updated 4/13/2005 12:29:29 PM ET 2005-04-13T16:29:29

Guest: Marguerite Michaels, Jeff Israely, Bill Owens, Timothy Dolan, Dan Rostenkowski, John Strynkowski

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  In Vatican City, a spectacular procession carries Pope John Paul II‘s body into Saint Peter‘s Basilica, as millions say a final goodbye.  And around the globe, millions more are mourning the death and celebrating the life of this pope.  Could any other world leader have drawn so many people to one place? 

From the Vatican, I‘m Chris Matthews.  And this is a special edition of HARDBALL.  

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  And welcome to this very special edition of HARDBALL, live from Vatican City in Rome. 

We‘re bearing witness to this moment of history, where, earlier today, Pope John Paul II‘s body, accompanied by the cardinals and bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, was carried through Saint Peter‘s Square to the applause of the crowds, gathered for a glimpse of their late pope.  The pope‘s body now lies in state inside Saint Peter‘s Basilica behind me, where millions will come to pay their final respects. 

And, just as the pope reached out and traveled to meet the people of the world throughout his reign, now the people of the world are coming to his home in this ancient city, the eternal city, to bid their final goodbye. 

I‘m fortunate to be joined right now at the Vatican by Monsignor John Strynkowski, director of Saint James Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York, and a man who lived 14 of his life here. 

MSGR. JOHN STRYNKOWSKI, RECTOR, ST. JAMES CATHEDRAL OF BROOKLYN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You witnessed the previous funerals of popes, Paul VI, John Paul I.  How does this strike you?

STRYNKOWSKI:  Well, Paul VI died during the summer.  So, many people were on vacation, so the crowds were not as big. 

For John Paul I, there were large crowds because of the shock, the suddenness of his death.  And so, I think that brought a lot of people in because of sympathy for what had happened and love for him as well. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I have some sympathy tonight for the people waiting in line, Monsignor.  We‘re going to get a shot of this. 

If you go outside here, below where we‘re standing right now, into the Saint Peter‘s Square area behind—there, you see them coming in.  But what you don‘t see in that picture, way back in line, almost like a mile of people, all much wider apart than that, without—they‘re even giving out water bottles to help these people stand up.  Are they going to be able to handle this tonight? 

STRYNKOWSKI:  I don‘t know.  I think many people will be there until the morning, because also they‘re going to close the Basilica from 2:00 to 5:00 for cleaning purposes.  So, people—and it a chilly night.  People are going to be out there waiting patiently. 

But they‘re singing.  They‘re clapping.  They‘re praying. 

MATTHEWS:  And they‘re packed like sardines. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  And they are.  They are.

MATTHEWS:  And if you fall in this crowd, you can‘t see it closely, but if you fall in this crowd, you are not going to fall down very far, because it is so crowded. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  I hope—I think we‘re expecting two million people to come to a city that only has 2.5 million people as residents. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  That‘s right.  That‘s right.  It is going to be quite the feat to see how, where all—everyone is going to be organized and located for that mass. 

MATTHEWS:  We have the president coming on Wednesday, I believe right now.  That‘s the schedule.  Perhaps some former presidents will be coming.  We‘ll be announcing that tomorrow on NBC and MSNBC. 

Let‘s look, by the way, at what‘s coming up this week, sort of a look at the coming events here at the Vatican this week.  The body of Pope John Paul II will lie in state at Saint Peter‘s Basilica.  Then, on Friday, the funeral, to be held at 10:00 a.m., Rome time—that‘s here -- 4:00 a.m.  Eastern Daylight Time.  That‘s back home.  The pope will be interred in the grotto beneath Saint Peter‘s.  And the next big event, of course, will be the meeting of the cardinals to select the next pope. 

And I don‘t want to get too irreverent here, but I notice, in Ireland, Monsignor, they‘re already betting on this. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  And they‘re betting on a fellow named Tettamanzi from Milan to be the next pope.  I think the odds are 11-7 right now.  We are going to get away from that.

But I want to talk to you about a more serious question, which is canonization.  The secretary of state, the former secretary of state here, said that he‘s the great, Pope John Paul II is the great.  Only two other popes had that title.  Does that suggest there is going to be a move for canonization? 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Not necessarily, because there are many popes who are saint.  But, as you point out, only two are also considered great. 

So, in a sense, the two things are somewhat separate. 

MATTHEWS:  There are 78 popes, I think, who are...

(CROSSTALK)

STRYNKOWSKI:  Yes.  That‘s right. 

But the thing is that the great—the word great is something that will grow with time.  It is not something that requires an official declaration. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  It is something that people begin to say more and more and then it becomes the customary way of saying it. 

