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U.S. Senator John McCain Dies at 81. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired August 26, 2018 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. flag over the White House is at half-staff to mark the passing of a giant figure in American politics. U.S. Senator John McCain died Saturday after a battle against cancer. His final moments were spent at his home in the Arizona desert, surrounded by his family.
Everyone knew the day would come but it didn't make it any easier for those who loved and admired him. His colleagues in the U.S. Senate remember him as a firebrand, politically conservative but fiercely principled and fiercely independent.
Before entering politics McCain served as a U.S. Navy aviator for more than 20 years. He survived being shot down over North Vietnam and endured more than five years as a prisoner of war.
Shortly after the news broke of his death, a procession of vehicles could be seen escorting a hearse from the property.
McCain's wife, Cindy, sent a tweet following the news of her husband's passing, saying, "My heart is broken. I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best."
McCain's daughter, Meghan, says now that her father is gone, the task of her lifetime was to live up to his example, his expectations and his love.
Meghan also writes, "I was with my father at his end, as he was with me in my beginning. In the 33 years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me, encouraged me and supported me in all things.
"He loved me and I loved him. He taught me how to live. His love and his care, ever present, always unfailing, took me from a girl to a woman and he showed me what it is to be a man."
John McCain did not shy from criticizing President Trump when he felt it was warranted. Mr. Trump, who never served in the military, was widely criticized for belittling McCain's five and a half years as a POW.
President Trump tweeted this, "My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!"
Former president Barack Obama ran against him for the presidency in 2008. Mr. Obama and first lady, Michelle Obama, released a statement, saying, in part, "We shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher, the ideals for which generations and Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched and sacrificed."
It goes on to say, "We saw our political battles even as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those higher ideals at home and to advance them around the world."
"Few of us have been tested the way John once was or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John's best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt.
"Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family."
Perhaps nowhere is the death of John McCain being felt more keenly than his home state of Arizona. Flags at the state capital in Phoenix have been lowered to half-staff. McCain is being praised across the political spectrum for his long service in the U.S. military and the U.S. Congress. We get more now from CNN's Stephanie Elam outside the McCain home in Arizona.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Senator John McCain passed away late in the afternoon here in Sedona, Arizona, at his beloved cabin here in this beautiful part of the country, as the skies became increasingly cloudy and we saw spots of rain fall in this part of Arizona.
According to the statement that was put out by his office, he was surrounded by his wife, Cindy, and family members and they also noted that, at his death, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 60 years.
Since the news of his passing has spread, we've seen people come by, some dropping off flowers. We watched one couple leave an American flag here outside of the property we understand Senator McCain loves so much.
Just really an outpouring of admiration and love for the senator, a man who was elected six times to represent the state of Arizona in the U.S. Senate.
And as we were standing out here we saw, as a parade of SUVs arrived, led by a procession of police officers on motorcycles and a hearse. And then not so much longer after that we also saw that same procession leave the property here. And from what we understand the senator was very much a part of
planning how he wanted to be remembered and also planning how he wanted his funeral procession --
ELAM: -- to go. Just another showing of just the strength that this American icon had all the way up until the end -- Stephanie Elam, CNN, Sedona, Arizona.
VANIER: Let's get some more perspective on Senator McCain's legacy. We are joined by Steven Erlanger. He is the chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe for "The New York Times."
Explain for our international audience, this is a man who was not a president and yet everybody talks about him as a statesman, as an icon, as in a category of his own. Explain to us why.
STEVEN ERLANGER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Partly it's in contrast with the man who sits in the Oval Office today. Senator McCain represented a form of Republicanism that seems to be fading, a Republicanism that saw America as playing an important, muscular role in the world but a generous one.
He supported a spread of democracy. He supported NATO, our allies all around the world. He was a very clear spokesperson against Russian depredations in Ukraine against the American political system.
When you read his speeches -- and I encourage anyone who has Google to look up his speech in 1993, to the graduating class of Annapolis, which was the Navy's West Point. It's a very moving statement about what he'd seen in his life and what he hoped for young naval officers.
