updated 4/13/2005 12:31:43 PM ET 2005-04-13T16:31:43

Guest: E.J. Dionne, Michael Barrett, John Strynkowski, Theodore McCarrick

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight, the picture tells the story.  For the first time in history, not one, but three American presidents, President George W. Bush and former Presidents Bush and Clinton, kneel, heads bowed in silent reverence, as they pay their respects to Pope John Paul II in St.  Peter‘s Basilica.

I am Chris Matthews, and this is 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.

Crowds of the faithful continue to block to St. Peter‘s Square to pay their last respects to Pope John Paul II, and tonight, among them, President Bush, first lady Laura Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Presidents Clinton and Bush.  The official White House delegation arrived in Rome today and came straight to St. Peter‘s Basilica to view the pope‘s body. 

Officials here say that 18,000 people are coming through St. Peter‘s each hour.  Today, I was able to able to talk to some of them about this historic and momentous event.  And later in the hour, we will hear what they had to say. 

Meanwhile, the College of Cardinals today set Monday, April 18, as the start of their secret conclave in which they will select the next pope. 

Earlier, I spoke with one of America‘s most prominent cardinals, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Cardinal, thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

CARDINAL THEODORE MCCARRICK, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON, D.C.:  I am delighted to be with you, Chris.  

MATTHEWS:  It‘s great to meet you.  I know you from home pretty well. 

(LAUGHTER)

MCCARRICK:  Exactly.  Good to see you in Rome. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, tell us about the pope who just passed away. 

MCCARRICK:  He was an extraordinary man. 

I had the privilege of getting to know him many years ago.  Thirty years ago, before I was a bishop, I was secretary to Cardinal Cooke, the archbishop of New York.  And it was 1976.  And the Polish government had allowed the Polish bishops to come to the United States to speak to the Polish communities, and he was assigned to New York.

And so it was in August.  And I was on vacation.  I got word to come back.  Cardinal Cooke said, come back, because you have languages.  Come back.  And we have this Polish guest.  You will be able to talk to him.  I didn‘t have any Polish, but I came back and I found that he could do English better than I did.  He was an extraordinary man.  And we just had a wonderful opportunity to get to know him. 

Quick story.  He was at breakfast one day with the two secretaries, Monsignor Kenny (ph) and I, and his secretary, Father Dziwisz, who is now the archbishop.  And the cardinal, Cardinal Cooke wasn‘t down yet.  And so, there was sort of—of an awkward pause.  You didn‘t know what to say, and so I‘m—I‘m funny.  At least I think I am.

And so I started on a story.  I said, Your Eminence, you know, there‘s no justice in this house.  And he said, oh?  I said, yes.  I said, I was on vacation, and when I came, and I was very happy to come, because I‘m delighted to meet you, but do you think that they will give me the week that I lost by coming back?  Not a chance. 

And, at first, he didn‘t understand.  And then he got it.  He laughed and he explained it to Dziwisz.  And a couple of minutes later, Cardinal Cooke came down.  And so, we changed to a major—different conversation. 

Three months later, he had gone.  We all got handwritten notes.  I didn‘t keep mine, unfortunately, saying, Dear Monsignor McCarrick, thank you so much for your hospitality.  You made me feel very much at home.  God bless you and all your work.  Fraternally, Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Krakow.  P.S, did you ever get your vacation? 

MATTHEWS:  So he‘s worrying about your comp time?  

(LAUGHTER)

MCCARRICK:  But, a year later, two years later I guess, he‘s—I‘m a bishop and he‘s pope.  We all went.  And we were on line.  About 300 bishops were on line, first audience of the new pope, first Polish pope, and the ushers are trying to get everybody to go through in a lickety-split time. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s over here. 

MCCARRICK:  Over here.  Right over here. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MCCARRICK:  And so I get up and I say, Ted McCarrick, Holy Father.  I was Cardinal Cooke‘s secretary.

He says, I remember.  I remember.  And now you are bishop, he said. 

Which is better? 

(LAUGHTER)

MCCARRICK:  And I said—sometimes, the lord gives you the right answer.  And I said, you know, Holy Father, it doesn‘t matter as long as you serve God in the church.  He says, that is the right answer.

And then the usher is now pulling me away, and he‘s holding onto my hand, pulling away, holding onto my hand, and he‘s thinking.  You could his mind is going.  And then my arm is being stretched.  The usher is saying please, please.  And he still is holding on.  And he looks at me and he says, tell me, did you ever get your vacation? 

MATTHEWS:  Good memory.

MCCARRICK:  Two years later.

Not only a good memory, Chris, but it was a demonstration of how he loved people, how he loved people. 

