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Pope Francis Heads to Ireland amid Sexual Abuse Scandals; CFO of Trump Organization Granted Immunity; John McCain Stopping Brain Cancer Treatment; Trump Lashes Out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Tropical Storm Lane. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired August 25, 2018 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It is a highly anticipated trip. The world is watching. Pope Francis heading to Ireland amid more allegations of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. And CNN is live following this story in Dublin.
A huge blow for President Trump as another top Trump Organization official gets immunity to talk to prosecutors.
Later this hour, Hawaii's big island braces for heavy rains and floods.
Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: At 5:00 am here on the U.S. East Coast, in about 30 minutes time, Pope Francis is set to arrive in Ireland, the first papal visit there in almost 40 years. Many will be greeting him, cheering his arrival.
But there is also clear and raw anger in that nation, as the church faces scandal, the backlash over decades of sexual abuse and cover-ups at the hands of priests and church officials.
At some point over the pope's two-day visit, he is set to meet with some of those victims of sexual abuse. His stops will include Dublin Castle, a homeless shelter, St. Mary's Pro Cathedral and at the World Meeting Of Families celebration.
Sunday includes an open air mass in Dublin's Phoenix Park. Following the story, CNN senior Vatican analyst, John Allen, also the editor of the independent Catholic news site, "Crux," live for us in Dublin, Ireland this hour.
A pleasure to have with you us again John.
So what is the mood there ahead of this visit by the pope? JOHN ALLEN, CNN SR. VATICAN ANALYST: Well, look, George, Pope Francis is expected to draw large and enthusiastic crowds when he gets here. You mentioned the open air mass in Phoenix park tomorrow. Estimates are he will draw a half million people. It will actually be Europe's biggest outdoor event of the summer.
You shouldn't mistake the warmth and enthusiasm that so many of these families that are taking part in that world meeting for indifference or denial about the reality of the situation.
The reality of the situation is, under any circumstances, the pope coming to Ireland would have to engage the church's clerical sexual abuse scandal. This is a country that has experienced those scandals in perhaps the deepest and most profound way anywhere in the world.
The Catholic Church here, for a long time, ran virtually every school, every hospital, every orphanage in the country. So the pain of those abuse scandals is profound. There is almost no one in Ireland that doesn't have someone in their family who is a survivor of abuse.
But given the context, given the scandals surrounding now ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick of the United States, given that blistering Pennsylvania grand jury report, that found in just six diocese, more than 300 predator priests and more than 1,000 child victims over a 70- year period. And everyone believes it's just the tip of the iceberg.
Given the horrors that we have seen in terms of revelations about sexual abuse in the nation of Chile, committed by Catholic clergy, it is absolutely in the air here, that the pope has to address this issue. And not simply in terms of offering the kinds of apologies and reassurances that have been heard from popes and other church officials in the past but offer something concrete that will give people reason to believe that, after decades of these kinds of revelations, that something is going to give -- George.
HOWELL: John Allen, thank you so much for your time and perspective. We'll keep in touch with you.
There is plenty of anger of many Catholics in Ireland, a country dealing with its own history of abuse. Photos of some victims were projected onto the general post office in Dublin Friday night. And as we mentioned, the pontiff plans to meet with some of the victims during his visit.
Here's what some victims had to say ahead of Pope Francis' trip to Ireland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER SAUNDERS, CLERGY ABUSE SURVIVOR: I've survived. I consider myself something of a thriver at times and I am privileged to work with survivors and make my little contribution to this fight against this evil scourge.
But my brother, Mike, didn't survive. And the drugs and alcohol that consumed him even before he left school eventually took his life. And when the pope, a couple of days ago in his letter, referred to the --
SAUNDERS: -- I think he referred to the culture of death, I thought, it's not often I agree with what the church officials say about this issue. But on that one, I do agree with Francis about the culture of death, because, for every 10 survivors who survive and thrive and go on to lead something of a, should we say, a normal life, there are survivors who did not survive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any progress that has been made?
