updated 4/13/2005 12:30:47 PM ET 2005-04-13T16:30:47

Guest: Steve Kloehn, John Leo, Andrew Sullivan, Kevin McCoy, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Mario Cuomo, Mary Ann Walsh

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight, St. Peter‘s Square, the faces of the faithful as far as the eye can see come to honor Pope John Paul II, over 18,000 an hour.  Over one million people pay their final respects to this great holy man as he lies in state.  Now the sights and sounds of history in the making. 

I‘m Chris Matthews with a special edition of HARDBALL live from the Vatican.  

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  And welcome to this special edition of HARDBALL live from the Vatican.

Thousands of mourners continue to fill St. Peter‘s Square, as you‘re watching right now, lining the surrounding streets to pay their final respects to Pope John Paul II.  The pope is lying in state at St. Peter‘s Basilica and he‘ll remain there through Friday‘s funeral.  Around the world, leaders are making their plans to attend the funeral.

And, today, the White House announced the president and first lady will lead a five-person delegation, which will include former Presidents Clinton and the senior Bush, along with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.  Separate bipartisan delegations have also been formed. 

With me tonight, Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

Sister, it is amazing to be here. 

SISTER MARY ANN WALSH, U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS:  Isn‘t it? 

It‘s incredible, this witness to faith.  It‘s a fabulous thing.

MATTHEWS:  I came in here from outside, as you did, from America.  And were you ready to see these lines of people? 

WALSH:  I didn‘t even imagine it.  And I‘ve coordinated papal visits to the United States and Ukraine.  I‘ve seen crowds.  And I know the pope attracts crowds, but I couldn‘t even imagine a crowd like this. 

MATTHEWS:  It is not rousing and it is not sad.  How would you describe it, these people waiting in line?

WALSH:  Peaceful and patient and serene. 

You know, I went around—last night, I walked along, and I thought, if we were in another country, every 50 feet or so, you would see somebody with a sign or somebody harassing the crowd.  Nothing like that.  Absolute peace.  And it wasn‘t as if they were part of a group.  It‘s not like it was an organized group. 

MATTHEWS:  No.

WALSH:  And young.  I was amazed at... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You know, people our age out there waiting on line for six hours, standing up, packed densely.  You can‘t even lean over.  You wouldn‘t be able to fall in that crowd.  You would not hit the ground. 

And yet, the police are very nice.  The police here, by the way, are very nice.  And they‘re not very militaristic.  And they come up and give bottles of water to people.  And if you have to be excused to go to a bathroom, you‘re let out of line and you come back in, allowed back in—and you‘re allowed to go back in place again. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And I thought it was pretty stunning here last night when we left.  And they had like a two-hour pause to sort of clean up the square behind us, to clean up the litter.  The people waited in line for a couple of hours and then they kept trooping through again. 

Let me ask you about—you know all the levels of religion.  You‘re a sister for life.  You know that people live on so many levels.  The level of people coming through here, explain what it tells you about the Catholic faith right now. 

WALSH:  It very much speaks about the universality. 

But what I was struck was the youth of the group, as well that you said the people our age.  But, Chris, there are people younger than us. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I know.

WALSH:  They are probably in their 20s and 30s.  And that was what amazed me. 

It wasn‘t—you go to some churches, particularly in an urban area, and there‘s a lot of really older people.  You don‘t see people in their 20s and 30s.

MATTHEWS:  In church. 

WALSH:  In church.

MATTHEWS:  I know.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s classic Italian, too, by the way, the older people.  The older women show up at church and the guys are doing something else. 

Let me ask you about what‘s going on behind the scenes.  You‘re a student of this church.  The cardinals are arriving.  They‘re making decisions.  No decision yet on when the conclave begins, right? 

WALSH:  No.  You can probably generally figure it out, because the instructions were all left by John Paul II when he redesigned how to handle a papal transition. 

MATTHEWS:  He said 15 to 20 days.  So we can figure mainly Monday after next. 

WALSH:  Yes, certainly the week after the next. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  ... beginning.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about being a sister.  And now it gets a little bit political, because my two aunts, as you know, are St. Joseph sisters in Philadelphia. 

And they talk about politics once in a while and social values.  And they come to Washington.  I remember they came to my old boss Tip O‘Neill one time and mau-maued him on some issues.  They wanted some social justice for poor people.  Do sisters want to have a bigger role later on in the history of the church, where sisters are not just teachers and sometimes clerical roles, but to play a more pronounced role? 

WALSH:  I hope your teachers aren‘t listening to hear you say just teachers. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

WALSH:  I can‘t imagine anything more powerful.

