updated 4/13/2005 12:33:29 PM ET 2005-04-13T16:33:29

Guest: Debra Saunders, Andrew Sullivan, James Moroney, John Foley

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Pope John Paul II is laid to rest as his loyal followers urge the church to declare him a saint. 

I‘m Chris Matthews in Vatican City.  And this is a special edition of


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

Hundreds of thousands of people filled St. Peter‘s Square this morning to pay a final farewell to Pope John Paul II.  The pope was laid to rest beneath St. Peter‘s Basilica after a funeral mass that lasted nearly three hours.  During the mass, banners in the crowd read “Santo Subito,” or sainthood immediately.  And, at times, the faithful broke into applause and chants of St. John Paul.

Earlier, I spoke with Archbishop John Foley, the president of the Vatican‘s Pontifical Council for Social Communications, about what he felt watching the highly emotional funeral. 



think they were saying Santo, Santo, because you could see the signs in St.

Peter‘s Square “Santo Subito,” which means, make him a saint right away. 

MATTHEWS:  And what do you make of that move?  Does it count? 


FOLEY:  It really doesn‘t count, but it does—one of the things for canonization is that the individual has a reputation for holiness and is well known for having a reputation for holiness. 

I don‘t think anybody could be better known for having a reputation for holiness than our late Holy Father, John Paul II. 

MATTHEWS:  Were you struck by his will? 

FOLEY:  Well, yes, I haven‘t read the whole thing yet. 


MATTHEWS:  It is amazing.  It‘s like, burn all my papers.  I have no ego.  I have no possessions.  There is not going to be a Sotheby‘s auction. 



FOLEY:  Isn‘t that wonderful?  Isn‘t that refreshing?

MATTHEWS:  Then there‘s like, he, like, left this world with no baggage.  I mean, he didn‘t leave any baggage. 

FOLEY:  No.  He came in with nothing and he went out with nothing. 

And, in the last resort, all of us have to leave with nothing. 

MATTHEWS:  And he knew it. 

FOLEY:  He knew it. 

MATTHEWS:  He wasn‘t compiling any assets. 

FOLEY:  And so he continued to preach not only up to the moment of his death, but after, with this marvelous funeral, which was so moving, and with his will. 

MATTHEWS:  How does this—I don‘t want to get into the election, because that‘s coming next week, of the next pontiff. 

FOLEY:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, we‘re all—people like me are going home.  I‘ll be back again, but we‘re going home to Washington, to America, to Philadelphia, where you and I are both from.  And I just wonder, will there be a lasting impact of this man‘s life?

FOLEY:  Absolutely.  There has to be a lasting impact. 

Well, just the institutional things that he did, the catechism of the Catholic Church, the new code of Canon Law, things that people don‘t normally think about.  But these things will have a lasting impact in the church.  His example of going around the world, you are not going to be able to have a pope who just stays put in the Vatican anymore.  He‘ll have to travel. 

And I don‘t know where they‘re going to find a pope who can speak as many languages as our late Holy Father, but he will have a lasting impact.  There‘s no doubt of that. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Americans really now want a pope that can speak English? 

FOLEY:  Well, Americans always want somebody who can speak English. 

MATTHEWS:  Because we don‘t speak anything else. 


FOLEY:  Because they say that the way Americans speak a foreign language is to speak English slowly and loudly, you know?

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FOLEY:  So, I think they expect people to speak English.  So, I hope the new pope can speak English.  But many of the cardinals do, many. 

MATTHEWS:  How does he talk to Americans?  You know, I just looked at an ABC poll, an ABC network poll that just came out.  I read it in “The Wall Street Journal” this morning over here.  And it said that only 40-some percent of American Catholics would like to see the next pontiff continue in the tradition of Pope John Paul II. 

What do you make of that? 

FOLEY:  Well, what do you make of that?  I didn‘t see the question.  I don‘t know how it was phrased, what they meant by, continue in that path. 

You know, the—certainly, the Holy Father, when he came to the United States, was wildly popular.  People have been crowding churches to pray for his health and now to pray for the repose of his soul.  So, I think anybody who exercises leadership does find individuals who don‘t agree with them.  And this Holy Father exercised leadership.  And we need a good leader.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think there was a connection, a perfect connection or even a close to perfect connection, between Pope John Paul II and the average Catholic family in America? 

FOLEY:  Yes, I do, more than many recent Holy Fathers.  Maybe Pope John related to them because of his warmth and goodness.  Pope Paul was a wonderful pope, whom I had met a number of times.  And I admired his writing.

