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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Pope Francis Performs Canonization; Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 23, 2015 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:00]

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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And you're watching -- this is the beginning of the first -- celebration of the first mass Pope Francis has celebrated in the United States, this obviously his first trip to the United States in his entire life, 78 years old, the 266th pope, the first Jesuit pope in history.

We're also joined by Delia Gallagher, Vatican correspondent; John Allen, our senior Vatican analyst, and also Father Timothy Kesicki, the president of the Jesuit Conference of America and Canada.

Father, can you just explain what we should be looking for now in the next several minutes?

FATHER TIMOTHY KESICKI, PRESIDENT, JESUIT CONFERENCE OF AMERICA AND CANADA: Yes.

So, they're singing the (INAUDIBLE) "Oh Come Holy Spirit."

They always invoke the Holy Spirit at a canonization mass. And then the postulator, the one promoting the cause of canonization, will read the biography of Saint Junipero Serra.

[16:35:04]

There will be a litany of the saints. And then there will be a formal request of the Holy Father to proclaim him a saint.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator): Holy Mother Church, earnestly beseech us, Your Holiness, to enter Blessed Junipero Serra among the saints, so that he may be invoked as such by all the Christian faithful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Junipero Serra was born in Petra, Majorca, in 1714. He entered the order of the Franciscans he was young. And he was ordained as a priest in 1737. He was a confessor of philosophy.

COOPER: Just to explain to our viewers, this is the beginning of the canonization.

And explain that process and how long this is taking. Was this something that was fast-tracked, John? JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Yes, that's right.

The technical term for this, Anderson, is this is was an equipollent canonization. And what that means is that the pope chose to dispense with the normal requirement for a second miracle. So, the beatification is the penultimate step, followed the normal process. After that, the pope decided to speed things up, as he did with several other processes, because he decided he wanted to immediately be able to canonize evangelizers of the various parts of the world that he's visiting.

And Junipero Serra, of course -- evangelizer means a missionary -- was the great missionary, 18th century missionary, of what is today California, founding a string of missions, some of which developed into the great cities of the West Coast, San Diego, San Francisco and so on.

COOPER: There's some controversy around this. There's been some criticism of this.

And the pope actually, when on a prior trip to South America, actually apologized for colonization activities early on and its effect on indigenous populations. And that's at the heart of some of the criticism of this missionary.

ALLEN: Sure.

But I think the pope is now attaching his personal authority to the verdict that was reached by the Congregation for Saints in Rome, which is the Vatican department that handles these causes, which is that, although abuses certainly were committed in the colonization of the new world, that Serra, admittedly being a man of his times, nevertheless did what he could to try to mitigate those abuses, to try to help the natives, to try to protect them from the worst of the colonial system, and, by the standards of his times, therefore a moral hero.

COOPER: We're going to take a short break. More when we continue.

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[16:42:30]

COOPER: As we continue to watch first celebration of mass by this pope in the United States, I want to go to our Chris Cuomo, who is standing by outside, watching as well -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.

We're watching the mass here. Obviously, people are following along. They have been speaking in Latin right now for the prayers, also in Spanish. There was the description of Father Junipero Serra. A priest was recounting the good works that the missionary did out in California building nine missions.

He also took time to discuss a sensitivity to the culture. Remember, this is a controversial subject for many Native American groups; 50 tribes bound together to resist the canonization of Serra.

So, the priest in that part of the ceremony took time to reflect on Serra's care and concern for the people that he was made missionary for. A big part of this ceremony will also be a relic of Junipero Serra, which is literally a piece of his body that is brought up as part of the process of making him a saint.

COOPER: Delia Gallagher, you said he's also going to be meeting -- the pope will actually be meeting after mass with -- with whom?

GALLAGHER: Yes.

I think, in response and as a sign of his sensitivity to this issue, he is meeting with 20 representatives of the California Native American population. So, he will have a chance to spend a bit of time with them and perhaps listen to some of their concerns.

COOPER: And, Father Kesicki, from the -- president of the Jesuit Conference of America and Canada, just for our viewers who have not been to mass before who are following along at home, what happens over the next several minutes?

KESICKI: Right now, we're hearing the litany of the saints.

And this is invoking the name of many saints going back from the earliest days of the church to the present. We're going to hear some saints from the Americas, Saint Katharine Drexel, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint.

We will hear Saint Kateri Tekakwitha's name invoked, a Native American saint. For a Jesuit pope, there will be some Jesuit saints, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Jean de Brebeuf, Saint Isaac Jogues, Blessed Miguel Pro, and many other saints representing different religious orders.

And, of course, after the canonization, Blessed Junipero Serra will be in the Litany of the Saints.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Litany of the Saints, of course, is one of those things, Anderson, if you remember at the conclave when they elect a new pope and they go in. Both of the things that we've heard chanted today.

The come holy spirit at the beginning, and in the Litany of Saints, they're always invoking the help of the Holy Spirit and the saints who are already in heaven upon this ceremony so upon the conclave when they elect a new pope this decision to make Junipero Serra a saint.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Father Kesicki, the experience of this pope's early experiences in Argentina and how that has influenced his understanding of the role of the church. He from a very early time was spending time in the streets, was living a very humble life.