PETER, CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVOR: There is one force that is responsible for it. And that is survivors of clergy sexual abuse. And what survivors of clergy sexual abuse do, when they are able come forward and emerge out of silence and to speak, is that they take action.
That's what they do. And that is exactly the example that Pope Francis and the Vatican has got to start taking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: As we said at the top of this show, the world is watching what happens in Dublin.
And in Dublin, we have Colm O'Gorman with us, the executive director of Amnesty International Ireland and a clerical abuse survivor.
Colm, thank you again for being with us. Again, you were one of the first to speak out about abuse, yourself a victim of abuse. Yours was one of the faces posted there on buildings in Dublin.
What do you expect?
What do you want to hear from this pope's visit?
COLM O'GORMAN, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, CLERGY ABUSE SURVIVOR: Good morning, George, thanks, for having me.
Frankly, what I want to hear from the pope on his visit here is what I've been asking popes to do since 1998, When I sued John Paul II to try to get him to tell the truth of what he knew about the rape and abuse of children here in Ireland.
I just want the pope to tell the damn truth. And he hasn't done that yet. I listened to John and he talked about papal apologies. I haven't seen a single papal apology in 20 years.
What I've seen are expressions of regret, of sorrow, of devastation at the pain and suffering of people like me. And I've seen condemnations of pedophile priests, of the appalling depravity of that abuse and I've seen some acknowledgement of the cover-up and the failures of bishops.
What I have never seen is the simple truth being stated and that is that the Vatican, at the most senior level, including popes, directed and implemented a cover-up of the rape and abuse of hundreds of thousands of children, of women and of vulnerable adults across the Catholic world, that this wasn't a failure of culture, as we are hearing now from Vatican spokespeople, that it wasn't because they didn't understand or didn't know or didn't have in-depth knowledge, that it was a deliberate, willful process where they acted to check the institution, its power and its money and it was codified into law and norms.
And that's all Francis needs to say. And from that, then, from truth can flow accountability, can flow justice, can flow change. But we get nowhere if we don't have truth.
Who did I learn that from?
I learned it from my parents, from my forefathers, from my forebears but I also learned it from the church. So the church needs to stand for truth. This pope needs to stand for truth finally. And he has not done that yet.
HOWELL: Colm, you say they knew what was going on. You say you want a damn apology. And beyond that apology, what about concrete steps from this pope, to hear what he would do, to hear what he would implement throughout the Catholic Church to ensure this doesn't happen again?
O'GORMAN: Well, we can't even begin to get to talk about what steps might be necessary if we don't have a simple, honest acknowledgment of the problem. But problem is not clergy-raped and abused children. Of course, those are terrible, terrible crimes. And they happen in all circles.
The problem that the Vatican needs to own up to, that it needs to own, the action it needs to own is the coverup of those crimes, its collusion and facilitation in them. If it names that, it opens itself up to appropriate accountability, to transparent accountability and, where necessary, investigation.
Pope Francis said in his letter to Catholics worldwide this week, that he is aware of measures taken in parts of the world to bring those who abused children and covered that up to account.
What is he talking about?
Who does he mean needs to be held to account?
He didn't name that. If he means bishops, well, only he within church can hold bishops to account.
And how does the Vatican hold bishops to account for doing exactly what it directed them to do?
Exactly. And that is now beyond dispute. It's laid out in church documents, in church law, out in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, in numerous investigations into these issues here in Ireland. And just last week, we had a former president of Ireland confirm that,
in 2003, while on a state visit to the Vatican, the prefect of the states for the Vatican, one of the key leaders in the Vatican, sought to enter into a concordat, a legal agreement with Ireland that would allow the church to bury evidence of these crimes, whether they were held into asison (ph) files here in Ireland or in Rome. That is a cover-up, plain and simple.
And that's the Vatican acting directly to institute --
O'GORMAN: -- and orchestrate that cover-up. So the Vatican needs to be accountable. And right now, Pope Francis is the man in the big seat. So he needs to place his institution, his office, before an appropriate authority and be accountable.
And that starts with simply telling the truth. I find it staggering that, 20 years on, the notion that a pope would tell the truth is a radical idea. But it is.
