. The church is now -- is now demonstrably universal, demonstrably Catholic in that sense. Now we have demonstrated it in a very special way.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about Pope Francis himself. Obviously Francis of Assisi, a beloved saint for all the reasons Catholics know -- his humility, his identifying with the most downtrodden, his love of animals -- those great paintings and frescoes on the Church of St. Francis in Assisi. What is it about him, do you think, that caused the pope to name himself after him?

MCCARRICK: I think there are four loves in the life of Francis. I was meditating on this since we -- since he chose the name. One is Francis loved the church. He tried to reform the church and did, gave the church a new impetus, a new understanding of what it was, brought it back more and more to the time of Jesus in that -- in that medieval time of his. So that's the first -- and this pope loves the church.

Secondly, Francis loved the poor, as you just said, loved the poor, worked for the poor. The poor were his delight. And I think this pope has that same kind of gift.

And thirdly, Francis loved nature. And I think this pope is going to be someone who will -- who will fight for the ecological needs of our time, will make sure that we're doing what we need to do to keep this world together and give it -- be able to give it to our children and grandchildren.

And fourthly, Francis loved peace and I think this pope realizes that that is going to be one of the great needs of our times, that he has to be an apostle of peace in our world.

AMANPOUR: So St. Francis of Assisi, really pastoral ministry; Pope Francis having been archbishop in Argentina, would you say he's a reformer and if so, how? Or is he a conservative in the traditional mode? In other words, what can the church look forward to in terms of any changes, if at all?

MCCARRICK: Well, I think with regard to doctrine he is faithful to the Lord, as I've known him for a while and he is -- he will not preach any gospel except the gospel that Lord Jesus preached. And so we won't expect -- we cannot expect any changes in the doctrine of the church and I -- we -- I think we Catholics really wouldn't want -- wouldn't want one, because this is the gospel and we must be faithful to it.

Pope Francis will be faithful to the gospel. But I think like John -- like Pope John XXIII, he will try to bring the gospel into the -- into the modern world, not changing it, but making it more able to reach the people. So I think we will find -- and I think he will do it more by action than by words. Last night, his wonderful -- his wonderful presentation, very simple, very humble.

And it's -- to begin -- good evening, as if I'm coming into your house. That's the impression that he gives. He's coming into the house of the world. He's coming into the house of the church and he's welcoming them and they're welcoming him and we begin with prayer for his predecessor, what a beautiful thought, to pray for Pope Benedict and then to ask them to pray for him.

And all these things, I think, have given us the ideal of what the kind of papacy we will have under Pope Francis. I think it will be -- it will be traditional and conservative in that we will not -- we will never change what Jesus has taught us.

But I think it will be reforming and then open and collaborative because that's what Francis was and that's what this man has been in all his life -- and very humble, very humble.

AMANPOUR: When I talked to Cardinal Dolan and when I talked to you during the resignation of Pope Benedict, you both said that the next pope must be a good evangelizer, must know how to bring more people back into the church.

Tell me the challenges that this pope faces, especially in Latin America where he comes from, where the Catholic Church, yes, has the most Catholics in the world -- 40 percent -- but also is under pressure from other Protestant denominations and charismatics and Pentecostals, the secularization in the United States. What challenges does he face?

MCCARRICK: Well, I think maybe, too, more than anything else, first of all, the challenge of reaching the young people. That's going to be something very, very important to him. But I -- and then also the challenge of making sure that those who don't practice with it anymore can see the value of coming back to it.

AMANPOUR: His name was not in the media as one of the leading frontrunners. Now they do say that he came second to Pope Benedict in 2005. You would know, because you were there in 2005. How do you think and why do you think --


MCCARRICK: They do say that.


AMANPOUR: I'm going to take that as a yes, then.

How do you think he was the one who made it this time?

Why? How did that process happen?

MCCARRICK: The -- I think -- according to how -- as I read it, as I think I read it that way even before it happened, I think there were some very important and very wonderful candidates for the -- for the papacy.