Last story.  Last Monday, the body is being—is being brought from the Vatican Palace into the Basilica.  I was one of the cardinals there.  And I was—I was in the back of the line, close to where the body was, was being brought in.  As soon as—you may have seen it.  As soon as his body reached the piazza, where he had gone so many times, the people started to shout and yell.

And it wasn‘t, vive el papa, because they knew he was dead.  But it was just, hello, Holy Father.  It was extraordinary.  It was as if he was there.

(CROSSTALK)   

MCCARRICK:  And it was one of the most moving, emotional, emotional moments.  It was as if he was there.  The whole crowd, there must have been 100,000 of them maybe.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MCCARRICK:  Who could see his body come in.  And they all screamed, there he is, Holy Father, waving, as if he could see.  He‘s alive to them, because people felt that he knew them, that he saw them.  A little girl and a lady from Mexico said to me the other day:  I was sitting on a curb one day when the Holy Father was passing through Pueblo.  And they were maybe 1,000 -- thousands of people on that.  And he came by in his popemobile, and he looked at me and he waved. 

I‘m sure 100,000 people said the same thing.  He looked at me and he waved.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MCCARRICK:  Because he had that gift for people, and that was one of the great, wonderful things about this tremendous man. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, in the line—I was down there during the day, Your Eminence.  And every time a picture showed on one of those big TV screens of him, the whole crowd applauds. 

MCCARRICK:  Yes.  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Applauds him. 

MCCARRICK:  Yes, extraordinary man.  Four million people in Rome.  They stopped the visiting line, because now they say it could take 24 hours to get there.

And people are—they had their lunch with them, because the Italians love to have their sandwiches with them, and they‘re eating on the way.  And—but they want to be there.  They want to say goodbye to this man who wasn‘t Italian, but was someone who was a father and they loved, because they thought he loved them.  And he did. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think this, this event, the passing of this great pope and the feelings that are expressed here in Rome by all these people, mostly Italian, but all around the world, what does it do for you as a leader in the church? 

MCCARRICK:  It does two things. 

First of all, it tells me, thanks be to God that he gave us this great gift and that we had this great gift for more than a quarter century, and we had it in great health, when he strode across the stage of history as an athlete, and we had it in his sickness, in his illness, in his frailty.

But the same man with the same personality, the same love for people, that‘s, that‘s the first thing.  And then, secondly, it‘s the challenge, that what he did for the church, that we must continue, and with God‘s help, his Holy Spirit will help us to do that. 

MATTHEWS:  Did he get us?

MCCARRICK:  I think so. 

MATTHEWS:  You are not sure? 

MCCARRICK:  No, I think so.  I think so. 

I think he got us to this extent.  He got us to the stage where we knew what he wanted us to be.  And we weren‘t always there. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MCCARRICK:  But we knew what he wanted us to be. 

MATTHEWS:  But it‘s so complex, because you have got a—really, a zealous pro-life movement in America.  Most American men who are Catholics go to church on Sunday most of the time.  It‘s not like Europe.

And yet you have an attitude about birth control and issues like that, which is pretty American.  It‘s pretty much, we‘ll figure out this thing as we go along, people voting Democrat or Republican the way they normally do.  Did he understand that American democratic sense? 

MCCARRICK:  Who could understand America?  I‘m an American, and I am not even sure I understand America.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MCCARRICK:  But I think he did.  I think he had a sense of it. 

MATTHEWS:  Did he like it or not like it? 

MCCARRICK:  Oh, I think he liked it.  He was an American pope. 

He was an American pope in this sense, Chris, that he had the kind of virtues that we look to in a leader.  He was good with people.  He was funny.  And yet, he was strong.  He could say things that are—you know, that really meant something.  And you know he believed them.  He was a kind of leader that we like.  I always tell the story, remember a few years ago, in Austria, they had a—they had a petition, people to change the church, people who didn‘t like what was going on?

MATTHEWS:  No, I didn‘t know about that. 

MCCARRICK:  They didn‘t like the pope.  Many a million people in Austria, Catholics, signed it.  They brought it to Germany, and they did it again.  Another million people or more signed it, saying, we don‘t like the church the way it is.  Pope should do this, pope should do that, pope should do the other thing. 

They brought it over to the United States.  I used to tell the Holy Father.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MCCARRICK:  I think I must have told him this story six times.  They brought it over to the United States.  They got all the publicity, all the kind of—they put a lot of money into it, and they got 38,000 signatures out of a church of 65 million people. 

I said, Holy Father, they love you in the United States.  

(LAUGHTER)

MCCARRICK: ‘They may not understand you, but they love you. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, why do you think it took—why do you think he understood the need—I want to talk about this in a moment with you, because we are going to have—by the way, we were talking to so many people out there along the lines, and Americans especially.  We are going to be talking to them later in the program.