MATTHEWS:  Canonization in modern times is a very, almost scientific process, isn‘t it? 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Well, it does require miracles. 

MATTHEWS:  Scientifically demonstrated. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You can‘t just say a miracle, a miracle, and run into the streets. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  That‘s right.  No, no.

MATTHEWS:  Tell me how a miracle has to be demonstrated. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Well, it has to be examined by a medical team, and not -

·         the team is not necessarily all Catholic.  They want people to be objective and professional.  And so, they require all the records and they require certain other criteria in terms of how the miracle evolved or what happened.  Was it sudden or did it take time?  And then they verify it. 

MATTHEWS:  It can‘t just be a cancer going into remission. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  No.  No.

MATTHEWS:  It has to be something that is inexplicable. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  That‘s right.  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  And that usually takes, under the procedure, one miracle through the intercession of the late pope for beatification.

STRYNKOWSKI:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  And then a second for full canonization. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  That takes, generally, five years. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  At least, at least.  Even with Mother Teresa, it—she was beatified, but now we have to await canonization. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about a temporal issue, the replacement of this pope.  Without getting into the Irish betting odds on this, Father, let me ask you about this being a tough act to follow.  Talk about it. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Well, I think the thing to remember, though, is that every pope in a sense redoes the job description. 

Certainly, John Paul II has created expectations on the part of people around the world of what the pope should do, what he should be like.  But once a man is in the position as pope, he can redefine the papacy according to his own experience, his own personality, his own background, as John Paul II did.  He was quite different from Paul Vietnam, who was quite different from John XXIII.  And you can keep going back that way.  So, the future pope could very well redefine the papacy according to his own background. 

MATTHEWS:  But, like in American politics, can a president be elected today who doesn‘t do television well?  Can a pope retreat and become again the phrase the prisoner of the Vatican? 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Oh, no.  No, I don‘t think so. 

But there are other ways of using television.  For example, could a pope allow himself to be interviewed by television in his own apartment, instead of going out into a crowd?  It is possible to do something on a smaller scale.  So, there are other ways of using the media than what has been done up until now. 

MATTHEWS:  I want you to do something unusual for you, Monsignor.  I want you to talk about the face of the late pope.  We‘re looking at his body coming in now.  He is in repose.  That‘s his body.  When he was alive, tell me about how his face taught people and spoke to people. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Well, he had a marvelous way of using his face.  His facial expressions conveyed warmth, reaching out to people, gentleness, humor, prayer, intense prayer.  He was very much able to show his inner feelings through his face.  I suspect that goes back to his experience as an actor.  But...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s called in acting—Jerry Stiller, Ben Stiller‘s father, once told me that.  He says, that is technique. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Did the pope have technique? 

STRYNKOWSKI:  He had technique, but he also had depth, I think.  It is more than just technique.  It is the intensity of spirit, of prayerfulness and genuine love for people. 

MATTHEWS:  A great actor with depth.

STRYNKOWSKI:  Exactly.  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  Sincerity. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  That‘s right.  Exactly.   

MATTHEWS:  And he wasn‘t faking it, of course. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Not at all.  Not at all. 

MATTHEWS:  It was for the real thing.  I don‘t mean to be irreverent. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  No, not at all. 

MATTHEWS:  But I think, like Ronald Reagan, in another way, in a secular way, was a great communicator, but he was also a man of deep conviction. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And this pope had the deepest. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Stay with us tonight, Monsignor.  I need you here. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  All right.  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  I need you here, not to hear my confession, but to tell me what‘s going on. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Monsignor John Strynkowski.  He will be staying with us throughout the hour. 

And coming up, one of America‘s prominent Catholic leaders, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Milwaukee Diocese, he will be joining us.  We‘ll have a lot more to talk tonight.  We‘re going to talk to Mel Martinez, the new U.S. senator from Florida, who escaped from communist Cuba with the help of the Catholic Church.  What an inspiration his life was and is. 

And, later, Former U.S. Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, a Polish-American, to talk about the only Polish-American pope ever and why, traditionally, Democratic Catholics seem to be titling right now—and we‘ll see how long they will—to the Republican Party.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, live from the Vatican, on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Pope John Paul II‘s epic battle against communism.  When we return, we‘ll talk to Senator Mel Martinez, who escaped communist Cuba with the Catholic Church‘s help.  And, later, former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski on the pope‘s political legacy.

HARDBALL returns from the Vatican after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to this special edition of HARDBALL from Vatican City. 

Archbishop Timothy Dolan has served as Milwaukee‘s archbishop since the year 2002.  He has met the pope several times and joins us now. 

Welcome.

Your feelings, Cardinal—Archbishop, Your Eminence, about what you saw today on television.  We got to see it.  I had the honor to be right here and watch it. 