MATTHEWS:  You can‘t be better than a teacher, I know.  They made us who we are. 

WALSH:  They did, indeed.

MATTHEWS:  But anything—is there any kind of movement within the women in the church to ask for, seek, hope for a larger role? 

WALSH:  I think, under the pontificate of John Paul II, women have gotten an incredibly larger role. 

You know, under John Paul, you had the change in Canon Law, so that now you have got women in leadership positions.  In secular terms, they‘re at the table.  I got a call about a week ago, Sister—not a sister—pardon me.  A laywoman was appointed vice chancellor in the Diocese of Syracuse.  And the reporter said to me, is this unusual?  And I said, this is the legacy of John Paul II, that you have women in those positions.

MATTHEWS:  Is this too early?  The pope is going to be buried on Friday here in—here in the Vatican.  Is it too early to begin to talk?  Are people buzzing at all about which way the church is going right now?  I mean, when the people get together, the cardinals, are they talking about what is coming? 

WALSH:  Well, I think the pundits are buzzing, people like yourself and probably even like myself at times. 

But I think that there‘s a steadiness in the church that everybody is comfortable with.  We often the use the image the church is more like an ocean liner than a cigarette bolt. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WALSH:  It‘s not going to go zipping around.  It‘s going to very slowly change and change with the times.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about America right now, because we have—I think three of the cardinals have arrived now, Rigali from Philadelphia, Mahony from L.A. and McCarrick from Washington.  The three cardinals of the church have arrived here from some of the major cities.  Do you think the United States has a particular hope for next papacy? 

WALSH:  I think each of the cardinals is in there as an individual wanting the best for the Catholic Church.  I don‘t think they‘re looking nationalistically and what will be good for the United States.  What is good for the church?  There are problems that they see. 

The secularism, the secularism you find in the First World, the great disparity between the First and Third World, these are issues of great concern.  The relations, the interfaith relations are more important now than they ever were, given the rise of Islam and the connection with war in many nations. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a big agenda, the question of rich countries, poor countries, the responsibility of our kind of country to other countries that are poor, the relationship between Christians and Islamic people, especially during a time of trouble, right?

WALSH:  It is...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And also, a country like ours, which is mixed up with a lot of different religions, where the Catholic religion is a minority and how to deal with other religions who are larger. 

WALSH:  Well, the Catholic religion is a minority, but it‘s a significant minority.  It‘s about 65 million people.  So...

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s bring in a man who knows a lot about the secular world of being a Catholic in this country.

That‘s former New York Governor Mario Cuomo of the Empire State. 

Governor, thank you for joining us tonight.  We‘re with Sister Mary Ann Walsh, who speaks for the U.S. Conference of Bishops. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  She‘s basically the Catholic Church you‘re talking to right now.  There she is. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  And Mario Cuomo, there‘s secular Roman Catholicism in America personified. 

Governor, tell us about your feelings about—I know you‘ve met Pope John Paul II.  Tell us your feelings about what has happened, this passing of this great man. 

MARIO CUOMO (D), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR:  Yes. 

I think what‘s happening is this demonstration of admiration and love and respect is—is attributable to the fact that John Paul II was brilliant at discussing and representing the unalterable truth of the Catholic Church, which is the teachings of Jesus in their most fundamental form.  Love one another as you love yourself for the love of me.  And that was his principal agenda, was love and all of its expressions and everything it means in terms of interconnectedness and interdependence and taking care of those people in the southern part of planet and avoiding oppression of human beings that denies them dignity, all the political positions he took.

That‘s a universal agenda.  The sister is absolutely right.  The universality of the church is clearest there.  When you get to the rules of the church, that‘s something different than the unalterable first truths of Christ.  They make rules.  Sometimes they change the rules.  It takes a long time, as Sister noted. 

But because they are changeable in their nature, whether it is the rule of slavery, which they accepted for a long time, or usury or any of those other things, or women in the church.  Sister is right.  There‘s been progress under John Paul II.  But there are a lot of Catholics, I among them, who look forward to the time when the church will be able to make priests of women, the largest part of the population.  But his principal emphasis was not on the rules, it seems to me.  He was absolutely conservative and true to the current rules.  His principal emphasis was on demonstrating humanity and love.  And he did it brilliantly, because he was so humane himself. 

MATTHEWS:  Sister and Governor, I want to ask you both a question.  One of the things I was reading today that was dramatic in the life and legacy of Pope John Paul II did have a lot to do with American politics.  And that‘s the issue of capital punishment. 

Apparently, before this pope came along and stood out against capital punishment, most American Catholics were pretty tough, very tough on capital punishment, very tough on justice, rather than any kind of generosity. 

