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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Pope John Paul II Has Died
Aired April 2, 2005 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Adorning the archbishop's residence where the pope once lived is a yellow flag, two yellow flags, in fact, and each has a black ribbon around it. And here in Rome, we've seen similar things now throughout the night, a black ribbon of mourning.
The pope's body will lie in state no earlier than Monday, which we take to mean on Monday. That will begin a formal process that will lead likely now to a high mass on Thursday. And then eventually the process moves to its next phase, which is the selection of the next pope, the conclave, the gathering of the cardinals, 117 of them under the age of 80. All but three of them -- all but three chosen by this pope. All but three of them will be participating in their first conclave. As we said, Chris Burns at CNN is in Krakow. The polish- born president has a special -- and the people of this city had a special relationship with this pope. And Chris, you have seen things unfold tonight in ways, I think, that are touching and surprising and moving.
CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, absolutely. In fact, the mass is continuing right now. Cardinal (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is continuing inside the basilica right next to me. Behind me is the residence of the archbishop where the pope had come numerous times before and after he was pope and became pope. And this is where he had a lot of intimate conversations with the people here. And this is why they came to gather tonight, the sea of candles and sea of tears. In the last few minutes, Cardinal (UNINTELLIGIBLE) told the people here the last word that the pope said, according to the pope's closest confidante there at the Vatican, Bishop Jovich (ph), who said that the pope took his hand in the moments before he died, squeezed his hand, and said, "Amen." One simple word, amen. And you can imagine the tears that that elicited here among the crowds. Thousands here began to cry.
And the cardinal also talking about how this is the end of a chapter, that there will be a new chapter, a more -- possibly a more difficult chapter. And he asked for the Holy Father for the pope to look down on them and to watch over them. And you can just -- the tears, the people hugging each other and crying as they held their candles, a very, very moving sight here. And just in the last few minutes as this mass goes on, the people are filing into the church to have the holy sacrament. And this is going on probably for the next few hours, Aaron. You just look over my shoulder, the residents here -- perhaps, Claudio, you can do another little pan here -- the -- along the building here, there are a lot of flowers. There are a lot of candles along that archbishop's residence. And the people there, standing outside where they used to look up at the window, the main window of that building where the pope used to be. And now there is a black crucifix looking down on them right now -- Aaron.
BROWN: The last time we saw that scene, some years back, the pope was there. He was at the window. And there was this give and take going on between the people who had come to see him, who were begging him to stay, don't go back. You're ours. Don't go back. And he would playfully respond to them.
These moments are moments of sorrow, but they're also celebrations of life. And the people in that city, and in that country, perhaps have celebrated the life of their native son, John Paul, as few others will in the days ahead. He changed their lives, or certainly participated in the change of their lives.
BURNS: Yes, absolutely, Aaron. That's what all these people are remembering here, are those times when they saw the pope repeatedly back beginning in 1979 when he came as pope, and really, really charged the people by telling them, we can change this land. Let's listen in to a little bit of the music and the chanting.
BURNS: Aaron, Cardinal (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is continuing with his sermon. As I said, he was moving the people with talking about how this is a new chapter for people and they are hoping that the pope, now having left this world will look on them and watch over them in this new era. This is a country that has really shifted to democracy and capitalism just 15 years ago. That's really the blink of an eye in historical terms. And this country right now is struggling with capitalism, struggling with democracy. There are plenty of political scandals here. And this is where the loss of this man, who they saw really as the greatest leader of their time, has now passed on. And now they have to look ahead and see how they will continue in this country, with this democracy, with this capitalism, after having lost now this man who helped them, who held their hand and led them peacefully to democracy -- Aaron.
BROWN: You know our younger viewers probably don't and cannot appreciate how different the world was when John Paul went to Poland, went home, the great symbolism of that moment, his talk of individual freedom in that moment, his talk of nonviolent change in that moment. It was a very different world that existed back then. It was the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union. It was the -- the pope certainly didn't do it on his own, but he was an actor in a drama that changed the course of all of our lives.
He has a place in history that is theological, but it is a place in history that is also political, which is part of the reason why his death today and his papacy for 26-plus years meant so much to so many people who were not in agreement theologically or were not Catholic at all.
You can see St. Peter's Square. Christiane Amanpour has been there, and is there and joins us again -Christiane.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Aaron. And right now, we just want to show you that the Vatican newspaper, "Losservitore Romano" has come out with its daily edition. And it's obviously rimmed and bordered in black. And it says, "Today, Saturday, the 2nd day of April, at 21:37, the Lord has called to himself the Holy Father, John Paul II." And on the back, it has the words that John Paul II lived by, "do not be afraid." And I'm going to ask our friend here, Father Jonathan, to explain about those powerful words. He was very much a courageous man himself. And he really did inspire people or try to inspire them to have courage in whatever it was that they were doing. And these words will, I think, live on as his words.
FATHER JONATHAN MORRIS, LEGIONAIRES OF CHRIST SEMINARY: That's true. They're actually some of the very first words that John Paul II said to the world: Do not be afraid, open up the doors of your hearts to Christ. So it certainly was a don't be afraid but there's also a great deep theological meaning behind that, meaning that life is more powerful than death, that love is stronger than hate.