But he was a more distant figure, in a way. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FOLEY:  John Paul I was popular, but they didn‘t get a chance to know him. 

But I think many people in the United States related personally to this pope.  And it‘s incredible.  Letters that I get indicate that he touched my life.  When he was sick, I got a lot of letters from people whom I knew in the United States, Jews, Orthodox, who would write to me and say, this pope touched our lives personally. 

MATTHEWS:  But what about the connection between a man who grew up under a repressive regime of communism and saw the church as a very militant organization on political grounds, translating his beliefs and his moral doctrine and advice, if you will, on how to live in a country where it is democratic and pluralistic?  Do you think it works the same way? 

FOLEY:  Well, all Catholics should retain their principles...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FOLEY:  ... and should work to have at least what I would call a least common denominator of principles among all the people in the country, and not see that diminish, because I think our nation was built on solid principles. 

And the problem is that they can be eroded.  And I think that, in fighting for sound moral principles, including the right to life, that we can protect the heritage of our nation.  We contribute as Catholics to a healthy democratic society. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  But Catholics in state after state, with the exception of Pennsylvania, elect pro-choice senators.  Those states which are most heavily Catholic have the most predictably pro-choice senators.  And that‘s not to say Catholics believe in abortion.  They don‘t.  They don‘t like it.  But they tend to—if you look at the numbers, they tend to vote for senators, whether it‘s Hillary Clinton or it‘s Barbara Boxer, who are pro-choice. 

FOLEY:  Maybe that‘s one reason I‘m so glad to be from Pennsylvania. 

And, this time, the Democrats are nominating a pro-life candidate...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FOLEY:  Which is a conversion...

MATTHEWS:  But that‘s the exception in the country.

FOLEY:  A type of mini-conversion on the part of—part of the Democratic Party, the same Democratic Party that wouldn‘t permit Governor Casey, the father of the person who is being nominated now for senator, to speak at the convention in New York. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FOLEY:  I thought that was a disgrace. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, certainly I do, too.  I‘ve said it many times. 

But let me ask you about issues like birth control, where Catholics tend to practice it, even though they go to church.  How do you put that together? 

FOLEY:  Well, of course, each individual, we‘re all called to follow the will of God.  We‘re all called to keep the Ten Commandments.  We‘re all called to follow the moral teaching of the church.  And we all have our consciences to examine. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FOLEY:  In regard to that.

All of us are imperfect in some way or another.  And I would hope that more Catholics might be convinced of the teaching of the church. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that the late pope, who has just been buried -

·         maybe this is too soon to bring it up, but it is nighttime and it is Friday night, and this is HARDBALL. 

Do you think that he was aware of how bad the problem was of molestation in the Catholic Church, the priests?  Do you think he knew it was that bad? 

FOLEY:  He became aware of it.  And it grieved him deeply.   

MATTHEWS:  Did he get it?  Did he understand what was going on? 

FOLEY:  He got it.  He got it. 

And, of course, he had been the bishop of a diocese.  And there, of course, the communists would always try to compromise priests, to put them in a situation of temptation. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, really?  I didn‘t know that. 

FOLEY:  To try to trap them.


FOLEY:  So that they would have something on the church.  So...

MATTHEWS:  I didn‘t know that.

FOLEY:  So, he was aware of scandals that could happen and what evil scandal could cause. 


FOLEY:  So, he was deeply grieved and he prayed about it.  I talked to him briefly about it.  I didn‘t talk to him at length. 

But he realized the terrible scandal that had been given.  And‘s why he personally appealed for the greatest possible holiness among priests and to be demanding in seminary admission standards. 


MATTHEWS:  How do you think we get over that?  I mean, we meaning everybody who is concerned about the Catholic Church.  You know, we all grew up with every family member sort of offering up a priest or a nun.  My mother‘s two—my late mother‘s two sisters are nuns and sisters of St.  Joseph‘s.  And I guess our family on the Irish side did its bit. 

But how do you deal with it today when so many families don‘t even think of that, of offering up a son to the priesthood? 

FOLEY:  Offering up a son.  You know, my parents never asked me what I wanted to do. 

MATTHEWS:  They did not put you up for this? 


FOLEY:  No.  They did not put me up for it.

MATTHEWS:  Really?

