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Pope Francis Parades in Popemobile; Pope Francis Meets Bishops at St. Matthews Cathedral. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 23, 2015 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As we say, timing is everything in politics, and the timing of this pope could not have predicted we would be in this debate about whether Donald Trump is supposed to shut down at a town hall when the president of the United States is a Muslim when we all know he is not. Whether Ben Carson questions whether the Constitution allows or whether he could ever support a Muslim being president of the United States. Pope Francis could not have predicted he was walking into that environment.

But of course, when he speaks a message of tolerance, again, his messages to the flock of Catholics and anyone else listening here in the United States, and you can be sure some Democrats will say we should listen to the pope, not the voices we're hearing on the other side. And again, Republicans will find things in what he already said at the White House and what he says when he speaks to Congress tomorrow, and they'll say we wish Democrats and liberals would listen to the pope on these issues. That's all going to play out.

And it is remarkable. He's only the third pope to visit the White House. I remember traveling to the Vatican with both Vice President Cheney and President Bush during the Iraq war when Pope John Paul lectured both of them publicly about American policy in the middle of the war. I don't think -- yes, the issues of religious freedom were raised, the issue of life was raised.

I don't think there were as many visceral issues between the current president and the church at the moment. Although I would love to be a fly on the wall during the conversation about the refugee crisis. Because you can talk about the refugee crisis at the moment, and the president wants to allow more into the United States, and that's a political issue. Do they have a discussion about the root causes, the dysfunction in the Middle East, the world's inability to deal with the Syrian civil war? A lot of things in the conversation that we'd never get to.

And if I could ask a question of Delia, does the pope ever talk about his reactions? Washington's a pretty cool city. He's a tourist here for the first time. I know that's not why he's here, but he's going down a rather majestic place right now. He just walked through the White House. He's on his way around the neighborhood right now. I'd just love the perspective of the man as he visits new places around the world.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's one of the things we'll get, John, on the plane going back. That's when you get to throw him the big questions and say, so, what did you think for your first trip to the United States? We definitely will get a reaction from him when he flies back to Rome.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: On those plane flights, I mean, it is often when he goes back, he talks to reporters in a very kind of informal way that we rarely hear from any pope. How planned is that, and how nervous does it make those around the pope?

GALLAGHER: Oh, no, those around the pope don't get nervous, you know. He's in full control of what he says. But it is a little bit more structured than it used to be in the days of John Paul II who came back and would just talk for hours and hours. This time, you've got to submit questions via language group. The English speakers get together and decide one question. The French speakers get one question and so on so it doesn't take forever, so you get about six questions, maybe, between the language groups.

CHRISTOPHER COYNE, BISHOP: Sometimes there's some things that he talks about on the plane with the reporters that miss the general attention but really kind of form the whole way in which he approaches these things. Coming back from South America this summer, he got off on a little bit of a tangent talking to the press in a way of talking about how they interpret text and how they interpret situations. And he said, you know, you can take a word or a text out of isolation, but the most important thing is essential to interpret and address any text, interpretation that is comprehensive and not isolated. And so it's kind of like a great symphony of work that he's bringing forward in all these things.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: And again, as we go to a break here in the capital of the world in Washington, D.C., let's not forget that this pope and what he says publicly and privately to the president of the United States, the most powerful elected members of a parliament in the world, the U.S. Congress, could have a dramatic political impact, just like Pope John Paul II had dramatic political and church impact through his very, very lengthy reign. And --

COOPER: He's heading right now to St. Matthew's Cathedral. He's just arriving there. As you see, the bishops are gathering. This will be his first chance to speak to U.S. Bishops and their flock, all U.S. Catholics. That's next.



[11:35:33] POPE FRANCIS (through translation): All men and women in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to this program. The live coverage of the pope's amazing trip to Washington, D.C., and other cities around the United States. There he was leaving the White House. You just heard that little bit of his opening speech in which he talked about the most vulnerable. He is known as the pope of the global poor, and he certainly has made that clear in his opening statements, in his day, in his reach-out onto the parade. And now he's heading to St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington which is where President John F. Kennedy's funeral was held back in 1963. And thereafter, he'll be carrying on talking to bishops, and then the big mass that he's going to be delivering at Catholic University.

We're going to go to Michelle Kosinski who is at the White House and she has more for us about what was discussed behind closed doors with President Obama.