AMANPOUR: And you know, in the most incredible way, he showed that, of course, almost every day of his papacy, but most particularly in 1981, where just back there, Mehmet Ali Agca, fired at him as he was waving to the crowd. And he was struck and he was rushed to hospital and he had the last rites. And people were so concerned that he might die. And that was on the 13th of May and on the 17th of May he announced that he had forgiven Mehmet Ali Agca. And just a couple of years later, he went to the prison in Italy and he talked to him. And it almost looked from the pictures as if he was leaning forward to him to hear his confession. I'm not sure that is what happened but certainly the body language was about that.
And this was a man who in five days had overcome what some people might...
MORRIS: That's right.
AMANPOUR: ...obviously, you know, expect could be feelings of hatred, fear, revenge. But no, he did exactly the opposite.
MORRIS: That's right. I think another element of that, of that same phrase of "Do not be afraid" was his motto, which was (UNINTELLIGIBLE), which all years with Mary, all years the Blessed Virgin Mary. In other words, he really entrusted his life to the motherly protection of Mary. And even when he woke up after being hospitalized after being shot, that's one of the very first things he said also to the world, "(UNINTELLIGIBLE) Maria."
AMANPOUR: And perhaps more than any other pope, he really elevated the Virgin Mary as singular, almost deity in the Catholic Church.
MORRIS: That's right. There's a beautiful symbolism of that right in St. Peter's Square. There was a time that when John Paul II said "With all this beautiful art here in St. Peter's Square, there's no picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There's no image of this Blessed Virgin Mary." So right now we see very close to the papal apartments, there's a beautiful image of Mary, the mother of the church, a beautiful mosaic. And he wanted to make sure he left that mark as well.
AMANPOUR: And you can't forget also that incredible statue by Michelangelo, The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the Virgin Mary holding the crucified Jesus that stands actually inside St. Peter's Basilica, and once was violently attacked by a vandal...
MORRIS: That's right.
AMANPOUR: ...and the arms of Jesus was hacked off and they obviously had to restore it. Right now, many of the people who have been in Vatican Square, who had been praying for the pope at the moment of his death before and after, are beginning to flood out now because tomorrow, early, the observations, the masses start again. The first one will be at 10:30 a.m., a mass for the repose of the soul of the Holy Father.
Paula, back to you in New York.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Christiane. And right now, we are going to share with our audience the continuing mass that Cardinal Egan at St. Patrick's Cathedral is offering. It is considered the first Sunday of Easter mass, but he has also used it as an opportunity to honor the life of Pope John Paul II. And joining me now is Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete. He is with St. Joseph's Seminary, a theologian and author and a columnist for "New York Times Magazine." And we hear Christiane sort of talk about, some of the mysticisms that some of the pope's followers are referencing today. I don't think we can ignore some of these coincidences, can we, Monsignor? I know that a number of Catholics told me today that they felt that something very odd was in the air. That within 10 minutes of the announcement of the pope's death, this enormous rainstorm started with 30 and 40-mile-an- hour winds. And I don't know if you buy into the mysticism of that but there's other symbolism that you think you should pay attention to.
MONSIGNOR LORENZO ALBACETE, COLUMNIST, "NY TIMES MAGAZINE": Yes, I know, I don't put anything -- any limits to God. And I'm open to all kinds of -- I mean who am I to put such limits. I don't know about the windstorm. I wasn't in here. So whatever its message, it was not for me. However, I have no -- I know that the pope's death is occurring in a coincidence of three realities, or events, or feasts that meant a lot to him. First, on a Saturday, still technically a Saturday, the first Saturday of the month is by Catholic piety, the most of the Blessed Virgin, precisely under the title that he had such devotion for because it is celebrated on the 13th of May when he is shot. Then he said, "This, our Lady of Fatima," had saved him.
Now, it's a feast brought about by that devotion. It's Easter. It's not only the first Sunday of Easter, as you said, but this is still the last days of the Easter Day, which lasts one whole week, the resurrection of Christ. And third, and then most weird in a sense is this is already the anticipation of the feast that he started, devoted to the celebration of mercy, promoted by this Polish nun, for whom he had a great personal devotion. So much so that he made her a saint and promoted this idea of the centrality of God's mercy.
Now, these three things are coming together and the man just, like, chooses to die. Coincidence? Maybe.
ZAHN: You shared a close personal friendship with this pope. You knew him before he became a pope.
ZAHN: You spent time with him after he became a pope.
ZAHN: One of the themes that ran through your friendship was the sense of passion he showed for theater...
ALBACETE: Yes, yes.
ZAHN: ...and his sense of humor. He always showed you in abundance.
ALBACETE: Let me tell you, the last time that I saw him, we talked after this -- about this. I told him that I had agreed to come on CNN, that I said you know, they're all preparing for your death and almost everything is ready. And they have invited me to come and say things and so I have accepted because I'll say nice things about you. But I feel a bit guilty. He said, "No." He said, "What I am surprised is, how do they know that I will die first."
ZAHN: The pope said that to you?
ALBACETE: Yes. And I said, "Do you know something that I don't know?" He said, "No, I was just wondering." And I said, "Well, let's put it this way, if I die first, you go on CNN and say nice things about me."
ZAHN: So what you're saying tonight...
ALBACETE: That was our last conversation.
ZAHN: Really? And so you feel you have the pope...
