Return to Transcripts main page
CNN BREAKING NEWS
President George W. Bush Praises Life Of Pope; Press Conference with Archbishop of Washington Theodore Mccarrick
Aired April 2, 2005 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Dana, just stay with us, we'll stay with this until the president takes to the podium, and he is about to do so. Here's the president -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: OK, Aaron, we are expecting the president, probably in about two minutes. What you're looking at is the Cross Hall, that is an area that, actually, the president tends to come to when he gives solemn speeches, when he comes to give remarks to the country to address the nation on different occasions and the president, certainly, said earlier today that the pope, he feels, in an inspiration, he talks -- talks about the pope as somebody who is a symbol of freedom. And that is something that's important to the president as president, but also perhaps to many of his top aides who worked for toppling communism and see the pope as somebody who was a central figure in doing so. That is what we have heard from some top Bush officials over the past few days -- Aaron.
BROWN: Again, just to speak to, as we wait for the president to take the podium, the complicated nature of the relationship, the pope was also a champion of the poor, the pope talked sometimes about the excesses of capitalism. The pope had his own views, and his own mind, and the president, as powerful as any president of the United States is, the pope saw the world as the pope saw the world, and so there were these areas of disagreement.
BROWN: But I think everyone who remembers the president's visit last summer with the pope -- and I'm sure the president was mindful that it was very possibly the last time they would see, how respectful, how in awe, if you will, the president seemed as he sat next to the pope, presenting the pope with a medal.
We see the president moving towards the podium with the first lady at his side, as she was in Rome last summer.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...in mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II. The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd. The world has lost a champion of human freedom. And a good and faithful servant of God has been called home.
Pope John Paul II left the throne of St. Peter in the same way he has tended to it, as a witness to the dignity of human life. In his native Poland, that witness launched a democratic revolution that swept Eastern Europe and changed the course of history.
Throughout the West John Paul's witness reminded us of our obligation to build a culture of life in which the strong protect the weak. And during the pope's final years, his witness was made even more powerful by his daily courage in the face of illness and great suffering.
All popes belong to the world, but Americans had special reason to love the man from Krakow. In his visits to our country, the pope spoke of our providential Constitution, the self-evident truths about human dignity in our declaration and the blessings of liberty that follow from them.
It is these truths, he said, that have led people all over the world to look to America with hope and respect. Pope John Paul II was himself an inspiration to millions of Americans, and to so many more throughout the world. We will always remember the humble, wise, and fearless priest who became one of history's great moral leaders.
We're grateful to God for sending such a man, a son of Poland, who became the bishop of Rome, and a hero for the ages.
BROWN: President Bush in a brief statement from the White House, describing the pope as a champion of freedom, a witness to the dignity of human life. The president talked about the pope's commitment to build a culture of life. It is ironic, I think, in a week where Americans have been engaged in a sometimes rancorous discussion of what means life and what means death, and how death should come, that this week ends with the death of the pope in precisely the way the pope believed death should come, at its right time, at the time of God's choosing.
After such a week in the United States where the debate was often so harsh, it is simply an ironic end to it all. The pope passed away at 9:37 this evening here in Rome. The bells and the city began tolling shortly thereafter. St. Peter's Square remains full of tens of thousands of people who have sat mostly silently and tearfully to mark a moment, as the president said, a moment of history -- Christiane.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, yes, we can hear those bells clearly down here as they toll. We can also see just behind us the road leading to St. Peter's Square packed with people as they simply keep coming here as news of his death has obviously spread now around the world.
And here in Rome, everyone who we have spoken to, even the people who are non-Catholics, are just coming to pay their respects, to say good-bye to a great man as they did in his hours before he passed on, to try and bring him comfort.
The pope, as the president extolled, was the leader and the progenitor of a democratic revolution that swept Eastern Europe. And that I think resonates very strongly with this administration given what it is trying to do in the Middle East. And while many people don't believe that the Middle East is quite Eastern Europe in terms of the dominoes falling, many people do and will forever hold him up as the great champion of freedom behind the Iron Curtain, and the great motivator for the end and the crumbling of that wall of communism, the great horror of the part of the 20th Century, and how he helped to end that.
He is also -- although he disapproved and disagreed with the 2003 Iraq war, was not just simply a knee-jerk anti-war pope. He believed there was such a thing as a just war. And when we were covering Bosnia and the Balkans, we heard him say many times that it would be just to end the suffering and the genocide of one ethnic group there and he did support intervention there.
But he also was such a force for all sorts of oppression (ph). He was one of the first to decry racism, and particularly Apartheid in South Africa. He was amongst the first of the great leaders to decry poverty and dispossession wherever he found it. And this, I think, is what holds him in such high regard, despite the controversy that people have, and despite the deep feelings of unease that the faithful feel at, for instance, his refusal to allow condoms to be used, even in the most desperate and tragic cases, which could prevent the spread of AIDS and other killer diseases like that.
So while there was so many issues on which people differed from him, again, at times like this, in the lead up to his death, as the world really formed a global deathwatch for this pope, and now that he has passed, you can see the expressions on people's faces, no matter their differences with many aspects of Catholic doctrine and ideology, they still recognize that this was a man unlike many others, that this was one of the rare leaders of true and consistent moral values, moral stature and who held the line even when it was unpopular.
We're joined now in London by Michael Walsh, who is one of the pope's significant biographers.