And each of them had his own group that recognized his goodness, recognized his goodness. And each one of them had their own people. But I sort of felt and I think others did, too, at a certain period of time, it might happen that you couldn't get an answer, because you had these three groups and you were waiting to get someone to move forward and nobody would.

We all felt -- not all of us, I guess, but some of us felt that the -- that, at that time, you would need someone like a -- like a Cardinal Bergoglio, who would be so respected by everyone and so -- and then loved even and had all the experience that they needed.

And gradually, as they realized that this could go on for a long time and we weren't going to get anywhere they -- I think people started to think, well, what about Cardinal Bergoglio? What about Cardinal Bergoglio?

And I had thought of -- many of us had thought of it beforehand, that this might happen. So I was not totally surprised. I was delighted. I was not totally surprised by the announcement that he -- should be our next pope.

AMANPOUR: What about Cardinal Bergoglio? Well, he's now Pope Francis.

Cardinal McCarrick, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

MCCARRICK: Thank you very much. Always nice to be with you. God bless you.


AMANPOUR: Now for 20 years, journalist Marco Politi has been a close observer and, on occasion, a strong critic of the Catholic hierarchy. He's written biographies of Pope Francis' two predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and he joins me now from Rome, just by St. Peter's Square.

Marco, welcome to the program again. And let me ask you what I tried to ask Cardinal McCarrick. What's the word on the square? How did Bergoglio get chosen pope?

MARCO POLITI, AUTHOR AND VATICAN ANALYST: Yes, Cardinal McCarrick is bound to silence. But from the first leaks, we understand that there was a strong candidate, the Italian archbishop of Milan, Scola, who entered the conclave with a strong determination of his supporters to make him pope.

But in the first ballots he realized that he couldn't provoke an avalanche effect to get more and more votes. And so he was wise enough to stop. And in this moment, the new solution, the compromise solution of a bridge builder like Cardinal Bergoglio found a way. And he was elected.

AMANPOUR: It's an amazing story. What do you think happened to Cardinal Scherer? Because it was -- the frontrunners were Scherer and Scola. Scherer had not enough votes either?

POLITI: No, I can't know the exact figures. But it is clear that neither Scola nor Scherer had enough consensus. And this conclave showed also the ability of the cardinals to have leadership in a moment of crisis because Benedict XVI left the church in a crisis. And also his resigning was a great shock for a lot of Catholics and for a lot of bishops.

But just in this moment, the church leadership decided not to go back, for instance, to the choice of a Italian pope, not to barricade itself, but to open a new way to leave Europe, to refuse an Italian pope, to refuse a pope from the curia and to go directly to the New World and this is also a big signal that the church wants to be more and more globalized.

AMANPOUR: It's really an amazing message. You said he's not of the curia and you heard Cardinal McCarrick talk to me about reform, reform in the mold of John XXIII, reform in the mold of St. Francis of Assisi. Does Pope Francis have what it takes to reform or confront the curia bureaucracy, the hierarchy, in all these crises that you talk about?

POLITI: Let's not forget that he's a Jesuit. He's certainly a great spiritual personality. But as a Jesuit he knows how to analyze very well the situation in the society and in the church. And he knows also as president of the Bishops Conference in Argentina how to make politics in the society, but also in the church.

And I'm sure for first thing that he will really reorganize the Roman curia. And it must be said that there were within the Roman curia cardinals who just from the beginning were absolutely enthusiastic of the choice in future of a pope outside of Europe.

They told it to me 10 days ago, we want a pope, not a Italian, not a European, but somebody from the third world, from Latin America or maybe also from North America. And these people are now hoping that Pope Francis will reorganize the Roman curia.

But we must also understand that he will not come to the window and say, here is the list of the reforms. He will just do like John XXIII who gave the bishops the freedom to discuss about the hot issues.


POLITI: So many cardinals who supported him want him to collaborate with the bishops.

AMANPOUR: And lastly, he's going to have a meeting, an audience with the -- with the media on Saturday, just like his predecessor did, Pope Benedict. Do you think that's he going to have to talk immediately and lay to rest or address the issues of the Argentine church during the military dictatorship?

