updated 4/8/2005 1:48:48 PM ET 2005-04-08T17:48:48

Guest:  Raymond Flynn; Sr. Doris Gottemoeller; Sr. Christine Schenk

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Welcome back to MSNBC‘s live coverage of the funeral of Pope John Paul II.  It‘s 1:00 a.m. Eastern.  We‘re glad you are watching. 

Just three hours from now the funeral mass will begin on the steps of St. Peter‘s Basilica in Rome.  You‘re looking at live pictures from there where it‘s just after 7:00, Friday morning.  Crowds are already gathering. 

The pope‘s funeral is expected to draw one of the biggest crowds in human history.  Among them four kings, five queens, and some 70 presidents and prime ministers.  At least 14 leaders of other religions will also attend.  That‘s in addition to what the Vatican expects will be four million of the faithful.  Among those is Ray Flynn, he‘s the former ambassador to the Vatican, he‘s had the great privilege of caling Pope John Paul II, friend. 

Ambassador Flynn, thank a lot for joining us. 

RAYMOND FLYNN, FMR. AMBASSADOR FOR THE VATICAN:  It‘s good to be with you, Tucker.  Thank you for having me.

CARLSON:  What do you think Pope John Paul II would make of his funeral?  What do you think he makes as he watches—watches this, the pump, the circumstance, the size? 

FLYNN:  Tucker, I think he‘d be delighted with the large number of young people that are here.  I don‘t think people would ever imagine that young people would be playing such an important role, here at the funeral.  When you think about it, people usually identify the Catholic Church with the old growing community, many people—ethnic community, the Irish, the Italian, the Polish, Lithuanian, and so forth.  People who have been rooted in religion and values, the old school, so to speak, our mother, our father, our grandparents. 

This is very, very different, Tucker.  This is young people, the future of the church, actually.  And it‘s not surprising to me, because of the fact that I‘ve had the opportunity of traveling with John Paul II for such a long period of time and I saw this personally at World Youth Days.  I first saw it in Denver, Colorado in August of 1993, then I saw it in Rome and the Philippines and Paris and other places.  He has—there‘s such an attraction, Tucker.  You know politics as well as anybody, there‘s a chemistry there that connects between himself—between he and the young people and I think I have it finally figured out.  I think it is rooted in truth and values and faith that politicians or personalities or celebrities generally tell people, you know, what is important to them, what they‘re trying to sell, commercially to them, or votes, whatever. 

Pope John Paul II has this relationship with young people that he tries to tell them what‘s best for them and I think that‘s appreciated, that‘s valued and young people see that and I think that‘s the reason why.  I‘d like to see a breakdown of the ratio of young people.  These young people are just politely amazing, here, in terms of their evidence.  And as I said, I‘ve seen this all across the world, so as the Holy Father said to me when we flew back together, from the United States one time, I was sitting right next to him on the airplane, and he said to me, “Raymond,” he says, “I‘ve seen the future of the United States,” he says, “I‘ve seen, you know, where the church is going in the United States and I have to tell you their future is very, very promising because there are a lot of young people that are very committed to carrying the church and carrying society to a better day.” 

CARLSON:  Well, what you are saying is obviously true, Ambassador, that the pope had this tremendous connection with people and a great many adored him, obviously.  And yet how do you square that with the statistics one always reads in the newspapers about how church attendance, Catholic Church attendance, too, in the West, has declined, pretty dramatically over the past 40 years and that the number of priests and nuns has shrunk over that same time? 

FLYNN:  You know—you know I wouldn‘t place too much emphasis on the number of people going to church or not going to church, and I perhaps shouldn‘t say this, but you know, there are a lot of good people who don‘t go to church all of time, as well, that the Holy Father has inspired, he‘s had this impact.  I know people in my own neighborhood, my own city of Boston—church attendance is down, but I can tell you that these are the same people that admire and love John Paul II, follow him.  I‘ll bet the large number of people here, four million, five million people here in Rome, some of those—many of those people may not go to church either, but they‘re good people, they‘re good Catholics and they‘re followers of the teaching of Jesus Christ. 