But I want to talk to you about how he got the inspiration, this pope, to realize that the Catholic Church is a worldwide, global institution, not just a European operation, all these cardinals from around the world you are going to be voting with. 

MCCARRICK:  Yes.  Yes. 

Well, the College of Cardinals has never been so international.  Rome has never been so international.  You walk into the—into the offices here in the Vatican, and your chances are 2-1 that you are going to find Africans and Latin Americans and Asiatics, as well as Europeans and Americans. 

This was—to a certain extent, he inherited this from Paul VI.  Paul VI knew that this had to happen.  But he made it happen.  He brought—he, he brought it in.  He had—he had this, this desire to do things, and he did them. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It‘s kind of like emancipation, isn‘t it?  He gave a vote to all those countries in Africa and all those countries in Latin America.  There‘s twice as many Latin American cardinals as American cardinals. 

MCCARRICK:  Exactly.  Exactly. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What do you—that‘s pretty powerful stuff.

MCCARRICK:  It is.  It is powerful.  And they are fine men, too.  They are not just—they are not just chosen because they happen to be Latin American.  They are chosen because they are leaders and because they are thoughtful men who are able to do things. 

He—and the Africans, too and the Asians.  You know, he really wanted to do this.  He—he taught us that the church is Catholic with a small C as well as with a large C, that it has to be worldwide, and we have to listen to everybody.  This was his great thing, that he did listen.  And that‘s why he went around the world so much.  He listened and he went around. 

Some say, oh, he didn‘t pay attention.  He paid attention.  I‘ve been on trips with him.  I‘ve been on trips with him in the Baltics and trips with him the Balkans and in the Holy Land.  And he listened.  He listened.  He was a good listener. 

People say he maybe didn‘t listen all the time, but he did.  He was able to listen.  And he was able to catch the—the cry of people and the need of people.  He was so good for the poor.  That was, I think, why he became so universal, so international.  He knew that we had to help the poor.  He knew that the poor was there and that the lord Jesus wanted us to go out and help the poor. 

He knew that we were—Cardinal Cooke always had a line—we are all brothers and sisters in God‘s one human family.  This Holy Father lived this.  He knew that he was part of every family.  He knew that he was part of every language group, of every culture.  And he lived that way.  And people knew it. 

I remember being in Rio de Janeiro with him.  And the chant of the people there is, the Holy Father is a Carioca.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a Rio person, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARRICK:  A Rio person.  And this was him, all where—wherever he was.  People would say, he belongs to us.  He‘s one of us.  So, J.P. II, we love you.  And he immediately...

MATTHEWS:  J.P. II, is that the slang? 

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARRICK:  That‘s it, J.P. II, we love you.

MATTHEWS:  OK, I want to talk to you about—I know it‘s all secrecy here, but I want to talk to you about your personal feeling about the weight that‘s about to be put on your shoulders and also about, about the Catholic Church and the whole—you know what I am going to talk about, everything. 

We‘ll be right back with a great guy, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, after this.

And, later, the voices of the people.  We are going to hear what some of the faithful out there in St. Peter‘s Square are saying about Pope John Paul II.  We talked to them earlier today. 

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  God bless you for coming to our country.  We‘re proud to have you here.

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  On behalf of all America, Your Holiness, welcome back.

ANNOUNCER:  During his 26-year papacy, Pope John Paul II met with the last five American presidents. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I bring greetings from our country, where you are respected, admired and greatly loved. 

ANNOUNCER:  In addition to welcoming them to the Vatican, the pope also journeyed to America, greeting the presidents on U.S. soil. 

POPE JOHN PAUL II:  This, indeed, a great forum for me to meet with the president of the United States. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  HARDBALL is live at the Vatican with one of the cardinals who will select the next pope, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington. 

We‘ll be back after this. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  We are back with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, D.C. 

Cardinal, when—you all live not far from here on this hill here. 

MCCARRICK:  That‘s right.  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s it like to be among the other American Cardinals as you approach this sort of Niagara Falls of decision-making you have to make? 

MCCARRICK:  Well, they are all—they are all excited, and they are all—I don‘t know if they are all scared.  I‘m a little scared, because this is—it‘s a wonderful opportunity, but you wish you were more prayerful.  You wish you were a holier man as you approach this. 

You know that—I know, because I believe, that the Holy Spirit is going to guide, you know.  And just as the Holy Spirit gave us John Paul II 26 years ago, the Holy Spirit is going to take care of us, so I think that the others are—the others like me are waiting for it.  We‘re concentrating now on the Holy Father, concentrating on the funeral and on, on what‘s happening this week.  And then I think that we are all saying, OK, next week, we‘ll—next week, we‘ll...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about this week. 

When a friend or a relative passes away, you have that sort of wonderful, sometimes sad, often sad, obviously, afterglow in the person, when you can still imagine them walking up to you. 