It's hard to imagine Trump giving a speech like that. Trump doesn't rise above partisan politics. You saw that even in his tweet today. It talks about McCain's family but there wasn't a word to be said about Senator McCain, who was one of his great opponents inside the U.S. government.
So McCain is a man of extraordinary stature. He was what so many called a lion of the Senate, one of the last ones. But partly people remember him because he's such a contrast to President Trump.
VANIER: He was known as a maverick. Talk to us about that. Perhaps his most Maverick moment or one of them for you.
ERLANGER: Well, you know, like almost anyone who ever covered Washington or ever covered foreign policy, you got to know McCain a bit. I think he had a great problem with discipline. He also had a great problem with anger. He could be a very angry man but then he quickly got over it.
I think probably one of his great regrets is when he finally got to be the Republican presidential candidate. He got talked into or thought it would be a smart idea to look younger and have Sarah Palin as his running mate. That turned out to be a great disaster.
I think he regretted being a maverick in that instance and not going with someone more traditional, someone who could support him better and who was more plausible as a vice presidential candidate.
So he was a maverick in lots of ways and in the sense that, in the Senate, when he finally got to be head of the Armed Services Committee, a job he really cared about, he was willing to follow his conscience.
He was the key vote against repeal of ObamaCare when Trump and the Republicans wanted to do it. He got off his sick bed and, in a famous moment, came to the floor of the Senate and put his thumb down in a very Roman gesture and killed the repeal of ObamaCare.
He was not afraid to do what he thought was right even if others often disagreed with him.
VANIER: All right, Steven Erlanger, speaking to us from Belgium. Thank you very much. We'll talk to you again.
ERLANGER: Thanks, Cyril.
VANIER: Leaders around the world are also honoring John McCain. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau wrote in part that McCain was an American patriot and a hero whose sacrifices for his country and lifetime of public service were an inspiration to millions.
And this from South Korean president Moon Jae-in, John McCain was a figure who symbolized America's value of freedom. I believed he would overcome the illness with a strong spirit but now we cannot meet him again.
And Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote, I am deeply saddened --
VANIER: -- by the passing of John McCain, a great American patriot and a great supporter of Israel. I will always treasure the constant friendship he showed to the people of Israel and to me personally.
Let's get more on how McCain's being remembered around the world. CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is live in London. Also Senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is in Hong Kong.
Nic, to you first. I was commenting earlier that John McCain is one of these very rare American politicians who is known around the world and yet he hasn't been president. He hasn't reached the top of the pyramid here in the U.S. and yet the rest of the world knows him.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: And they do because he traveled around the world, putting forward the United States' views, reassuring allies and friends around the world.
Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani today commenting on his sadness and how Senator McCain was a supporter of the Afghan people. This was because he went to places like Afghanistan, where the U.S. had interests on the ground.
I remember asking him a question in a press conference in Kabul about troop deployments and he was very robust on giving more support to the Afghans and putting more U.S. forces on the ground.
At the time -- that line that he's remembered by, being a maverick, springs to mind because what he was laying out was clearly going to be something that was ambitious and tough to achieve.
But he was there so he was in people's -- world leaders' consciences because he visited them, because his opinions were strong, because he valued the United States' allies. It's very telling what we heard from the German embassy quite early on, following his death overnight, and that is he was a strong supporter of the transatlantic alliance.
And I think this speaks in part to what David (sic) Erlanger was saying, part of what we're hearing about these tributes paid to John McCain show a sense, from the United States' allies and friends around the world, that what they valued in McCain isn't what they're seeing so much in President Trump.
So this was a man who did travel the world, did know the leaders, did know the issues, could speak to the issues, had strong views on those issues. And I think that's why we're hearing from so many people so quickly today.
VANIER: Ivan, Nic was telling us John McCain traveled a lot, met world leaders. One of the countries he went to many, many times was Vietnam and, of course, he had a long, dark past, a shared history, with Vietnam. Tell us about that.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's clearly a big part of the legend of John McCain because he was a naval aviator, the pilot of a Navy bomber, who was shot down on his 23rd mission over Vietnam in 1967 while on a bombing raid and crashed into a lake in Hanoi.