And Sister—maybe it the whole question of Sister Prejean and that kind of thing, with the issue of “Dead Man Walking,” the movie. 

CUOMO:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  But the pope came out and said capital punishment is wrong. 

How did that affect you, Sister, when you saw his strong stand? 

WALSH:  Well, I was very pleased.  He didn‘t say it was wrong.  He said, in theory, in theory, you could justify it if there was no other way to protect society from a hardened criminal. 

MATTHEWS:  If there was no other way to do it. 

WALSH:  In our society, there are ways.  We have prisons. 

Unfortunately, we have many of them.  So he said, it wasn‘t necessary. 

Life is so precious that even in the form of somebody who would take a life and do the most evil, there is the hope for redemption and therefore you did not snuff that out. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Governor, you suffered politically for your strong stand against capital punishment.  And that was consistent with this pope. 

CUOMO:  Well, you know, Chris, this is a very good example of the difference between the unalterable first truths of our religion, which are so beautiful and inarguable, and the rules of the church.  For years, I pleaded with Rome, not that they would listen to a single voice from our country, that the death penalty was wrong, for all the reasons that are now given. 

And John Paul II has made it very clear.  Sister pointed out perfectly that it is wrong.  It is to be condemned unless you don‘t have prisons to put them in, unless you have no way to protect yourself against someone with murderous intent.  And that‘s simply not true. 

But, despite that, the hard truth is that many cardinals and bishops, until recently, never spoke against the death penalty despite the pope‘s book.  Now, what that does is remind us that these rules are just rules.  They‘re not the unalterable truth.  And, therefore, contention is allowed and permitted.  And this isn‘t the only place where that is true. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Governor, we have to come back and talk about that and other matters before the church.

And, in a hopeful day, I want to remind everybody, you‘ve never seen anything like what we‘re watching here in Rome, so many people by the millions, by the millions, still pouring into the city of Rome, the eternal city, to pay their respects.  And I guess one of the questions is, will the next pope allow women to have a bigger role?  We‘ve been talking about women.  We have got a woman here with us, Sister Mary Ann Walsh. 

We‘re going to be joined by, coming up next, the daughter of America‘s most prominent Catholic family, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.  She‘s coming here in just a minute.

You‘re watching HARDBALL live from the Vatican. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, she‘s a member of America‘s most prominent Catholic political family, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.  She‘ll be joining us when HARDBALL returns live from the Vatican.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We arrived at about 8:00 this morning.  We got in line at about 11:30 this morning.  And we finally got into St. Peter‘s and it was a very moving experience.  I‘m so glad we did it. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We really needed to share in this experience, because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  And he is just so important to us and to our culture. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to this special edition of HARDBALL. 

By the way, those are Americans we talked to out there waiting in that incredible line. 

Sister, every one of those people, I asked, what is your average waiting time?  Six hours. 

WALSH:  I know.

MATTHEWS:  So those people are really committed.

We‘re going to have somebody join us right now who is very much part of the American political tradition from the Catholic side of things.  I‘ve got Mary Ann Walsh of the Conference of Catholic Bishops staying with me, and, of course, former New York Governor Cuomo is up there in New York. 

And joining us right now is the daughter of America‘s preeminent political Catholic family, or political—or Catholic political family, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former governor—lieutenant governor—of Maryland.

Kathleen, it‘s great having you on.  You come from a great Catholic

family.  I know Eunice—I‘m sorry, not Eunice.  Ethel, of course, and

your father, Robert Kennedy. 

rMD-UL_

KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND, FORMER MARYLAND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR:  I bet

you know Eunice, too, yes.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, well, Eunice is very Catholic, too. 

TOWNSEND:  And Sarge. 

MATTHEWS:  Sargent Shriver‘s wife.  Everybody is in that Catholic—let me ask you about being a Roman Catholic politician.  What makes it different than being something else? 

TOWNSEND:  Well, first of all, you‘re lucky. 

I still feel so blessed that I was born Catholic, grew up in a Catholic family with an incredible tradition that said, as you people said earlier on your show, that you‘re part of a universal church, that you‘re connected to people in Central America and to Europe and to Africa, Asia, all over, because you share that Catholic tradition that has gone back 2,000 years, that you‘re part of the tradition that has built these beautiful cathedrals and that has spoken, as Governor Cuomo has said, so often about the poor, the immigrants, the sick. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

TOWNSEND:  So that you have a great social justice message and a message of comfort, of, why are we on Earth?  How can we live a good life? 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

TOWNSEND:  How can we help others? 

So, I feel very fortunate.  And I think that that informs my politics, which is to say that we really have a responsibility to care for people and to make a more just society, to fight for the common good. 