So, I wouldn‘t place too much emphasis on some of these things about the church and church attendance and they‘re not giving much money and all those.  Those are important and we certainly want to encourage people to go to church, but, you know, these are good people, and really, this is—this is—the church is better because of John Paul II than it was when he first took over in 1978.  I‘m convinced of that because he‘s had a big impact with young people and a very positive impact. 

CARLSON:  Is it your sense, Ambassador, from talking to people you know in Rome, that there will be a move to beatify him and then make him a saint? 

FLYNN:  Oh, I think so, Tucker, yeah.  I mean, I know most of these members of the College of Cardinals, 117, 118 members of the College of Cardinals, here today.  I know most of them, I‘ve spoken to many of them and, you know, they don‘t come right out and say it, but without question, they are the ones who would actually recommend this.  This would be the process of beatification.  It‘d be a—it‘d be a group of cardinals that would make this determination.  And I‘m thoroughly convinced, he will be one of, now, maybe four cardinal—popes throughout the history of the Roman Catholic Church that he will be classified in that category of being a great, John Paul the Great, I‘m convinced of that. 

CARLSON:  Well, there have also been accounts in the American press, today—I don‘t know if you‘ve seen them, saying that he was one of the very few popes, in modern times, anyway, not to be embalmed or fully embalmed and the significance of this has something to do with future plans of making him a saint.  Are you familiar with this?  And do you know exactly what it means? 

FLYNN:  Yeah, I‘ve heard this conversation.  Last night I heard some of the cardinals talking about it, in fact.  And, so there‘s that and there‘s all new rules, here.  I mean, I‘ve followed this conclave, I‘ve written books about it, Tucker and this is—this is a unique conclave.  A lot of different things are happening.  This really, somebody said it, not me, but somebody said this is a modern pope.  Now, that‘s hard to believe when you hear an 85 -- 84-year-old man and born in Poland and struggled under Nazism and Communism and all those things—a modern pope, but he really is.  I‘ve known him for a long time. 

Even as a young boy, Carl—Tucker, he was—he was committed to learning how to communicate, how to become an actor, how to be more effective in his voice, in his message.  I mean, this guy was really—he was 30 years, 40 years, maybe 50 years ahead of his time, considering Poland, at that time, he‘s listening to the radio.  He‘s trying to think how to communicate.  He‘s trying to think how to lead young people.  I mean, he was ahead of his time. 

CARLSON:  All right, Ambassador Ray Flynn, we appreciate it.  Thanks very much. 

FLYNN:  Sure. 

CARLSON:  Among the millions of faithful who traveled to Rome, today, to pay there respects to the pope, that are as many as a million people from Pope John Paul II‘s homeland, Poland.  And two NBC News correspondents documented that long journey.  Here they are.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY O‘DONNELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  An exodus of the heart from Poland.  8:00, Wednesday morning, in Krakow, this odyssey of faith begins. 

YANUSH TRATSIC (PH), POLISH WORSHIPER:  I go to Rome to pray because the pope loves young people. 

O‘DONNELL:  Students, Caterina Tutsi (PH) and Yanush Tratsic (PH), among the hurried pilgrims. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I must go to Rome.  I must go.

O‘DONNELL:  Over more than 1,000 miles, prayer passes the time. 

They pack handmade snacks and a deep respect for the man they knew as Jan Pavel.  To Christina Padraza (PH), who clutches the card given to her 43 years ago, when John Paul confirmed her in the Catholic faith. 

(on camera):  The ride is all day, all night and then some.  But no one complains about the conditions or even the cost.  For most it equals about a month‘s living expenses.  They say all that matters is getting there. 

(voice-over):  Even the trip organizer, Agatah Meque (PH), planning this tour is an act of faith. 

AGATAH MEQUE (PH), TRIP PLANNER:  We did it for the Holy Father. 