And that's where he was taken prisoner for more than five years. By his own account, he was repeatedly tortured. He describes going down to a weight of 105, 110 pounds, his body covered in boils. His arms repeatedly broken, to the extent that, much later in life he couldn't raise his arms above his shoulders, couldn't comb his own hair actually.
And because he was the son of the U.S. military commander in the Pacific, the North Vietnamese were interested in using him for propaganda purposes and offered him multiple times up for release early.
And he refused again and again and only left when his fellow prisoners of war left Vietnam. This is what helped make the real myth of John McCain, make him a war hero, who eventually became more famous than his military commander father. What's all the more remarkable about this, in decades after that, John
McCain developed -- he got over the ordeal that he experienced in the so-called Hanoi Hilton and was a diplomatic statesman, lobbying for improved relations with Vietnam.
For instance, in 1995, when then President Clinton, who was a Democrat, re-established diplomatic relations with Vietnam, John McCain issued a statement celebrating that.
And this just gives you a sense of his thinking; despite the torture he endured, he wrote, "We have looked back in anger at Vietnam for too long. I cannot allow whatever resentments I incurred during my time in Vietnam to hold me from doing what is so clearly my duty.
"I believe it is my duty to encourage this country to build from the losses and the hopes of our tragic war in Vietnam a better peace for --
WATSON: -- "both the American and the Vietnamese people."
Over the course of the decades, he made repeated trips back to Hanoi, back to that lake where he was first captured, where there's a monument erected by the Vietnamese that names him as one of the pilots who was downed there, back to the Hanoi Hilton as well, to the same prison cells where he was held.
And I've been there to visit. It's a museum now. His photos that are enshrined there, among the other displays erected by the Vietnamese. And we're hearing today there's a great amount of coverage in Vietnam of Senator McCain's passing on television and in newspapers.
VANIER: And when you see the pictures and the footage of John McCain taking fellow lawmakers, senators and congressmen back to that same cell, where he spent five years in Vietnam, it's truly remarkable.
Nic Robertson, back to you. No one is irreplaceable and yet it feels like there is nobody quite like John McCain, who can do what he did, especially in terms of foreign policy and representing the U.S. on the world stage.
ROBERTSON: And was so sort of singular in his views and was so singular in his effort to pursue those views. If you asked his ambitions to be president fell apart when he chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate. That triggered a slump in support for his campaign.
So he never became the figure that perhaps he could have been, representing the United States around the world with more clout, if you will.
But he did exercise strong clout, you know, people are paying tribute to him for his moral clarity, for his integrity, something else we've heard from some leaders around the world, that this was a man who had integrity, who was somebody who could be respected. I think it was that ability that he had, that strength of character
that people could look to, either from his Vietnam experience or political career, could look to him as somebody that they could follow.
And, yes, it does seem today there are few who have trodden in a similar footpath that can be as eloquent, ambitious and bold a statesman as Senator McCain. And that is, of course, why he's going to be missed so much.
VANIER: And Nic Robertson reporting from London, Ivan Watson in Hong Kong. Thank you both, gentlemen. Thanks.
The pope in Ireland, thousands greeting him on the streets. And now a former Vatican official calling for him to resign. We'll have the details on that. Plus this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the president's subordinates. We are his equal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: We will be continuing our look at the life and legacy of John McCain, the message he had in one of his final speeches to the Senate -- when we come back.
VANIER: OK. We have to head to Ireland now, where Pope Francis has been greeting thousands of followers. But it's been an odd mix. There is celebration, yes, but there's also anger, apologies and now a call for the pope's resignation.
A former Vatican ambassador to Washington says he told the pope about allegations of sexual abuse against cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2013 and the pope did nothing about it. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano says Pope Francis must set an example himself and resign. No response from the Vatican so far.