ALBACETE: I am now fulfilling what I promised him.
ZAHN: What did you and the pope talk about over the years?
ALBACETE: The very first time -- I used to be a scientist and he --- when we met, before he was pope, he was fascinated by that, and wanted to know what I thought about the relation between science and faith, et cetera. So we began a conversation about language. He said, "Tell me, what language do you think conveys the most, the interior of the human person?" The heart, what we are. And he said, "Obviously not scientific language." He said, "That is our biggest danger today is that we are reducing the language of the heart to technological language." This was way back in '76. I said, "What is the language then?" He said, "Obviously that of poetry, of myth, of symbol and of drama." He said -- yes?
ZAHN: Monsignor, I hope you won't take this as an insult. ALBACETE: No, no.
ZAHN: We are going to pause for a moment.
ALBACETE: Oh, yes, pause all you want.
ZAHN: Archbishop Sean O'Malley from Boston now...
ALBACETE: Oh, good heavens, a friend -- very good friend of mine.
ZAHN: ... making an offering to the pope. Let's listen together.
ARCHBISHOP SEAN O'MALLEY, BOSTON: ... in the midst of suffering and adversity. With gratitude, I recall the pope's pastoral care for the Church of Boston, from the time of his papal visit in 1979 through to the present day. Pope John Paul II was not only the Vicar of Christ, but also a world leader who changed the course of modern history.
In the pope's dedicated mission of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, he exhibited a very special love for youth and for the poor, and was untiring in promoting social justice, the family, and the gospel of life. Our lives and our world are forever changed for the better because of the Holy Father's vision and his passionate commitment to the truth and to human dignity. In the holy year 2000, the Holy Father called for all to open wide the doors to Christ, to follow Christ not just out of obligation but out of love. Pope John Paul II's life mirrored this call as each day he opened himself to being an instrument of unapologetic truth on moral and ethical issues facing our culture. I pray that the Lord will grant grace upon grace to his faithful servant, and will welcome him into eternal light and peace in God's heavenly kingdom.
We look forward to celebrating here tomorrow at Holy Cross Cathedral, a holy hour at 3:00, and a mass, the Mass of Divine Mercy at 4:00. And I cordially invite all of the Catholics and the friends of the church community to participate in that liturgy with us tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Archbishop will take some questions now.
O'MALLEY: Well, the Holy Father made a profound impact wherever he went and of course, his trip to Boston was one of the earliest ones. But I must say every time that I met the Holy Father and mentioned Boston he would immediately say, rain. So it made quite an impact on him, too. But...
ZAHN: We've been listening to Archbishop Sean O'Malley from Boston reflect on the life of Pope John Paul II, calling him a world leader who changed the course of world history.
I'm going to pick up my conversation right now with Monsignor Albacete who was a close friend of the pope, knew him before he became a pope, continued that relationship throughout his papacy. You told me a story that really put a smile on my face, and I know will create a lot of warmth with people listening to this interview. The fact that you even told the pope that upon his death, you were going to come on television and talk about his life.
ALBACETE: I mentioned CNN not just television. I said CNN because I had been asked.
ZAHN: And he had a sense of humor about it.
ALBACATE: Oh, oh, yes. He -- I said, "I feel a bit guilty. I think you should know." And he said, "I'm not" -- "It's all right," he said, "I just wonder how do they know that I am dying first before you." And I said, "Well, if I die first, then you go on CNN and say nice things about me." And that's our last conversation.
ZAHN: Your very last conversation.
ZAHN: I guess that's the part of the pope's life that we have a very limited understanding. We saw him at the meetings. We saw him in prayer but we never had a window into that part of his life. What was he like in a one-on-one situation with you? I know he was a very curious man.
ALBACETE: I think he was, above all that, one-on-one, I mean, you felt his attention. He was entirely and intensely focused on you so much so, that at times when one could be ill at ease, the way he would look and try to grasp. And we talked a lot about this because he was concerned about communication. He said, "How do we communicate what is inside if we cannot communicate what we have inside? Then loneliness is the last word." And I said, "What are you getting interested in?" He said, "Well, I studied drama. I studied language. I studied literature. And this is, in the search for what is the best way one can communicate," he said, "because there are experiences that are overwhelming, and you want to express them." I didn't realize, for example, the man is the bishop for where Auschwitz was. In the end, how -- what do you say about something like that. Any word would almost cheapen it. And his friends are wiped out. His family drops dead. His desire to reach out to communicate and trying to figure out how. And he said, "Drama, poetry, myth, et cetera." And it was then that I knew that he had written poetry and plays and everything. So I devoted myself to studying them.
And he taught a course on the vision of John Paul II based not on the documents or the books, academic books, not on the papal log, but on the place and on the poems. And every time I saw him, he would ask me the equivalent of how are my plays playing with your students...
ZAHN: And I suppose you gave him a pretty positive...
ALBACETE: ... and do they appreciate it. Oh yes, yes. Yes, but now and then I would like to (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ZAHN: In closing, a final thought of the impact that he had on you not...
ZAHN: ...so much as a pope to a monsignor, but as friend to a friend.