I mean, just last year, Argentine bishops apologized for their failure to speak out about the violations of human rights and all other issues there.

POLITI: He was part of the bishops' leadership in Argentina who apologized because of the silence and also partially of the complicity of the Argentine hierarchy with the dictatorship. I think that this experience will make him more and more keen to fight for human rights nowadays and in future and to be a defender of the human rights like John Paul II was all over the world.

AMANPOUR: Marco Politi, thank you so much for joining me. And it's an incredible story. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: We do, of course, have a new pope. But the exclusive all- male club that chose him guaranteed that no women would have a say in this decision even though, as legend has it, there's already been a female pope.

Experts, of course, dismiss the fable of Pope Joan, an Englishwoman disguising herself as a male priest and making it all the way up to pontiff. But that hasn't stopped Hollywood from making two movies about her. A case of where there's a will, there's a myth? Read about it at our website,

And after a break, Jesuit priests have been called God's Marines. Now that we have the first Jesuit pope, what battles will he fight and how will he fight them? That's when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. And continuing our conversation about the Catholic Church's new leader, as we've said, he's a pope of many firsts: the first to choose the name Francis and the first from the Americas and also the first Jesuit ever to lead the Vatican.

Here with me now is Father Joseph McShane. He's also a Jesuit, and he's the president of Fordham University here in New York.



AMANPOUR: As a Jesuit, how do you feel today?

MCSHANE: Well, stunned because St. Ignatius never intended for Jesuits to have positions of power, authority or influence in the church. So we were always told from the day we entered there will never be a Jesuit pope, and now we have one. We're all stunned.

AMANPOUR: So were you, for a moment, wondering whether he had chosen Francis Xavier?

MCSHANE: Every Jesuit in the world, I think, had that same hope as --


AMANPOUR: Because he was the first great Jesuit missionary.

MCSHANE: Right. And it was actually -- the election was the day after the conclusion of the novena of grace, which celebrates the canonizations of St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier. But, alas, it was not; it was Francis of Assisi.

AMANPOUR: And what does it mean to you, then, that he's chosen that name? We've spoken ad nauseam, if you like, about humility and service and the poor and the downtrodden and the destitute. But what about the reform that Francis of Assisi is associated with, "Rebuild my church in ruins," Cardinal McCarrick just told me, reform?

MCSHANE: Right. I think all of those play into -- no one knows exactly why he chose the name. But I suspect that all of the reasons that you alluded to played into it. He is clearly a man who embraces poverty and embraces poverty, I think, in a fairly radical way in his own lifestyle. He also embraces the poor. So that's a major part of his identity.

As for reform, I think, yes, in his service as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and in the work that he did with the bishops throughout South America, I think it was clear that he is a man who is concerned about reform. He reformed his own curia in Buenos Aires, (inaudible) administrative offices. So I think love of poverty, devotion to the poor, reform of the Catholic Church.

AMANPOUR: And let me ask you about the impact in the Americas, not just in Latin America, but also here in the United States, where there's such a burgeoning Latino population. Let me put in our magic table and on our wall a graphic, basically it's about Catholic identify here in the United States. It has been declining.


AMANPOUR: From 46 percent in '74 to 27 percent in 2012, not great; it's not a great trend. Do you think that this pope, just by his presence and his nationality, can energize that?

MCSHANE: Well, I think when you look at these numbers, you have to add another set, and that is you have to look at the percentage of American Catholics who come from a Latin background. And that percentage has really exploded in the last 25-30 years.

Now I think in the Latin American population of the United States, his election is an electrifying moment, and an energizing moment. So I think there will be a great surge of interest in him, devotion to him. And through his -- the devotion to him, the devotion to the church and interest in the church.

AMANPOUR: And just -- and outside the Latino population, as an American priest yourself -- and you see this crisis, I suppose, this secularization, obviously it's growing massively in Asia and Africa. But what do you think this moment might mean to bring people back to the Catholic Church here or having new members?