ARCHBISHOP TIMOTHY DOLAN, ARCHDIOCESE OF MILWAUKEE:  Thanks, Chris. 

Good to be with you. 

And I envy you being in Rome and I envy you being with my old friend, Monsignor John Strynkowski. 

Hello, John. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  How are you?

DOLAN:  Chris, I run out of superlatives.  I run out of superlatives. 

Just when I think I‘m about cried out, just when I think there‘s no more lumps to come into my throat, I see something like you just displayed on the screen.  I see the body of Pope John Paul II carried through Saint Peter‘s Basilica.  I see the universal acclaim.  I see the tears.  You know, Chris, and it‘s just not over there in Rome—I think you got a box seat there.

But it is here in the United States, too.  Last night, we had a moving vesper service in our cathedral here in the archdiocese in Milwaukee.  You talk about people, all ages, all religions, no religion at all.  You should see the notes they‘re writing in our book of condolences.  I‘m running out of superlatives.

MATTHEWS:  Are you surprised?  I was out tonight with the monsignor looking at the crowd waiting to come here.  And I‘m telling you, as long as the airports are open and the trains, the crowds is going to grow throughout the night, throughout tomorrow and the next night and the next night. 

We‘re talking about something like two million people coming to this city of two million and a half to pay tribute.  Are you surprised at this kind of reaction? 

DOLAN:  I‘m not surprised, Chris. 

And it is only because I had the good fortune of living in Rome for seven years, from 1994 to 2001.  So, I kind of saw firsthand the impact that Pope John Paul II had on people.  I‘m thinking especially of the jubilee year, 2000.  I remember August. 

John, you know what August is like in Rome.  It is awful. 

(CROSSTALK)

DOLAN:  Over a million young people flocking there in August. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

DOLAN:  And so I‘m kind of used to the impact that he has on people. 

I‘m not surprised now. 

I think, internally, we Catholics have known this for a long time.  I think we‘re just thrilled and grateful that the rest of the world now is sharing in the esteem and gratitude that we‘ve had for this man for 26 and a half years. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you put together, Your Eminence, the turbulence in the Catholic Church?  I mean, people argue about things.  You‘ve read the polls.  We‘ll talk about them later about potential for a married priesthood.

DOLAN:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  Whether women should be priests, questions about whether we should vote pro-choice or pro-life in our voting and that sort of thing, the practice of birth control, which is so prevalent.  Put that somewhat, I don‘t like the phrase, but cafeteria Catholicism, up against this tremendous, almost hard as a rock man, who said, this is way it ought to be.  Listen up. 

DOLAN:  Well, first of all, Chris, you‘re right.  He always spoke with a lot of clarity and consistency. 

But he always spoke with immense compassion.  He‘s the one who said the best way to love somebody is to tell them the truth.  So, he did that well.  Secondly, this kind of interior turmoil that you refer to doesn‘t really surprise me.  I mean, right now, during the Easter season, in our liturgy of the word at the Eucharist, we‘re having our readings from the acts of the apostles. 

Heck, we‘re talking about just days after Jesus ascended into heaven.  There‘s already turmoil.  There‘s already dissension.  There‘s already troubles.  There‘s already persecution.  There‘s already disagreement in the church.  So, it is not all that new.  It might be a little bit more prominent today.  It might be better publicized. 

But I think there‘s always been those difficulties in the church. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

DOLAN:  Heck, all you got to do is look back to the founder of the church, Jesus.  Look what happened to him.  I mean, people rejected him.  People disagreed with him. 

So, we shouldn‘t be surprised it is going on today. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

The man being laid to rest this week, Pope John Paul II, do you think he connected with Americans?  You know, we‘re so American.  Even the Catholics are—well, I shouldn‘t say even the Catholic.  Catholic—

American Catholics are Americans and they have that kind of maverick streak.  Did he get that?  Did he understand this and put up with it or what? 

DOLAN:  Oh, I think he did.  And he himself was kind of a rather independent, creative man. 

I remember being told by somebody who worked very close with him in

preparation for his first visit to the United States in 1979, he studied

our normative documents, Declaration of Independence, the Federalist

Papers, the Constitution.  And he was amazed.  He called his priests first

thing in the morning and he said, he said, I thought America was a pagan

country.  What‘s with all these references to God?  What is with all this

reference to the innate human dignity of people and gifts that God has

given, inalienable rights? 

He was fascinated by the United States.  And I think he was initially surprised at the vigor of the Catholic Church in the United States.  Maybe some of the press that we had gotten he found wasn‘t true.  No, I think he suspected the church in the United States.  Did he challenge us to some things?  Sure, he did.  But, no, I always—I think there was a good alliance.  There was a good gel there. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you remind me of John Kennedy in all that vigor tonight, Your Eminence, lots of vigor from you tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I appreciate having you on from Milwaukee.  They‘re lucky to have you, Archbishop...