ALBACETE: No, I understood he was a father and he was the person -- the presence to me of Jesus Christ. I mean, he was a man, but then that precisely is the Christian faith, that God is met through a human being, through a human encounter. Through that human encounter, I think I met Christ. And he led me to another person that just died a month ago where I found my spiritual home, and understood what had happened and that was Monsignor (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
But anyway, when I heard today, I thought, well, the last number, it's over. He sang the last song. Curtain is down. Now we wait for the reviews. But in the meantime, all I can say to him is, great show, great show. Thank you.
ZAHN: Monsignor Albacete, thank you for opening up your heart to us this evening and sharing these -- those very personal stories with us.
Before we go back to Rome, I wanted to remind people that we are watching Cardinal McCarrick preside over a service at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the president and the first lady in attendance. The president saying several hours ago, that this was a pope who not only inspired millions of people around the world, but in particular, in America. And he describes him as a humble, wise and fearless priest who became one of history's great moral leaders. The president went on to say, at the end of his statement, "We're grateful to God for sending such a man, a son of Poland, who became the bishop of Rome and a hero for all ages" -- Aaron.
BROWN: Thank you, Paula. That is the story the monsignor just told and the conna that he put on the story is about the wisest, most perfect moment in all the words that all of us have spoken, John Allen, in the last five hours or so. OK, the reviews aren't in yet, but history, a good show, I would say.
JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Yes, yes.
BROWN: Go ahead.
ALLEN: Well, it's a very appropriate send off for -- not only for John Paul II but also for Karol Wojtyla, the man, because let's remember, he was an actor as a young man, a great sense of theater.
BROWN: There is -- one of the other things the monsignor said, you -- popes, you don't think of them as having these sort of private moments, like the rest of us have, where they, on a Sunday afternoon sit and watch a soccer game, or behave as ordinary people do, but surely they do.
ALLEN: Of course. BROWN: And surely they have people who are their good friends and buddies in a sense. Do we know that much about that side of John Paul?
ALLEN: Relatively little because the Vatican tries to protect the personal life of the pope as much as possible, but sure there are -- there are antidotes. I mean, for example, one of the pope's best friends -- childhood friend, growing up in Wadowice, in Poland, a man by the name of Jerzy Kluger, who happens to be Jewish, ended up in Rome actually ahead of the pope. His business career brought him here. On one side of Jerzy Kluger's family, one of his children became Catholic, and the pope has baptized all of his grandchildren, and occasionally they would come to the apostolic palace with the little kids in tow, and the children would clamor into the pope's lap and sometimes take off that skull cap he wears and put it on their own head. And he would laugh and enjoy their company, and play with them almost as a grandfather with a beloved friend's own children.
And this was a very, very human man, who wore his heart on his sleeve. And it wasn't all mirth. I mean you mentioned that famous 1979 trip to Poland where John Paul stood in Victory Square in Warsaw and said, wagging his finger, that "Christ could not be taken from the story of this nation." I think of the 1993 trip when John Paul went back to Poland, the post-Communist Poland, you know, when the country had just adopted a liberized abortion law. The pope was not happy. And standing there in Warsaw and the anger in his voice, the disappointment in his voice, was clear for everyone to see. And this is quite unusual. I mean, there are many ways, despite the fact that we in the press talk about the conservative pope, in so many ways he's been a revolutionary. And one of his revolutions was he wasn't just the office, the office majesty of being the Holy Father; he was also a man whose happiness and anger and sadness and frustrations played out for all to see.
BROWN: There are -- and when you just -- if you just think, all of us could do this, all of us who are of an age, at least, can see him in various moments of his life, can see him getting off airplanes and kissing the ground, the drama of a moment like that, I recall that moment in Poland, which was almost a finger-wagging moment to the Polish people, that they had strayed from their relationship to him and their relationship to God, as he saw it. Is it unusual in the history of the papacy for that kind of personhood, if you will, to come through, or -- and is it important for the pope to be seen, or had it been seen as important that the pope had been seen to be more almost mythical than that?
ALLEN: It's very unusual, Aaron. You know in the Vatican, actually, there is no official celebration of the pope's birthday. They celebrate the day of his election to the papacy because the traditional understanding is from that moment forward it's not the man that matters, it's the office, and his role as the successor of Peter. There's always been a deliberate attempt almost to forget that pope's had histories prior to their entry into the office. And a lot of students of the papacy talk about John Paul's personalization of papacy, the way that he brought his own spirituality, his own personality to the exercise of this office in a way that no previous pope ever had. And I think that was part of his instinctive understanding, that in a media age, in the age of communications, popes need to be people.
BROWN: Let me come back to that point. Just -- I was noting in the monitor that as we look at St. Peter's, what was a full square -- you could hardly move in the square, even three hours ago, people now, as we approach 1:30 on a Sunday morning, have started to go home. This city will see many events in the days ahead, and most of the important people and the powerful people of the world will gather here. But it's hard for me to imagine that it will see a more powerful moment, and in some respects, a more important moment than the moments that we have seen together, all of us, who have watched these last five hours or so, of the people who have come to the square to share the moment of Pope John Paul's death. All of the other moments are important. All have important pieces of the ritual of Catholicism. But what we watched over the last few hours is something quite different and something quite special to have shared.
Is it, John -- if John Paul understood that in the media age and he really is the first pope to truly advantage himself of the media, to understand the media, is it conceivable that the papacy can go back to a time when the media age didn't exist? I don't mean that the media's going away, I mean that the papacy sees itself as above or beyond it.