Meanwhile, in Dublin, crowds lined the streets, hoping to get a glimpse of the pontiff and perhaps shake his hand. He was quick to oblige, as he often is. There will be more of that in the coming hours as he conducts a mass in Phoenix Park, one of the largest parks in Europe; 500,000 people expected there.
In the village in Knock, Ireland, he will visit the Knock shrine. He will visit the Chapel of the Apparition and he will deliver the angelus there. We expect him to speak out again about the sexual abuse scandal rocking the church. He met with some of the victims on Saturday and made his strongest statement yet about this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE FRANCIS, PONTIFF, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): I acknowledge the serious scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of minors by members of the church in charge of their protection and education.
I, myself, share those sentiments. The failure of ecclesiastical authorities, bishops, religious superiors and others to adequately address these appalling crimes has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: John Allen is CNN's senior Vatican analyst, the editor of the independent website "Crux," covering Catholicism. He's in Dublin covering the papal visit for us.
John, an archbishop calling for the pope to resign.
Would it be fair to assume this is sending alarm bells ringing across the Vatican?
JOHN ALLEN, CNN SR. VATICAN ANALYST: I think that's safe to assume, Cyril. It's kind of a stormy day here in Dublin and there are storm clouds developing over this 32-hour visit of Pope Francis to Ireland.
As you indicated, Italian archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who served as the pope's ambassador in the United States from 2011 to 2016, yesterday released an 11-page statement to reporters, in which he made a number of charges, chief among them that, in June of 2013, he had personally briefed Pope Francis on charges of sexual abuse and misconduct against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who had been the archbishop of both Newark, New Jersey, and also Washington in the United States, and that Pope Francis not only didn't take action but actually lifted sanctions that had been --
ALLEN: -- imposed on Cardinal McCarrick under Pope Benedict and gave him a wider role, including naming bishops in the United States.
We are going to have to see how this plays out. But obviously Pope Francis' strategy was to try to address the sexual abuse issue head-on when he came to Ireland, not only, as you say, by meeting with victims but also by referring to it publicly on a number of occasions.
He referred to the repugnant crime of the sexual abuse of minors; indicated a firm resolution to impose stringent norms to ensure this doesn't happen again.
Last night, during a kind of upbeat festival of families at Coke Park in Dublin, he used a kind of street term in Spanish that loosely, you might translate as "filth," referring to the filth of sexual abuse and clerical abuse.
So he obviously has been making an effort to try to communicate that he is aware and on top of this. But the scandals simply won't go away -- Cyril.
VANIER: And, John, I want to make things very clear.
If Archbishop Vigano is to be believed, that means that the cover-up, that the pope himself has been criticizing, the multiple instances of cover-ups of sexual abuse within the church, the cover-up actually went all the way to the top and the pope himself?
ALLEN: Well, at least in the case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, that's exactly what it would mean, Cyril. That's the heart of Archbishop Vigano's charge, that Pope Francis was aware of the accusations against McCarrick and chose not to act on them and, in fact, chose to expand his role as a key ally and adviser in his papacy.
We'll have to see how this plays out. We know that Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, who is one of the figures who is mentioned in Archbishop Vigano's statement, as having known about these charges. Cardinal Wuerl's office has issued a strong denial of all of this.
So we are waiting, of course, for Vatican reaction. CNN is working on obtaining reaction right now. We will obviously report that as we have it.
So we will have to see what the next twists in this story are. But this is a very serious allegation. You're right, the logical implication would be that the cover-up in this case went all the way to the very top.
VANIER: All right, John, thank you very much for your reporting for now. We'll continue this conversation a little later in our shows. Stand by. Thank you very much.
Our coverage of the passing of U.S. Senator John McCain continues after the break, including more on his two unsuccessful presidential campaigns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Politics isn't beanbag. It's a tough business. It was a tough race. It was a tough campaign. And I enjoyed enormously feeling sorry for myself for about two weeks. You know, feeling sorry for yourself is a lot of fun. But then I put it behind me and I moved on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: In particular, we will be looking back at that race in 2008 and how the campaign changed history. Stay tuned.
VANIER: Welcome back. A recap of the top stories we're following for you that hour.