(CROSSTALK)

DOLAN:  I‘m envious.  I‘m envious us of you being over there in Rome,  Chris.  And I appreciate the invitation.

MATTHEWS:  I want to thank God and my network for having me here. 

Thank you very much, Your Eminence, from Milwaukee.

MATTHEWS:  Up next, Pope John Paul...

DOLAN:  And, Monsignor...

MATTHEWS:  Are you taking over my show? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Pope John Paul II‘s successful battle against communism, we‘re going to talk about that hot issue and the unique perspective of United States Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, who escaped communist Cuba as a teenager with the help of the Catholic Church.  That‘s a hot story coming back on HARDBALL.

You‘re watching us live from the Vatican, only on MSNBC. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  Pope John Paul II‘s travels were known for shattering barriers.  And his 1998 visit to Cuba was no different.  His holiness spent five days in the communist country.  And, as an act of deference, Fidel Castro declared a government holiday, giving the people of Cuba a chance to hear the pontiff‘s message. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to this special edition of HARDBALL. 

Senator Mel Martinez of Florida escaped communist Cuba at the age of 15 thanks to the help of the Catholic Church. 

Senator, thank you for coming on tonight. 

When you think of the Catholic Church and the battle against communism, it is pretty personal, isn‘t it? 

REP. MEL MARTINEZ ®, FLORIDA:  It absolutely is, Chris. 

I‘ll tell you, as a young boy, I saw my Catholic school where I had gone to school all my life, where my father went to school, closed and shut down.  And the priests that had been our teachers, our mentors, our baseball coaches, our friends, were summarily sent out of the country.  And so life as I knew it, my world, began to change because of that conflict between atheistic communism and the Catholic Church and their incompatibility. 

It was amazing to see then the systematic destruct of the church in the best way that they could by the communist system.  And so, you know, when I saw Pope John Paul II as someone who came out of that system and, if you read about his life and struggles against first Nazism and then communism, I knew there that I had a kindred spirit, someone who understood the world I had lived in.  And so, I have no doubt that, through his work with President Reagan and the many things that he did, that, you know, Poland today is free.  Eastern Europe is free because that battle of ideologies was ultimately won by our side. 

The good guys won it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why is—why is the bad guy, Senator, hanging around with the good guy in this picture?  What—he didn‘t even—he doesn‘t even let people in Cuba celebrate Christmas.  And here he is, trying to act like he is a pal of the holy father. 

MARTINEZ:  It is a terrible hypocrisy.  You know, he put on a business suit for that particular visit. 

I think what the—the thing to remember about the papal visit to Cuba was the profound impact the pope had on the people in terms of giving them hope and opening a door to them of not being afraid, you know, that phrase of, be not afraid.  When you live in subjugation, when you live under tyranny, or when you hear someone with his power, with his authority to say to you, be not afraid, thousands and thousands of people turned out to the papal masses. 

I mean, I had family members who went who were moved by that opportunity, that moment when they felt free to practice their faith, practice their religion in a way, frankly, that just hadn‘t been available to them.  It just wasn‘t that open.  Christmas was banned.  Going to church was something that would go as a mark against a child in their school records.  These are the ways in which they tried to destroy faith.  But, at the same time, it couldn‘t.  It might have destroyed practice, but not faith.  And that is what the pope rekindled in the Cuban people.

MATTHEWS:  If—if dictator Castro does come to this, I don‘t know what title to give him, because he gives himself any title he wants to. 

MARTINEZ:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  If Fidel Castro comes over here to the Vatican for the celebration of this great man‘s life, what would it mean to you?  What would be the statement? 

MARTINEZ:  Well, it would be a terrible hypocrisy, because, frankly, the principles that this pope believed in, the things that he stood for, the dignity of the individual, these are the very things that Castro has persecuted now for over 40 years. 

I mean, the Cuban American community feels aggrieved by this man and his actions.  And it is not about the property that he confiscated or whatever.  It is about the denial of human rights, the most basic freedoms, and, frankly, one of those being the freedom to practice your faith, which, while it has expanded a little bit, it‘s still terribly curtailed. 

And as someone who lives now in freedom, who has been able to be here, thanks to the intervention of the Catholic Church in my own life, I just can‘t be passive about the idea that a little bit of religious freedom is maybe all the Cuban people should be entitled to.  It ought to be complete and total, and they ought to have the ability of the church to go on television, to have a radio program, to be able to teach the children the faith, to have schools if they were to choose to do so. 