MCCARRICK:  Yes.  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you still have that with the pope? 

MCCARRICK:  Oh, yes.  Yes.  Yes. 

I went in to pray.  The Cardinals are allowed to get in right where the bier is where the Holy Father is laid.  And I was kneeling there.  And I started talking to him just, by—I guess it seemed to be the thing to do.  I thanked him for giving me the privilege of serving in Washington.  I thanked him for the privilege of being here today. 

And I thanked him for all his kindnesses, all his leadership, for always his teaching.  I once said to him, Holy Father, one of the great things about you is that you don‘t have an uncertain trumpet, you know. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MCCARRICK:  You know, his trumpet was loud and clear.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s a rock. 

MCCARRICK:  People knew—people knew...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Just like Peter, huh? 

MCCARRICK:  Exactly.  Exactly. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he should be canonized?  Do you think that appropriate or is that something you don‘t want to get involved in? 

MCCARRICK:  Well, you know, that‘s, that‘s beyond my pay grade, but I

·         but, certainly, if anyone was a holy man, this man was and is.  He‘s just a man who moved mountains, moved people. 

MATTHEWS:  We only have 30 seconds, but, you know, everybody who votes in America, usually, people have obviously an attitude before they go in that voting booth, but they try to vote the best they can.  But when you are waiting for the Holy Spirit to arrive and the little bird to sit on your shoulder, or whatever the right metaphor is, what‘s that like?  How do you prepare to be inspired? 

MCCARRICK:  Well, I think you pray.  You pray a lot.  And you say to people like you, pray for me.  Pray for us that, that we will do what God wants us to do, that we will give the church a great, a great pope. 

MATTHEWS:  Can this act be followed? 

MCCARRICK:  Going to be hard.  He‘s raised the bar.  He was such an extraordinary man.  But there are a lot of extraordinary men in the world, and God will find one for us. 

MATTHEWS:  Are we looking all around the world this time? 

MCCARRICK:  Why not?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Hey, thank you.  It‘s great.  Your Eminence, thank you so much for being—I want to thank the cardinal of Washington, a friend of mine, of course, and our family. 

Over a million people have already come through St. Peter‘s Square, to this square, to pay their respects to Pope John Paul II.  And we talked to a good many of them. 

We are going to come back and show you some of those interesting interviews with regular Americans who managed to get over here for this incredible event, spiritual event.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  More than a million people have come through St. Peter‘s Basilica this week to pay their final respects to Pope John Paul II. 

I spoke with many of them earlier today.  Let‘s take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  What surprises me—and it surprises everyone here—is the extent of the emotions from the Italian people.  Most of the people in line here are Italian and Romans, most of them.  And the affection that the Italian people feel for this pope.

Think about this.  He‘s the first pope in half a millennium who is not from Rome, not from Italy, rather.  The experts are saying 18,000 people are passing by him every hour.  And just look at this crowd, and these people have waited here five to 10 hours. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We stay here for 10 hours.  We are very tired, but we are very happy. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Happy.

MATTHEWS:  Why are you happy? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Because the love of the...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Pope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... pope is big. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this something you will remember? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, of course.  Here for school, and history chapter is being written right in front of our face. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The world is watching this.  This is a huge event.  And I am studying here in Rome for this semester.  And if I have...

MATTHEWS:  Where do you—where do you go to school?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I go to school at U.W. Madison back in Wisconsin.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And if I am going to be in Rome for this, I want to be here.  This is an amazing opportunity, an amazing event, and I am so glad to be here. 

MATTHEWS:  Look at how they are standing here.  You can‘t even sit down and relax for a minute here.  They have to stand up just to stay in line. 

And the Italians are doing a great job of organizing this, but look at the calm, patient approach of these people.  If you just listen to the crowd, there is no sound from this crowd, if you listen.  I‘ve never been like this—in a crowd like this before.  No one is complaining or whining or anything.  It‘s just absolute calm.  People, my hunch is, they know where they want to be, and they are here. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  The Catholic organization Opus Dei plays a fervent role in the Catholic Church.  When we return, MSNBC‘s Tucker Carlson will tell us what that group is all about. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

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

There is a small, but influential group that‘s been operating inside the Catholic Church for over 75 years known as Opus Dei. 

MSNBC‘s Tucker Carlson reports. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC:  Opus Dei is a private, some say secret, organization within the Catholic Church.  Its 85,000 members in 60 countries make up a personal prelature who was held in high esteem by Pope John Paul II. 

Opus Dei gained publicity, some negative publicity, with the publication recently of Dan Brown‘s “The Da Vinci Code.”  Let‘s take a now look at the role of Opus Dei within the church and the role it might play in the selection of the new pope. 