ALLEN: I think John Paul has changed that for all time. I think it would be inconceivable, I think, to elect a pope who would go back to the old understanding, which was the pope stays in Rome and the world comes to him.
You know, when John Paul was elected, he said that it's time for the pope not just to be Peter, but also to be a little bit Paul, Paul being the great evangelist of the early church. That is, I need to take my act on the road and I need to take my act to the people. And there were many in the Vatican here, and believe me, who were made quite nervous by that.
ALLEN: Well, because it departed from tradition.
BROWN: Because it demystified?
ALLEN: Yes, I think the idea was it compromises the majesty of the papacy. It makes the pope in some sense seem like yet another politician or even yet another salesman with a particular product to pitch. John Paul wasn't afraid of that. John Paul was willing to embrace the tools of modernity in order to evangelize modernity, that is to try to convert it, obviously, not with complete success. There were many things the pope was quite frustrated with in terms of his inability to convince people to follow the path that he saw so clearly.
BROWN: Is it clear to you what he considered his great unfinished business? ALLEN: Yes. I think we can start listing all kinds of things. I mean one of the dreams that was nearest and dearest to the pope's heart, over the almost 27 years of his papacy, for example, was to visit Russia, a dream that went unrealized. Obviously, he wanted to try to reawaken the Christian soul of Europe. And just recently, of course, Europe would not even make a mention of God in the preamble to its new constitution. I mean there are frustrations and there was unfinished business. And sorting through all of that, obviously, will be part of the business of the cardinals as they begin to gather in Rome to talk about what comes next.
BROWN: I want to draw Christiane into this in a second. Let me just go back to one other thing you said. Doesn't the next pope, whoever the next pope is, he's going to -- the first time he gets on an airplane to jet off to Angola or wherever, he will inevitably be compared to John Paul.
ALLEN: Yes, and that will be an enormous burden to carry, obviously. And I think the reality is you cannot duplicate John Paul II. The next man is going to have to travel, evangelize, pope, so to speak, if you can use that as a verb, in his own way. But you're right, inevitably, the comparisons will be drawn and it will be a tough, tough act to follow.
BROWN: For those of you just joining us, that's John Allen. John has been with us all night and will be with us in the days ahead providing extraordinary expertise to CNN's coverage of this moment in history.
Christiane Amanpour is at St. Peter's -- Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Aaron, and just listening to John talk about the pope's unrealized dream of going to Russia, it's really interesting, this royalty did meet with Vladimir Putin here, and one of his great dreams was to try to reconcile the eastern Christian church with the western, with the Catholic Church. And he really wasn't able to do that. Unlike what he was able to do, and that is, reconcile Catholicism with the Jewish religion, as we've talked so many times about him being the first to go into a synagogue. In fact, we heard today, and we've known about this story, how he had a boyhood friend who was Jewish, who they grew up together. And this boyhood friend when the pope became pope, we understand helped him as a bridge builder to the Jewish faith and helped him along the way to going to make that visit to the chief rabbi here in Rome, and the pope apologizing, again, for the Catholic Church not doing enough to stop the Holocaust, at one point absolving the Jews of -- quote -- "blame for the death of Christ." And of course, what he did for the Muslims as well, reaching out to the Muslim faith.
And I was struck, because during holy week, just the day before Palm Sunday, this year, I was in Damascus, Syria, doing a report, and I was in the 1,300-year-old (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Mosque, which the pope had set foot in in the year 2001. And I was shown where he went. And by the Muslim clerics who took him into there, the chief, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of Syria, who took him in and in respect for the Muslim religion, the pope offered no formal prayer. But he went up to the mausoleum that contains the remains of St. John the Baptist, his head, notably, and he went and he stood by it in a moment of contemplation and said his own private prayers. And he's also stood on the temple mount, the dome of the rock, right -- al Aqsa in Jerusalem as well although he did not go inside that mosque.
But this is a pope who was not just a traveler, but a great conciliator. And he really took that seriously. And following him on just a couple of trips, I'm also struck by the fact that even though we call him the great communicator and the man -- the pope who used the media the most effectively, he was also very effective in keeping some mystery about him because he never did give a television interview. And even those times when he did meet with the press, we didn't actually go up and report his comments on camera. So it's actually very interesting the way he had this incredible magnetism without actually sitting and divulging all his thoughts and feelings to the press as so many people these days do.
And I was just talking to Father Jonathan about these people who are listed now in the formal statement as being around his deathbed when he finally passed away. And the interesting thing is they all seemed to be his friends, didn't they. They weren't the courier. They weren't the big officials of the Catholic Church.
MORRIS: That's true. We see different Polish bishops who were there, present. We have his two private, personal secretaries. We have the sisters, the nuns who worked so hard over all these years taking care of him on a personal level. We -- so we really can imagine what that must have been like.
The Vatican has said consistently that there was continuous prayer going on that we mentioned earlier, the mass for Divine Mercy Sunday that was celebrated at 8:00 at the vigil for this great feast that we're celebrating today, on the second Sunday of Easter.
AMANPOUR: And the Divine Mercy is something that he himself was devoted to it and he instigated that as a special day.