O‘DONNELL:  So little sleep, such a long night.  Weary and after all of this, worry. 

TRATSIC (PH):  I‘m scared, because it‘s a big, big, big world.  It‘s five million people. 

O‘DONNELL:  Waiting for them in Rome. 

ANNE THOMPSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  This is Anne Thompson in Rome.  Bus No.  4 pulls in after 27 hours on the road to bad news.  The line to see the pope is closed.  But they are determined to get as close as they can, none more than trip organizer, Agatha. 

MEQUE (PH):  I hope that everybody will remember this trip to the end of their lives. 

THOMPSON:  After a quick subway ride their faith is rewarded, the line reopens.  Under a hot sun, Yanush and Caterina wear the traditional costumes of Southern Poland to honor the pope.  But it is something more. 

TRATSIC (PH):  It‘s inside.  It‘s—it‘s love. 

THOMPSON (on camera):  After 31 hours they finally reach their goal, St. Peter‘s Square, the heart of the Catholic Church, and today, the heart of Poland. 

TRATSIC (PH):  Rome is the Polish—Polish now, a Polish city. 

THOMPSON:  Thirty-five hours from Krakow, they pay their respects.  For Yanush, it is too much. 

TRATSIC (PH):  It is him—I‘m sorry, I don‘t know. 

THOMPSON:  For Caterina, one prayer is answered and another is begins.

CATERINA TUTSI (PH), POLISH WORSHIPER:  I have photos of all of my family and I take it and I pray to the papa help. 

THOMPSON:  Two pilgrims, two of millions on a trip of a lifetime to pay homage to one life.

For Kelly O‘Donnell in Poland, this is Anne Thompson, NBC News, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Before we go to the break, we‘re showing you more live pictures from St. Peter‘s Square.  The square is starting to fill up with people.  You can see dawn has broken, the flurry of activity is just beginning and there is going to be a lot more people there by the time this funeral begins, a little less than three hours from know. 

You may have read about it in the “De Vinci Code,” but what is Opus Dei?  Some say it‘s a sinister secret society, others, the vanguard of the true faith.  We‘ll find out more. 

And next, the role of women in the church.  Two nuns with very different opinions explain the changes they‘d like to see.

MSNBC‘s live coverage, just hours before the funeral of Pope John Paul II, continues here, on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  OK, and you‘re looking at live pictures from the Vatican City, Italy.  People queuing up for the funeral, which begins in a little less than three hours, we‘ll be carrying that here, live on MSNBC. You can see the security personnel this safety orange and safety yellow.  Amazing. 

There are 65 million Roman Catholics living in the United States and the vast majority of them admired Pope John Paul II.  Many, however, drew a distinction between the man and his theology.  For instance, an “Associated Press” IPSOS poll last weekend, showed that 60 percent of American Catholics think the next pope ought to change church policy and allow priests to marry.  Sixty percent also say women should be allowed to become priests.  That‘s what Catholics in America think, but is the Vatican listening?  Should it listen? 

Joining me now is Sr. Doris Gottemoeller, she was the first president of Sisters of Mercy of the Americans.  She‘s also the former president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. 

We‘re also joined by Sr. Christine Schenk.  She‘s executive director of FutureChurch, an organization that presses for the equality of women in the church. 

We‘re also joined, once again, by Fr. Anthony Figueiredo.  He‘s a professor of theology at Seton Hall University and an MSNBC analyst. 

Sister Doris, let me just ask you the obvious question, which is, why aren‘t women priests in the Catholic Church?  What‘s the theological basis for that policy? 

SR. DORIS GOTTEMOELLER, FMR. PRES. SISTERS OF MERCY OF AMERICAS:  The usually teaching is that because, according to the New Testament, Christ chose men as his closest followers that he did not choose women and therefore in keeping with that, women are not ordained. 

CARLSON:  Sister Christine, according to the polls, anyway, many Americans, perhaps most American Catholics don‘t buy that as a rationale.  Should they? 