HOWELL: Colm O'Gorman, one of the voices resonating what the pope will surely hear, as he visits Ireland, thank you so much for your time and perspective there in Dublin. We'll keep in touch with you and continue to monitor the pope's arrival to your nation.
Here in the United States, more cracks in the foundation. People once loyal to the U.S. president, people within his inner circle possibly turning against him. Here's the latest. We have now learned Mr. Trump's top accountant has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors. His name, Allen Weisselberg. You see him here, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization.
He's the man that handled all of Mr. Trump's money for many years. That follows the immunity deal given to long-time Trump associate David Pecker, Pecker who runs the "National Enquirer."
A former editor at the tabloid says Pecker used his position to kill negative stories about President Trump and knows all the worst secrets about the president's life. It's impossible to overstate just how central Weisselberg is to the Trump empire or the potential risk his testimony could pose to President Trump. CNN's Athena Jones picks it up from here.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In what could be a new blow to President Trump, sources tell CNN Trump Organization money man Allen Weisselberg granted immunity to cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty this week to breaking campaign finance laws and implicated Trump in his plea deal.
TRUMP: Replacing George this week is my chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. And you think George is tough. Wait until you see Allen. JONES: Weisselberg, the company's chief financial officer, seen here on an episode of "The Apprentice," has worked for Trump for decades.
As one former employee put it, "He knows we're all of the proverbial financial bodies are buried, every sale, every deal, anything and everything that's been done." And he personally gave Trump updates on these matters.
A source familiar CNN Weisselberg's interview with investigators took place weeks ago and focused on Cohen and the hush money payments to two women claiming to have had affairs with Trump, which he denies.
COHEN: And, I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing.
JONES: Weisselberg figures prominently in the secret recording Cohen released last month of a conversation he had with Trump two months before the 2016 presidential election about payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
COHEN: And, I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with...
JONES: Another person mentioned on that tape, "National Enquirer" chief David Pecker, a longtime friend of Trump's who also received an immunity deal from prosecutors.
According to "The Wall Street Journal," Pecker backed up details Cohen spelled out in his plea deal, telling prosecutors Trump was aware of the deals at the time, despite claiming to know nothing about them.
Making matters worse, "The New York Times" reports the Manhattan district attorney's office is considering pursuing criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two senior company executives in connection with Cohen's payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Trump's legal team declined to comment on the Weisselberg news, but Trump made it clear what he thought about immunity deals during the campaign.
TRUMP: And you're not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for?
JONES (voice-over): Athena Jones, CNN, New York.
HOWELL: CNN has exclusively obtained a copy of an agreement signed between American Media Inc., that's the parent company of the "National Enquirer," and a former doorman. He told CNN he has knowledge of a relationship between Donald Trump that he once had with a former housekeeper that resulted in a child.
An attorney for Dino Sajudin says that his client has been released from the AMI contract and is now free to talk. That contract states AMI had exclusive rights to Sajudin's story but does not mention any details beyond saying this, quote, "Sources shall provide AMI with information regarding Donald Trump's illegitimate child," end quote.
In April, when the former Trump World Tower doorman told CNN he had knowledge of the relationship, AMI called Sajudin's story, quote, "not credible" and denied any connection to Donald Trump and his attorney, Michael Cohen.
At the time, the White House did not respond to CNN's request for comment on that story. Sajudin's allegations that Trump fathered a child out of wedlock has not been confirmed by any outlet that has investigated that story.
Heartfelt messages are pouring in from across the political spectrum as the --
HOWELL: -- family of the U.S. senator John McCain, better known as the Maverick, as you said, that he is discontinuing treatment for brain cancer. The six-term senator was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease in 2017. John McCain hasn't been in Washington, D.C., since December.
Last year, Senator McCain appeared on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION." He spoke with my colleague, Jake Tapper, when he asked about legacy. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: My last question for you. And I hope I don't run this clip for another 50 years.