(voice-over):  While Dan Brown‘s “The Da Vinci Code” is a work of fiction, it makes numerous claims about Christian history and theology, including that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and that Leonardo da Vinci hid secret messages and symbols in his works.  Then there is that albino monk sent by a secret Catholic society called Opus Dei to rub out several of the characters in the novel.

Cartoonish villains aside, Opus Dei does, indeed, exist.  Meaning “work of God,” the group is an important and influential part of the Catholic Church.  It was founded in 1928 by a Spanish priest, a man later canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002. 

MSGR. THOMAS MCSWEENEY, MSNBC ANALYST:  The work of Opus Dei, it doesn‘t need to be publicized.  That is, I don‘t have to walk up to you and say, hello, I am a member of Opus Dei, and, you know, get your, your applause and your, your, you know, your, your admiration.  The admiration, the recognition, of course, they maintain is, is in the work itself, the work of God, as you play out this, this attempt at holiness in everyday activity. 

CARLSON:  There‘s a long history in the Catholic Church of personal sacrifice, known as physical penance, for example, abstaining from meat on Fridays, or, on occasion, fasting. 

But some followers of Opus Dei take their sacrifice to a deeper level by practicing corporal mortification, or physical punishment of their own body. 

MCSWEENEY:  Corporal mortification has often been associated with spirituality and piety within the Catholic Church.  That‘s flagellating yourself, you know, doing, doing fasting to the extreme and so forth, so that you can keep yourself focused.

And that, again, with Opus Dei, is—it‘s been an exaggeration.  There‘s really no corporal mortification in there.  Maybe one or two practice it, but their practice of piety in that regard is what they would call self-denial. 

CARLSON:  The modern Opus Dei is still mostly shrouded in secrecy, but it does have a Web site that describes much of its history and its mission.  Pope John Paul II was particularly fond of Opus Dei, designating it a personal prelature, meaning that it operates with little oversight by bishops.

And because of its power, influence and high-profile members around the world, it continues to have close ties to the Vatican, and, most likely, the next pope. 

MCSWEENEY:  To the extent that there might be any influence, of course, within the Vatican on a particular candidate, there are cardinals who are members of Opus Dei.  There are some who understand the work of Opus Dei.  But I don‘t believe, as a collective body, the conclave would be persuaded by one particular hierarchy entity. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Tucker Carlson, for that piece. 

With me here in Rome is Monsignor John Strynkowski, rector of St.  James Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York.  And we are joined by a member of Opus Dei, the Reverend Michael Barrett, director of the Holy Cross Chapel and Catholic Resource Center down in Houston, Texas. 

Let‘s take a look at something written by John Allen.  He‘s a longtime reporter for “The Catholic Reporter.”  He wrote this in his book “Conclave.”  Let‘s look at this.  He talked about Cardinal Tettamanzi.  Now, he is the man who is the cardinal of Milan.  I mentioned him the other night as a front-runner, because a cab driver said, watch this guy Tettamanzi.  He‘s got a lock and he‘s also leading in the Irish betting. 

According to this article by John Allen, that he has close ties, Tettamanzi, to the organization Opus Dei.  In 1998, on the group‘s 70th anniversary, Cardinal Tettamanzi—wasn‘t cardinal yet—published an article praising its founder.  In recent months, Tettamanzi has burnished his credentials with traditionalists by writing letters in support of indulgences and church teaching on the devil. 

Father, Father Barrett, what do you make of this writing by John Allen that the closest between Tettamanzi, the cardinal of Milan, and Opus Dei suggests a front-runner slot for the next pope? 

REV. MICHAEL BARRETT, OPUS DEI MEMBER:  I think the only persons who can even begin to determine who is the front-runner are the 117 men that are going to come together to elect the next pope.  I don‘t think anybody else really knows.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what‘s the cloud of Opus—what‘s the cloud of Opus Dei?  Why was it mentioned by this expert on the Vatican? 

BARRETT:  Well, I think John Allen has done a lot of work on Opus Dei, and taking that one particular phrase is not really sufficient.  He‘s—he‘s recognized in some of the other things that he‘s written how Opus Dei is very good force us in the church today.  Its importance in teaching laypeople how to be contemplative in the middle of the world and sanctifying their work is crucial to the church in the modern world, being part of the society in which we live. 

MATTHEWS:  Is the organization tight, meaning members look out for each other, the they have an—sort of an organizational reality beyond individual membership? 

BARRETT:  I‘d say Opus Dei members are like a family.  We are part of the Catholic Church. 

We feel part of the family of the church.  And then, within that, like so many other institutions, we have our own aims and our own mission to carry out in the services of the church, of the universal church.  So, we work together, like every other institution, whether in the church or outside of the church to accomplish the goals that we‘re trying to achieve. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Monsignor.