SR. CHRISTINE SCHENK, EXEC. DIR. OF FUTURECHURCH:  No, they shouldn‘t.  In fact, Jesus‘ closest followers also included women.  Luke 8:1-3 showed us Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Susanna, and many other women accompanying Jesus with the Galilean discipleship.  This is a highly unusual practice in a culture in which women didn‘t speak to men outside their immediate family, let alone travel around.  So, we see Jesus from the beginning including both women and men, in his discipleship, learning from him, how to proclaim that new reign of God, that time of justice and goodness and peace and care for the poor. 

So, I think, part of the difficulty, I believe, with the present teaching is that it‘s based in an old anthropology which viewed women as subordinate to men, dating back to the fourth century—fourth and fifth century.  So, in many ways, we haven‘t caught up with our own biblical scholarship and contemporary theology with regard to roles for women in the church. 

I don‘t know if I can say more, but for me the overriding reason why we need to be re-looking at roles for women and married priests in the church is the worldwide priest shortage.  Since 1973 we‘ve had a 52 percent increase in the number of Catholics worldwide from 70 million to 1.1 billion, while the number of priests has remained the same at 405,000.  I think that number speaks for itself.  How can 405,000 priests take care of 1.1 billion Catholics, provide them with the Eucharist which is the central mystery and celebration and go-power, I would say, for Catholics around the world?  And that‘s the issue that my organization is concerned about, primarily.  My organization being FutureChurch.  And so we need to open ordinate—open the discussion, certainly, about mandatory celibacy in the church and also, when we say opening the discussion about ordaining women to the deaconate as the next step for including women in all roles of ministry and decision making. 

CARLSON:  Sister Doris, do you feel that women are in a subordinate position in the Catholic Church, both in America and around the world?  And do you buy these accounts, I‘ve been reading lately, about how women functionally do run a lot of the churches in the United States already, simply because there‘s an absence of priests?  Is that true?

GOTTEMOELLER:  Yes, yes and yes.  I‘d, say first of all, I point out, that the pole you quoted is a pole of the American Catholics. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right, American Catholics. 

GOTTEMOELLER:  And one of the struggles, one of the challenges the next pope is going to have is maintain unity and diversity.  Where we have different experiences and different opinions across the many cultures that make up the church, it‘s his duty to define the boundaries and to say who decides where the boundaries are.  So—but having said that I would agree with Chris that there‘s a huge gap between the church‘s words about the roll of women and its practice.  Even setting aside, if you will for a moment, the question of ordination, we have a growing body of statements beginning at least with Vatican II asserting that the role of women in the church needs to be enhanced, that women have to play a larger role in the governance, the leadership in the church.  What we don‘t see are examples of that, particularly from, on the worldwide scene. 

We have a number of bishops in this country who have, I think, been leaders in terms of promoting women to positions of leadership in the diocese and giving them responsibilities, but there‘s very little of that in Rome.  And there‘s nothing to—nothing in Canon Law, and there‘s nothing in the bible to create a barrier to that. 

CARLSON:  Father Figoretti, you heard Sr. Christine say that one of the things the church needs to reexamine is mandatory celibacy of priests, and I suppose for that matter, nuns.  Many early popes were married, as you know, St. Peter, I think was married, as were other disciples.  What is the theological justification for mandatory celibacy in the priesthood? 