And I just wanted to ask you, how do you think, in the end, he will be remembered?
MICHAEL WALSH, POPE BIOGRAPHER: Well, I think for one thing he'll be remembered as a man of courage. You saw in earlier pictures people filing past the papal -- the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Espiscopal palace in Krakow. I don't think anybody's commented, and I think it's worth commenting that, you know, he studied theology in that palace, he studied it secretly under the Nazi regime. That took great courage. He certainly was a man of courage.
You commented on the fact that not everybody went along with his views, but he had no doubt -- he was always ready to express them and express them logically, coherently. And he was, after all, a remarkably good philosopher for a pope, as it were, philosopher and theologian, but in particular a philosopher. And he put his views forward with the simplicity of language and directness that I think always made a great impact on the world.
AMANPOUR: And what do you think the challenge now will be? There's so much obvious speculation about not just who will be elected in his place, but what their mission will be, how they will be able to enlarge the church in terms of congregations, whether it will be somebody who will be destined to have a long reign as pope, or whether they might choose somebody who will have a shorter reign and not stamp such an incredible personal imprimatur on the papacy. Where do you think that is going to go over the next few days and weeks?
WALSH: Well, I think you've touched on the some of the most significant areas in discussing that, because I think one thing is pretty clear. And it's pretty clear generally in the history of the church. It was a long pontificate and after all, this is the second- longest in the history of the church, a long pontificate is almost always followed by a short one typically, because, as you say, a pope had this length of time, 26 years to impose his view of the church upon the church. And I think that the people who come to elect a successor will want someone who is not perhaps going to have that ability, not going to be able to form it in the image of a particular image, in his own image.
So I think there is -- they'll be looking for someone who is an older man, that's the one thing, but I think it's a very hard act to follow. You can't ever expect to have a pope that's quite like John Paul II. They won't be looking for that, I'm sure they won't be looking for that.
They'll be looking for someone who I think, for instance, will want to decentralize again the authority of the church. I know, I've talked to cardinals who -- those who are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and bishops are all very upset in a sense by the way in which authority has been gathered into Rome, taken out of the dioceses.
We thought after the Second Vatican Council in the '60s the church was going to get a little more decentralized, a little more democratic, if you will. That hasn't happened under the present pope. I think there will be those meeting in the conclave that will start in 15 days' time, there are those who will want to reinstitute a bit of that democracy, a bit of that decentralization that we were looking forward to in the 1960s and early '70s.
AMANPOUR: As we look now at these incredible shots of St. Peter's Square and we have seen individuals there praying, led by priests, we can see candles, the great symbol of life in the Christian Catholic religion, candles being lit, rosaries being recited, the Lord's Prayer being said, and general prayer being said for the repose of the pope's soul in eternal peace.
As we see that, when we think about the challenges ahead, and they are real challenges that Catholics really want to grapple with, because so many people love their faith and want to be able to continue their faith in a way that's relevant to today's world, and in a way that they are able to be good Catholics and good Christians.
What, for instance, will become of the need to recruit more priests? I mean, we know that the issue of celibacy, which is not doctrine but tradition, the issue of celibacy is one that is really having a drastic effect on the number of priests in the Catholic Church. And, of course, we can talk about the other issues of the sex scandals, the child abuse scandals, leading perhaps, some say, from this have draconian imposition of personal behavior on priests.
WALSH: Well, I think one has to be a bit careful about this, to be quite honest. It is perfectly true that celibacy is only a tradition, not a discipline, but it is a tradition that goes back a long time. It goes back really to the early centuries of the church. So it's going to be something that even if it is changed, it's going to be difficult to change. I think one has to face up to that.
Secondly, it's not altogether -- it's not exactly true that the number of priests is in decline. It is in the Western world, it is in the United States, in the United Kingdom, it is in Canada, but it's not elsewhere. And I think that's one of the things that we in the West tend to forget, that the developing world has a rather different view of things.
In fact, one thing I've just been talking about, about the decentralization of authority, in the West -- in some parts of the church, they actually want more authority. We in the West tend to want less, they want more. And so there are all these things to be kept in balance.
But I don't think that we're going to see immediately at least the disappearance of celibacy as a means of restoring the numbers of the clergy. What I think we might see, and I've heard archbishops in this country say quite publicly that they expect -- they would look for, hope for the ordination of married men to the priesthood, people who are older, perhaps retired, to, as it were, plug the gaps in the numbers of the parochial clergy.
AMANPOUR: Michael Walsh, thank you so much indeed for joining us. And as you say, of course, whether it be in the developed world or in the developing world, whenever the pope went out and made his pontifical visit, one was always struck by the immense crowds, the tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people who turned out to see him, to pray in open-air Masses, and who took so much comfort and joy from the fact that he visited their countries. And beyond just his praying and his paschal missions, he also was responsible for renewing diplomatic ties between the Vatican and so many countries, not in the least England, the United States, Israel, Spain, and a whole host of countries that had severed ties with the Vatican.
So he was unique, people responded to him in an incredible visceral way. And he of course will be missed by certainly all these people who are praying for him now and who have done so over the last days, the last weeks and months of his severe and debilitating illness -- Aaron.
BROWN: Christiane, I daresay we'll all have thousands of words to speak in the days ahead, but just for a few moments, let's do some listening, listening to the hymns being sung, taking in a moment of history and an opportunity just to feel it.