But how do you want the American people to remember you?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZ.: He served his country and not always right. Made a lot of mistakes. Made a lot of errors but served his country. And I hope we could add honorably.
TAPPER: I think that we can say honorably. Senator John McCain, it's always great to have you here. Do not be a stranger. There's a seat for you any time you want.
TAPPER: It's great to see you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The 81-year-old senator has represented Arizona since 1987. He ran against former president Barack Obama as the Republican candidate in a 2008 presidential election. He has been a frequent critic of the current president, Donald Trump.
McCain is also a respected military veteran, a hero. During his 20- year career in the Navy. he was shot down over North Vietnam and was held as a prisoner of war for more than five years. Let's talk more about this with Inderjeet Parmar, who teaches
international politics at City University of London, live for us in our London bureau.
A pleasure to have you here on the show.
INDERJEET PARMAR, CITY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Thank you.
HOWELL: First of all, let's talk about Senator John McCain. The world certainly knows his story, knows his war career, what he's gone through in his life as a U.S. lawmaker and now we are hearing news that he will discontinue his treatment for cancer.
PARMAR: No, it's quite clear that Senator McCain has a very, very high, strong reputation right across the spectrum, if you like, in terms of parties, especially the leadership of the parties.
But he is also a controversial character, too. For example, in supporting the Iraq War, the various other hawkish stances that he's taken with regard to the U.S.' role in the Middle East and so on. Therefore, he is seen in a very critical light as well.
Now that he's in this serious medical position and is now not taking any further medical treatment, clearly it is a very major step that he's taken and it suggests that he has reconciled that his life is limited and it also enables possibly a return to the Senate physically with a view to may probably having an impact on the outcomes there.
HOWELL: Inderjeet, following events in Washington, D.C., and these investigations, Allen Weisselberg, this is the person who knows where all of the dollars in Mr. Trump's business world went, where they go, how significant is it that now he has immunity and is presumably working with investigators?
PARMAR: I think it's very significant. For a lot of the others, if you like, they were involved but, to some extent, compared to Weisselberg, they were on the periphery. But Weisselberg has been in the Trump Organization for many decades.
He's the CFO of the Trump Organization. He was a treasurer of the Trump Foundation. He's one of the two trustees remaining of the Trump business since President Trump got elected.
So if he doesn't know about the financial, tax, banking, political and other connections and transactions of the organization, nobody else does. This is very significant because it could well be that the immunity is going to be exercised in a way which would enable many of the finances of the Trump administration to come to light and particularly his tax affairs.
As we know, his tax returns have not all been released. And it's quite likely there will be new information coming along. And if, for example, as the Trump Foundation is in New York, registered in New York, and there are issues that come out of that investigation, it could well be that Weisselberg will appear in a New York court, which is, therefore, exempt from a presidential pardon. And I think that could really open up President Trump to a serious
HOWELL: Inderjeet, briefly, I want to touch on this back and forth, this tug-of-war between the U.S. president and Jeff Sessions. And we are hearing from Senator Lindsey Graham. We heard from him a day or so ago, saying there could be a change of the guard after the midterm.
I want you to listen to Lindsey Graham a day or so ago, compared to what he said a year ago. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), S.C.: If Jeff Sessions --
GRAHAM: -- is fired, there will be holy hell to pay. Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end at the Trump presidency unless Mueller did something wrong.
Clearly Attorney General Sessions doesn't have the confidence of the president, that is an important office in the country. And there -- after the election, I think there will be some serious discussions about a new attorney general.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: What a difference a year makes, Inderjeet, what do you make of this apparent softening in position from Lindsey Graham and potentially others?
PARMAR: I have to say, when I first came across that, I find I found it very confusing. And I still do. But it does seem to me Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigations, quite rightly, I think, has also robustly defended his Department of Justice against criticism of allowing political prosecutions against President Trump.
In that regard, attorney general Jeff Sessions actually has stood up and defended his constitutional position and, therefore, Senator Graham and one or two others to talk openly about his replacement after the midterms suggests a number of different things.