MATTHEWS:  Kathleen, you‘ve got a daughter in the Peace Corps.  And I was in the Peace Corps.  And one of the things we joked about when we were back in the ‘60s, even though we had the draft to deal with, which was an encouragement to join the Peace Corps for a couple years.

But you know what?  We used to kid about all the Catholics in the Peace Corps. 

TOWNSEND:  It‘s so true.

MATTHEWS:  What is that about? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  There are so many.  We said, everybody is either Catholic or from California or both. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  What do you think that is about?

TOWNSEND:  Well, it‘s about—you know, you‘re so right. 

It is about service.  It makes sense that John Kennedy would start, Catholic—first Catholic president, would start the Peace Corps, because there was always a sense, you had a responsibility to serve.  You had a responsibility to participate, to get involved, to make something of your life for others, that, really, the sense of sacrifice and service were so integral to what it was to be Catholic, and the idea that life isn‘t always going to be pleasant, but that, in serving others, in helping others, in enduring hardship, you can do your duty to God and to your fellow human beings. 

MATTHEWS:  Sister, I want to ask you, then the governor, because you‘re very good on this.  You talked in past, in 1984, about the two cities we have, even in the United States, of one of wealth and one of certainly not wealth. 

Let me ask you, Sister, is it harder to be a Catholic when you have a lot of money? 

WALSH:  I think that can be a challenge, because there‘s—the consumerism gets us starting to think of—relationally of things.  We see people for their usefulness and we see a certain utility.  Well, it‘s done.  Replace it with something else.  It seems to come more with consumerism.

MATTHEWS:  And if you‘re healthy at 35 and everything is fine and you have got some money in your pocket, where‘s the religious impulse come in?  You don‘t have that hardship to drive you toward something bigger and better, do you? 

WALSH:  Well, you know, I was a teacher.  And the students used to say

·         question about God and they would say, you know, right now, your parents are fulfilling all your needs.  There will come a time when you‘re going to rely on something bigger and you‘re going to need God.  So, if you‘re not into it now, just practice.

MATTHEWS:  I think you got it right, Sister.  A lot of people at 35 are still relying on their parents.  Just kidding.

Governor Cuomo, let me ask you this, because you‘ve talked about this.  I remember your resounding speech at the Democratic Convention in San Francisco in 1984 when you talked about a tale of two cities.  Is it harder for people who aren‘t facing hardship and fear and disease to care about God? 

CUOMO:  The people who are facing disease and hardship, etcetera, know better the need for God.  The people who are lucky enough to have the wherewithal know better the opportunity to serve. 

The Kennedy family, I think, is an excellent example.  They were not Catholic and political out of deprivation.  They took their good fortune, such as it was, and they used it by seizing the opportunity for public service, so they could help all those poor people.  I think, in a way, it is easier to be a good Catholic if you have the wherewithal, because then you can do what John Paul talked about so much and what we should be talking about in this country when we talk about religious values. 

In addition to the restrictive rules that are religious values, the big religious value is to love people and help them when they need help.  And if you‘re the richest country in the world, then you have a better opportunity to do that than anybody.  And nobody made that clearer, even to the embarrassment of Americans at time, than John Paul II, who even suggested that, if you had to reduce your standard of living—this is not a political position you can sell in this country—because you wanted to give more money to Africa and those parts of the world that needed it, that‘s what you should do. 

So, my answer is, if you have the wherewithal, in some ways, it is easier to be a good Catholic. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, Jesus didn‘t hang around with the rich people, did he, Governor? 

CUOMO:  No, he did not. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be right back with Governor Cuomo, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  And, by the way, we‘re live at the Vatican, as you can see, one of the great moments of my life, being here. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Sister Mary Ann Walsh, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. 

I want you all to answer a question.  It‘s a big question.  I have only got 30 seconds each for both of you. 

I want to start with Kathleen.

Kathleen, if you could speak to the next pope in principle about American Catholicism and what you would like to see for us and our country, what would it be? 

TOWNSEND:  Oh, I think that he has got to reach out to women.  I do think it‘s important that women can be priests.  I think it is important that they change the laws on—rules on contraception, so that it looks like it is a church that cares about the people and is listening. 

And I think, obviously, what you have talked about so eloquently in the last few minutes, continuing the yearning and the voice for social justice.  America is the richest country in the world.  We give fewer resources than most other countries to the poor.  We have got to do a lot better.  That‘s what it means to be a good citizen of the world.  And that‘s what our Christian teachings are about.  And we want a pope who continues to say that. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

Sister, it‘s your job to talk to the Vatican, to some extent.  What would the bishops of America, if they had a session with the new pope, like to say? 