[11:40:00] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The White House just put out a pretty lengthy readout of the topics that came up between the pope and President Obama. Much of it is what we would expect, refugees, the crisis there and the obligation to help them, also the obligation to end poverty within a generation. They talked about extreme poverty and the stresses that that causes nations. Reconciliation between nations, likely that touched on Cuba, and also the importance of religious freedom and climate change.

They exchanged gifts. We don't yet know what the pope presented to the president, but we know what the president gave him, a metal sculpture of an ascending dove with metal that came from the Statue of Liberty from when it was restored. A pedestal attached to that is from historic wood that was taken from here at the White House. And also a key from the home of the first American-born saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton known as Mother Seton. So symbols there for the pope. And that's kind of along the lines of, generally, you know, the sorts of meaningful gifts that world leaders try to present to him.

So what we're waiting for is really more detail and maybe some other topics that came up during that meeting. What the White House puts out is general, but it's later that you really get the detail, like we got from President Obama the last time. He described the pope the last time they met as really operating on a different plane. And it's not always what you would expect. I think one of the best examples of that is, you know, you look at the issues of the day, and you think the pope is going to specifically respond to each one. But when he was asked not long ago by a reporter, for example, what are the biggest problems facing the Catholic Church today? Did he mention abortion? No. The crisis among priests and sex abuse? None of that. And nothing that you would expect. What he said are the biggest problems are loneliness among the elderly and the lack of opportunities for young people around the world -- Christiane?

AMANPOUR: Michelle, he really has his finger on the button, lack of opportunity for the young, poverty that he's talked about, the refugees, and also just a quick sort of clarification. We're hearing that the pope gave the president a medal from the World Meeting of Families. And of course, families is the big reason he's here.

But so interesting, Anderson and Michelle, to know what they talked about, about the refugees because it's one thing housing and helping them, it's another thing stopping the flow. The only thing that's going to stop the flow is stopping the war in Syria. No indication that that's anywhere close. And then, of course, poverty, ending extreme poverty is part of what both leaders will be talking about at the U.N. next week because this is the 70th anniversary, plus it's going to be the sustainable development goals are going to be rolled out at the U.N. this next week.

COOPER: And you see the U.S. bishops there waiting to hear from the pontiff.

We're joined by Bishop Christopher Coyne from the diocese of Vermont; also Delia Gallagher, our Vatican correspondent.

Bishop, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on how things have changed for you as bishop, who are sitting here in this audience under Pope Francis, if they've changed at all because of the emphasis this pope is putting on flexibility, the emphasis this pope is putting on mercy. Not new teachings at all, obviously, for the church, but perhaps a different emphasis, the desire to meet people where they are, to roll up your sleeves to get out there, and these, again, are live pictures of Pope Francis arriving at St. Matthew's for midday prayers and that meeting with the U.S. bishops.

CHRISTOPHER COYNE, BISHOP: To be honest with you, it has caused an awful lot of consternation at times within the conference of bishops.

COOPER: In what way?

COYNE: Well, there are men who -- you're asking a lot of men to make changes in the way they're appropriating in particular our national policy. In many ways we've been embroiled in a lot of the political issues, a lot of the cultural war issues in you want to use that around freedom of marriage, around the definition of freedom of religion, definition of marriage, abortion rights which we continue to maintain and challenge. But there's a real about-face that Francis is calling us to. And it's hard to, when you've been moving in one direction and as a pastor or as a bishop to all of a sudden begin to move in a different direction, and to change a large kind of shift in bureaucracy into a whole new direction. And so you'll hear guys saying I'm struggling, he's making my job harder. A lot of us are saying that's a good thing, you know.

COOPER: How does the change manifest itself? I mean, what logistically is different?

COYNE: Well, the United States Conference of Catholic bishops sets a three-year plan called Priorities and Plans that they establish very early on. And then that is our plan of how we're going to do things. And so once we're into that and all of the kind of administrative work and people that work for us is going in that direction and they've invested a lot of time and energy into following certain priorities, it's very -- to then come about and say we're going to change the priorities in a whole different direction now, and do we do it midstream or do we allow the three years that we're in to continue to be maintained, or do we shift, in light of what the pope is telling us to do?