It could well be they want to get rid of him, which would open up President Trump to a very, very serious political situation because replacing attorney general Sessions would in, the short run at least, mean Rod Rosenstein becomes the attorney general.
And Rod Rosenstein has been the one who's directly in charge of the Russia investigations and Robert Mueller. So I can't quite see where this is heading, other than a much more serious position for the president himself.
HOWELL: Inderjeet Parmar, thank you for your time and perspective. We'll stay in touch with you. Around the world and in the U.S., You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live.
Ahead a major storm, a volcanic eruption and now this, take a look at this video in the U.S. state of Hawaii. Why tropical storm Lane isn't the only threat facing that.
(INAUDIBLE) In Dublin, Ireland, CNN is live there following events. Stay with us.
HOWELL: It's no longer a hurricane but for many in half that doesn't matter. Take a look at the scene here.
HOWELL: Heavy rain triggered floods and landslides. That island certainly got a lot of rain and water. Maui hasn't been hit as hard. But it has problems of its own. On Friday, officials said brush fires damaged or destroyed several homes. It's not known what caused those fires.
HOWELL: All right. We are monitoring events in Ireland. You are seeing live images of the pope landing in Dublin, Ireland. CNN right back after the break as we are following this story.
HOWELL: Live coast to coast around the United States and to our viewers, welcome. I'm George Howell with the headlines we are following for you this hour.
HOWELL: The story we are following live, Pope Francis has just landed in Dublin, Ireland. We want to show you the live images, if we have them.
This is the scene in Dublin. You see the pope's plane that arrived there; we are waiting to see as he eventually sets foot in Dublin. It is the first papal visit to Ireland in almost 40 years. He will find an odd mix of celebration and also anger, celebration at the World Meeting of Families. He is set to speak there on Saturday evening. But there is anger over decades of sexual abuse and cover-ups at the hands of Catholic priests and church leaders, especially after the report coming out of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania which has reignited that controversy.
The pope is set to speak with some victims of sexual abuse while in Ireland. His stops will include Dublin Castle, a homeless shelter, St. Mary's Pro Cathedral and a celebration in Dublin. Sunday also includes an open air mass in Dublin's Phoenix Park.
Let's talk more about this with our senior Vatican analyst, John Allen also the editor of the independent Catholic news site "Crux."
John, we are waiting to see the pope set foot in Ireland. Again, let's set the context here in Ireland, given this reignition into the scandal that seems to plague the Catholic Church, the feeling there in Ireland and among many people will be raw.
ALLEN: Yes, that's absolutely right, George. As you mentioned, the pope is coming to cap off a World Meeting of Families, a gathering of Catholic families from all over the world, which has been going on all week.
There will be real enthusiasm, real joy among those people to greet the pope. But we should make no mistake, there is no denial, there is no indifference to the fact that the pope is coming to a country that has been deeply scarred by the Catholic Church's clerical sexual abuse scandals.
And in the context, as you rightly say, of those scandals being reignited by recent revelations, which are not just about that blistering grand jury report from Pennsylvania, that identified more than 300 predator priests and more than 1,000 child victims over a 70- year period. Everyone believes it's the tip of the iceberg.
But it would also include the scandals surrounding now ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick of the United States, credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor, and horrific revelations rolling out of Chile --
ALLEN: -- that has produced the most massive clerical sex abuse scandal since Ireland.
So in the context of all of that, George, there is a real expectation here that Pope Francis has to tackle this issue head-on during his 32 hours in this country, not just in terms of delivering apologies or reassurances but something concrete that would indicate to people that, after decades of these scandals, that finally action is going to be taken to ensure that it doesn't happen again.
HOWELL: John Allen, stand by with us. I want to now bring in our Delia Gallagher. Delia is on the plane right now and joining us by phone.
Delia, I want to ask you the same question, again, on that plane, knowing exactly what the pope is about to encounter, the feelings here in Dublin, Ireland, and throughout that country, what is the mood on the plane?
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, I can tell you that the pope did come back to say hello to the journalists. That's something he does on every trip.