WALSH:  Well, I can‘t speak for the bishops of America.  They haven‘t said what they would want the pope to say. 

But I think it would be, they‘re looking for a strong leader who can remind us of our spiritual values, that there‘s something beyond the here and now, and that we are called to serve others and to really reach to be the highest that God has called us to be. 

MATTHEWS:  Governor? 

CUOMO:  Absolutely. 

I think we should follow the example of John Paul II.  Stay strong on the unalterable truths, the first truths, the biggest one, love one another.  And that expresses itself in many, many political ways.  And the other is to admit as a church that, yes, you are the authority.  And those of us who want to stay in the club have to abide by you, but you can change rules and that you have in the past.  And we would like to you tell us that you will consider doing it in the future. 

It may be way off, but talk to us about women.  Talk to us about celibacy.  Make a connection to the modern culture that does not break the line between you and Jesus.  That‘s doable. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much.  Well said by everyone, Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former lieutenant governor of Maryland.  What a great group. 

When we return, what are American Catholics looking for from the next pope?  Same question.  I‘ll be joined by Monsignor Kevin McCoy, the rector of the North American College here in Rome.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

I‘m joined right now by Monsignor Kevin McCoy, who is the rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, which is housing all the U.S. cardinals who are arriving now for the funeral.

So, how many cardinals have arrived of the 11 so far from America? 

MSGR. KEVIN MCCOY, RECTOR, PONTIFICAL NORTH AMERICAN COLLEGE:  Well, at present, we have three cardinals housed at the college. 

MATTHEWS:  Who? 

MCCOY:  We have Cardinal McCarrick and cardinal Mahony, as well as Cardinal Rigali. 

MATTHEWS:  So, Rigali from Philly, Mahony from L.A. 

MCCOY:  Correct.

MATTHEWS:  And, of course, McCarrick from Washington. 

MCCOY:  Correct.

MATTHEWS:  They‘re the big guys. 

MCCOY:  I think they‘re all pretty big. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Is there much buzz when they come in about what‘s up? 

MCCOY:  Oh, in terms of their presence, the students, the seminarians, the 150 of them, they all know why these cardinals have been called to Rome.  And so they‘re very much concerned and praying for the cardinals, frankly, because they have an awesome responsibility, an awesome task before them. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of the buzz outside the Vatican?  I mean, I don‘t want to be irreverent during this very amazing display of faith we‘re seeing here.  And I want to talk about that in just a second.

But we‘re seeing the Irish betting odds.  They keep saying it is Tettamanzi from Milan.  What do you make of all that? 

MCCOY:  Well, I think that is what sells newspapers and keeps people interested on television, Chris, actually.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s fine with me.

Now I want to get spiritual, because I am.  And were you surprised, are you surprised by what we‘re seeing down there, this almost biblical length of people waiting in line for—we‘ve been talking to them throughout the day—six hours at a time? 

MCCOY:  Oh, yes.  Some of our students were over laugh night.  They went over at 11:00 and they entered this morning after 5:00.  They stood on line, even while the doors of the Basilica were closed. 

And it‘s amazing, this testimony of—really of respect for this—for this good man, as they‘re coming home and saying, this holy man.  He has had a great impact on any number of people.  And this mass of humanity that has come here to Rome and continues to seemingly pour into this city, when I know there‘s no place for them to sleep, they‘re coming to pay their final respects to John Paul II. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘ve been here since 1998, Father, right? 

MCCOY:  I have.  Correct.

MATTHEWS:  Monsignor. 

Is there a sense that he, in addition to being a spiritual leader, was one of the great men of our time? 

MCCOY:  Oh, it‘s unquestionable. 

I mean, the young men that have come to the college these days, you can tell that they‘ve come because they‘ve been influenced by this man‘s life, by the way that he has lived as an apostle of Christ Jesus.  And these men have responded to that, not only to the man, but to the man of fated. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about the—about the Italians.  I heard a wonderful story today that, when he became pope as the first non-Italian pope in half-a-millennium, that he decided he was going to truly become the bishop of Rome, Pope John Paul II. 

And he decided, almost like a politician, I‘m going to visit every parish in the city.  And he laid out the list of like 250 parishes.  And he hit almost all of them.  And even at the end, when he got ill and he couldn‘t travel, he invited the parishes in as a group and had mass with them and even had dinner every night before with the pastor to get to know him. 

MCCOY:  Oh, it‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Does that explain the Italian love for this guy? 