What do you make of Opus Dei?  What is it?

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

Well, I had the impression maybe some 30 years ago, when I was working in Rome that, that Opus Dei almost saw itself as a church within the church, that they were out to reform the church. 

I think today—and I liked what Father said—that they see themselves more as one among other organizations within the church, and, therefore, they are not the only way of being a Christian or a Catholic.  They do recognize that there are other ways. 

MATTHEWS:  Father Barrett, do you believe that Opus Dei members are—have a superior status to—to any Catholic? 

BARRETT:  Absolutely not. 

Opus Dei members are ordinary, faithful.  They are people who live in their own homes and their own parishes carrying out their own professional work, and they don‘t call attention to themselves, because they not looking to be in any way superior or to lord over anyone else.  Their hope goal is to be...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What is a personal—what is a personal prelature?  What does that mean?  I am not familiar with the phrase. 

BARRETT:  It‘s a—it‘s a phrase that refers to a very specific canonical jurisdiction in the Catholic Church. 

It‘s like a diocese, which we are more familiar with.  But a person who lives in a diocese determines his membership by being in the territory, the diocese. 

MATTHEWS:  Why...

BARRETT:  A person who lives in Opus Dei, it doesn‘t matter where he lives anywhere in the world.  He belongs to the organization, because it‘s an international organization of the church.  It has not territorial boundaries.

MATTHEWS:  I know practically nothing.  I know really nothing about Opus Dei, Father, so I am asking the question. 

BARRETT:  Oh.

MATTHEWS:  I really know nothing. 

BARRETT:  OK. 

MATTHEWS:  Except you hear murmurs about it.  What are the stories?  Why do people talk about it in a sort of, you know, get what they are doing or they‘re influential or, oh, my God, these people are Opus Dei?  What do those phrases mean?  Why do I keep hearing that? 

BARRETT:  I think you keep hearing it on one level because of books like Dan Brown‘s, which, unfortunately, are a total misrepresentation of the truth about Christianity, about the Catholic Church and about Opus Dei. 

People, though, take their cue from books like that, thinking that that‘s going to give them an idea about the organization, which it doesn‘t.  I think that that‘s one of the big reasons presently.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do liberal Catholics fear Opus Dei? 

BARRETT:  Well, I have no idea, but I don‘t think anybody should fear Opus Dei.  Opus Dei is here to serve the church as she needs to be serve.

We are trying very hard to reach out to people in the ordinary circumstances of everyday life, the mainstream Catholics in the middle of the world and help them to live their vocation within the middle of the world, the vocation that they received in the sacrament of baptism.  There is nothing to fear at all. 

MATTHEWS:  Monsignor, what is this concern?

STRYNKOWSKI:  Well, I think, actually, there are some bishops, even conservative ones, who are reluctant to allow Opus Dei into the diocese because they see that, that structure of being a personal prelature as a threat to their own authority.  Some welcome Opus Dei, but others are hesitant, because they are afraid that the—Opus Dei will create its own you might say following within their diocese. 

MATTHEWS:  Is it probable, Father Barrett, that the next pontiff will be someone in close contact, if not a member of Opus Dei? 

BARRETT:  Again, as I said before, I think it‘s up to the 117 men to make that determination who are going to elect the pope. 

But I‘d like to point out that Pope John Paul II was very close to Opus Dei.  Even before he became pope, he had participated in activities for priests that were sponsored and conducted by members of Opus Dei.  I think he turned out to be a terrific pope, a wonderful man, a great leader of the church.  And if anyone has more contact with Opus Dei than he does, I can‘t tell who that might be. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  So, you don‘t have any personal knowledge about a movement among Opus Dei people for Cardinal Tettamanzi of Milan?

BARRETT:  Absolutely none.  There is no such thing.  And it‘s not the way anybody would operate in the church, not Opus Dei, not any particular diocese, not the Knights of Columbus, not anyone. 

Everyone is praying for the next man who is going to be selected as the successor of John Pope I.  And it‘s up to all of us in the church to be able to focus on the prayer and the support that those 117 men need to find our next spiritual shepherd. 

MATTHEWS:  Is there any danger to Opus Dei? 

STRYNKOWSKI:  I don‘t see that, no. 

I had fears at one time, but I think that they have become much more open now and much more flexible and cooperative in terms of the larger situation of the church. 

MATTHEWS:  When you hear the phrase Opus Dei, do you think right wing, left wing, center?  What do you think?

BARRETT:  Oh, I think—generally, I think conservative, yes.  But—but, again, their membership is so diverse that I don‘t think you can say all members have the same mentality. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much. 

You‘ll stay with us, Monsignor.

Thank you very much, Reverend Michael Barrett.