And so these the things that, today, the Cuban people still are not able to enjoy.  The pope opened a glimmer of hope.  The door needs to still be much further thrown open. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator, when we were young kids in America, in Philadelphia, growing up, we prayed every Sunday—I don‘t know if you knew this—for the conversion of Russia.  And throughout the United States, we did that.  Do you think that we will see the conversion, the reliberation of Cuba? 

MARTINEZ:  Well, I would certainly hope so. 

MATTHEWS:  When?

MARTINEZ:  I think the Cuban people are ready for that.  I think that there‘s been a tremendous explosion in the numbers of baptisms.  The numbers of people attending church has grown dramatically.  I just hope it will continue, because the important way in which we‘ll build a future civil society on that island is by the practice of faith and the expansion of that as one of the pillars of a civil society. 

Church is profoundly important to a society.  And that‘s where we‘ll begin to rebuild a future for the Cuban people.  And, you know, as we look to all of Latin America, Catholic faith has been a huge and important part of it.  And I know, Chris, there‘s a lot of hope that maybe it‘s Latin America turn in terms of a pope.  And I know there are some important candidates that are being thought about. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MARTINEZ:  And the cardinal of Cuba, in fact, may be even one of them.  Obviously, I don‘t get to vote on that.  The cardinals will be doing the voting there. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You get to vote on enough, Senator.  You don‘t get this one. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you very much, Senator Mel Martinez, who came to America with the help of the Catholic Church in part of its anti-communist efforts around the world, which so far have been pretty triumphal. 

MARTINEZ:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Catholics in America are traditionally Democrats, by the way, talking about our domestic politics.  But, recently, they have been voting Republican.  Largely, they voted for, as a majority, for Senator—for President Bush.  I‘m going to ask the old-time Democrat himself, Dan Rostenkowski, and Republican Governor Bill Owens of Colorado what is going on out there.  Why are the Catholics tilting Republican right now? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, live from the Vatican, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to this special edition of HARDBALL from Home. 

I‘m right above Saint Peter‘s Square here. 

So, what was the pope‘s influence on American politics?  We‘re going to be joined right now by Colorado‘s Republican governor, Bill Owens, and legendary Democratic Congressman Dan Rostenkowski.  He represented the district in Chicago for the northwest side from 1959 to 1994. 

Let me start with Congressman Rostenkowski. 

You met with Pope John Paul II.  Tell us about your feelings about this fellow, who had such an impression on our country. 

DAN ROSTENKOWSKI, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN:  Well, I actually met the pope when he was a cardinal in Krakow. 

And he was very impressive.  Of course, he was younger then.  He was more vigorous.  And what an athlete he was, Chris.  But you could see in this individual a commitment to truth, a commitment to getting away from material things.  He was a spiritual leader in the true sense of the word.  And that, I guess, carried him through to become elected pope of the Catholic Church. 

We have a great picture of him here looking like a million bucks back at the Statue of Liberty. 

And I remember, Congressman Rostenkowski, when Lech Walesa came and spoke at the Statuary Hall.  And you were crying, you were so emotional about it.  Tell us about that combination of these two Polish heroes and what it meant to you.

ROSTENKOWSKI:  Well, you know, I think that there was a period of time when the Polish joke was something that was very insulting to the Poles. 

And when I—and when I became very emotional about Lech Walesa, it was when he made a speech in the House of Representatives and he said, a revolution took place and not a window pane was broken.  I mean, this is a reflection of the kind of leadership that Lech Walesa and Karol Wojtyla, the pope, led.  He was an amazing man with a commitment to truth and to spirit.  As a matter of fact...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to...

(CROSSTALK)

ROSTENKOWSKI:  Even in his interview with Gorbachev. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ROSTENKOWSKI:  He criticized communism.  But he also criticized capitalism. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ROSTENKOWSKI:  So, he was a man that spoke his mind and I think that‘s where the affection flowed to him. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go right now—I want to take a look at this poll with everybody here.  Here‘s an exit poll from the 2004 election presidential election, the one we just had in our country.  It shows that a small majority of Catholics voted, majority, for a Republican this time, George W. Bush, of course.  And a small majority, a slightly larger majority, voted for Jimmy Carter back almost 20 years ago. 

I want to go to the governor of Colorado, Bill Owens, a Republican. 

What has moved the tilt over to the right side from the left side, Governor, do you think? 

GOV. BILL OWENS ®, COLORADO:  You know, Chris, I‘m not an expert in demographic politics, but my guess is, is that the Catholic voter in the United States today is more of a middle-class voter than an ethnic voter, as it was as they were probably 20, 30, 40 years ago. 