VANIER: And now we continue covering our breaking news this hour. Senator John McCain has died at the age of 81. He passed away at his home in Arizona on Saturday after battling brain cancer.
McCain is being remembered by both opponents and allies as a man of principle, living up to his reputation as a maverick. He was never afraid to speak truth to power, even when it meant butting heads with the leadership of his own party.
The senator is also being honored for his military service. As a naval officer, prisoner of war and statesman, he served his country for six decades. A Republican, McCain often reached across the aisle to Democrats to get things done.
He said that working together doesn't mean abandoning one's principles. In one of his last speeches on the Senate floor, he implored his colleagues to work together and reminded them what happens when they don't.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZ.: Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn't the most inspiring work. There's greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don't require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people.
The Senate is capable of that. We know that. We've seen it before. I've seen it happen many times. And the times when I was involved even in a modest way with working out a bipartisan response to a national problem or threat are the proudest moments of my career and by far the most satisfying.
This place is important. The work we do is important. Our strange rules and seemingly eccentric practices that slow our proceedings and insist on our cooperation are important. Our founders envisioned the Senate as the more deliberative, careful body that operates at a greater distance than the other body from the public passions of the hour.
We are an important check on the powers of the Executive. Our consent is necessary for the President to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and in many respects to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President's subordinates.
MCCAIN: We are his equal!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Let's talk about John McCain's legacy with Tim Naftali. He's a CNN presidential historian, the former director of the Nixon Presidential Library and a professor of history and public policy at New York University.
Tim, I think the speech we heard -- and that, by the way, was the last speech Senator McCain gave on the Senate floor -- I think that speech encapsulates him. I think it gives you a really good sense of who he was. Tell us what is his place in American politics.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENT HISTORIAN: First of all, it's hard to imagine modern American politics without John McCain. Senator Susan Collins described him yesterday as the last lion in the Senate.
The American people met John McCain initially when he was a POW. For over five years he was a prisoner of war in Hanoi. He was tortured. The North Vietnamese cynically offered him early release. And he said I don't wish to be released before the rest of my compatriots here.
He was the son at that point of the commander in chief of all American Pacific forces. That's why Hanoi offered him and he recognized that it would be wrong for him to take advantage of his father's position and to enjoy leniency when his fellow Americans in Hanoi could not so benefit.
So Americans learned about him because of an act of courage, an act of stamina and an act of patriotism. Even before he becomes a public figure, an elected official, he is a symbol of American strength.
Now that symbol of strength continues throughout his life. He comes back from Hanoi with very, very painful injuries, injuries that would affect the mobility of his arms for the rest of his life.
And then he goes into a different form of service, public service, and represents the great state of Arizona for over 30 years.
And as a representative, he becomes a leader in campaign finance reform, in limiting the power of lobbyists in Washington and in being one of those Senate leaders, who is engaged in the global aspect of America's leadership of the Cold War.
Senator McCain was someone that people in other countries, who are suffering under authoritarian leaders, could look to as a beacon of hope. McCain was committed to strong defense.
But he was equally committed to America as a place that symbolized freedom. In his final years, he was reminding-- and we heard this in his speech -- he was reminding fellow members of Congress that they shouldn't be giving a blank check to a president, the president of their own party.
Senator McCain was one of the truest, strongest voices, saying to fellow members of Congress, don't accept everything Donald Trump says. Remember, your constitutional duty is as one of the three co-equal branches of government.
So his voice, the loss of his voice is definitely painful. He described himself as a maverick. That meant he could vote for the other side and not always follow -- would not always follow the preferences of his fellow Republican leaders in Congress.
But he was more than that. He had a voice for a kind of America that he believed in and that he had fought for in Vietnam.
VANIER: John McCain, as you say, is known for being a maverick, somebody who didn't hesitate to stand up to his own political party, to do what he thought was right and buck political orthodoxy. All of that is known.
I wonder if there's a part of his legacy you think is underrated or not very well known by the general public.
