Return to Transcripts main page


Pope Francis Speaks at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 24, 2015 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Francis is, is all in, so to speak, on the issues of the family. There we see him on the screen. He's called two summits of Catholic bishops from around the world, devoted to issues around the family. He's going to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in a couple of days.

And when he talks about the family, you know, we always want to know does that or does that not mean gay marriage. The answer is, yes, but, I mean, he would see the redefinition of marriage moving away from the one-man/one-woman model as dangerous. But when he talks about the rest of the family, he has a much wider vision. He would talk about youth unemployment, for example. He would talk about the impact of immigration policies, that divide families. He would talk about armed conflict and leaving a whole generation of orphans as a threat. Yes, it means gay marriage but it means much more.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, you were mentioning the Supreme Court justices. This United States Supreme Court ruled on gay marriage. The Irish, in Ireland, one of the most Catholic nations in the world, had a referendum which overwhelmingly went for, and this church has an idea of keeping demographics of the Catholic Church inside and on the benches while the Hispanic and Latinos are growing at an exponential rate.


But let's take a moment and listen to the pope as he walks into Pope Patrick in the City. This is where he'll be meeting with many members of Washington, D.C.'s homeless community. And after this, he'll be having lunch with leaders of Catholic Charities. Really is a remarkable moment for any church, where people just go on Sundays or go to make confession to have the pope visit.

Let's just take a listen.



TAPPER: Pope Francis in St. Patrick in the City Church. A real vision of modern America -- not just America, the world -- with so many parishioners there, Smartphones in hand, taking video, taking selfies, capturing this moment. Almost everybody, when the pope first walked in the door, there was a sea of cameras being held in the air. AMANPOUR: John, talk us through some of the challenges, the real

challenges, despite this outpouring of joy and welcome and deafening sound, talk us through some of the challenges of increasing the church.

DONALD WUERL, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON (through translation): This is for your nourishment and strength, to keep you going.

TAPPER: That was Pope Francis praying at the statue of Virgin Mary and Child, now walking away with some church leaders. He's at St. Patrick in the City.

AMANPOUR: I believe that's Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington.

TAPPER: Archbishop of Washington, OK. And a very close collaborator of the pope. For instance, when the pope called the Senate of bishops, he asked him to be --


AMANPOUR: Am I not mistaken that that was that because he demoted Cardinal Burke?

TAPPER: Burke was never -- Cardinal Burke was never on that drafting committee. But it is true that Cardinal Burke, who emerged s a champion of the traditional opposition on some proposals of Senate, was removed from his position as head of the Vatican Supreme --


AMANPOUR: Of course, he's an American. He actually, I think, got under the pope's skin when he said the church seems to be a boat without a rudder. We don't know --


[11:35:11] TAPPER: -- and Cardinal Burke suggested publicly the pope owed the church an apology for its confusion on its teaching on marriage.

AMANPOUR: I was asking you just before we saw him praying -- and he may start to speak in a moment -- but the church is diminishing on the east coast, in the Midwest, and growing out west. We'll talk about that in a minute.

POPE FRANCIS (through translation): It is a pleasure to see you here. Good morning. You're going to hear two statements, one in Spanish and one in English.


POPE FRANCIS (through translation): The first word I wish to say to you is thank you. Thank you for welcoming me and for your efforts to make this meeting possible. Here I think of a person whom I love, someone who is and has been very

important throughout my life. He has been a support and an inspiration. He is the one I go to whenever I'm in a bind. You make me think of St. Joseph. Your faces remind me of his.

Joseph had to face some difficult situations in his life. One of them was the time when Mary was about to give birth to have Jesus. The Bible tells us that while they -- the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth in a manger because there was no place for them at the inn. The Bible is very clear about this. There was no room for them. I can imagine Joseph with his wife, about to have a child, with no shelter, no home, no place to stay. The son of God came into this world as a homeless person.

The son of God knew what it was to be a homeless person. What it was to start life without a roof over his head, we can't imagine what Joseph must have been thinking. How is it that the son of God has no home? Why are we homeless? Why don't we have housing? These are questions which many of you may ask daily. Like St. Joseph, you may ask, why are we homeless without a place to live? These are questions which all of us might well ask. Why do these, our brothers and sisters, have no place to live? Why are these brothers and sisters of ours homeless?