The level of discrimination against the Catholics isn‘t probably what it was in the 1940s and ‘50s and ‘60s.  And so these voters are voting conservative because of their values, because of their middle-class beliefs.  And, as a Catholic myself, I can certainly sense it.  Sometimes, our church has also been attacked by some of the more radical elements within the Democratic Party, certainly not all. 

But, sometimes, the left wing of the Democratic Party has really not been very conducive to Catholic values.  And I think that is reflected in those exit polls as well. 

MATTHEWS:  We have Monsignor John Strynkowski here from—he‘s the rector of Saint James Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York.

And you‘re Polish American as well.

STRYNKOWSKI:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you sense is going on?  Is it religion or is it economic upward movement that moves people to the Republican Party? 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Well, I think—I think the polls also show that regular churchgoing Catholics will vote pro-life because—and I think that‘s because of the pope‘s influence. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And are they more Republican?

STRYNKOWSKI:  I think so, yes.  Yes, I think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Rostenkowski, you are an expert at vote counting.  You represented that northwest side for so many decades.  You know the people.  Are they changing? 

ROSTENKOWSKI:  Well, Catholics are—are—are love mystery. 

And they love life.  And I think that what you‘re seeing in the Republican Party, a manifestation of religion.  And Catholics are very religious.  I think that there is an upward movement in the financial cycle.  But I also think that Catholics that I know are a little sick and tired of what they‘re seeing on television with respect to promiscuity.  And this is a reflection at the polls. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the Democrats, the leadership crowd, are too cold on religion? 

ROSTENKOWSKI:  Well, I think that they aren‘t warming up.  Certainly, George Bush has done a marvelous job with respect to asking people to have faith, asking people to pray.  And this is—this is a reflection in the polling place. 

MATTHEWS:  Why can‘t Pelosi do that?  Why can‘t Harry Reid do that? 

They‘re religious people.

ROSTENKOWSKI:  They‘re not the president...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t the Democrats think about religion?

ROSTENKOWSKI:  Chris, they haven‘t got the bully pulpit that the president has. 

And, you know, the one thing that I think George Bush has that is similar to what Pope John Paul II had was commitment and consistency. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ROSTENKOWSKI:  And there was nobody more consistent than the pope. 

And I think that George Bush, the president, exhibits that as well. 

MATTHEWS:  Last word, Governor Owens.  Your thoughts on the subject of the legacy of Pope John Paul II, as we honor his passing. 

OWENS:  Well, I think it will be twofold. 

I think, first of all, he really has revitalized the Catholic Church with, in his early years, his vigor, his willingness to travel around the world to spread the Catholic faith, and, second, the defeat of the Soviet Union.  With the Western countries, the way that he provided the moral force and clarity that helped drive the Soviet Union into the dustbin of history.  I think that those are his two legacies for the world. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Governor Bill Owens of Colorado. 

OWENS:  Thanks, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  And Dan Rostenkowski of Chicago.  I hope to see you out there next time I‘m out there, Congressman.  It‘s great to have you on tonight. 

And, of course, Monsignor John Strynkowski, who has been staying with us and will stay with us the rest of the evening. 

And, coming up, will the Catholic Church make Pope John Paul II a saint?  That‘s a hot topic over in the Vatican today.  We‘ll talk about that when HARDBALL returns from Vatican City.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  Three months before her death, Pope John Paul II welcomed Mother Teresa to the Vatican.  It was one of many visits that occurred between the pontiff and the nun and, sadly, one of her last.  In 2003, Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa in Saint Peter‘s Square.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, will Pope John Paul II be canonized?

HARDBALL is live from the Vatican City and we‘ll return after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s special coverage, live from Rome.

Polls show that roughly two-thirds of American Catholics would like to see priests be able to marry and women allowed to become priests.  In a moment, I‘ll be joined by Jeff Israely and Marguerite Michaels, both of “TIME” magazine, to discuss the pope‘s influence on American politics and what challenges the next pope is going to face. 

But, first, my colleague Tucker Carlson is here with a look at whether the Catholic Church will declare Pope John Paul II a saint—Tucker.

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC:  Thanks, Chris. 

In the last few days, this pope has been called many things, historic figure, spiritual leader, moral force.  But a growing chorus of voices has begun to refer to him as John Paul II the Great, in other words, as a saint. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POPE JOHN PAUL II:  I am happy to be with you in Madison Square Garden. 

CARLSON (voice-over):  In life, as in death, Pope John Paul II was one of the most visible people on Earth. 

POPE JOHN PAUL II:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Those who saw him either in person or through the mass media glimpsed a man who millions of Catholics believe may be one of the greatest popes in the history of the church. 

THERESA QUINN, TEXAS RESIDENT;  He is already a saint.  We honor that. 

CARLSON:  He continues to be more popular than ever.  And now, just days after his death, people are already talking about the church‘s highest recognition, sainthood. 