BROWN: There are, in days like this, in a moment like this, important historical and theological and cultural elements to talk about, but a couple -- there's something else here as well. Chris Burns, when he was reporting to us a short time ago from Krakow, talked about a playful moment the pope had with thousands who had come to the archbishop's residence in Krakow to see him. And they, shouting to him, you can't go, you can't leave! And he saying back playfully, I must leave, I have to go. This was outside the archbishop's residence in Krakow, just in the very back. You can just barely make it out, the two flags there. Those are the Vatican colors. And there's a black ribbon draped over one of them, the ribbon of mourning. The pope having this playful moment with the people in Krakow.
Alessio Vinci, our Rome bureau chief, talked about the pope as having a kind of pop star quality to him. A man told me today, as I was making my way here, that a number of years ago, when he was 14, he had the opportunity to meet the pope, and this is a young Italian man. And he was, as anyone would be, no matter how old they were, he was very nervous. And the pope put out his hand so this young man could kiss his ring, as is the protocol, the tradition. And this man told me that in his nervousness he forgot what he was supposed to do, and so he shook the pope's hand, and the pope looked at him and gave him a big broad smile and a laugh.
So he was many different things. He was leader, he was historical figure, but above all, Catholic or non-Catholic, he touched people in unforgettable ways. Alessio Vinci is at St. Peter's, as he has been now for the last several days -- Alessio.
ALESSIO VINCI, CNN ROME BUREAU CHIEF: Aaron, when we reflect about the Catholics and the non-Catholics liking this pope, I can only remember a trip that I took with the Holy Father to Azerbaijan. You couldn't imagine a more far away place from Rome, a more far away place from Catholicism.
If I remember correctly, in the entire country the total population of Catholics was about between 300 and 600. Yet when we arrived in Baku, and as we spent a day or so there with the pope, by the thousands, by the thousands they came to the streets to welcome this Holy Father, who at that time, it was only a few years ago, could barely speak. He was already weak. He was already having a hard time communicating words.
And yet when he spoke to the people there over in Azerbaijan, they came in throngs. And even if he himself could not communicate directly to them, his messages were read in part or sometimes entirely by his own aides traveling with him. Nevertheless you could feel in the crowd that these people really understood him.
And likewise, when traveling to predominantly Catholic countries, including his native Poland, I was in Poland during his last trip in 2002, a Mass in Krakow, a million people joining there on a Sunday. And I remember, as he spoke, again there, unable to say the Mass in its entirety, he was concelebrating this Mass, I remember a million people this man could barely be heard, and yet everybody was listening to him. You could hear a pin drop in a square, in a park this big. And Aaron, one more thing I wanted to mention, we are expecting the Vatican to issue a new bulletin, a new announcement giving us some information first of all about who was next to the pope in his final moments, and also who -- also the details about how he died, the reason of his death. I would like to go back to my colleague, Christiane Amanpour, here -- next to me here in St. Peter's Square.
Christiane, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we're close, but we can't see each other.
AMANPOUR: But just as you were talking about in Baku, and all these people turning out for him, I was able to follow his trips to Bosnia and also to Cuba. And in Bosnia he tried first to come in 1994 when the war was still on. And he had made a trip to the Balkans, and Bosnia was going to be one of the legs on that trip. And you can imagine the people in Sarajevo were absolutely electrified by the thought of this pope coming to impose his moral stamp on their incredible suffering.
At the time, Bosnia was -- Sarajevo was under siege. The Muslims of that multi-ethnic city, and the Christians who were there, and even the Serbs who were still there, were under siege by those big Serb guns in the hills. And do you know what, the Bosnian Serb leaders refused to guarantee his security. And those were the words they used. They didn't threaten to shoot his plane down. They didn't act overtly aggressively, but by simply publicly saying, we refuse to -- we cannot guarantee the Holy Father's security, that was an implicit and veiled threat, and they stopped him coming.
But three years later, after the war, he did come, we followed him to Sarajevo. I was on the plane along with the other Vatican journalists. And it was an incredible experience, because having lived that war and returning to see this pope bring such joy and hope to the people there. And I remember he was ill by that time. It was 1997. He was old. He was shaking. It was snowing at one point during the open-air Mass.
And the open-air Mass took place. And you can see people praying now. Everywhere he went, people just prayed. And the open-air Mass took place where the stadium had been, and the stadium had been filled now with the graves of those who had been killed during the war in Sarajevo.
So it was incredibly poignant and incredibly meaningful at that time. And of course, Bosnia being the Muslim part of the Balkans -- or rather Sarajevo, and he came with a message of reconciliation between Muslims, Christians and Serbs, and that went down incredibly.
And then in 1998, following him on his historic trip to Cuba, when -- you know, here was the last bastion -- or one of the last bastions of communism standing firm in the Caribbean right next to the United States. The pope came there and he spoke out very strongly about the lack of religious freedom in Cuba, but equally he spoke out against the U.S. sanctions on Cuba, and he was very, very firm about wanting Fidel Castro to open up more. And his visit, really, I think, was a bit of a mixed bag, because during his visit there was an enormous amount of openness. Of course, he met with Fidel Castro. He had a huge open-air Mass in Havana. He traveled around. People were delighted to see him. But unfortunately there, the openness that he had wanted, the eternal Havana spring that he had wanted to usher in did not materialize.