FOLEY:  They were supportive of me no matter what I would have decided to do that was good.  I was in a seminary and left.  And they supported me going in the seminary.  They were supportive of me coming out of the seminary.  Then I went back into the seminary and they were wonderful.  They were absolutely wonderful.  They never said, we think you should  you do this or this.  They always said, whatever you do, as long as it is good, we‘ll be with you.

MATTHEWS:  Well, they‘re great parents. 

FOLEY:  They were.


MATTHEWS:  But, today, do you think parents are open to the idea of children becoming—of their young boys going off to the priesthood, with celibacy and everything that goes with it, and the lonely life that goes with it? 

FOLEY:  I would hope that they are. 

And I must say, maybe I‘m an exception here.  But I‘ve said to seminarians, you‘re looking at a person who has never had an unhappy day as a priest. 

MATTHEWS:  Good for you.  Good for you. 

FOLEY:  And I‘ve loved it.  I‘ve loved everything I‘ve done.

MATTHEWS:  Because I know a lot of priests say they‘re lonely.  And they‘re stuck in the rectory and the parishes around them, but they‘re not really—well, let‘s invite more priests to dinner.  What do you think? 


FOLEY:  That‘s—that‘s good.

MATTHEWS:  Your Excellency. 

FOLEY:  As a guest and not as the main course. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, sometimes, on HARDBALL, we do eat surprising diets here. 

Anyway, thank you, Your Excellency.  Thank you for coming on. 


MATTHEWS:  When we come back, now that the funeral is over, the secret conclave to select the next pope begins on April 18.  Monsignor James and Monsignor John Strynkowski will be here to advance the story. 

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


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, who will the College of Cardinals select to replace Pope John Paul II?  We‘ll talk about that when HARDBALL returns from the Vatican.



MATTHEWS:  The formal mourning period for Pope John Paul II, called continue the novemdiales, continue for another three days.  The world‘s Catholics are now waiting for the conclave to begin to elect a new pope. 

To explain the process and rituals for naming the new leader of the Catholic Church, we have Monsignor James Moroney of the U.S. Conference of Bishop in St. Louis, and Monsignor John Strynkowski, rector of St. James Cathedral in Brooklyn, who is here with me. 

Let me start with Monsignor Moroney. 

What do you see as the next step?  The cardinals are all here, basically.  What do they do now between now and the Monday after next to get ready? 

MSGR. JAMES MORONEY, U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS:  In some respect, this is the most critical period, Chris, because this is the time in which they have to pray and discern. 

They have to, in some respects, go beyond, if you‘ll excuse the expression, the sound bites and the headlines, and look really deep within and ask God to send his Holy Spirit to tell them what kind of leader the church needs right now.  So, I would hope that the cardinals this week would be spending long periods of time in quiet prayer. 

MATTHEWS:  Monsignor.


think it‘s a good thing that, this evening, the cardinals have been able to move into the Santa Marta pension right here behind us, so that they can get to know each other better during meals and more informal conversations, so that, when it come time for the conclave, they‘ll have a better idea of who they are.  And that will help in their discernment in terms of a new candidate. 

MATTHEWS:  I read somewhere that John Paul II, in putting together his

·         the plans for this whole interregnum, said that it was OK for these cardinals to talk politics, but not to cut deals. 

STRYNKOWSKI:  I don‘t know if that‘s in any particular document. 




STRYNKOWSKI:  But I think what he may have indicated was that it is all right for them to discuss the needs of the church, what kind of a pope they need for the future, but that they should not be talking about names among themselves. 

MATTHEWS:  Monsignor, is that the way you read it, that they‘re not supposed to be engaging in any kind of caucusing or anything of that sort until the conclave begins the Monday after next? 

MORONEY:  Sure.  Absolutely, Chris. 

I think the problem is that, oftentimes, when we approach something like a conclave, the only models that we have are the kinds of political models.  It was just six months ago that we watched MSNBC with people, including HARDBALL, analyzing the way the political elections in the United States will go.  And so those are the natural models we use. 

And yet, the task before the cardinals is not so much to think in those same kinds of popular political categories in terms of power in the way the world would see it, but to listen to what Christ says about the person who serves the most is the one who is to be the greatest in the kingdom of God.  So, it is an entirely different way of approaching the question. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

Well, it would be—it is untoward for someone to run for pope.  Do you both agree? 


MORONEY:  Absolutely.  That‘s right.  I don‘t think anybody would do that. 

MATTHEWS:  No one would make a—is it like a student council event, where we all remember where somebody would sort of want to run, and everybody knew they wanted to run, so they would say, some guy has asked me to run?  Or would it be somebody who just says, you know, I really think this guy, Tettamanzi, is really good and I‘m going to nominate him?