[11:40:54] Joseph's questions are timely even today. They accompany all those throughout history have been and are homeless. Joseph was someone who asked questions. But first and foremost, he was a man of faith. Faith gave Joseph the power to find light, just at the moment when everything seemed dark. Faith sustained him amid the troubles of life. Thanks to faith, Joseph was able to press forward when everything seemed to be holding him back. In the face of unjust and painful situations, faith brings us the right that scatters the darkness.

Joseph, faith makes us open to the quiet presence of God at every moment of our lives and every person and in every situation. God is present in every one of you, in each one of us. I want to be very clear, we can find no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing. There are many unjust situations, but we know that God is suffering with us. Experiencing them at our side, he does not abandon us. We know that Jesus wanted to show solidarity with every person. He wanted everyone to experience his companionship, his help and his love. He identified with all those who suffer and weep, who suffer any kind of injustice. He tells us this clearly, I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

[11:45:23] Faith makes us know that God is at our side. That God is in our midst and his presence spurs us to charity. Charity is born of the call of a God who continues to knock on our door, the door of all people, to invite us to love, to compassion, to service of one another. Jesus keeps knocking on our doors, the doors of our lives. He doesn't do this by magic, with special effects, with flashing lights and fireworks. Jesus keeps knocking on our door, in the faces of our brothers and sisters, and in the faces of our neighbors and in the faces of those at our side.

Dear friends, one of the most effective ways we have to help us is that of prayer. Prayer unites us. It makes us brothers and sisters. It opens our hearts and reminds us of a beautiful truth, which we sometimes forget. In prayer we all learn to say, father, dad. And when we say father or dad, we learn to see one another as brothers and sisters.

In prayer, there are no rich and poor people. There are sons and daughters. In prayer there is no first or second class. There is brotherhood. It is in prayer that our hearts find the strength not to be called an insensitive in the face of injustice. From prayer God keeps calling us, opening our hearts to charity. How good it is for us to pray together. How good it is to encounter one another in this place where we see one another as brothers and sisters, where we realize that we need one another.

[11:50:04] Today, I want to be one with you. I need your support, your closeness. I would like to invite you to pray together for one another, with one another. That way, we can keep helping one another to experience the joy of knowing that Jesus is in our midst. And may Jesus help us to solve the many injustices that he knew first, that of not having a home.

Are you ready to play with me?


POPE FRANCIS (through translation): I've started in Spanish and you continue in English.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.


POPE FRANCIS (through translation): Before leaving you, I would like to give you God's blessing. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his continence upon you and give you his peace. And please don't forget to pray for me.

Thank you.


TAPPER: Pope Francis, reciting the Lord's Prayer. After this, he is going to meet with some members of the Washington, D.C., homeless community. He'll also lunch with people, leaders of Catholic Charities.

He's also going to visit a statue called Homeless Jesus.


TAPPER: I don't know if we have the images of that statue. Homeless Jesus was a statue that just came to Washington, D.C., earlier this year. There it is. On Ash Wednesday, it was blessed by Cardinal Wuerl here in D.C. The only way to tell it is an image of Jesus is by the wounds on its feet. And it is in homage, the Canadian sculptor who made it, to Matthew 25, the idea that that -- tht the way that society treats the least of us is the way that society treats Jesus.

And how are we treating the least of us? That is why Pope Francis is bringing attention to the homeless right at this moment.

Let's go to Carol Costello who, I believe, is at Catholic Charities where the pope will be lunching soon.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The pope spoke very beautiful words and words do matter, but deeds do matter. As a wise Southern Baptist told me, the pope is a master at symbolism.

There's a passageway that connects St. Patrick's to Catholic Charities here. The pope will be walking out and greeting 200 homeless people from across the Washington, D.C./Maryland area. They are so excited. I hear the announcement going up now. All of the people assembled here have been asked to stand. And the pope, it's hoped, when the pope goes through that door, he will bless that statue you were talking about. As the pope goes out that door, it's directly to his left, Homeless Jesus, with the wounds on the feet, and Jesus as a homeless person, and then the pope will bless the lunch.

In fact, lunch was served just about an hour ago. These people have had to wait and these are hungry people, I may remind you, so it's been difficult for them to wait this long. But they've done so, so patiently. The pope will then bless the meal and then it's hoped that the pope will go from table to table and greet the most vulnerable among us.