MCCOY:  Well, I think the Italians fell in love with him the very first day that he was on the scene and was elected when he stood and told them that, you know, he would speak in their language.  And then he says, well, I mean, our language.  And if I make a mistake, correct me. 

And these, the people, they‘re great people of faith, the Italians.  Their Catholicism runs very deeply.  But he was able to connect with them because of his such generosity, his extreme generosity, going out to their parishes.  He was interested in them as people, who they are, where they live and what it is that they were doing.  He cares for them, as Christ Jesus cared for the people that he encountered back in Galilee. 

MATTHEWS:  What was it like being an American, an American monsignor, a Catholic priest, here at the North American College during the war in Iraq, when so much of Europe was turned against our policies?  Did the church insulate you from that, because the church, under the Holy Father, opposed the war himself—itself? 

MCCOY:  No.  The church didn‘t insulate us from that.

I mean, we were certainly seen as an American community here in Rome.  And I had to advise our seminarians and priest to be mindful of the fact that they were Americans, that while our host country, Italy, was supportive of our efforts in terms of the Iraqi war, I said, be aware that many of the people that are in the streets and the peace demonstrations that are out there are not—are not friendly towards you. 

MATTHEWS:  How about being a member of the church, a priest?  Did you feel split because, being an American, it was an American war, but yet, as a Catholic priest, your church had said that was the wrong war? 

MCCOY:  Well, it was very difficult for me from the standpoint of just seeing human beings suffer. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MCCOY:  And that being American soldiers, as well as Iraqis who were dying in that particular conflict.  So, it was a very difficult reality for me as a human being and as a Christian, because, as a Christian, we don‘t seek to solve and resolve the problems by the sword. 

I mean, that was one thing that Christ instructed us.  It wasn‘t the  lex talionis, eye for an eye.  It was a new way.  There‘s a new way.  And to show that was—he tried to demonstrate to have love and respect.  So, it was a very difficult time. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the American people understand the fact that the pope was not a Republican or a Democrat, that he had certain values, like opposition to capital punishment, opposition to war, but also opposition to abortion rights that left him somewhere out there above all this political fighting? 

MCCOY:  Oh, you know, I think—I mean, I think that there would be people who would see him first as a politician. 

But what he was truly first was a man of faith.  And he lived that faith.  And so, when people looked at him, they would see an apostle of Christ Jesus.  And, in many respects, you would have to say, as a priest, he really was Christ Jesus for us here.  And so he told the people, do not be afraid.  Some of the first words of his homily, do not be afraid.  Turn to Christ.  Throw out into the deep.

In other words, look beyond.  Go beyond the traditional hatreds and things that might be there that might have—might have influenced you and your activity for centuries.  But follow Christ, the way, the truth and the life.  Now, you know, he appealed to a lot more people than just Roman Catholics. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MCCOY:  And far beyond Christians. 

I mean, I had—there was—pleased to welcome a Jewish delegation of rabbis from the United States who were here particularly to express their gratitude for the pope, for the moral authority that he represented in the world today. 

MATTHEWS:  Can I ask you a political question? 

MCCOY:  I—you sure can. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the 11 American cardinals are going to vote as a bloc when it comes to picking the next pope?  

MCCOY:  I have no idea. 

(LAUGHTER)

MCCOY:  I think they‘re all pretty much—I mean, they‘re really men of faith.  I mean, to see them—I would say the air in and around them.  I‘ve seen these priests, these cardinal bishops, when they‘re just here for meetings.  And we can have a very kind table conversation.  Now, we still have that kind table conversation as even tonight. 

But you can tell that there‘s a weight upon them, because they have a responsibility for the current governance of the church here and now in this interregnum.  But they know what it is that weighs upon them as they consider the needs of the church in the world over.  They can‘t be just thinking about America.  They have got to think about every aspect...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, it is hard enough to vote without finding divine inspiration to vote.  That‘s a tougher challenge. 

Thank you, Monsignor.

MCCOY:  You‘re welcome.  Thank you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s great to have you.  Thank you for welcoming us here, Monsignor Kevin McCoy, who is head of the—he‘s rector of the North American College here.  

The faithful continue to pay their respects to Pope John Paul II here at St. Peter‘s. 

When we return, we‘ll talk to John Leo of “U.S. News & World Report,” “The New Republic”‘s Andrew Sullivan, and “The Chicago Tribune”‘s Steve Kloehn, who covered the pope on some of big world trips.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I now invite His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, to address the General Assembly.

ANNOUNCER:  Just a year into his papacy, Pope John Paul II brought his message of unity and peace to the entire world when he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. 