How to you decide to initiate a nomination of someone else? 

MORONEY:  I think that what happens, Chris, is that, in a period of discernment, like the next week, there is a close examination deep within each person‘s heart. 

See, the forum of political interchange is really the media.  But the forum of this conclave, which is going to make it so hard for you to cover, is the heart of each cardinal.  And it is his discussion with God, it is his discernment of the Holy Spirit that is really the most important. 

This mourning, when Cardinal Ratzinger, in the end of his homily, said, looking up to the window, Holy Father, from the window in the father‘s house, bless us, that set the frame for what we‘re talking about, which is not an ascension to power, but it is really a seeking after service, of being conformed to Christ in order to serve the body of the church.  That‘s what we need in a pope.  And that‘s the kind of man that they‘re looking for.

MATTHEWS:  When it comes to it, Monsignor Strynkowski, do the countries end up, after a couple ballots, realize that it is between two or three men and then the countries caucus and throw their weight to one, as a unit rule kind of thing, like you do in congressional delegations or... 

STRYNKOWSKI:  I don‘t think that they vote by country or blocs that way.  I think that, in the first couple of ballots, a number of names probably emerge.  And then the names begin to get fewer and fewer.  And so it gets concentrated on maybe two or three names.  And that‘s where it become much more difficult to make the choice, to discern who is the best man. 

So, I think it is a slow process, but it is a gradual type of process. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Monsignor Moroney, do you think age is an issue here?  Some people have said that Pope John Paul II served a very long pontificate and that it may be in the interests of the church to have someone serve maybe 10 years, rather than something like 30, as we just had. 

Do you think they might pick someone older, like Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal Ratzinger, the dean, in order to have a shorter—I know it sounds pretty gruesome, but a shorter papacy?  



I think it is a very difficult thing to speculate on.  But it is true.  Some have suggested, when you look at past conclaves, that they always—what‘s the phrase in Italian? -- that a fat pope is always followed by a skinny one.


MORONEY:  That, in fact, that there is going to be a contrast in the next papacy. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MORONEY:  That if you have one person who is particularly strong in this area, well, you may need someone for the next generation who is strong in this area. 

So, in the same way, where you have had someone with such an extraordinarily long and rich and high-powered reign as John Paul II, it may well be that the cardinals would discern that they needed a shorter period of time for the next Holy Father. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s called the pendulum effect, right? 

MORONEY:  Indeed.  I think—and I think that really does apply, and when you look historically at conclaves, where you have one pope who is particularly strong in one area and another who is strong in another. 


MATTHEWS:  Right. 

You know, if you look at our presidential picks by the American people, if you think about them, that‘s very much like that.  If you get Eisenhower, he‘s too old.  We bring in Kennedy.  He is young.  You bring in Carter, he‘s too nice.  Reagan to be tougher.  Clinton had a few problems in a certain area.  You bring in a guy with a good marriage. 


MATTHEWS:  You know, we do that here.  We fine-tune as well. 

Anyway, we‘ll be right back with the two monsignors, Monsignor James Moroney of the U.S. Conference of Bishops and Monsignor John Strynkowski from Brooklyn when we come back.

And, still ahead, Debra Saunders and Andrew Sullivan will debate the pope‘s legacy and the failure of the Catholic Church—or the future, I should say.  That was a bad Freudian slip.

You‘re watching a special edition of HARDBALL from the Vatican on



MATTHEWS:  I‘m back with Monsignor James Moroney of the U.S.  Conference of bishops and Monsignor John Strynkowski of St. James Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York.

Monsignor Strynkowski, let me ask you about secrecy.  Is the oath of secrecy during conclave total and forever?  Can you ever tell what happened? 

STRYNKOWSKI:  Absolutely.  It is an absolute secret.  You can never tell what happened.  So, we‘ll never know what...



MORONEY:  You know, I think the secrecy is extraordinarily important, because the discernment process is not something that is easily discerned. 

Even if you have got one or two facts or even one person‘s point of view of what happened inside the conclave, it would be very difficult to tell how.  It can sound like I‘m overspiritualizing the question, but I really do firmly believe that it is a spiritual matter that gets worked out in people‘s hearts.  And it‘s hard enough for the person, the elector himself, to figure out, never mind to figure out the dynamics politically going on in the room. 

MATTHEWS:  Is it fair to say that the new pontiff, once he‘s elected, doesn‘t care who voted for him? 