KESICKI: Yes. He was a Jesuit provincial. He had authority at a very young age and in a very controversial time in the church in Argentina. It was during the dirty war. It was divided politically. It was divided ecclesially.

He found beauty in the poor and he saw that right out of the gospel and he encouraged his young Jesuits live with the poor, learn from the poor, there you'll find your peace. It's been consistent his whole life really in his ministry.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Just build on that. When I went to Argentina immediately after Francis' election, I asked one of parish priest, this thing about him is the pope or real and said go out and ask. And we took seven or eight people and we stopped them and said what can you tell me about the former archbishop now pope?

Before they answered they went into tin shacks and wooden sacks they called homes and found these prized photos that showed the new pope baptizing their kids, confirming their kids, sitting in the living room when the husband died because that's where he spent his time.

Actually, that parish in this slum had a mass to celebrate his election as pope. And the pastor invited everyone to bring their pictures. Thousands of people showed up with pictures of him in their private homes, in the streets at their celebrations. It was like a living photo album. So this is not some faux PR exercise. It's who the man really is.

COOPER: And he's continued that even as pope if not living in the pal apartment that his predecessor had lived in, living obviously within the Vatican but in a much what is it a three-room apartment, a much simpler apartment.

ALLEN: Sort of like a residence suites. It's in a place basically a hotel on Vatican grounds. It's got a bedroom, a receiving room and a small sort of kitchenette. I mean, yes, he wants to walk his own talk.

My favorite story about that is the way he works the phone for himself. You know, rather than having people place his calls including calling his newspaper delivery guy in Buenos Aires the very morning after being elected pope to say, I'm not coming back can you please cancel my subscription.

GALLAGHER: And the guy didn't really believe it was the pope, right?

ALLEN: And of course the successor in Buenos Aires got mad because now he has to restart the paper and it's a pain in the neck.

GALLAGHER: We say the first time in the United States for Pope Francis, part of the reason for that is because he believed he wanted to stay with his people in Argentina the whole time he was bishop and archbishop there he hadn't even been to the holy land until his trip as pope last year. So this is a pope who really does believe in staying with his flock and it's something he said to the bishops as well today.

COOPER: Let's listen in.

[16:50:10] (POPE FRANCIS SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

COOPER: There's also still a great desire for many to -- for John Paul to be canonized.

ALLEN: John Paul has.

COOPER: He has been canonized.

ALLEN: Yes.

COOPER: That was also fast tracked?

ALLEN: Yes. In fact what's interesting of course is we were talking earlier, Anderson, about how Francis seemed to blend messages this morning to some extent cut to the right and to the left at the same time and addressed to the president.

He canonized John Paul II together with Pope John Paul XXIII and in Catholic affairs often seen a great hero of the left, John Paul II a great hero of the right. Very much wants to be a man of balance.

COOPER: We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.

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[16:55:50]

COOPER: You're watching live coverage of the first mass celebrated by Pope Francis in the United States. The largest basilica in the United States the campus of Catholic University.

We have senior Vatican analyst, John Allen, Father Tim Kesicki. I'm getting questions from viewers asking about the pope's health. It seems at times to be sort of I don't know grimacing is the right word but a little wincing.

ALLEN: We just saw him being helped back to the seat and it was obvious he was in a little bit of pain. The Vatican confirmed last year that the pope has a condition called sciatica. Basically it's a nerve condition that every now and then can cause pain running from your back to your leg.

Particularly if you've been standing for a long time or walk long distances or move suddenly. The Vatican confirmed this or the pope canceled a tradition body of Christ last year because it was simply too long for him to walk. Not fatal. Not life threatening. Not degenerative. Something he's lived with for a long time. It's just uncomfortable.

COOPER: This pope also had --

ALLEN: When he was 19 years old he had a very severe respiratory infection and they took a piece of his left lung out. He's lived with that for a very long time. Obviously none of this has prevented him from being the energizer bunny of popes. He keeps up a schedule people half his age would have difficulty maintaining. COOPER: Father Kesicki, you've celebrated mass with this pope?

KESICKI: Yes. It was only 50, about seven or eight priests, very quiet mass. Quite different than what you're seeing here. And you get a sense of his personal serenity. He comes out wearing the only way you know he's pope is the white cap.

And he comes out and quietly sits in his chair and doesn't come to life really until he's preaching. That's when you see his personality and charisma. I've also concelebrated at St. Peter's basilica. He's very much serene and contemplates of prayer except when he's talking to people.

POPE FRANCIS (through translator): Let us pray. God, by your mercy been pleased through the labors of your priest Saint Junipero Serra to count many American peoples within your church into session we may so join our hearts to you in love as to carry always and everywhere before all people the image of your only begotten son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

COOPER: Well, that's it for us THE LEAD. I'm Anderson Cooper in for Jake Tapper. Our coverage continues now with Brianna Keilar in "THE SITUATION ROOM."