FR. ANTHONY FIGUEIREDO, MSNBC ANALYST:  It is true that celibacy is an issue that falls under disciplined.  It could possibly change.  Unlike the ordination of women Tochter (PH), which is a definitive infallible teaching.  We can understand the reasons, but it will not change, no future pope can change that teaching.  Celibacy, this Holy Father has said, is really ordered towards being open to the other.  It‘s not greater than marriage, it‘s not lesser than marriage, it‘s simply another way of holiness.  And the Holy Father says, on a celibate priest, for example, and he says that what is important is that I can have a fatherhood, I can have a motherhood in the sense that I can give birth to spiritual children, also through suffering.  Is it a suffering not to be married?  Yes, I‘d like to be married, I‘d like to have children (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  But, the point is I can give myself totally to those to whom I‘m entrusted by being a celibate priest.  I believe that involves a suffering, no less than marriage does, I‘m sure, any parent will tell you, waking up in the night, giving their lives for children, in order to bring them towards God, really involves a sacrifice.  I‘m very happy to be celibate in order to bring about spiritual children. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Sr. Doris, Sr. Christine, thank you both very much.  Particularly, considering how late it is.  We appreciate it.

GOTTEMOELLER:  Early. 

CARLSON:  Early.  Or early, very good point.  You‘re a glass half filled kind of person, I can tell. 

The women in the Catholic Church are not the only ones pushing for change.  In a moment, a look at who else wants to shape the church‘s future.

And what is Opus Dei and why does it have such a scary reputation?  Is the reputation deserved?  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Many Catholics are wondering how or if the next pope will change the direction of the Catholic Church.  From Rome, I‘m joined by Fr. Thomas Williams.  He‘s a dean of theology at the University of Rome, and an NBC analyst. 

Also, Monsignor John Strynkowski, rector of the St. James Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York.  He‘s also an NBC analyst. 

With me here, is Fr. Anthony Figueiredo, professor of theology at Seton Hall University and yet another MSNBC analyst, and well valued at that. 

Thank you for joining us. 

Father Williams, what does account or the drop of the number of priests in the Catholic Church do you think? 

FR. THOMAS WILLIAMS, DEAN OF THEOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF ROME:  Well, I think, Tucker, that after the second Vatican Council there was a certain—there was a real crisis this priestly identity.  Because of a lot of the very good and needed reforms instated by the council, and the emphasis in the role of the laity, many priests kind of lost a sense of their role specifically was.  There was also a breakdown in seminary formation.  There were a number of elements that converged.  Then we have a lot of societal factors, the sexual revelation—or, revolution, the way society was going in those years, a difference since of human liberty.  And what that meant, all of these things combined for a severe drop in priestly vocations after the council.  This would have been in the late ‘60s and throughout the ‘70s.  Actually, it was, maybe, 10 years ago, the vocations in the U.S. kind of plateaued (SIC) and they‘re actually on a slow rise, no.  So, it‘s not that we‘re in the same sort of criminal condition that we were.  And actually because of the example of Pope John Paul II, vocations are actually on quite a sharp rise in many parts of the world. 

CARLSON:  Monsignor, Sister Christine Schenk, who we just had on a moment ago, made the case that allowing women to become priests would both be the fair thing to do, the biblical thing to do, she said, and also help solve the problem of the shortage of priests in the Catholic Church.  Do you think that‘s true? 

MONSIGNOR JOHN STRYNKOWSKI, RECTOR OF THE ST.  JAMES CATHEDRAL:  I think that the issue is more one of the role of religion in society.  I don‘t think that there will be a significant upswing in vocations until there‘s a greater sense of the importance of religion and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in people‘s lives.  So, that I think we need to make a better case for how we relate to the transcendent, to God, and the importance of or Christian tradition.  So that, as long as our culture sees religion as something that‘s very marginalized, not crucial to people‘s lives, then I think we‘ll continue to see a plateau, or maybe just a slight up rise in vocations, but nothing dramatic.  I think we need to do better in terms of—of the basics of evangelation and catechesis. 

CARLSON:  Fr. Figueiredo, there‘s this question that the molestation scandals over the last couple of years have hurt the image, anyway, of the Catholic Church in the United States.  Are you satisfied that the church has put reforms in place that will prevent something like this from happening again? 