He did not mention the sex abuse scandal. He did say that he was happy to be going back to Ireland after 38 years. He studied here for a few months as a priest. But he made no mention on the plane.
That could be fairly standard because it's a 5-minute greeting to journalists. The real question is the expectation that he will face something here in Ireland. He has a number of opportunities. He will give about six speeches.
So there will be plenty of opportunity for him to say something. But the larger question is whether what he says will be enough. And we have been hearing from people, George; they want action.
And the question is going to be how can the pope show that, indeed, the Vatican is being transparent, is holding districts accountable and trying to make sure this is something that they have a full grasp on?
And that is a tall order for Pope Francis to be able to show. But it has been 16 years that the Vatican has been grappling with this. So people are expecting that, finally, there will be some concrete measures that the pope has to offer. We'll see if he's able to offer that here in Ireland this weekend -- George.
HOWELL: For our viewers around the world, we are following this story from top to bottom. Our Delia Gallagher on the plane in Dublin, Ireland. Also in Ireland we have John Allen, a senior Vatican analyst.
John, Delia touched on this, but the pope will have several opportunities certainly to speak about this subject. That again has been a true controversy, to say the least, in Ireland, dating back several decades.
So what is the expectation?
As we do know the pope will likely meet with victims of abuse.
ALLEN: Well, the Vatican confirmed that meeting will take place. Popes have met with victims of abuse in the past. The first time a pope met with survivors of clerical sexual abuse was Benedict XVI in the United States in 2008.
But my read, George, or the mood in the street here is that they are not -- the Irish, that is, are not interested in simply hearing repetitions of what has been said by church officials in the past -- apologies, acknowledgments of past failures, reassurances that things are going to change.
I think they want something or of that. The head of the theology faculty at the national seminary here in Ireland had a piece in one of the Irish newspapers this morning, where I think he put his finger on what people want to hear, which is, he said, that the real test is going to be whether Pope Francis is able and willing to impose the same accountability on clergy who commit the crime of sexual abuse of a minor on bishops who are guilty of the coverup of that crime.
I think that's for a long time been the real frustration, that the church has strong accountability for clergy who abuse but it does not have the equivalent accountability for bishops and other church officials who turn a blind eye, who fail to act, who don't report it.
Examples of that kind of thing are legion. Until that accountably gap is filled, my read would be that people here and in other parts of the world simply are not going to be satisfied.
HOWELL: What we are seeing right now -- John Allen stand by.
Our Delia Gallagher on the phone with us, on the plane, as well stand by as we explain to viewers what we are seeing. The red carpet rolled out in Dublin, Ireland.
Will this be the proverbial elephant in the room?
Or will the pope actually address this issue directly?
Will he put forward concrete steps, as people seem to be demanding there in Dublin, around this controversy of sexual abuse by priests?
I do want to remind our viewers of what the Vatican has said on this issue, if we could pull this forward, as we await the pope, stepping out. But very quickly, just to read this.
The pontiff wrote, "We showed no care for the little ones. We abandoned them," in response to this damming report from a Pennsylvania grand jury, detailing decades of widespread abuse and cover-up by predator priests.
So that sets the tone and context of what we are about to see. Again, our Delia Gallagher on the phone on the plane.
Delia, as the pope prepares to step out, again, is there an expectation surely that he will somehow talk about this?
GALLAGHER: George, I'm having a hard time hearing you because I'm just deplaning myself.
GALLAGHER: I will say this, this is a really pivotal trip for the pope and for the Catholic Church. It's one that even up until a month ago, we didn't realize would be so important precisely because we have this wave from the United States of sex abuse and of coverup.
It's almost some kind of synchronistic or providential trip that this is happening in Ireland, a country which was such a stalwart Catholic country that also suffered its own sex abuse crisis and so is, in some way, representing the universal church, as they say, representing the other churches as well in this crisis.
And so, what the pope says here, it's hard to kind of overestimate the importance of how this trip goes. Not just in what he says. It's not about words necessarily. He did write the letter. People have heard the sorrys coming from the Vatican.