MORRIS: That's right. That's right. In the year 2000 when he canonized Sister Pothestinea (ph), he made this at peace for the whole universal church, which he was criticized for doing. What is this little Italian -- Polish nun doing, creating a new feast day for the universal church? John Paul II was willing to do things for which he was criticized, and now we see why.
AMANPOUR: And of course, we've been mentioning, though we've been standing here for many, many hours now, and even throughout yesterday, and we saw St. Peter's Square filled with the faithful, and those who just happened to be in Rome, but knew they were part of the passing of an era of a momentous occasion and came here to pay their respects. Now it is emptying. And people are preparing for what will start off the solemn commemorations, the solemn officiation of the Catholic liturgy, the Catholic events that will take place over tomorrow and the next few days, leading up to his funeral and beyond.
The pope himself was very, very devoted to the young. He took part in World Youth Day many times. And he was, we are told today -- early this morning we are told, even though at one point we were told that he lapsed into unconsciousness about 7:30 a.m. this morning, the papal spokesman said that he managed to get some words out. And those words, they said, they put together, and they were directed particularly at the young. And he was made aware, we are told, that there were many young people amongst the thousands who had crowded into St. Peter's Square to hold their vigil, to pray for him, to comfort him along his last moments on this earth. We're told that he responded to that, and thanked the people who had come to his bedside.
So it has been an incredible day. It's been an incredible few days as the whole world has witnessed now, and the whole world through the mass media, through the people here, have really been part of this long death watch, this long vigil that has now come to an end. And of course, in the Catholic faith, death is not the end, but it is the beginning of the eternal life. Now, we know that the pope believed in that extremely strongly -- Aaron.
BROWN: Thank you.
It is the beginning of a good many things. In fact, it is the beginning of an ancient Catholic ritual, which will begin to unfold in the days ahead not so much tomorrow, though masses will be spoken tomorrow. But the pope's body will begin lying in state on Monday. The leaders of the world will assemble. Here in Rome, for a high mass, we expect to be on Thursday. Ultimately down the road in the weeks ahead, we can't tell you when exactly, but in the weeks ahead, but this, too, is prescribed, there will be an election of a new pope.
But we are weeks away from that, John. Just -- let's focus for a minute on the next -- on the last five hours and the next, let's say, 24. The pope dies officially, we are told now, at 8:00 Rome time. And we hear about it an hour and a half later. What do you suspect went on in that hour and a half?
ALLEN: Well, I think obviously in the papal apartments what went on would be -- the first instinctive response of those around would be to pray for the repose of the pope's soul and then some basic logistics. I mean, the camera lingo, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo (ph) has to be informed and summoned so that he can come to perform the ceremonial certification that the pope has died. Obviously, the medical team also has to fulfill the requirements of creating a medical death certificate.
BROWN: And the pope's spokesman at some point is informed?
ALLEN: Yes. And Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls would be informed.
BROWN: He's a medical doctor.
ALLEN: He's a medical doctor, a psychiatrist by training, also a former journalist, Aaron. He was the -- he worked for a Spanish daily called "ABC" and was their correspondent in Moscow for a few years and then was the president of the Foreign Press Club here. That's how he got his job.
And he would, of course -- he did compose a brief statement which was then sent out via e-mail to all of us, which is how we got the first official confirmation that the pope has died. And so all of that activity is going on, and then, you know, the reality is, of course, that the bottom of all of that is what was happening in the square and across the world was deep prayer.
BROWN: Just -- I want to pick it up in a minute. It is an incredibly, as a reporter, unnerving e-mail to get. There are a lot of things you don't want to do wrong in your professional life and one of them is to misreport the death of one of most extraordinary people of our time. And so at about 9:37, 9:40 here in Rome, the floor below where we're standing, CNN reporters were looking at each other going are we sure? Do we know? Have we confirmed? In this modern age where e-mails get sent out by, who knows whom, frankly, there was more than a little bit of nervousness. Inside the Vatican, there is procedure going on. Pick that up.
ALLEN: Yes, that's absolutely right. And I think one thing that probably should be said, you know, Aaron, is that we have spent, those of us who follow the Vatican on a regular basis, have spent years trying to sort of noodle out how exactly we will know and be able to confirm that the pope has actually died because none of us really believe this e-mail system and function. And the remarkable thing is it worked, you know.
BROWN: It worked and we weren't so sure whether to believe it.
ALLEN: Well, I mean those of us who know how it works knew it was for real. And I do think, Aaron, it has to be said, and as somebody who follows the Vatican on a full-time basis, I want to say that whatever frustrations we typically have with the information flowing from the Vatican, the last 72 hours have been remarkable in terms of the amount of information, the amount of detail that has been provided to us. And I think -- and I personally believe that that wasn't just the system functioning. That was also quite consistent with John Paul II's own desire. I think he wanted his death, as his life had been, to be a teaching moment. And I think he wanted the details of it to be made known to us.
BROWN: In that regard, if we go back a couple of months, I remember asking you once, one night, if the kind of upbeat statements of the Vatican, when the pope was first taken to the hospital with the flu, as we were told, should be taken as literally upbeat. The tone of the statements changed a lot Wednesday, Thursday, much more serious, much more forthcoming as to the nature of the illness. They didn't get into prognosis at all, but they certainly talked about the severity of it all. That was a sign.