FR. ANTHONY FIGUEIREDO, MSNBC ANALYST:  Tucker, the greatest contribution of his Holy Father, I believe, is his clarion call that we all become saints.  He repeated it over and over again to young people, holiness, and he often brought it back to baptism.  He said if we are true it our baptism then the divine life that God wants to offer us will really transform us and we can be living a life and give our lives fully for the will of God, the mission to which god has entrusted us.  When he called the bishops, last year, on their visits, the Ad Limina Apostolorum visits, he always went back to this baptism.  Be faithful to your calling as priests.  And he often said to the bishops, “it begins with you, if you are faithful you will become a witness to those who are priests themselves, training to become priests, and your holiness will attract them to be faithful to their own vocations.” 

I think this is the key, you know, and all the new movements, the new communities which are springing up, the Holy Father called it “a new springtime for the church,” they keep going back to this point:  baptism.  Let‘s live it and when we have that divine life within us, Tucker, then we can give or lives totally to God and we will attract the vocations that way.  The molestation scandals were based on one thing only, men were not faithful to their calling.  When we are faithful to our calling, to holiness, then truly we can live our lives and attract others to be holy, as well.  This is why this Holy Father has beatified, canonized, more than any other previous pontiff.  He wanted to raise figures who would truly be an inspiration, an example to give our give our lives to the end.  Who was the best example of all?  St. John Paul the Great. 

CARLSON:  St. John Paul the Great. 

Fr. Williams you often read that there is, if not a split, anyway, a difference in generations between priests, in priests that who‘ve been ordained since 1978, since this pope became pope, tend to be more conservative, more orthodox in their theology.  Do you think that‘s true? 

WILLIAMS:  Well it‘s hard to make generalizations.  I mean, I know many, many, many priests from different ages and you find all sort of priests at different ages.  At the same time, there certainly has been a great impetus, by this pope, I mean, this is really the John Paul II generation, and I can‘t think that many—I mean, I can‘t think of a friend that entered seminary with me that wasn‘t I some way affected directly by John Paul‘s example and witness.  And I think that that, you know, in his own testimony of a very, very holy life, a very self-sacrificing life has been inspirational to many.  And I think it‘s logical that—that the priests of this generation, you know, bear the stamp and the seal of this pontificate in a particular way. 

CARLSON:  All right, Monsignor Strynkowski.  Fr. Williams, you‘re perfectly situation for this morning in Rome.  Thank you for joining us.  We really appreciate it.

Fr. Figueiredo will stay with us...

STRYNKOWSKI:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Up next, what is Opus Dei and why is it such a hot topic among Catholics and even hotter topic among non-Catholics and readers of popular fiction?  That‘s next as MSNBC‘s live coverage of the funeral of Pope John Paul II continues.  We‘ll be right back.

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CARLSON:  Next, on our coverage of the funeral of Pope John Paul II, what is Opus Dei and how could it affect the church‘s future?  Keep it here.

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CARLSON:  A private group has been operating within the Roman Catholic Church over 75 years.  Known as Opus Dei, it‘s conservative members occupy leadership positions throughout the church.  Pope John Paul II canonized the group‘s founder in 2002.  But Opus Dei may be best known to the outside world as the heavy in the best selling novel the “Da Vinci Code.”

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

MONSIGNOR 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‘m a member of Opus Dei” and, you know, get your applause and your—your, you know, admiration.  The admiration, the recognition, of course, they maintain is in the work itself, the work of God as you play out 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 Friday or on occasion, fasting.  But some followers of Opus Dei, take their sacrifice to deeper level by practicing corporal mortification, or physical punishment of their own bodies. 

MCSWEENEY:  Corporal mortification has often been associated with spirituality and piety within the Catholic Church that‘s flagellating yourself , you know, doing fasting to the extreme, and so forth, so that you can keep yourself focused.  And that, again, with Opus Dei, it‘s been an exaggeration; there is 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 website 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.  Because of its power, influence, and high profile members around the world, it continues to have close ties to the Vatican, most likely, the next pope. 