[11:55:22] Because, let's face it, that's his message today, Jake. He wants us all to think about what we can do, those of us who are fortunate enough to have a hot meal every night, and we never think about it, the pope will ask us to think about what our responsibility is to help these kinds of people.

TAPPER: All right, Carol, thanks so much.


AMANPOUR: Carol and Jake, it is actually extraordinary to imagine those people in there, hungry, homeless, waiting to get something, and yet, waiting for their spiritual leader.

And he does this relentlessly, doesn't he, Father Kesicki and John Allen? I mean, he just does not miss an opportunity to put that spotlight on the poor, on the dispossessed and to do whatever he can for them.

ALLEN: I've covered every 10 of his foreign trips so far, and these are always the centerpiece moments for him. The truth about Francis is, as much as we want to make his speech to Congress this morning the centerpiece of our attention because we've got lots political fat to chew on, if you ask him, what's the highlight of his day, it's what he's going to do right now. These are the settings where he always comes alive. You see that, the body language changes, the posture changes, the face lights up. The expressions become more animated. The language becomes more of the heart. These are his people. They were before, when he was in Buenos Aires, and they are now, as pope.

AMANPOUR: He's making a quick stop at the chapel. We can't see that. We're still waiting to come to the Catholic Charities area.

Father, he is a Jesuit. They have that tradition of getting right down in there. Tell us a little bit about that.

FATHER TIMOTHY KESICKI, PRIEST: He was part of a congregation of Jesuits that came up with a decree that said the judgment should have an optional order for the poor. The poor should always take precedence. We've seen that take place in his ministry. Very much what he's doing today is part of his ministry.

AMANPOUR: And it started all the way back in Buenos Aires. He went to the soup kitchens. He's been doing that forever. This is not just something he brought out as a papal motif.

KESICKI: When he was archbishop, if a newly ordained priest was liked by Cardinal Borgolio, he was sent to a slum parish. Whenever he saw priests, he wanted to see how dirty their shoes were. If they didn't have dirty shoes, it meant they weren't working, they weren't with the poor.

TAPPER: And, John Allen, the pope signified -- or symbolized he was going to keep this up on the first Holy Thursday, where he was seen washing the feet of young people who had been in trouble.

ALLEN: Yes, absolutely. And he's followed through on that time and again. I remember when he went to South Korea, which was the first time he used English in public, he made exactly one change to his schedule because he wanted to go to a center for sick and disabled children on the outskirts of Seoul, which was by far the most mesmerizing imagery of that trip. He was scheduled to be there for 15 minutes. He was there for more than an hour. These were children so disabled that as the pope was speaking to them, you could hear the wails of agony in the room. And the pope got about halfway through his speech and basically said, this has no point, and he came down off the dais and just started moving around the room one by one, embracing these children, many of them wheel-chaired, some on gurneys to be brought in the room, wiping away their tears. That's the Francis magic.

AMANPOUR: It does take us back, again, to his very first trip outside the Vatican after becoming pope. He went to Lampedusa. That was two years ago. It's only gotten so much worse since, the plight of refugees, the fact they're coming in so great numbers to Europe, and the U.S. now says it will accept some. So he was really early on that as well.

TAPPER: And in fact, he's been calling for parishes in -- or diocese, rather, in Europe, to take Syrian refugee families. He said, starting with my own in Rome --


ALLEN: Actually, two of them, two working churches inside the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica and St. Anne's Parish, which is the parish church for sort of the workers bees in the Vatican. And both of them have agreed to take in a refugee family. In fact, Francis told us on the plane that he -- coming over to Cuba at the very outset of this trip, that he had recently gone to visit the Syrian refugee family now living in St. Anne's parish and was very moved about his experience. When I went down there immediately after his election as pope, I met a parish priest in one of these and I said, the thing about the pope being the bishop of the slums, I said, is that P.R. or is that real? He said, go out and ask the people. We stopped people at random. Before they even verbalized an answer, they ran into the tin and wood shacks they called homes, produced a picture of Borgolio baptizing their kids, or confirming their nephews, or sitting in their living rooms when their husbands died, because that's where he spent his time.

TAPPER: We're expecting the pope to come out any moment now.