ALLEN: Yes, a very clear one. I mean you have to put this into historical context to some extent. I mean the saying used to be, you know, the pope is never sick until he's dead. And the idea is that you never wanted to talk about the weakness about the pope, both because it was in bad taste, but also because it was politically destabilizing. By those standards, even the limited information we were getting prior to the last 72 hours, was extraordinary. But certainly what's happened since, and there was a clear turn when the pope's condition did, I think, to those around him, appeared to have reached a stage where it was irreversible. And from that point forward, I think both the quantity and the quality to some extent, that is, the candor of the information, that there was a clear shift. Again, for me, the most poignant moment in all of this was watching Joaquin Navarro-Valls at that first briefing, that noon time press briefing two days ago when he walked in the room, and remember the first line of the statement was, "The pope's condition is extremely grave."
ALLEN: And then he ended -- after having given us a good deal of detail, he ended with tears in his eyes and walked out of the room. I think there was no more clearer statement than that of where this was headed.
BROWN: And at that point, I think certainly the guidance we were getting from you, and I think what our own life experience and hearts were telling us too is that we are now counting maybe days, possibly hours, but an event, which I think for many of us started to become a real event back in February, I think we all realized was at hand and obviously the Vatican realized it was at hand, whether it was Saturday night, or Monday morning, it was imminent.
ALLEN: And the other side of that, Aaron, as somebody who follows this institution and this man regularly, I've been through so many papal health scares over the course of my career. I mean if he died every time someone thought he was dead, this man would have died a thousand deaths. To tell you the truth, there was part of me and I think part of many of my colleagues who had become so accustomed to that, that part of us believed he was virtually immortal, that this moment would never come. And so adding to what you said earlier about the kind of journalistic doubt that you always have about not wanting to report something before it happened, there was part of me that instantly, simply couldn't believe it, that this man who had overcome so much, who had faced adversity so often had finally succumbed.
BROWN: And I asked you at the very beginning of our coverage, you, whose job it is to cover this man and this institution, you are a good and tough reporter. When those bells tolled tonight, what went through your mind?
ALLEN: Well, I think the first thing that went through my mind was I can't believe we're here. The second thing that went through my mind was that the irony that the pope would pass this evening, on the eve of this Divine Mercy Feast that was so near and dear to his heart. And I thought to myself, at some level he must have known. In other words, this grand communicator, this master actor, picked precisely the right moment to craft his exit from the stage and there was something about that that just felt right.
BROWN: There are those who say that we know when to let go. We know when the time is right to let go. John, we have much more from you.
Christiane Amanpour is in St. Peter's -- Christiane. AMANPOUR: Aaron, thank you. And just listening to John describe Joaquin Navarro-Valls' last reaction really when he was asked about the pope, how he teared up and was not able to speak anymore, this was a man who had been by the pope's side as his official voice, for years and years. I remember the only time I came into contact with him, really, was, well, on the pope's trip to Sarajevo, on the pope's trip to Cuba, but also during the U.N. Population Conference in Cairo, in the mid-'90s. And if you remember, and this, again, speaks to the more controversial aspects of the pope, when it comes to today's world, there, they were talking about the population explosion, how to help the environment, how to help, you know, the resources of the world. And really, the Vatican was pitted against many of the developing nations in terms of refusing to accept the notion that there should be birth control to encourage lower populations, etcetera. And it was Navarro-Valls who we talked to all the time about it and he had to maintain the strong line. And it's really interesting when we're talking about the great influence the pope had, the love that he inspired amongst people all over the world, not just Catholics, but people of other different faiths as well, to remember that they were so many points of controversy that for some Catholics were too great to be able to withstand, and turned some Catholics away. Even though many people say they loved him personally, they decided that they had to, in some cases, follow their own conscience, and not his.
And we're reminded that he was very pained by the terrible explosion of sexual abuse scandals in the United States, in Australia, and in some other parts of the Catholic congregation over the last couple of years, how he summoned all the bishops and archbishops here to Rome for a talking to, and how, you know, those elements brought some sort of shadow and sadness to, you know, to this religion. How do you think those people who felt turned off, if you like, those Catholics, by some of the more doctrinaire teachings of this pope, how will they get over this?
MORRIS: Well, I think -- I remember, first of all, a little personal experience with -- in regard to this point that you're making, Christiane, being right there in St. Peter's Square when people were chanting, "John Paul II, we love you" and even in Spanish, often times, "The whole world loves you." John Paul II would shake his finger and say, "Not everyone loves me. Not everyone loves me." He was very aware that what he was preaching, what he was teaching was not an easy gospel. That's the gospel that Jesus Christ preached. It was not an easy gospel. But what he was convinced of that these teachings of the Catholic Church, especially in the area of morality, eventually leads to happiness. In other words, that human beings are made in such a way that when we follow a certain way of life, it leads to ultimate happiness whereas; immediate satisfaction doesn't always do that.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me just ask you, you talk about this was gospel, this was church doctrine. But some of the controversial issues are actually not about doctrine. Let's say celibacy amongst the priesthood...
MORRIS: Right. AMANPOUR: ...which has had, let's face it, something of a negative effect on a number of priests in the Catholic Church. That's not doctrine. That is tradition. That was something that was written by one of the popes...