MCSWEENEY:  To the extent that there might be 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 hierarchical entity. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  So, what is the role of Opus Dei in today‘s Roman Catholic Church?  Joining me now is Fr. Anthony.  Figueiredo, professor of theology at Seton Hall and an NBC analyst. 

Fr. Figueiredo, why does Opus Dei have this reputation as this secretive, sinister group?  It had it even before the “Da Vinci Codes” (SIC) came out, is it deserved? 

FIGUEIREDO:  I don‘t personally think it is deserved.  Very often, we judge by hearsay, we really do not know is happening within Opus Dei or other movements, and often what we do know is provided by those who have left the movement and so it‘s often negative.

Opus Dei, as all movements, Tucker, need to be seen within the context of John Paul II‘s call to holiness.  And so, Opus Dei is specifically a personal prelature to foster holiness amongst...

CARLSON:  Can you explain, quickly, what personal prelature is?

FIGUEIREDO:  Yes.  Basically, it means that Opus Dei has its own bishop, who is responsible to the pope.  But that bishop decides what the priests do, for example.  They don‘t report to a bishop in a diocese, they report to their prelate who is based in Rome.  So he really decides everything for them.  We have to understand why, Tucker.  The reason is that their spirituality leads to holiness.  And so, what John Paul II has done, has said, I need to protect their spirituality, which has borne so much fruit in the world today and, obviously, because that spirituality is very distinctive to Opus Dei, cannot be known unless you belong to Opus Dei, it‘s open to criticism.  It‘s a little bit like the Jesuits, remember in the 16th century when they first came out, there was a lot of criticism.  Like the first Christians in the early church, there was a lot of suspicion.  But, remember what the pope said about the Jesuit back in the 16th century, he stood up and said, “I see the finger of God there.”  I think Pope John Paul II has had the courage to do the same for Opus Dei and so many other (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

CARSON:  Well, here‘s the hang-up with Opus Dei in America.  Playing pop psychologist here, I believe, is corporal mortification.  The average American is mortified by the idea of mortification.  The idea that someone would whip himself or put, you know, chainmail, essentially, on is body and punish himself.  What is the theological notion behind punishing yourself physically? 

FIGUEIREDO:  That‘s a great question.  Mortification means to “put to death,” literally.  So it means to put to death whatever, within us, separates us from God.  If the personal mortification is simply it to build ourselves up so that we enter into some sort of nirvana, into some sort of private holiness, then it is of no value whatsoever.  If it‘s leading us to love of God and love of neighbor, then certainly it has its value.  These sort of things, again, I would stress, Tucker, cannot be understood unless we really begin to live them.  I‘m not recommending that we all begin to live them, because certainly there is a call in specific movements in the church, and that is the greatness of the church, there are so many different ways of reaching holiness with God.  It doesn‘t mean we have to belong to Opus Dei or any other movement in the church.  But if you‘re called to it and it fosters holiness, why not?  That‘s the greatness of John Paul II, he was open to (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

CARLSON:  All right, Fr. Anthony Figueiredo, thank you.  You‘ve been terrific.  We appreciate you staying with us all night.  Thanks.

FIGUEIREDO:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Next, NBC‘s Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert both share their personal experiences covering Pope John Paul II. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

CARLSON:  Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to become a major media figure.  Between them, NBC‘s Tim Russert and Tom Brokaw witnessed much of the history made by this pope over the past 26 years.  They talked about him last week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM BROKAW, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”:  Pope John Paul was a pope that was built for the modern age of communications.  He was a traditionalist, for the most part, in terms of dogma, but he did understand, didn‘t he, the power of communications in the modern world. 

TIM RUSSERT, “MEET THE PRESS”:  Tom, 20 years ago, Easter, NBC News went to the Vatican for one week and we had a very difficult time arranging interviews and finding people, frankly, who were willing to sit down in front of a television camera.  Suddenly, the word came from on high, John Paul II would not only meet with the NBC crews, he would sit and talk with them and have a private mass for them in his private chapel.  Suddenly every door in the Vatican opened and one of his a key advisor said to me, the pope believes very deeply if it doesn‘t happen on television it didn‘t happen. 