NAFTALI: Well, I think his efforts -- his efforts on behalf of our international reputation are often forgotten by Americans because Americans are busy people. They have lives. They have families. They have their own concerns. They don't often take time to think about the amount of --
NAFTALI: -- effort it takes to do the right thing globally.
Senator McCain pushed so hard, almost at times alone, to stop the Bush administration's use of enhanced interrogation techniques, which he rightly considered torture.
He felt that it not only was a matter of the protection of American soldiers, because if we start torturing, other nations will not obey the Geneva convention, but it's also prescient of the moral vision America should project. He did not want America to be viewed as a torturing nation.
VANIER: All right.
NAFTALI: And that shouldn't be forgotten by Americans. He was committed to how others viewed us, not just how we viewed ourselves.
VANIER: A really interesting insight. Tim Naftali, thank you so much. Thanks a lot.
NAFTALI: Thank you, Cyril.
VANIER: Pope Francis in Ireland, why a former Vatican official is now calling for the pope to resign. Details when we come back.
(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VANIER: And Pope Francis has just arrived in Knock, Ireland, just stepped off his plane, minutes before 10:00 am local time in Knock. To set the scene for you, this is a site of pilgrimage visited by over a million and a half people each year.
Catholicism holds this is where the Madonna, accompanied by Saints John and Joseph, appeared before parishioners in 1879.
John Paul II visited Knock in 1979, 100 years later, for the 100-year anniversary and now Pope Francis is visiting. No pope has visited Ireland for almost 40 years. He will be delivering the angelus at the Knock shrine. We will be listening to see if he speaks out --
VANIER: -- strongly on the church sexual abuse scandal. That as a former Vatican official calls for the pope to resign.
Our Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher joins us on the line from Dublin.
Delia, tell us more about that.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Cyril, we've been saying for the duration of this trip since yesterday that, unfortunately, it's been very overshadowed by sex abuse scandals of the last decade here in Ireland. Of course, the news from the United States.
But this morning we have additional news because one of the pope's nuncio, the ambassador to the Vatican, a former papal ambassador, has come out with a rather length 11-page letter going into great detail about of a number of people that worked in the hierarchy of the church.
(INAUDIBLE) a few of the points, one of them, he says that Pope Francis knew about cardinal McCarrick's behavior, that he, himself, had discussed it with him and that sanctions had been in place by Pope Benedict XVI, sanctions against the cardinal saying that in public traveling and so on that were never respected and that Francis also didn't respect those sanctions.
So these are the claims of this former ambassador. He is a credible former Vatican official certainly. But I just got off the plane with the pope. It was a 30-minute ride from Dublin here to Knock and despite our Vatican press request to the pope and to (INAUDIBLE), neither of them came back to make the comment on those claims.
So at the moment, Cyril, the Vatican isn't commenting on these claims and we'll wait throughout the day to see if a comment does, indeed, come through -- Cyril. VANIER: Delia has just been traveling with the pope from Dublin to Knock. You're watching live pictures of the pope right now, shaking hands before he visits the actual site of the pilgrimage. We'll be getting more from Delia as she continues to follow this papal visit.
For now I want to talk to Colm O'Gorman, himself a victim of clerical sexual abuse in Ireland and executive director of Amnesty International Ireland.
Colm, how do you feel about the pope's visit so far?
COLM O'GORMAN, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, CLERGY ABUSE SURVIVOR: Good morning, Cyril. Well, in some ways it's gone as anticipated. A month ago it seemed pretty clear that the Vatican was determined to, as far as possible, push to one side, if not make entirely invisible, the abuse issue, which has decimated this country.
There isn't a family in this country that hasn't been impacted in some way by the extremely widespread extent of abuse right across the Catholic Church, not just the rape and abuse of kids like I was in parishes but also depraved physical abuse, torture, enforced labor in Catholic Church institutions, systemic rape and sexual crime against children, the detention of women and subjected to forced labor just because they were women, because of (INAUDIBLE) very often.
So it's a huge issue here. For the Vatican to believe they can come here and ignore it largely was very shocking. What we have seen is a bit more of pressure (INAUDIBLE) in some form.