[11:45:07] AMANPOUR: Bishop, do you think there will be some squirming in the seats there when he talks to them one on one or with a massive group? Because we do hear that he's been quietly sort of shifting the balance of power in some instances, moving traditionalists and conservatives who are challenging him, putting in more moderate reform in certain parishes?

COYNE: I don't think there's going to be squirming in the seats. I think we would hear him as the bishop to bishops, as our Holy Father. And we would hear the words of encouragement that he's going to say to us and the challenge he's going to say to us in the kind of charity and care that is intended for us.

COOPER: This is, of course, the pope in that Fiat. Now he's moved from the popemobile to the Fiat, arriving at St. Matthew's -- Delia?

GALLAGHER: One of the interesting things about this pope is that he has really emphasized that he is a bishop among bishops. The pope is also called the bishop of Rome. It is one of his titles. In particular, Francis wants to say that I am among you as a bother. That means what you say doesn't have as much importance but it's got a lot of importance for me. And that's what we're seeing with these meetings. He's inviting them over saying tell me what you think.

AMANPOUR: As he's being greeted by the director of the cathedral, what do you make if you read the rather interesting column by Francis Quinn, the former, I believe, archbishop of San Francisco, who's now elderly, but wrote a very interesting article, just in "The New York Times," about how this pope would have to deal with the flight of priests? Think about having celibacy as an optional cause, allow priests to marry because we're inviting married priests into the Anglican Church, how can you have a double standard? What about women? The pope said no women ordination. That is going to turn off a lot of Catholic women in the church. But he's also talking about more responsible roles for women. Archbishop Quinn said it's time for Vatican council 3 to have another big sort of new direction, so to speak.

COYNE: I wouldn't be open to that, a council 3, just because I don't see how we're there yet, you know. I think we're still trying to assimilate Vatican Council II. Councils don't occur one right after the other. So you have to kind of let things play out in terms of what we're already dealing with.

COOPER: Let's just listen in as the pope arrives at St. Matthew's.





COOPER: He is going to go back for some prayer before coming back out before the midday prayers and making remarks to the U.S. bishops and we will cover all of that live.


[11:49:51] COOPER: While he goes for some private prayer, we will take a short break, and we will return in a few minutes.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the coverage of Pope Francis' trip here in Washington. And these are pictures from moments ago when he arrived at the capital city where he is at St. Matthews, and he has come inside now. There you see him kissing the feet of the Christ on the crucifix. He has walked up to the altar where he will have private midday prayers and then addresses all of the gathered bishops all over the United States the bishop of Rome as he is known.

He's had massive crowds -- hasn't he Anderson --


AMANPOUR: -- lining up the route from the White House to downtown Washington to the here. And everybody is really anxious to know what he's going to say and what finally the result of this trip will be. It is exciting for many, daunting to others, and he has a little bit for everybody and a little bit of what he will have to says will offend or put peoples' backs out of joint as well for some. He is that kind of pope who speaks from the heart and no everything in one ideological line.

COOPER: It will also be interesting -- he spoke in English at the White House. We don't believe he will speak in English here during this meeting. Obviously, there will be a translation. But whether he is feeling freer speaking in Italian or Spanish, he often makes off- of-the-cuff remarks when he is more familiar with the language.

And these are the live pictures, and once again, we're seeing the pope.

[11:55:25] COYNE: What is interesting is we will have the Spanish and the Italian interpreters next to him. But I was speaking to some of them yesterday, and they said that I am from Mexico, and he is from Argentina and some of the idioms are hard to translate.

COOPER: And we believe he is speaking Italian to the bishops?

COYNE: Yes, that's what we've been told that this is the one time that he is going to be speaking in Italian and to why that decision was made, I don't know. I am sure that there are many bishops there who will understand Spanish as well.


AMANPOUR: And don't forget that this is the first Catholic of the United States, who was assassinated, had his funeral held there. And there is a beautiful medallion alluding to the history-making presidency of John F. Kennedy and not just for his politics, but also to the fact that he was the country's first Catholic president.


AMANPOUR: Well, that may be, having made the sign of the cross and walking into the main part of the church, that may have been the private area where he was saying prayers before going out into the main altar and the main space to have the prayers with the bishops and address them.

GALLAGHER: That is the tabernacle, the main tabernacle where the Eucharist is placed and that is the sort of gesture that he would do in any church to pray in front of to tabernacle.

COYNE: And he is not wearing the full vest, so it is a prayer service and not a full mass.