VINCI: You know, Christiane, since you were speaking about the wars, I think we should spend a moment also to remind our viewers how much this pope has spoken against wars, all wars, including a very recent one, the war in Iraq. And I think having heard the words of President Bush, one of the first world leaders who has expressed his condolences, obviously to the Catholics around the world, saying the Catholic Church has lost a shepherd, this is a man who the pope never directly criticized but, of course, always called upon trying to prevent a war in Iraq; even inviting here then-Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to the Vatican, inviting also Tony Blair, the British prime minister, and inviting all those involved, sending Pio Laghi, a top Vatican cardinal, to the United States, trying to prevent this war from happening.
Because as he said in a speech to the diplomatic corps here in Rome, no (UNINTELLIGIBLE), no to war. And this pope has done all he could to prevent this war. And I can tell you, I was in Iraq at that time, but I was talking to colleagues covering the pope at the time when the war began. And I was told that you could really sense a feeling of frustration inside the Vatican, that this pope did not manage to stop a war that he really felt was unjust.
AMANPOUR: That is true. But let's not forget also that he did believe in the just war, and that was in the Balkans, when it came to stopping genocide.
VINCI: Definitely. A pope that is not a pacifist, but a pope that was against wars in general. Of course, he said when there is a kind of humanitarian intervention, these wars are, of course, necessary. And let's not forget, of course, this is a pope who had never condemned the bombing of Afghanistan after 9/11. And that is a very important point here to make.
AMANPOUR: Exactly. And as we wait for the next formal word from the Vatican spokespeople, from the office here, let's just go back to Aaron Brown right now.
BROWN: Thank you, Christiane. We expect a statement, a written statement I do believe, coming from the Vatican very shortly, in a couple of minutes now. It will give us some detail about the pope's final minutes, hours, who was there, what was spoken, how it -- those last extraordinary moments of an extraordinary life were played out.
It struck me -- Walt Rodgers is here with us. It struck me the other day, Walter, that we do memory an injustice if all we remember of this man are the last pictures we saw of him, the last years of his life, with his head -- sometimes barely able to lift his head, barely able to speak, let alone speak clearly. We forget that, particularly prior to 1981, the assassination attempt, what a vibrant man he was, who would take to the ski slopes.
So we need to remember, I think, that he was not simply the man that we watched decline in the last years of his life, but also the man who was -- maybe "young" isn't precisely the right word, but certainly acted young in the way a young reporter thought of a pope.
WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: That's true, Aaron. And one of the interesting things that has run through my mind as we listen to the eulogization, which is going on, is the toughness of this man. That's what you're talking about. He was what you call "Polish tough."
Here is a man who took two bullets from an assassin, a Turkish assassin, Ali Agca, in 1981, and survived that. He was so tough. I remember my wife and I were here for Christmas in Rome about six years ago, and we saw him delivering a blessing in St. Peter's Square, December 25, six years ago, I believe it was. And he looked so halting and frail at the time, I said to myself, he can't possibly survive. And yet, he has.
BROWN: This is a man, who, if you track the history of his life, you go back to entering the seminary, I think it was in 1942, this underground seminary, defying the Nazis. He defied the Nazis. He defied the communists. He was a man born of, I daresay, extraordinary strength and courage if belief.
RODGERS: That's true, Aaron. And this is one of those moments in history tonight where we'll reflect back when great men die and say, where were you? What were you doing? You and I were on a roof in Rome and you'll recall the church bells started ringing close to us at the very moment the announcement came out. And the thought came to me, we do not have to ask for whom those bells toll, we already know. That's, of course, John Donne, and the man we're mourning tonight is John Paul II.
BROWN: Well, reporters can be a loud and cynical group, I will tell you, but as standing on this rooftop where we are, when the bells started to toll here, as I suspect in every apartment in this city and on every street and in restaurants which were getting crowded, that was the only sound you heard, was the sound of those bells.
You're right. It is one of those moments where you go, I will remember where I was. Any minute now we expect the Vatican to give us more detail. We have gotten in fact very little detail over the last two hours. A fairly direct statement that the pope had died at 9:37 here in Rome, now almost two hours ago, that he died essentially in accordance with his wishes as he laid them down back in 1996. He died in his apartment.
I thought the other day when we heard that the pope would not go back to Gemelli Hospital, this was after having the feeding tube inserted, and then he had developed this high fever off a urinary tract infection and that he wasn't going back to the hospital, I wondered if perhaps the pope simply wanted to die not at a hospital, not in unfamiliar surroundings, but in the way so many others of us think of that moment of our lives, the last moment, in the familiar, in our own bed, at home.
RODGERS: He had the luxury of the dignity, didn't he? It was a very dignified death which he chose, not to be in a hospital room with tubes and hooked to machines. He chose to die with dignity, and I think that's the way I'll remember tonight.
BROWN: It's been said before, and it bears repeating, I think, that so much of the pope's life was about how we, those of us on this planet, ought to live. We can agree with some of that and disagree with some of that as you wish, but that's what his life was about. And the end of his life, not just the last week of his life and not just these last two difficult months of his life, but the last years of his life were also about how we should die, how we ought to look at death, that it is part of the process, as you look at pictures outside the archbishop's residence in Krakow.