MORONEY:  I hope so. 

MATTHEWS:  As long as he gets the two-thirds?

MATTHEWS:  Because he‘s not going to reward anybody. 



MORONEY:  I hope that the new Holy Father being motivated not by any sense of power or any sense of achievement, kind of reflecting what we read, those marvelous words in the Holy Father‘s will, just revealed the last couple of days, that it is really a spiritual journey that he sees himself in, that it‘s really—and, certainly, any pope who learns from this Holy Father the last couple weeks knows that the papacy is clinging to the cross and that it is as much suffering as it is glory. 

Remember, in the old days, when they would elect the pope and they would burn the flax and they would say, sic transit gloria mundi, thus passes the glory of the world, I think that‘s the kind of pope that we‘re looking for, the one who is in this to serve, to give his life for the church. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Monsignor Strynkowski, about the new pope.  Do you think he is someone, because of this amazing success of the past pope we just buried today, that he has to be able to communicate in languages, the major languages, like English? 

STRYNKOWSKI:  I think so.  But, again, we don‘t know how the cardinals will feel about that.  As Mr. Moroney pointed out earlier, popes tend to be very different from each other.  And we don‘t know how they‘ll vote. 

But I do think language ability is certainly going to be crucial. 

MATTHEWS:  Does going on television matter now, Monsignor Moroney, someone who is able to go on the tube and speak to masses of people by mass communication?  Is that important? 

MORONEY:  I think so, Chris. 

In fact, after Gutenberg developed the printing press, some reporter probably asked that same question.  Is it necessary that the new pope be able to write well?  I think that the technology of every generation is a tool for evangelization.  And it‘s something that the new pope, I‘m sure, will embrace, the same way this last one did with the Internet. 

MATTHEWS:  And, finally, with the new distribution of cardinals throughout the world now, not just in Rome, especially in Italy, is it possible we‘re going to get an African pope or a South American pope? 

STRYNKOWSKI:  I would maybe just make it more general in terms of a Third World pope.  It is possible.  I think that there is a lot of sentiment in that area, but we just have to wait and see. 

MATTHEWS:  Wait and see.



MATTHEWS:  What a foreign correspondent you are. 


MATTHEWS:  You need a trench coat. 

Thank you very much, as always, Monsignor John Strynkowski from St.

James Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York.

And thank you again, James Moroney of the U.S. Conference of Bishops. 

MORONEY:  God bless you, Republican

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, what is Pope John Paul II‘s legacy and what direction should the Catholic Church be heading in now?  Debra Saunders from “The San Francisco Chronicle” and Andrew Sullivan from “TIME” magazine will be joining us.

You‘re watching a special edition of HARDBALL from the Vatican, only on MSNBC.



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

As the world that its final farewell this morning to Pope John Paul II, the College of Cardinals now prepare to enter into a secret conclave to pick a new leader of the Catholic Church.  What will be the most important issues facing the new pope? 

Here to discuss that hot question are Andrew Sullivan of “The New Republic” magazine and AndrewSullivan.com, and Debra Saunders, a columnist with “the San Francisco Chronicle.” 

Debra, you first.  If you were writing one of those executive wanted ads in “The New York Times,” what would you say would be the best description of what you should be looking for as the next head of the Catholic Church? 

DEBRA SAUNDERS, “THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE”:  Well, you know, I think this pope was wonderfully charismatic and he showed people the kind face of the Catholic Church. 

And I don‘t think that you can necessarily repeat that.  I don‘t know if you can necessarily get a polyglot with the kind of charisma that he had.  So, it might be a good idea for the church now to start concentrating on someone who can be a little tougher with the church.  You know, I think Pope John Paul II did a lot of wonderful things for the church, showing the kindness, reaching out to Jews, reaching out to Muslims. 

But he did, as Andrew I think has very eloquently written, drop the ball on the pedophile issue.  I think he has had a problem with the annulments as well.  And maybe they need somebody who can clean house a little bit. 

MATTHEWS:  Andrew, let‘s just stick with that administrative question, making sure these annulments are not a joke, making sure bad priests are out of the business. 

ANDREW SULLIVAN, ANDREWSULLIVAN.COM:  Well, I don‘t think anybody, even the strongest admirers of the late pope, thought he was a good administrator. 

My view is that the next pope probably wants to tack away from the way John Paul II ran the papacy, in the sense that he may want to share power more with the leaders of the national churches or local cardinals, who understand better the needs of their own populations.  He may want to relax a little bit the stifling of intellectual discourse within the church, and tend to very basic things, like, for example, vocations. 