MCSHANE: Well, I think that because he is from the Americas there will be, you know, an interest, even a curiosity in him for that. I think there will be beyond that a fascination with him as a religious figure.

And, you know, we saw yesterday, today and we've been reflecting in my community about -- upon his personality there are things, I think, that people are going to find arrestingly attractive about him. Yesterday when he came out and looked at first stunned, then he was very warm and grandfatherly.

But the really stunning moment was when he asked the people to pray for him and bless him before he blessed them. I think it won over a lot of people and raised a few eyebrows.

AMANPOUR: It was remarkable, actually, because he just said the word, and the entire square fell silent.

MCSHANE: Absolutely. And then at the end, when he said goodbye, he told them, "Go home and get a good night's sleep."

It was very reminiscent of what's referred to as the moonlight meditation of John XXIII on the night of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. People streamed into the square for a torchlight procession. And he appeared at his window and spoke to them as a father, and then at the end, said, "Go home."

AMANPOUR: Do the reforms of the Second Vatican Council still have life? Is that something that might be opened up again under a new pope?

MCSHANE: Oh, I think so. I think that Pope Francis is a man who takes the council seriously. If you look at the way in which he's lived his life as a bishop and archbishop, it seems to me very clear that he takes the pastoral (ph) constitution on the church in the modern world very much to heart.

(Inaudible), which calls upon the church to be an attentive, loving, listening church that will be a dialogue and learn from the world what the meaning of the gospel is right now.

AMANPOUR: What does he have to do on some of these terrible challenges and crises and scandals, frankly, crimes that have rocked the church over the last decade? Look, here in the United States, 34 percent of American Catholics say are the sex abuse scandal is the biggest problem. What does Pope Francis have to do day one, out of the box, to take a stand on that?

MCSHANE: Well, I think he'd be wise if he'd listen to the American bishops, especially the cardinals who are in Rome, and among them, our own Cardinal Dolan here and Cardinal George in Chicago, who said in their leadup days to the conclave, that the new pope must make it very clear that there is zero tolerance throughout the church universal for behavior of this kind.

And even more importantly, he has to say that whenever such an act, such a sin, such a crime is reported, the first concern is for the victim --

AMANPOUR: Cardinal --

MCSHANE: -- and the victim's family.

AMANPOUR: -- Cardinal Schonberg (ph) has said in the past, no more cover-ups. The age of cover-ups is over. Is he powerful enough, Pope Francis, to make sure the curia, everywhere, the hierarchy abides by that?

MCSHANE: Well, I think -- I don't know if it's a question is he powerful enough. I think it's a question is he brave enough to call it out.


MCSHANE: Yes, I think if you look at what he has done in Buenos Aires with his own priests, it is clear. I'm sure you've read the stories about him excoriating priests who refused to baptize children who were born out of wedlock, calling them the new Pharisees, a new class of hypocrites, who forgot that the Lord ate with prostitutes and sought out sinners.

So I think he's brave enough and direct enough to do this. So I think, yes.

AMANPOUR: Father McShane, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

MCSHANE: Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: And we will keep watching. It's a fascinating moment.

And after a break, the new pope may pray for the whole world. But he roots for his own local soccer team. A religious experience of a different order when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, Argentina has its first pope and the faithful were proudly waving the flag in St. Peter's Square last night. But back home in soccer-mad country, where each stadium is a cathedral, football is almost a religion.

Even Pope Francis himself is a football fan, shown here when he was still a cardinal, rooting for his home team, San Lorenzo. In fact, the pope may be the third most popular man in Argentina, after the legendary Diego Maradona, whose infamous Hand of God goal won the World Cup back in 1986.

And then there's Lionel Messi, currently the world's number one player and speaking of divine intervention, the night before Pope Francis was chosen, Messi sparked a miracle win for his Barcelona Club over AC Milan. The next day, Milan's Cardinal Scola lost out to Argentina's Cardinal Bergoglio. The hand of God, indeed.

And that is it for our program. Meantime, you can always get in touch via Twitter @camanpour. Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York.