This was at one time, not all that long ago, the pope's residence. And if you look at both flags now, you can see pretty clearly now those black ribbons that are ribbons of mourning. People -- if you're just joining us, people have been coming here to this residence since word of the pope's passing almost two hours ago.
They have come with candles, they have come to pray, to sing hymns, and because it is part of human nature, they have come to be together. This is a moment not to be alone but to be together. Sometimes in a strange way we're together on television, we share these moments. But they have come to this square at Krakow to remember their most famous and most beloved son.
RODGERS: You know, we were talking about the dignity of this man's death, and of course, another clergyman, the English metaphysical poet, John Donne, Donne also wrote "Any man's death diminishes me." And I think with the passing of this pontiff -- this great pontiff, that the world is much diminished by the passing of this pope, don't you, Aaron?
BROWN: Yes. I think we -- one of the things that's interesting to me as a non-Catholic is how -- and this is the first pope, I suppose, I spent time thinking about and watching, he is truly the first pope of the grand television and mass-media age, how he impacts the lives, how the papacy can impact the life of the planet, of Catholics, of non-Catholics, of believers and of atheists.
It doesn't matter in some respects. There is, in a way that is different from any other religious figure, a power that is born of history and of the man himself, I suppose, that has a way of touching all of us. And he touched us all.
RODGERS: The power of the spirit here, that power of the spirit, by the way, was evident at a very young age in this man. When he was a young student in Wadowice, Poland, not far from the scenes you're looking at there in Krakow, his fellow students in the seminary and elsewhere knew that then-Karol Wojtyla, to become John Paul II, had this great spiritual force.
And when he lost his mother, when he lost his brother -- his beloved brother, Edmund, he began to withdraw from society and seek this spiritual course in his life. And I think perhaps that's what we're seeing here tonight is the tribute by millions to that great spiritual power this man manifested.
BROWN: Just look at that shot for second. Stay on it if you can. Lots of tears shed in lots of faces, young faces. Delia Gallagher, who helps us understand the complex ways of the Vatican, said the other night to us that the pope always drew as much from young people as he gave to them. And she worried out loud that in these final days he was not allowed to be around so many people that he couldn't draw that strength and how psychologically that might affect him.
Just looking at all of the pictures we've shown over the last couple hours of all of the people who have gathered, how many of them to me seem young, not 15 young, though there have been that, but 30 and younger, that in some ways, it's said that half the people on the planet have only known this pope. This is the only pope of their lifetime.
He was, in so many respects, the pope of the young, and so many young faces, it seems to me. Maybe that's who comes out on moments like this. Maybe it's just an accident, or maybe it's not. But it's hard when you look at the pictures not to see the youth that he touched.
I remember, Walt, you probably attended these youth rallies that he would hold, and the exhilaration in the children's faces.
RODGERS: That's true, Aaron. And what's even more interesting is what a marked contrast Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II, was to his predecessors with the possible exception of John XXIII. This man had that badly overused word charisma. But he could, as you say, reach out to young people on a spiritual level and urge them to rise above the hedonism, the materialism of this age, and then he would ask them to make a commitment to Catholicism, to following the Gospels, and it worked, it worked.
He did indeed do that, and he did it in the face of terrible, terrible odds. Again, the forces of this age which barrage young people, the hedonism, the materialism, the sensuality and so forth, and yet this man spoke with great moral force urging young people of his church and young people in the world to rise above those other seductive forces, and told them there is a better, higher way to follow. And that was his mission.
BROWN: We wait now for more detail, a statement we expect from the Vatican, and in fact, it may be on its way to us now. We expected it at about 4:30 Eastern time. We're heading up towards midnight here in Rome now. That will give us some detail, a little more detail of these last hours.
Certainly it's been clear for the last 48 hours that the pope's death was imminent. It was last Sunday, I guess, that we last saw him. This has been such a difficult week, of a very difficult period for the pope, a two-month period where he was in and out of the hospital, battling the flu, a tracheotomy, a nasal feeding tube inserted.
And then in the last 48 hours, he developed this acute infection, a urinary tract infection, and aggressively treated with antibiotics, but he said, I don't want to go back to the hospital. We are told that was his wish, not to go back to the hospital. So perhaps he knew that these were the final days, and this is where, Christiane, he chose to spend them.
AMANPOUR: That's exactly right. It was very clear when he refused to go back into the hospital that this is where he wanted to spend his last hours. And I think all of us who are watching these pictures, with all these prayerful people, many of them in tears, whether it be in Krakow, whether it be here in Rome, and we've seen services around other parts of the world today before news of his death was announced, you see so many young people, as you've talking about.
I'm joined now by Father Jonathan Morris, who is himself a young person and a young person of God, a priest.
What is it about this very elderly and infirm pope that appeals so much to young people right now?
REV. JONATHAN MORRIS, VICE RECTOR, LEGIONAIRES OF CHRIST SEMINARY: And I think one of the most principal aspects is his authenticity as a person, authenticity as a man, that he has been faithful to the convictions that he's had since a youth. And so when he speaks to us of what it means to be a person of conviction, we say, yes, that's the way I want to be, I want to be like that. That's the type of person I want to be.
And so certainly he's old, and in a lot of ways couldn't really relate to us on the same level as he used to be able to relate to us, but we're saying, I know I'm be like that someday. I know I'm going to be infirm as well. I know I'm going to be old someday like that. And this is the type of man that I want to become.