I mean, where are the next generation of priests come?  I did a little research on what‘s happening in America.  I mean, under this pope, the number of priests per Catholic in America has gone down by 50 percent.  Now, if that continues, we‘re not going to have a church in 20 years time. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SULLIVAN:  So, something quite drastic has to be done to raise the number of vocations in the priesthood, not just in America, but around the world as well. 

MATTHEWS:  But you say give local—experiment in giving more local control to churches, in particular countries or dioceses, but, yet, when you look at the real scandals of annulments, how easily they were to get—easy they were to get years ago in places—I remember Brooklyn being one.  I can think of others where they‘re well known for giving out annulments rather liberally. 

And then you look at what happened in Boston with Bernard Law.  Local control there did not do any good in stamping out the problem of molestation, did it, Andrew? 

SULLIVAN:  No, it—no, it didn‘t.  But then there was no—no attempt from Rome to really stamp it out either. 

And it was—it‘s global, too.  It affected the church throughout Europe.  It is probably affecting the church a great deal in Africa, but we just don‘t hear about it.  So, no, this is not a panacea.  But I think there‘s a lot of feeling within the church, pent-up desire of various cardinals and local bishops and national bishops to reassert some kind of control over their own flocks, which this pope took away from them. 

SAUNDERS:  You know, and I think another problem is that, you know, we tend to talk about this from a political issue.  Obviously, the next pope has to be true to the Catholic Church and—and the faith of the church. 

But the annulment issue, Chris, it just shows the problem the church had.  The church was losing people because it wasn‘t granting annulments and then it started granting annulments based on this sort of, what I consider a bogus thing of going back in time and saying, were both parties entering into the sacrament of marriage in good faith?

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SAUNDERS:  And, so, you know, it just sort of became a joke.  It is a dishonest way of trying to stay within the Catholic teachings, but it doesn‘t work. 

And so, I think maybe someone who can sort of put new vigor into looking at that and doing it in a way that they can be true to Catholicism, but also not lock people out who are good people and want to lead, you know, good lives. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, doesn‘t it take a doctrinal decision more than an administrative decision?  If you—if you take somebody who has had eight kids and been married 30 years, and they decide they want to marry somebody else and they want to say that they were never married before, never conceived—never consummated the marriage, never really intended to be married, that it is, I think, a joke in many case. 

SAUNDERS:  No, it is a joke. 


MATTHEWS:  What do you substitute for as a policy?  What do you substitute for as a policy, admission of a divorce? 

SAUNDERS:  I think that might be one way. 

Again, I mean, the Catholic Church has to stay true to Catholicism.  And I‘m not Catholic, so I‘m not the person to say what the church should do.  But there has to be a way—if you‘re going to have the annulments, if you‘re going to keep the annulment process going, it has to be more honest.  It is just dishonest to say that somebody who was married for 30 years and had eight kids was never really married in the church.  That just doesn‘t work. 

SULLIVAN:  but the annulment issue is only mainly an American issue, where the vast majority of these annulments take places.  And they‘re basically divorces. 

The Catholic Church is actually very pragmatic.  For example, my mother‘s parish in England has a married priest, because he used to be an Anglican. 



SULLIVAN:  And then was let in on this escape clause. 

So, the notion, for example, that having married priests is a doctrinal issue is obviously not true.  It is a pragmatic, prudential reason, argument.  And the pope could easily, I think, say, let‘s have a meeting about this and let‘s think about allowing, not getting rid of celibacy altogether, but allowing supplementary priests who are married to do the jobs they need to do. 

Right now, we have, for example, a huge number of deacons in the church who are married doing the job of the priests. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SULLIVAN:  So, it has to happen one way or another if the church is going to survive.  I think we need someone who is not going to be so doctrinally rigid and just more of a manager, more of a quiet person, less of a showboater.

I think a sort of caretaker Italian might be exactly what we need right now. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the gay marriage issue, Andrew.  And you‘ve talked passionately about it before. 

When you—I know you know the doctrines of the church quite well.  You‘ve read up on it.  You‘re an intellectual, as well as being a very passionate, good guy in many ways.  Do you have in your mind‘s eye any way you can imagine in your lifetime the Roman Catholic Church ever accepting gay marriage? 

SULLIVAN:  No.  I don‘t...

MATTHEWS:  Same-sex marriage. 

SULLIVAN:  No.  I don‘t think it is going to happen. 