POPE JOHN PAUL II:  I hope that the United Nations will ever remain the supreme forum of peace and justice. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  HARDBALL is live tonight in the Vatican, where thousands of mourners continue to line up to pay tribute to Pope John Paul II.  We‘ll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I saw him in New Jersey when he came in 1996.  And I just had to come and give my last respects.  I think that it is very profound.  He always fought for just human rights, just to bring the whole world together, regardless of religions.  And I think it is profound when you consider all the people that are here, whether they‘re Catholic, whether they‘re Jewish, Islamic.  I think God has granted his wish, at least for these couple days, that he has brought the whole world together. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what I will remember from coming here this week is not just the long lines of people, but going out and talking to them individually.  We‘re going to keep doing that. 

John Leo is editor in chief of the “U.S. News & World Report.”  Andrew Sullivan is the senior editor for “The New Republic” and a columnist for “TIME” magazine.

But we begin with Steve Kloehn, who covered the late pope from 1996 to the year 2000 for “The Chicago Tribune” and recently put get a CD-ROM on the pope. 

What was he like to cover traveling around with him? 

STEVE KLOEHN, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  Oh, it was fascinating.

First time that I saw him up close was on the plane over to Cuba.  And he was suffering by then quite a bit in 1998 from the Parkinson‘s disease, sort of formed his face into a mask and he was bent over.  He was clearly in pain.  We didn‘t think he was going to back and see us.  But there he came, shuffling back. 

And I was not sure what to expect.  And all of a sudden, you got reporter bouncing questions off him, five, six, seven languages.  And he‘s hearing them, picking them out, dusting off the silly questions and taking the serious questions and giving a wonderful answer back in the language it was asked. 

MATTHEWS:  Was he a popular subject to cover?  Did the other people on the plane like him or how do you feel toward him? 

KLOEHN:  Oh, I think everybody had a lot of admiration.  He was challenging.  He tired everybody out.  But I think people enjoyed covering him. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he is hard to figure in terms of his policies, you know, his secular policies, their manifestations in our secular world. 

John Leo, you write a lot about moral issues in your column.  It‘s a great column for “U.S. News & World Report.” 

And, also, I want to talk to Andrew.  Of course, we‘ve talked so many times passionately on issues having to deal with sexuality and marriage, etcetera. 

Let me start with John Leo. 

Was Pope John Paul, who just passed away and is being honored this week, a conservative or a liberal, generally speaking? 

JOHN LEO, “U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT”:  Well, first, Chris, thanks for promoting me.  I‘m not the editor in chief of “U.S. News.”  Maybe it is a prediction and it will come true, right? 

I guess it doesn‘t us work to use political language like that.  It is an authority church, in which he stood for the authority of Rome.  So, in rough political terms, you would have to say he was conservative. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think, Andrew? 

ANDREW SULLIVAN, ANDREWSULLIVAN.COM:  Yes, he was extremely conservative and not that innovative in many ways. 

But he did try and ratchet back the Second Council‘s understanding of authority in the church, which the Second Council said was shared by both biblical authority, by the people of the church, as well as the hierarchy.  And he said no, no, no.  It‘s me.  I‘m the only arbiter of what is permitted and what is not permitted in a really quite reactionary form. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me read you something he said in Mexico, gentlemen.  This maybe clashes with what you‘ve said.  He talked about—he was talking to the poor people of Mexico right to our south in America. 

If this sound like a conservative, I‘ve never heard a conservative talk like this.  “ The depressed rural world, the worker who with his sweat waters his affliction, cannot wait any longer for full and effective recognition of his dignity, which is not inferior to that of any other social sector.  He has the right to be respected and not to be deprived with maneuvers which are sometimes tantamount to real spoliation of the little that he has.  He has the right to real help, which is not charity or crumbs of justice, in order that he may have access to the development that his dignity as a person and as a son of God deserves.  It‘s necessary for bold changes, urgent reforms, without waiting any longer.”    

John Leo, doesn‘t sound like a conservative to me. 

LEO:  Well, Chris, in political—in foreign affairs, put it that way, in political term, in foreign affairs, he was definitely a liberal, on the side of the weak and the poor.  But, in internal matters, as Andrew that, he pretty much crushed the conciliar movement that came out of Vatican II.  The councils of—the synods of bishops expected to have much more say in the church.  And he put a stop to that.  He centralized almost everything. 

SULLIVAN:  He also ended any form of...

MATTHEWS:  Andrew, on gay—go ahead.

SULLIVAN:  He ended any sort of debate within the church. 

We‘re not allowed to even raise the question of celibacy, for example, or of women in the church or any other managerial prudential matters that are not matters of fundamental faith.  But he ruled out any dissent within the church whatsoever in what was really, I think, a terrible crushing of openness and thought and intellectual life in the church.  There was only one intellectual in church he would allow.  And that was himself, together with Ratzinger, his chief theological head. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘ll be right back.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It‘s getting hot here. 