AMANPOUR: And at what point did he inspire you? Did he inspire you to join the priesthood?
MORRIS: I wouldn't say directly. What inspired me to join the priesthood was having met a very good priest and having really become friends with that priest. Then little by little I started to get to know John Paul II as the leader of the Catholic Church, and I said, this is a person who is setting a vision that's way beyond anything that I could possibly look for on a personal human level, professional level. And I said, this is the type of man I'd be willing to follow.
AMANPOUR: And when you look at the church beyond Pope John Paul II and when you consider who might be elected next as pope, what are you looking for, somebody who adheres to the same standard he has done, or somebody who perhaps is a little more open, a little more Vatican II perhaps?
MORRIS: Right. You know, it's interesting. We're going to be hearing a lot about this in the coming days. And I think if we look back to 26 years ago and we see what happened on that day nobody could ever have said, this is the type of man I want to be leading the church. When the name was announced, Karol Wojtyla, everyone, all the journalists looking for their papers, who is this guy? Who is this man?
And so for us, we can certainly conjecture. We can think. We can pray. But one thing I'm sure of, and I have all the faith and the trust in the world that the person that is elected is going to be one who's right for the moment to lead us into the next step.
AMANPOUR: And what is the moment, do you think, right now? This is -- I ask you not out of trying to put you on the spot, but of course, Catholics around the world know that this is a major turning point.
AMANPOUR: What is the moment? What is needed in your view?
MORRIS: In my view, I think what is need is for the lay people in the world, as well as the priests, but the lay people in a special way to realize their specific call to be evangelizers. John Paul II has set us an example of what it means to set forth and to go out into the deep, as he said.
In other words, take a risk. Take a risk to be faithful to the beliefs that you say are yours. And I believe that this is going to be the moment, in this next pontificate, the next pontificate in the near future, that the lay people themselves are going to say, I too have a responsibility. And John Paul II has certainly led us along that path.
AMANPOUR: And are you surprised to see these thousands and thousands of people who are flocking now into St. Peter's Square?
MORRIS: I wouldn't say surprised. It's really beautiful, it's a very surreal moment. When I was woken up by the news myself and tried to hurry to get down here and watching all the people arrive, I wouldn't say surprised. These are the people who have been encountered by John Paul II in so many different countries, in his over 100 international trips during his pontificate. These are people who love him dearly, and want to be with him in these moments.
AMANPOUR: I must say, I think what really struck me being in that crowd, last night certainly, was that for such a big crowd it was so silent. People were simply respectful, praying, you'd heard none of the normal sort of hum and buzz that you would associate with a huge crowd like that.
MORRIS: That's true. And I think what's been really special about these days that we've had in waiting, although they've been tough, has been that we've been able to really reflect on what was about to happen. Right? It wasn't something that came and left, but it was something that we could really reflect on, that we could be confident that what was about to happen is something that we've contemplated on a personal level. So it's really moving to see the people, and at the same time we're ready to take the next step and to be with him these days.
AMANPOUR: In terms of the next step, I want to bring back in our Rome bureau chief, Alessio Vinci. What physically happens now? We've been talking about these long and centuries-old entrenched traditions that are going to get under way right this minute. But walk us through the next few days.
VINCI: Well, we are technically now in what is called the interregnum, which is the period in between two reigns. John Paul II is now dead. There will be -- the body of the pope will be -- lay in state, will be a wake for about two days, and then there will be a funeral.
Now we understand from Italian state television that this funeral may take place on Wednesday, which is -- according to Catholic tradition, which means -- which says that the funeral must take place between the fourth and the sixth day. After that, there will be a period of nine days of mourning known as novem dialis.
During this period, of course, technically it's a period where -- during which the cardinals from all around the world, especially the cardinal electors, will be needing to return to Rome.
Of course, in the old days, it could take weeks to come back to Rome. Nowadays you take a plane and you can fly across the continent. But nevertheless, it's a nine days of mourning period, where there will be a Mass every day, celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica. And these nine days, there will be a conclave, which is the process, the procedure of electing a new pope.
That conclave must not begin before 15 days and not after 20 days of an election of the pope. That process, of course, you will have the cardinals who are below 80 years old, which are 117, I believe, at this time, will be plus one -- you must remember the pope, when he made -- during the last consistory, which is the making of the Cardinals, kept one cardinal in pectore, that is, he kept his name secret.
Now there are several theories about who this person may be. One, some people say he may be a Chinese bishop, for example, which the pope did not want to name openly cardinal, because obviously there's a problem in China in openly practicing Catholicism and stuff like that. So the pope -- some people say that this bishop or this person who he holds in pectore is indeed a Chinese or somebody who is in China.
At the same time, there are those who believe that this person who he holds in pectore is actually his friend, aide, and the person who has been closest to the pope for the last...
VINCI: ... 30 or 40 years -- 38 years, and that is Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, also know as Don Stanislaw here in Rome. And so obviously if this person is less than 80 years old, he would be another cardinal who would participate in the conclave, which will not begin, again, for several weeks now.
AMANPOUR: Thank you. And as we look at the close-up of those faces praying, and we talk in fact about the Chinese, one of the incredible things was that the Chinese authorities also this week expressed concern about the pope's deteriorating health. So he really has touched people far and wide of every political stripe, of every religion, and of every ethnic group.