FATHER ANTHONY FIGUEIREDO, FORMER PAPAL ASSISTANT:  I believe that popular acclaim will lead the next pope to proclaim John Paul a saint much sooner than five years. 

MSGR. THOMAS MCSWEENEY, MSNBC ANALYST:  Yes, I think it is kind of a slam dunk.  This is one who has all credentials for being a saint.  He took light into every cultural, social, political darkness that exists in our society.  And he won by the grace of God. 

CARLSON:  Over the last 2,000 years, 10,000 saints have been named, among them, 78 popes.  At the time of his death, Pope John Paul II had the distinction of naming 482 saints, more than all of his predecessors combined. 

MCSWEENEY:  The picking of all these people, these contemporary individuals, as saints is making up for that great lack of, over the centuries, of recognizing that, in our midst, as we live right now, we have saints among us. 

FIGUEIREDO:  By proclaiming these 480-plus saints, more than 1,300 men and women who were beatified, the first stage on the road to sanctity, he was saying, everyone of you can also be a saint. 

CARLSON:  The last person to be beatified by Pope John Paul II was rMDNM_Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 2003. 

MCSWEENEY:  She‘s at that level right now where they will actually bring in people to argue against her.  They do a very vigorous process here.  There will be a devil‘s advocate, if you will, on her cause.  And then they will have to go through the miracle stage. 

CARLSON:  That‘s the stage many say John Paul II has already reached. 

FIGUEIREDO:  This holy father in his own life has worked miracles already.  The very fact you can gather between two and four million people to your funeral, that you can gather the president of the United States, you can cause the future king of England to break off his wedding must point to a miracle he has already worked in the hearts of people. 

CARLSON:  Public opinion aside, it will be up to the future pope to continue John Paul II‘s journey to sainthood.  Many of the late pope‘s followers believe he is already there. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a great report.  My colleague Tucker Carlson is going to stay with us throughout this conversation. 

I‘m joined right now—we‘re joined right now by “TIME” magazine‘s Rome bureau chief, Jeff Israely, and “TIME”‘s Midwest bureau chief, Marguerite Michaels. 

Thank you both for joining us, and Tucker.  And Father Monsignor John Strynkowski is still with us.

To become a saint in the Catholic Church, the normal procedure is, beatification, requiring one miracle in your name, then canonization, roughly in five years or longer, to become a saint, a second miracle.

STRYNKOWSKI:  But also, a certainty regarding virtuous life, that‘s part of the process as well.  So, it‘s not just miracles, but also the overall life of the individual.  So, that‘s important as well. 

MATTHEWS:  This sort of general conversation, this buzz about the man having fought the communists in Europe, defeating them and all the other good things he did, would they ever constitute miracles? 

STRYNKOWSKI:  I think that could be considered so.  That could be the case.  In fact, there‘s been serious questioning as to whether or not miracles are appropriate today, that maybe we ought to look at wonderful, monumental deeds that have influenced history and consider those to be qualifications for sainthood. 

Let‘s go now to Jeff. 

We‘re getting a little secular here, but it is not secular, because it so much political, Jeff.  This pope pronounced and declared and promulgated the beliefs of the Catholic Church, the discipline of having priests not marry, clerical celibacy.  There‘s buzz in America all the time about how that might be healthier.  People disagree on the issue.  Is this the kind of thing that the papacy can take up? 

JEFF ISRAELY, ROME BUREAU CHIEF, “TIME”:  Well, the question of celibacy is actually something that we could begin to see a change, an opening of a door.  As you said, it is a discipline.  It‘s a church discipline, as opposed to doctrine. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ISRAELY:  And there is talk, particularly amongst those who don‘t like this practice, who think that married priests should be allowed to help replenish the supply in the priesthood, that, with the right man, we could see a change there. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go back to America and Marguerite Michaels back in the—she covers the Midwest for “TIME” magazine.

Marguerite, the polls we‘ve seen—I just looked at some tonight—two-thirds of American Catholics believe that it would be OK, they think it would be OK for the church to decide, they would like them to, to let women become priests, to let men become married.  What‘s the reaction in the pews? 

MARGUERITE MICHAELS, MIDWEST BUREAU CHIEF, “TIME”:  Well, the pews, I guess, make up the poll.                 

But what is the name of the golf club where the Masters is played in Augusta?  I think they‘ll have women in that club before the church has women priests. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, do you think women want that to happen?  Or is it just something they answer in a poll question?  Is there a fervor out there, do you think, for women to actually become Roman Catholic priests? 

MICHAELS:  Well, there‘s certainly a fervor among a group of women.  I don‘t want to say all Catholic women are for this. 