John Leo, Andrew Sullivan, Steve Kloehn.

This is HARDBALL, live from the Vatican, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to this special edition of HARDBALL, live from the Vatican.

We‘re back with John Leo of “U.S. News & World Report.”  He‘s contributing editor.  And “The New Republic”‘s Andrew Sullivan, of course, and “The Chicago Tribunes”‘s Steve Kloehn. 

Steve, when he went out, Pope John Paul, when you were out with him with the people, the real millions of people in—say, in Cuba, and when he would say that wonderful way, with that deep voice of his, I love you, did they feel it? 

KLOEHN:  They believed him.  And that‘s one of the strong pulls.  They talk about the charisma.  What is that?  I think it is that people believed him.  They either believed him and liked what he said or they believed him and they didn‘t like what he said.  But they believed him. 

MATTHEWS:  Andrew, did you feel when he said to you, to the world, I love you, did you feel that? 

SULLIVAN:  I think the important thing to remember is the people he did not love or he didn‘t seem to. 

Under his papacy, thousands of children were raped or molested by priests in his church.  And he looked away.  Not only did he look away.  He protected the people who perpetrated these crimes, rather than helped the victims.  And that‘s on his watch. 

Even Cardinal Law, who was one of the worst offenders, was taken away to Rome and given a sinecure.  So, when you ask did he love people and you ask his ethics of sexuality and you look at the people he actually was directly responsible for, the children and teenagers that were raped and abused by his own church, he did not really do anything to stop it or to expose it or to condemn it. 

And that is I think a terrible, terrible statement about his papacy and one that other people are not mentioning, but that has to be mentioned, the victims of the hierarchy over the last 26 years. 

MATTHEWS:  John Leo, do you want to respond to that? 

LEO:  No, I agree entirely. 

I think that, somehow, the Vatican thought this was a minor American problem and looked away.  The pope made only a few fumbling remarks about it and he did very little.  And I think I agree with Andrew.  It is a black mark on his record. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me broaden this a bit.  We have an issue here about the pope, the late pope.  It seems to me, he is hard to put together. 

And, John, again, you‘re very good at putting these things together in your column.  Against capital punishment, very much for the Third World, probably would like to see some redistribution toward the south from rich countries like our own, at the same time, against the war in Iraq, against the first Persian Gulf War.  This is all on the record about Pope John Paul II.  And we‘re opening up the record this week as he is laid to rest.  And I think it is appropriate. 

Also on the record, hard-and-fast positions against birth control, which really stymied a lot of connection with the United States in many families I know, very much against abortion rights, not just abortion, but even having it on the books as legal for other people who may choose that grave decision. 

John, how do you put it together? 

LEO:  Well, I think he is absolutely consistent on life issue.  He was against almost all wars.  He was against capital punishment, against abortion.  He had that consistency that very few people have, very few Catholics have. 

On the birth control thing, I think it was a disastrous mistake under Pope Paul VI and something the church should have remedied by now.  I think it unlikely they will do anything under the next pontificate.  But it should be done. 

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN:  And he made it is a central feature of the papacy, Chris. 

I mean, this was not a minor matter to him. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sorry.  Exactly what?

SULLIVAN:  The ban on contraception and the entire theology around that, which meant also the condemnation of any sort of gay relationships. 

I mean, this was a man who couldn‘t call Saddam Hussein evil, but he called gay relationships evil.  That‘s the kind of—he was the kind of pope that forced a lot of people like me out of the church, because we couldn‘t tolerate the hypocrisy anymore and the way in which he would say one thing and actually do another. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Fair enough.  But millions of people, they‘re lining up here now tonight to pay tribute to this man. 

KLOEHN:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Two or three million people.  They don‘t line up for any other secular leader. 

KLOEHN:  Fourteen hours at a time. 

MATTHEWS:  No other leader in the world.  Chirac couldn‘t draw this crowd, dead or alive, nor Schroeder, nor Tony Blair.  I‘m being a little irreverent, but isn‘t it amazing? 

I tell you, I am still amazed by what I see.  I hope to walk through that line again and again in the days ahead.

SULLIVAN:  But, Chris, were you amazed by—were you amazed by Princess Diana? 

MATTHEWS:  I want to thank John.

Andrew, we‘ll have you back. 

John Leo, we‘ll have you back. 

Andrew Sullivan, Steve Kloehn, we‘ll have you back. 

I‘ll be back myself from Rome tomorrow night.

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