Of course, we will be also talking about the fact that he will be lying in state here in St. Peter's. His funeral will most likely be here in St. Peter's, but where will he be buried, we're not sure about that yet.
VINCI: We don't know that. And of course, the only person who may know this now Archbishop Dziwisz, who will probably be the person who has in his hands a will of the pope, obviously will know if he will be buried underneath the St. Peter's Basilica, in the crypt, or whether he will be brought back to his native Poland.
AMANPOUR: Well, we will wait and see that. And let's go back to Aaron now.
BROWN: There's the scene outside the Vatican. We are with John Allen here. John can give us a little more detail, based on history as opposed to based on what we precisely know is happening now. There's a protocol. This is a religion rich in ritual and protocol.
And so, John, two hours and nine minutes or so since the pope passed away, what has happened in those two hours?
JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Well, if things hold to script, what has happened is that the pope's closest collaborator, senior cardinals in the Vatican, including the camerlengo, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, principally, and others have arrived at the bedside.
Cardinal Martinez Somalo, the camerlengo, actually has to perform a ritual of formally certifying the death of the pope. In centuries past this involved tapping the pope lightly on the forehead with a silver hammer. That actually was -- that practice was suppressed under John XXIII. He will call out his baptismal name three times, Karol, Karol, Karol. And when, of course, the pope does not respond, he will certify that the pope is in fact dead. Then word will quickly, formally be spread to the other cardinals to begin arriving in Rome.
BROWN: Are doctors in the room? Has everyone at this point who has no theological business, if you will, in the room been ushered out of the room?
ALLEN: We presume so. Obviously the physicians, and I imagine this would have been done by the pope's personal physician, Renato Buzzonetti, has to formally and legally certify death in the medical sense. Then that personnel, once obviously there's no longer a living figure to care for, those personnel would have left, and the sort of theological and spiritual machinery is set in motion. We presume what will happen shortly is that the embalmers will be called to the papal apartment to prepare his body for lying in state. By tradition, the pope's body would this evening -- and of course we're almost at midnight Rome time, would be taken to the Sistine Chapel and placed this evening in repose beneath that marvelous fresco of "The Last Judgment," before it goes to St. Peter's Basilica tomorrow.
ALLEN: Well, because that fresco is the last judgment. In other words, it's Michelangelo's depiction of where we, who are Catholics, today would believe John Paul is, facing his maker, and, of course, facing the judgment.
In addition, Aaron, it's also the place where the cardinals will eventually choose the pope's successor. So it's a symbolic way of the marking of a passing of the torch of leadership of the church if you'd like, from this man, who, of course, was elected in that very spot, and pointing forward to the eventual election of his successor.
BROWN: For those of us who are far less studied in these matters, these very simple why questions fascinate me, simply because how reasonable, if you will, how much sense, if you will, the answers make. Now, this has gone on for how long, this procedure, as best we know?
ALLEN: It reaches back, Aaron, to the early centuries of the church. Although, of course, there was no fresco of "The Last Judgment" for the pope to be placed under until Michelangelo painted it. So that, of course, would go back into the Renaissance.
And that's the way Catholicism works. I mean, there are sort of archaeological layers of tradition entering in in various historical periods.
BROWN: You mention -- we were talking earlier about the pope's extraordinary impact on young people, and Walt made what I thought was a really interesting point, that the pope, in some respects, was the counterbalance to a culture gone wild in many respects; media, music, what have you, pushing the culture in one way, and the pope was a powerful, though perhaps not powerful enough, counterbalance to all of that. And even in these final days, it was young people who were on his mind?
ALLEN: That's right, Aaron. You mentioned a bit ago the youth rallies with which we often associate John Paul. Those, of course, were formally called World Youth Days. And this is the pope who initiated the custom of having these massive gatherings of Catholic youth. Some have called them the Catholic Woodstock, every couple years or every three years.
This summer will be the next World Youth Day in Cologne. And we know that even to the very end, that gathering and the importance of that gathering was on the pope's mind. His personal secretary, Don Stanislaw Dziwisz, was working with some friends to try to organize perhaps behind the scenes video in the Vatican, even in the papal apartments that could be sent to the youth in Cologne to let them know the pope had them and had the youth of the church and world in his heart up to the very end.
BROWN: There was talk earlier that in the weeks ahead -- it won't begin for a couple weeks, in the weeks ahead, when the process begins for selecting the next pope, that the cardinals who will do so will be mindful of the length of service of John Paul, the second- longest papacy, I believe?
ALLEN: Well, it depends on how you count here. The Vatican officially says that St. Peter reigned 35 years. So he was -- of course, there are no records from that era. But if you accept that, then he would be the third-longest-serving pope.
BROWN: Is it -- does the reporter view it similarly, that that sort of consideration, that perhaps the next pope should not serve as long, which the only extent to which you can control that, I suppose, is to select someone who is older rather than younger.
ALLEN: It doesn't always work, of course. When the Cardinals elected Leo XIII at 68, he reigned until he was 93, becoming the fourth-longest serving pope in church history.
BROWN: So it's a kind of dangerous speculation game to get into, as to what this body of cardinals who will start assembling here in the next 24 hours or so...
ALLEN: As quickly as they can.
BROWN: ... will start coming here, what they're thinking of him. Many of them have been chosen by the pope...
ALLEN: All but three, in fact, Aaron, of the 117.