And of course, meeting with victims is essential. But we keep hearing about the action that needs to be done. John laid out a few of those points on accountability for bishops. That's really what I think people are going to want to hear from the pope.
What are the steps?
What's being done?
And that can help. But there has been huge damage done to the trustworthiness and credibility of bishops. And even if there is some system in place for it, people are going to ask, who is going to investigate the bishop?
Is the brother bishop going to investigate a brother bishop?
How is this going to work?
Or are grand juries going to have to come in and start investigating?
ALLEN: Our Delia Gallagher, who just deplaned. Now we are watching as Pope Francis steps off the plane into Dublin, Ireland.
The question, does he take on this controversy that is certainly in the air?
Our senior Vatican analyst, John Allen, joins me also live, following this story in Dublin.
John, let's talk about the context of this papal visit, the first visit, quite honestly, in decades?
ALLEN: That's right; the last time a pope was in Ireland was 1979, when Pope John Paul II, now St. John Paul II visited here. You talk to anyone in Ireland, they will tell you that they are a vastly different country today than they were 40 years ago when John Paul came here.
In 1979, virtually everyone in Ireland went to Sunday mass. You know, divorce was illegal. Abortion was illegal. You had to get a doctor's note to get contraception. The whole LGBT issue wasn't even on the radar.
Today, Ireland has legalized gay marriage; contraception is legal; divorce is legal. They recently voted to legalize abortion. Mass attendance rates are down. It is, in many ways, a secular nation now, analogous to other Western European nations. Now that is not to say the Catholic Church doesn't remain an
enormously important social institution here, but certainly the climate is very different. You add to that the impact of probably the world most intense clerical sexual abuse scandal.
And the challenges facing Pope Francis on this trip -- and as Delia rightly said, this is a quick trip.
ALLEN: It's 32 hours. But the challenges facing Pope Francis are enormous. In many ways, I believe this is probably one of the highest stakes trips Pope Francis has taken to date -- George.
HOWELL: Let's reset for our viewers in the United States and around the world who are just joining us. You are seeing Pope Francis on the ground in Dublin, Ireland. He just stepped off the plane. This very important trip, the first papal visit to Ireland in decades.
And there are several things that the pope will certainly face as he encounters people throughout Ireland. One is the changing attitude, as our John Allen just explained, changing attitude toward the Catholic Church.
You will remember the most recent vote there in Ireland on abortion, a vote that certainly set the tone for how many of that nation feel about the Catholic Church. And now, in light of this recent scandal coming out of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania that details this report of sexual abuse at the hands of priests and cover-ups, Pope Francis now faces what we referred to a moment ago, as possibly an elephant in the room.
Does he address it directly?
We do know he will meet with victims of abuse. What we are hearing from many people there is they want more. They want the pope to actually talk about what he would do to make sure these things don't happen again, beyond what they've heard before.
Our senior Vatican analyst, John Allen, is there, live in Dublin. We also have our Delia Gallagher who was on the plane, has deplaned and is on the phone with us now.
Delia, you are watching the pope, as he steps into his vehicle there. Tell us the mood, from what you are hearing, you have been on the ground a short time.
But what's the sense?
GALLAGHER: Well, George, this is kind of a sort of a soft area. There is not a lot of crowd here. I don't know if you can tell from the pictures. Sometimes the pope arrives, he has big fans and what they call an official welcome. But he is not doing that here. He is going straight on to meet the government authority.
So right here, we've just got (INAUDIBLE) and security and airport officials. But I want to go back, George, and say this, if anyone can do it, Francis can. If anybody can change the bad feelings (INAUDIBLE) and anger and so on and connect with people, it is this pope. I've seen that on other trips.
And he does have the ability to connect with people. He's a very popular pope. But this has become (INAUDIBLE) happened in (INAUDIBLE) sexual abuse in terms of accountability.
So that's the tricky part, perhaps the expectation is wrong, (INAUDIBLE) anything else he can say should be at least seen to be on top of the situation with respect to his own bishops. I think that and what he's going to say here in Ireland is obviously not just pertaining to Ireland. It's going to be looked at throughout the world, particularly in the United States, as they are going to their own second wave of this crisis and dealing with bishops' accountability.