But this is—this predates this pope.  This is a conversation.  And arguments have been raised for a long, long time on this issue.  And I...

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAELS:  I—go ahead. 

MATTHEWS:  When you were a Roman Catholic nun—my two aunts, my mother‘s two sisters, are nuns now.  Do you believe there‘s a feeling within the convent among all the 70-some thousand sisters in this country that women ought to be able to become priests? 

MICHAELS:  I don‘t think I could give you a numerical—I think that‘s a divided issue, frankly. 

I think that, in this country, women have played so—an increasing role in almost every profession there is.  And there is—it‘s just—it is a consequence of that.  It just flows from that, that they ought to be able to be priests.  Unfortunately, the great bulk of the electors in Rome right now are 46 Western Europeans.  And then you have the men who are working south of the equator in Africa and in Latin America.  And women‘s issues and women‘s place in those societies is very different from ours. 

MATTHEWS:  So you don‘t have—you don‘t have an electorate out there that‘s likely to care about women that much? 

MICHAELS:  I don‘t see it.  Maybe Jeff sees it.  I don‘t see it from here.  No, I really don‘t. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘re going to come back and talk to Tucker, Jeff and Marguerite again, as well as John, Monsignor John Strynkowski, about the American Catholic Church and what is happening.

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II live from an amazing city, Vatican City, tonight, where millions of people are coming here to wait in line to pay personal tribute to this great man. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back from the Vatican with Tucker Carlson, plus Jeff Israely and Marguerite Michaels, both of “TIME” magazine.  And with me sitting to my left is Monsignor John Strynkowski, director of Saint James Cathedral in New York.  He spent 14 years of his life here. 

You know, the reverence of tonight is so obvious.  And the feeling that people have for this late pontiff is so great.  And the lines go on and on. 

But I was struck today, Tucker, by the fact the British royal family announced, because of events elsewhere—that was their phrase—they‘re going to bump the nuptials between Charlie and Camilla a full day.  What does that tell you about the pecking order in the world today? 

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s—I mean, these are staunch Anglicans, right?  These are not natural friends of the Vatican.  It‘s amazing.  I would put it up there with Fidel Castro ordering three days of mourning in an officially anti-Catholic country for the pope.  I mean, at that point, you‘re bigger—you‘re huge.  You‘re bigger than Bono. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

CARLSON:  It‘s amazing.  It‘s amazing. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s to go Marguerite.  Let‘s to go Marguerite.

I know.  I agree, Tucker.

Let‘s go to Marguerite Michaels on that.

What did you think?  Did you have a little giggle about that, that Charles has to put off his second nuptials for the pope? 

MICHAELS:  Well, the poor thing. 

I mean, I‘m beginning to feel sorry for them and this whole wedding shtick. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAELS:  But, you know, among other things, I think the important thing here is, though—to remember—is the archbishop of Canterbury has got to be at the pope‘s funeral.  And I think that was a very huge issue for them. 

MATTHEWS:  I think it is important that Charles is coming, actually. 

I shouldn‘t be so tough on him.

Monsignor Strynkowski, after all those years of anti-Catholicism, now to see the Anglicans have to, because of a special event here in Rome, buckle down and take it for 24 hours. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Well, I would say a lot of people down in the square are saying, vive el papa. 

MATTHEWS:  Vive papa is the bigger question tonight and a bigger cause, I think, than the second marriage of Charles.

Anyway, thank you, Tucker Carlson, my colleague.  Thank you, Jeff Israely of “TIME” magazine, Marguerite Michaels of “TIME” magazine, monsignor John Strynkowski, who has been my confessor and teacher here.

We‘ll be back from Rome tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern.  It‘s a wonderful city to be in.  I‘m so glad the networks sent me here.  It is a great place to be for a Catholic.  It‘s a great story to tell for everybody. 

I‘m going to be joined by—tomorrow night—by one of America‘s prominent Catholic politicians, former New York Mayor—former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. 

Coming up right now, Keith Olbermann. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd.  The world has lost a champion of human freedom.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:  Even if you‘re not a Catholic, even if you‘re not a Christian, in fact even if you have no religious faith at all, what people could see in Pope John Paul was a man of true and profound spiritual faith.

ARCHBISHOP SEAN O‘MALLEY, BOSTON:  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. 

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE:  He spoke to the commoner and to the king, to the tyrant and to the democrat in that same language of freedom. 

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  His humanity, combined with his extraordinary spiritual authority, was unlike anything I‘ve ever met. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Lost the biggest and greatest pope in our history. 

And the whole Poland is mourning for him, and I also. 

POPE JOHN PAUL II:  And to everyone here, I offer the expression of my respect, my esteem, my fraternal love.  May God bless all of you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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