BROWN: The pope in recent years certainly had a bias, said non- pejoratively, a bias towards for Latin America, for one part of the world. It's a college of cardinals that is different in many respects from the one that changed him -- that picked him.
ALLEN: That's right. I mean, there's this popular perception the pope tries to stack the deck and determine the outcome of the election by appointing men like him. But the truth is in history, colleges of cardinals appointed by one pope always elect a different kind of man. The Italians have a phrase for that, they say, you always follow a fat pope with a thin one, meaning you always get change.
BROWN: Just looking at some of these pictures, this is a man who made history. We can't say that about many in the best sense of the term. We tend to say it a lot about people in the worst sense of the term, but that's a young Pope John Paul there, there with Mother Teresa.
That's a -- we appropriately remember him in all the stages in his life, including the end stage, but as I said earlier, I hope we don't simply remember him then.
ALLEN: By the way, Aaron, we caught a fleeting glimpse there of the pope in front of a picture of a nun in a habit. That nun was -- I believe, was St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun between the two wars, beatified and canonized by John Paul.
He had a very strong devotion to here. She had a series of revelations containing a message about God's divine mercy. Ironically, Aaron, tonight is the Vigil of the Feast of Divine Mercy, a feast created by the pope himself. And this is a pope who has always had a strong sense of poetry, a poet himself, a strong sense of the historical moment. There's something poetically appropriate, I suppose about the fact that he would go to his maker tonight on the feast of this vigil that was so close to his heart.
The Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, is speaking now, as we approach a new day here in Rome. He is speaking in the Washington area.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
CARDINAL THEODORE MCCARRICK, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: ...and the strong understanding of that counsel of Pope John Paul II.
QUESTION: Cardinal, what was the first thing you did after you -- as soon as you heard that he had passed away?
MCCARRICK: Well, actually, I said a prayer -- I was in my room. I had just come back, we had had a very beautiful Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine at noon today. And I finished up there around 2:00, got back, and had a sandwich, and then was in my room trying to figure out what I was going to say tonight when the message came out around 3:00 our time that the Holy Father had passed away.
And so I guess I said a prayer. I said a prayer for him and for all of us and for the church which now for the next few weeks is going to be without a universal shepherd. Thank God for all the bishops in all the dioceses around the world, the church continues to function, continues to serve God's people.
But it's different now, and I thought -- one of the first things I thought was, in the Mass now, today, having for 27 years said for John Paul our pope and whoever's the bishop, we won't be able to say that now because we don't have a John Paul, our pope, anymore. That was the thought, maybe a slight and insignificant thought but that's what went through my mind at that time.
MCCARRICK: Well, to thank God -- first of all, to thank God for this extraordinary man who has led the church for 27 years, to thank God for his wisdom, for his courage, for his insight, and thank God for his love.
Because I think, you know, people talk about John Paul as a strong leader, and that he was, and as a man who gave clear direction, and that he certainly did. But he was also a man who really loved people. And that love was -- is, I think, why you're all here, because you've all seen that. And you've seen the people have had that same love for him, because he had a love for them.
So I think that really was the -- is more than anything else the thing that I would say to our people, let us thank God for this loving, gracious, holy man that has been our shepherd for 27 years.
And let us pray that now that he goes, as we're all sure, into the kingdom of the lord whom he loved so well, that he will continue to pray for us and pray for the church and pray that the lord will send us another great shepherd who will take care of God's people.
MCCARRICK: Sure. I go to Rome tomorrow. I think Cardinal Mahoney is already there now today. The other cardinals are going tomorrow or Monday or Tuesday, so that we'll be there for the funeral. I believe the funeral is Thursday, although I didn't hear that message. I'd already left the house. I think that we'll all be there. Only three of us have been at a conclave before. Out of the 117 who are able to participate, only three of us have had the experience of a conclave. And so most of us come new.
Thank goodness we have a -- an apostolic constitution that this Holy Father had given us, which gives us the information about what we should be doing and how we should be doing it. So we have the steps to follow. But basically, the whole question will be, we will follow the steps but we'll follow them as neophytes. So we're going to be wondering, are we doing it right? And so that that's why, pray for us, that not only do we do it right, but that we do it prayerfully and that we do it in the way that the Holy Spirit can use us to help bring the church a man who can really continue great leadership and love for our people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cardinal, given where the church is now, what are the attributes you will be looking for and you think are necessary for this church at this time?
MCGARRICK: Well, I think if you asked me that question ten days from now I'd give you a better answer. I think the last few days, we have been thinking about the Holy Father and we're going through our grieving now. Sure, we have thoughts. But I think that our thoughts will become much more concrete and much more carefully nuanced when we have a chance maybe to talk with each other and to see what the others feel are important.
I'll all participate, we all will. But I think there will be something of a consensus that comes. The lord always gives us a consensus. I think with that consensus, we'll be able to answer your question more accurately and in a better way.
MCCARRICK: I wasn't there 27 years ago. I really don't know. I'm sure that from dialogue always comes decision. And I think that as we dialogue and as we see, I will talk about the needs of the church of Washington. A bishop from Africa will talk about the needs of the church in his area. The same thing in Europe, the same thing in Latin America.
So that there will be -- when we all put those together, we'll be able to, I think, come up with a better picture of where we are and where we think the Lord will want us to go.
MCCARRICK: I'll tell you that when we meet in heaven.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com