Monsignor John Strynkowski is staying with us.

And when we return, we‘re going to be joined—I am sure Pat Buchanan will have thoughts on this topic.  And syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne as well.

You are watching a special edition of HARDBALL, live from the Vatican, only on MSNBC. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W.  BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We will always remember the humble, wise and fearless priest who became one of history‘s great moral leader.  We‘re grateful to God for sending such a man, a son of Poland, who became the bishop of Rome and a hero for the ages.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back from the Vatican with Monsignor John Strynkowski. 

And we are joined right now by MSNBC analyst Patrick Buchanan and syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne, who served as the Rome bureau chief and covered the Vatican and traveled with the pope in the 1980s for “The New York Times.” 

You, first, E.J.  What do you think of Opus Dei?  I read about it.  I know very little about it, except the whispers you hear.  What is it all about? 

E.J. DIONNE, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, I think the monsignor who is with you had it right, that a lot of Catholics do worry that it constitutes a church within the church, especially, obviously, liberal Catholics. 

There are a lot of very able people in Opus Dei.  The spokesman for the pope, for the Vatican, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who is very good at what he does, is a member of Opus Dei.  I think there is a concern, especially on the part of liberal Catholics, that Opus Dei kind of wants to—is not only very strict on church doctrine, which, obviously, they had in common with the pope, but maybe have a more narrow vision of what the church should be in the long haul, kind of a tougher vision, as they might see it, a narrower vision, in the eyes of liberals.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

DIONNE:  And I think that‘s part of the worry.

And it is not as secret as it used to be.  Again, I agree with the monsignor on that.  But I think there is a...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Are they an influential faction, E.J.? 

DIONNE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Are they an influential faction in picking the next pope? 

DIONNE:  Oh, absolutely.

But I suspect you are going to have—not to turn the whole world into polarized America, God help us—but I think you will have a certain amount of polarization around Opus Dei.  For example, the cardinal from Milan that you mentioned, who is close to Opus Dei, his predecessor, Cardinal Montini, who is a more liberal Catholic, is said, according to the scuttlebutt, not to want his successor to be pope. 

Now, given that these guys aren‘t supposed to leak, under penalty of eternal damnation, maybe we will never know that for sure, but that‘s the kind of talk you are hearing. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re great.

Let‘s go to Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  Your view of Opus Dei, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  I think it‘s an outstanding organization, Chris.  They run the Heights School here in Washington, D.C. 

I know a number of them.  One of them helped convert a number of your friends.  And I have got four nephews at school.  What they are is, they are in the world, but not necessarily of it.  Many of them are very, very successful people.  They want to live a more deeply Catholic life.  They are in a deeply secularized society, which we live in.  And so they try to get closer, I think, and more deeply into the faith. 

They have various houses, some of those who are not married.  And they are very observant Catholics.  I know one in my campaign, they simply will not work more than a certain number of hours because they don‘t believe in this idea of workaholics.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  And they are very Catholic. 

MATTHEWS:  Do they believe in schools or do they believe in homeschooling? 

BUCHANAN:  They believe in—no, they have schools, but they do believe that, like the pope, that there are moral absolutes, and they believe in teaching moral absolutes in a world of moral relativism.

And I think they prefer the idea that children should be taught—

Catholic children should be taught in Catholic schools and taught Catholic doctrine and Catholic catechism. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the influence on the election of the next pope, do you see it, Pat?  Do you know about it? 

BUCHANAN:  Yes.  There‘s a couple of cardinals to whom they are close. 

You mentioned Tettamanzi.  And there are several others.

But my understanding from the sources I have talked to about this, Chris, since I had heard we were going to discuss it, is that there are not a great number of them.  A lot of them—a lot of the cardinals are sympathetic, obviously, because they are a tremendous force.  And, frankly, they are big contributors to the Roman Catholic Church.

But I don‘t think, in terms of—in the next pope, I think it‘s going to come down to either one of the Italians, northern Italians, Chris, Tettamanzi and Scola and Bertone, or it‘s going to come to a Third World choice, which I think, if it is, will be Cardinal Arinze. 

MATTHEWS:  You are good.  You are good.  I like it, Pat. 

Pat, would you—you wouldn‘t want to get Opus Dei against you, would you, if you were running for pope? 

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Well, if you got Opus Dei against you, there is probably something wrong in your background, Chris.  

(LAUGHTER) 

MATTHEWS:  Monsignor Strynkowski will stay with us. 

Pat Buchanan, it‘s getting political. 

E.J. Dionne.

We are going to come back.  We will have the results of a new NBC News poll about whether American Catholics want their church and their pope involved in American politics. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to the Vatican.  We are in Rome.  This is a special edition of HARDBALL. 