POPE JOHN PAUL II:  Welcome the group from the American television network, NBC. 

BROKAW:  Tim, share with our audience that meeting that you had with him as you were making the arrangements for NBC to be there. 

RUSSERT:  You know, Tom, I was led into a room about the size of a high school auditorium, empty, but for myself, and suddenly there appeared in white, the pope.  I am, myself, Catholic and this tough, no nonsense, hard hitting moderator of “Meet the Press” walked up to the pope and began his conversation by saying “bless me, father.”  He laughed immediately and said, “They tell me you‘re a very important man from NBChee” NBC, as he would say, NBChee.  And I said, “Your holiness, with all respect, there‘s only two of us in this room and I‘m a very distant second.”  He laughed again, put his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said, “right.” 

Later, Tom, in the week I was up near his apartment and I saw a little plaque that said “Totus Tuus” and I was very curious about that Latin expression, it translates “all yours” in English.  And I was told that when he was shot, assassinated—the assassination attempt, he thought he was dying and said to Mary the mother of God, if I survive “Totus Tuus,” I am all yours, I rededicate my life for you.  And “Totus Tuus” became very much a motto for his papacy. 

BROKAW:  You use that motto to good effect when your son, Luke, was born, as well, Tim. 

RUSSERT:  When we went to Rome with the “Today Show” my wife was pregnant and pope blessed her Maurine‘s womb.  She speaks Italian so the pope began to speak to her in Italian and then he spoke to his translator in polish then to me in English, then he spoke to a group of school children in Japanese.  It was breathtaking.  He has an ability to converse in 28 different languages.  And he said when the baby is born bring your baby back to Rome, to the Vatican, and I will bless your baby.  And so I had a special t-shirt made up, a white t-shirt with red lettering “Totus Tuus” and we brought him back to Rome when he Luke was just about a year old and the pope saw him in the front row, made a beeline for him.  Picked him up, hugged him, kissed him, looked at “Totus Tuus” and kept saying “very nice, very nice.” 

BROKAW:  When he came to America, especially Denver, I was so struck by his rock star qualities for young Catholics.  And I don‘t mean that in a secular sense.  But, what he did was renew, in many ways, the faith of young Catholics in this country, in their church, and what it stood for in his appearses in the stadium.  He was someone with whom they could identify as opposed to those pontiffs from when I was growing up who always seemed so distant and just mystical. 

RUSSERT:  Tom, I had no memory, as a young Catholic boy in Buffalo, as to a pope.  I knew Pope John Paul XXIII, Vatican Council, but he was not real to me.  He was some distant figure in the Vatican in Rome.  Suddenly this Polish pope, who came to America, young, vibrant, young people couldn‘t stop cheering and saluting and praying with him.  And I remember they kept calling him out for one more time for them to say something to him and he finally looked across this huge crown and said, “The pope must sleep.”  And it was such a wonderful, human statement, “I‘m tired.  I have to get some rest, here.”  But that kind of connection truly existed. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  As Tim Russert just explained “Totus Tuus” became John Paul II‘s personal motto after he survived that assignation attempt in 1981.  The Latin phrase means, “I am all yours” and to the pope, it meant he was giving his life into the hands of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  The phrase appears again in has will, released today.  He writes, quote, “I do not know when the moment will come, but like everything else, I place it too, in the hand of my mother of my master, Totus Tuus.” 

Fr. Figueiredo, thanks for spending the past two hours for us.  We appreciate it.  MSNBC‘s live coverage of the funeral of Pope John Paul II continues tonight, live. 

At 3:30 Eastern, in just about 90 minutes, Chris Matthews picks up our coverage, from Rome, to lead you through the service which begins at 4:00 a.m. Eastern. 

Bill Fitzgerald and Natalie Allen pick it up from here.  Thanks for watching.  I‘m Tucker Carlson.  Have a good night.

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