MATTHEWS:  In other words, if you had John XXIII come back again, the most liberal pope we‘ve had, and try to move a step or two further, there aren‘t enough steps, are there that can be taken? 

SULLIVAN:  No, well, there are some steps.  I mean, one thing that you can do is assert what is already doctrine, which is that homosexual persons are homosexual by they‘re born gay and to develop a better outreach program and a better pastoral care of gay people within the church, which includes probably up to a third of priests who are gay. 

You can‘t avoid the subject.  It is right in front of them. 


SULLIVAN:  And they need to do a better job, for example, of ensuring the gay people they get are not completely screwed up in childhood and end up acting out as pedophiles in the priesthood.  That‘s a big problem, Chris. 

And I think we‘ve got to start talking more honestly in the church about how we prevent it, not just how we clamp down on the miscreants.  And part of that means coming to terms...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it is reasonable to assume that a person who is gay, like a person who is straight, is able to handle a vow of chastity?

SULLIVAN:  No, I think it is hard for both gay people and straight people. 

But I think there‘s a particular syndrome here of young gay men, teenagers, who are terrified of their sexuality, try to sublimate it into the priesthood. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SULLIVAN:  Haven‘t had any real psychological grappling with the issue and end up acting out in really horrifying ways. 

The church has got to come to terms with this in some way or other.  And it can only do that by talking a little bit more honestly and compassionately about the gay people within its own ranks and trying to reach out and talk to them.  Right now, there‘s no dialogue at all.  And I think the dialogue is the beginning.  You don‘t expect revolution, but a little dialogue would definitely help, I think. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, Debra, in the Episcopalian Church, the Anglican Church, in the United States, its brotherhood, obviously, is with the Anglican Church.  There are a lot issues there about gay bishops.  That‘s been a divider, not a uniter. 

SAUNDERS:  That‘s right. 


SAUNDERS:  I mean, I think if the church decided that it was going to sanction gay marriage, you would see people leaving the Catholic Church in droves, because that‘s something that they want the church to do and that they believe the church—I mean, that‘s a stand that most Catholics have.  So I agree with Andrew.

SULLIVAN:  It won‘t happen. 

But what you might—what you might not have, however, is an attempt to attack people in the civil realm who are talking about this in a civil sphere as part of what the pope called an ideology of evil.  I mean, that kind of rhetoric, which is really demonizing gay people, can be ended without violating any basic church doctrines. 

SAUNDERS:  Well, perhaps the next pope will decide that there are things that the church should have its policies on and not push for governments to have the same policies as much.  I mean, maybe that will be one of the changes that we see.

SULLIVAN:  Remember, the church‘s own policy officially is to love and embrace homosexual persons.  So, we already have a very compassionate core of the doctrine.  What they haven‘t done is been able to reach out to gay people within their own ranks to talk to them about how to live faithful guides as Catholics.  We have no guidance. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, more with—we‘ve got to take a break.  We‘ll be back with Andrew Sullivan and Debra Saunders when we come back.

We‘re going to be staying—we‘ll still be at the Vatican, of course.  And, later, I‘ll share my thoughts on this incredible week I‘ve had to report here.  I‘m telling you, this has been one powerful week to be here.  I can tell it‘s also been powerful to watch.

We‘ll be right back with HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, the future of the Catholic Church with columnist Debra Saunders and Andrew Sullivan when HARDBALL returns from Vatican City.



MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Andrew Sullivan of “The New Republic” and “TIME” magazine and “The San Francisco Chronicle”‘s Debra Saunders.

Andrew and Debra, I want to put to you a big question and give you a couple minutes to answer it.  The pope, who just passed away and was buried today and honored today in this amazing funeral, was able to basically capture the power brokers of the world.  They were all here today in the Islamic world, an amazing assemblage of power from Europe, from the Middle East, from Africa, from Latin America.  I‘ve never seen such a coalition of strength in the world.  That said something about that man. 

At the same time, Andrew, he never seemed to get ahold of the scandal that so almost destroyed the American Catholic Church.  How do you explain the power on the one hand, the prestige on the one hand, and the weakness on the other? 

SULLIVAN:  Well, he was a great master of theater, great master of drama.  He was an actor.  And the staged events he had all over the world were enormous sort of showcases of faith and power.

And his ability to command sort of the attention of so many people in so many countries absolutely caught the attention of the powerful in those countries.  At the same time, this scandal within his own church, which was not just in America—it was in Europe as well.  I mean, it‘s destroyed the church in Ireland.  It has really hurt it in many other countries of the world—was something he couldn‘t get a grip on. 