AMANPOUR: ...as the best way forward. How do you -- do you see that there's any room to change that particular tradition? Do you think that that might happen under the next papacy in order to bring more priests into the priesthood?
MORRIS: Right. Maybe I could give my personal example. The reason why I was attracted to the priesthood was not because there was going to be a nice way of life, a nice business career but rather, I met a good priest. I said this priest is giving his whole life and he is willing to give up a lot of other things: family, marriage, children, business, money, all of these things. And it was the very fact of giving this up in order to give my whole life totally to God, that's what attracted me. What we need right now are not a lot of priests, what we need are good priests.
AMANPOUR: What about women? The pope, the Catholic Church simply refuses to ordain women. Based on the priests said that Christ only had male apostles.
AMANPOUR: Is that fair? Is that Ok? Is that relevant for the modern world? Many women feel disenfranchised.
MORRIS: Sure. John Paul II had a very special relationship with women as well. He actually was the one who coined the phrase that was -- has been used by theologians, by commentaries all over the world, the feminine genius, in other words, that the question is not putting up a power struggle between a man and a woman, right, why can they do this and we can't but rather, what is the role of each one of us. As a man, I can't have babies. It doesn't make me any worse because of it. It means that as a man, I'm called to perform myself in a certain way. John Paul II was not about to say, let's open up the doors to -- so that everyone can do whatever they want, as if that were really going to make us happy or free.
And with regards to female priesthood, in particular John Paul II made a definitive statement saying, "This is not something that I have the authority to decide. This is something that's come from God."
AMANPOUR: When you talk about something that's come from God, and you look, you are a priest yourself; you are heavily invested in this way of life that you've chosen, in this huge Catholic Church. One point one billion people around the world follow this religion. And you know that in two weeks' time, maybe it will take three or four weeks, a new pope will be elected, at a turning point. It must be a turning point after a quarter of a century of one pope's rule.
MORRIS: Sure. It's the only one that I remember. AMANPOUR: Exactly. So what do you think the Catholic flock is looking for? What do you think is necessary in the next pope?
MORRIS: I think we look at John Paul II for that answer. In these last months, years, people were looking to see who is he pointing to. I don't think he was pointing to anyone. I think he trusted in the power of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, and he knew that he was fulfilling a vocation and he was doing his part. And what we're looking for may not be the thing that God wants.
AMANPOUR: We've spoken a little bit about some of the front- runners, some of the popular or rather better-known names amongst the cardinals who have been perhaps touted as the next pope. We've talked about the cardinal of Nigeria, Arinze, and we've talked about Cardinal Ratzinger. We've talked about several others. Is the Catholic Church ready for an African pope or an Asian pope? I mean, is there some politics at play? What exactly goes into, do you think, in choosing the next pope?
MORRIS: That's funny. As we were standing here somebody grabbed my leg a few minutes ago and said, "We need an Italian pope." Certainly, all of us have what we would like to see. But 450 years without having anyone but an Italian, and look how we've embraced Karol Wojtyla, a Polish pope. Nobody would have ever imagined that. I think we can handle anyone.
AMANPOUR: Do you know -- I was actually talking to many of the people who filed in yesterday, because really, yesterday I think, last night, people believed that he was breathing his last, and going forward on that night. And even some of the officials of the Vatican said, this night Christ will open the door to the Holy Father. But there, Italians were talking about this very issue, about how they had felt a little bit put off 26 years ago when a non-Italian pope had been elected for the first time in four and a half centuries. I mean it was mind-boggling that it was four and a half centuries that a...
MORRIS: That's right.
AMANPOUR: ...non-Italian pope was elected. But they said that, you know, we feel today and we have felt that for a long time that that was an uncharitable thought, that this pope has been so magnificent. And as Italian, as any Italian and with a deep love of Rome, and the whole -- obviously the whole Catholic Church and the whole world, they felt that he was just as good as an Italian priest.
MORRIS: That's right.
AMANPOUR: But they are counting on it.
MORRIS: That's right.
AMANPOUR: People are in there...
MORRIS: We're in Italy.
AMANPOUR: ...saying we should get the papacy back. It's interesting to hear that.
MORRIS: That's right. And we'll see what happens, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: We will -- Aaron.
BROWN: Christiane, as we approach 2:00 in the morning here in the Vatican, and in Rome, we end this hour with a story I told a few hours back because as we talk about what goes in the days ahead, and the importance of the history and the theology and all of those other things that will make up the coverage of this historical moment in the days ahead, we ought not lose sight of the humanity of the person we're talking about.
A young man told me a story today about when he was 14 and met the pope. And as you can imagine being 14-year-old Catholic Roman meeting the pope is -- any pope would be an extraordinary thing to have happen and he was very nervous. And he's telling me. And that the pope put out his hand so the young man could, as tradition and ritual calls for, kiss his ring. And this man telling me the story says he was so nervous he forgot what to do, so he put out his hand and shook the pope's hand. And the pope broke out in a big broad smile and gave this man, this 14-year-old then, a big hug.
He was many things. He was a leader. He was a theological, historical marker, but he was also a man who understood perhaps as well as any important figure of our time humanity. And that's something to keep in mind as we go forward in these days.
Anderson Cooper joins our coverage now here in Rome.
Anderson, good evening to you.
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