And yesterday at a state reception for the pope, who, after all, is a visiting head of state as well -- although this isn't a state visit, this was a state occasion -- it was Pope Francis' best opportunity to speak to the people of Ireland. And I'm sorry to say that he blew it completely.
He didn't acknowledge in any way, just like all of his predecessors. The Vatican's lead responsibility for directing and implementing a cover-up, going back many, many decades, the cover-up mandated, required and underpinned by church law and church norms, the kind of cover-up we saw revealed just this week in the U.S. by the Philadelphia grand jury report, the kind of cover-up now that's being revealed by the formal papal ambassador to the United States, albeit an ambassador with a very particular ideological bent --
VANIER: Colm, we're going to get to that specific point in just a second. But I want to push back just a little bit because I know -- and I know there is some disappointment as to what the pope has said so far and what he hasn't said.
But in the column of what he has said, he has denounced very forcefully what happened and he has begged for forgiveness, called it appalling and he, in his words, he says he feels the anger, the legitimate anger that Catholics feel at all of these sexual abuses.
Do you not give him any credit for those words?
O'GORMAN: Cyril, this isn't about credit or personality. I have no desire -- after 20 years I've been asking popes to tell the truth, I'd love to show up about this. So I wish one of them finally would.
But to ask you a question, what did Pope Francis beg for forgiveness for?
VANIER: I'm listening. I'm all ears.
O'GORMAN: Well, it's a question.
What did he beg for forgiveness for?
What I saw is Pope Francis talk about the crimes of others. And I saw him talk about the rape and abuse of children by priests, the failings of bishops and other church leaders. But at no point did he acknowledge the role of the Vatican.
So I learned, as a very small child, from my parents, from my forbears, from my society and actually at the time from what was my church, that if I wanted to apologize to anybody, if I wanted to seek forgiveness, the first thing I had to do was own my own actions.
In this case, what the pope needs to do is own the actions of his institution. He's a supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church and the absolute monarch of the Vatican city-state --
O'GORMAN: -- resolutely refuses to acknowledge any responsibility above the level of bishop.
He says, for instance, in his letter yesterday, a failure -- in his notes, in his comments yesterday -- the failure of ecclesiastical authorities, bishops, religious (INAUDIBLE) priests and others -- he doesn't name the others -- and to adequately to address these repellent crimes has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community.
I, myself, share those sentiments.
Now had he gone on to say, and, as pope, I acknowledge that the Vatican itself is responsible for these failures, because it directed this cover-up willfully and deliberately to protect the institution, its power, its money and its position and we need to own that corruption to ever change it, that would be a profound statement.
It would also be evidence, proven proof. So we either lie willfully, absolutely, explicitly or we lie by omission. Francis is getting very, very close to lying by omission.
Last night he met finally, because the Vatican was resisting the idea that this would even happen, with a group of people who had been abused within church. And he used a Spanish word "caca," to describe those who would cover up abuse. And today we hear a former papal ambassador accusing him of just that and calling on him and a whole range of cardinals to resign.
So the problem is, what we need is the plain truth. And if it's a radical idea to ask a pope to tell the truth, I think that clearly is revealing in and of itself.
VANIER: Colm O'Gorman, thank you very much. I really appreciate you sharing your feelings as well as your analysis with us. The pope gets I think two more chances essentially to address both Catholics and the Irish at large.
Today he will deliver the angelus and then he will conduct a mass in front of half a million people, just moments after being accused by an archbishop of covering up what he knew about a senior clerical figure in the U.S.
So we'll see what he says, we'll see what the Vatican chooses to say or not say about that. Thank you very much, Colm. We appreciate it.
O'GORMAN: Thank you, Cyril. Bye-bye.
VANIER: All right, stay with us. We're right back after this.
VANIER: Pope Francis has landed in Knock, Ireland. He will be delivering the angelus at the Knock shrine. We'll be listening to see if he speaks out on the church sexual abuse scandal. Much more on this developing story when we come back. Stay with us.