So it's vital that the pope be seen to be in full command and in full communication, frankly, with the U.S. bishops, at least for the American portion of it. And we'll have to see.
Sometimes these trips are a surprise, George. Sometimes he goes off the cuff when he speaks and he can connect with people. And so we won't make any judgments right now. He will certainly have to address it, you've been calling it the elephant in the room.
He will have to address it. He is here for the celebration of the family. So we'll hear a lot more probably about the importance of families and there will be other topics besides. But how much he addresses it and what he says is going to be vital.
HOWELL: The reporting of our Delia Gallagher, who just stepped off the plane in Dublin. Thank you, Delia.
And thank you to our senior analyst, John Allen.
Stand by, both of you. Of course, we are watching right now as the pope leaves the airplane and prepares for his two-day trip in Ireland. And again this is pope who has been outspoken about immigration and the poor and young people, bringing more young people back into the church.
His time in Ireland will surely be a test, as our Delia Gallagher pointed out.
Will he be able continue that mission, to bring more people into the church amid this controversy that is plaguing the Catholic Church?
You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live. We'll be right back after the break.
[05:50:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)
HOWELL: We are following the pope's visit to Ireland, that nation, like too many others around the world, with a horrid history of church sexual abuse. And despite the pope's condemnation, some of the abuse survivors in Ireland say they don't expect too much from this trip.
Our Phil Black spoke with some of those that went through it. We will warn you, many of the descriptions are graphic.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is no polite easy way to explain what happened to Darren McGavin on the grounds of this church when he was a child.
DARREN MCGAVIN, CLERGY ABUSE SURVIVOR: He put me over the table. And he had the vestments, the robes from the vestments. And he -- he tied me hands to me legs over the table. And began to rape me.
BLACK (voice-over): From the age of 7, Darren was abused several times a week for more than four years by Tony Welsh one of Ireland's most notorious pedophile priests.
MCGAVIN: On one occasion I was raped with a crucifix.
BLACK (voice-over): Welsh destroyed his life. The years have been consumed by trauma and mental illness.
BLACK: How old are you now?
MCGAVIN: I'm 46 years of age and I've been medicated since I was 12, 12 years of age.
So -- like when is it going to stop?
Like when is it going to stop?
I don't know.
BLACK: This is just one victim's story in a country deeply wounded by the horrific legacy of priests abusing vast numbers of children and often getting away with it. It will be the defining issue for Pope Francis --
BLACK (voice-over): -- during his visit to once proudly Catholic Ireland...
MCGAVIN: Do this in memory of me.
BLACK: -- where many churches are now largely empty, where the institution is struggling for purpose and credibility.
MARY COLLINS, CLERGY ABUSE SURVIVOR: I went to the hospital when I was 12, just turned 13, and I was sexually assaulted by the Catholic chaplain.
BLACK (voice-over): After decades recovering, Mary Collins has become a powerful voice for reforming the church culture. Last year, she walked away from a Vatican
panel advising Pope Francis because nothing changed. And she wasn't satisfied with his recent written apology.
COLLINS: We have the pope the other day in a strong letter. A lot it is good. But unfortunately, he says we are working on a way to find to hold people accountable.
We're decades on. You can't still be working on it.
BLACK (voice-over): Darren McGavin wanted to show us another painful location. In Phoenix Park, where Pope Francis will say mass, he takes us to a dark gully...
MCGAVIN: And then he lay me down on the mattress.
BLACK (voice-over): -- another place where he was raped by the priest he once trusted.
MCGAVIN: Didn't even get sorry -- didn't even say sorry like.
BLACK: Darren and other victims say apologies are important. But from the pope they also want firm policies to ensure no one suffers like this again -- Phil Black, CNN, Dublin.
HOWELL: Again, Pope Francis is in Ireland this hour. We will continue to follow the story, of course.
Thank you for being with us for this hour from CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. For viewers among the world, "AMANPOUR" is next. Thank you for watching CNN, the world's news leader.