Monsignor John Strynkowski, E.J. Dionne and Pat Buchanan are still with us. 

Let‘s take a look at this interesting new NBC/”Wall Street Journal”

poll.  It shows that 69 percent of American Catholics believe that the pope

·         and this is so obvious—and the Catholic Church should play a major role in the spiritual life of the United States, obviously.  However, when it comes to the role the pope and the Catholic Church should play in U.S.  government and politics, only 23 percent of Catholics believe it should be a major role. 

Monsignor, is that right?  Is that the right attitude? 

STRYNKOWSKI:  I think so, because the pope, himself, has said often that we should not get engaged in partisan politics.  And I think—I presume that that was the gist of that question, that the pope and bishops, for example, will uphold moral values, but then, ultimately, it is up to the voter in his or her conscience to make a decision how they‘re going to vote.

So, people don‘t want that kind of direct, explicit instruction as to which party to vote for.  We can‘t do it.

MATTHEWS:  So, we shouldn‘t be getting those ballots in church to say, don‘t vote for Barbara Mikulski in Maryland because she‘s pro-choice? 

(LAUGHTER)

STRYNKOWSKI:  Not in church. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

Let me go to Pat Buchanan.

Your view of that poll.  Do you subscribe to that view? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think that the—yes, basically, I do, in this sense, Chris, that with—the Holy Father, I don‘t think, should be speaking to politics in the United States.

But if there is some moral outrage under way, I think that bishops and priests do have an obligation to speak to it.  But I think the best way the church can influence the culture and the politics is educate and train good, believing, practicing Catholics, and let them work, basically, through the system. 

MATTHEWS:  E.J.? 

DIONNE:  Well, I have always thought—this proves I am a Catholic.  I have always thought the church‘s job was to make everybody feel a little guilty about something. 

(LAUGHTER)

DIONNE:  And I think its job has been to make conservatives feel a little more guilty about what they do or don‘t do about poverty and make liberals feel a little more guilty when they think about issues such as abortion. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

DIONNE:  I think that poll reflects two things.

One is that Americans have a deep instinct that the church institution should not meddle in government.  And I think we all agree with that.  On the other hand, I think all of us are slightly hypocritical on this.  I think, when a cleric of any kind weighs in on, on our side of an issue, he‘s being prophetic and courageous.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

DIONNE:  And when he or she weighs in on the other side of an issue, they are meddling in politics. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, on moral issues...

MATTHEWS:  So, Pat, you like it when the pope—when the pope speaks out or anyone else about abortion, that‘s good, but when he comes out against capital punishment, you are not quite on the same team? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, abortion is, of course, the murder of the innocent, and capital punishment puts a guilty person to death.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  The pope should speak out on poverty.  But whether or not the minimum wage should be raised, there are economics and other issues come into that.  And I think you let Catholics with a good conscience decide whether that‘s the wisest way and the best way to do it. 

MATTHEWS:  All right, Pat, the Irish betting boards have Tettamanzi and Arinze, the two possible popes that you mentioned, as even money.  Where would you put yours, Arinze or Tettamanzi, if you had to go there? 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  I think, if the Italians—the Italian community has got to realize that this is going to be the last Italian pope.  And if it‘s Arinze, there won‘t be another one.

I think they will vote as a block and they will wait—and I think a lot of the Americans will go with them, Chris.  And I think that they will wait until they get to the 50 percent thing.  And, if I had to bet, I would say Tettamanzi and I would say secretary of state will be Cardinal Arinze. 

MATTHEWS:  You agree with my cab driver and the Irish betting board. 

E.J., what are you saying?  Do you want to make a bet or a suggestion here?

(CROSSTALK)

DIONNE:  The—I thought that it used to be white smoke for a pope, black smoke for no decision.  I think now, with all this cable news coverage, it will be purple smoke for a recount. 

(LAUGHTER)

DIONNE:  But I think that this is—I mean, this is very hard to call, for all the reasons we know.  There is no polling. 

I am curious about sort of candidates, both outside Italy and outside the Third World.  Cardinal Danneels of Belgium is an interesting choice.  That would be a kind of shift more toward the center.  If this is an electorate dominated by relatively conservative people appointed by the pope, Pat may be right. 

MATTHEWS:  Is he a Walloon?  Is he a Walloon, E.J.?

DIONNE:  I‘m sorry?

MATTHEWS:  Is he a Walloon? 

DIONNE:  No, I think he‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Is he a Walloon? 

DIONNE:  No.  I think he‘s Flemish.

MATTHEWS:  I thought that was your francophonic thing going here. 

Anyway, thank you very much.

DIONNE:  No.  No, not...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Monsignor John Strynkowski, Pat Buchanan, E.J. Dionne, thank you. 

I‘ll be right back from the Vatican tomorrow night.

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