I think that the next pope has to clean house on that, has to reconcile to their responsibility for it, but also has to focus simply on the message of the Gospels again, get away from some of these divisive social issues and speak very centrally about the way Jesus wanted us to live our lives and what—what—what the point of our lives are.  And that‘s something that I think the church has got to keep in its sights at all times. 


MATTHEWS:  Debra, how do you put it together, the weakness and the strength?

SAUNDERS:  Well, and, of course, a person‘s strengths and their weaknesses are always the same thing.

The thing—the fact that he was so Catholic, that he believed so much in the institution gave him great power.  And, you know, the problem with the pope was that he overly protected the institution.  And, you know, he also had this wonderful power of forgiveness.  And that is why he was able to forgive the man who tried to kill him.  And he‘s been able to forgive others and reach out to other people. 

Unfortunately, forgiveness is not—that‘s good for the soul, but it‘s not always a good policy.  And so, pedophiles in the church weren‘t—were forgiven, instead of punished, or at least taken away from children they could hurt again.  I mean, it—it—it is a terrible scandal.  And that‘s something that the next pope is going to have to deal with. 

You know, this pope was so charismatic and there was so much to like about him.  But if you feel your children are not going to be safe going to church, that‘s not going to help.  You know, I—I didn‘t bring this up before, so can I just mention birth control for a second? 


SAUNDERS:  Again, this is a political issue.  We need the pope to be Catholic.  And so, the Catholic Church is always going to be against abortion.  It‘s—it‘s—it‘s a basic tenet for the Catholic Church. 

But if the church could find a way to sort of modernize itself to this era into science and endorse some kind of birth control, I think that that would basically make the church a lot more acceptable for a lot of people. 


SULLIVAN:  I couldn‘t agree more.  And I think it would strengthen the church‘s ability to talk about the evil of abortion and the evil of the death penalty in ways that would help, because, quite obviously, what is at stake in birth control is much more trivial than what is at stake in abortion and birth control.

Similarly, with—with gay relations, it is not as central, as important a matter as life and death.  And you can find a pastoral way to achieve some progressive change without affecting the fundamental tenets of faith.  There is a middle way here.  Unfortunately, this pope was not interested in middle ways. 

SAUNDERS:  Well, Chris, all week long, you‘ve been talking about...

MATTHEWS:  Why is it—I want to ask you, Debra—I‘m sorry.  There was—there is a particular situation here, the problem with—with pedophilia and all that seemed to have been inflicted on us in countries like Ireland, England, New Zealand, Australia, America, the Irish Anglo culture.  It isn‘t—doesn‘t seem to be a problem around the world. 

Is it possible, Andrew, that the Polish pope did not connect with that cultural world? 


It is because, in those countries, there‘s a free press that was able to expose it.  It is going on all over the world.  But, in those other words, the press—the church still has enough power to suppress the information and to suppress what‘s really going on.  In Africa, for example, it is considered an achievement if the priests have only one wife surreptitiously hidden. 

There‘s a lot going on in the rest of the world that needs to be addressed, but it is only in the Anglo-Saxon world the press is open enough to air this stuff and to take on the church.  I mean, without “The Boston Globe,” this scandal would never have really been brought to light.  And you can imagine what is going on in other countries and has gone on for decades in other countries.  But this has not been addressed. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  And that was Robbie Robinson (ph) who broke that story for “The Globe.”

Anyway, thank you very much, Andrew Sullivan.

And thank you, Debra Saunders.

I‘ll be right back with some of my own final thoughts on this momentous week in Rome.  And it has been very momentous.

And while we‘re saying goodbye to Rome, next week on HARDBALL will be some of the biggest name in business, politics and Hollywood.  Be sure to tune in. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Getting sent over here by MSNBC has been a privilege of a lifetime, professionally, spiritually, totally.

I came expecting the death of a great Catholic leader and, the prescribed four to six days later, his funeral and burial.  What I did not expect was the passionate statement by so many millions of we, the living.  The phrase that kept coming to my mind was voting with your feet.  Look at these people, standing for hours, day and night, through the avenues of Rome, packed together as if they had been caught and crushed in an industrial-strength trash compactor.  There, they stood, seeking no edge, plotting no photo opportunity, playing none of the games that people do in politics, in business, in so much of life. 

This is no publicity stunt or initial stock offering or inside deal or anything but the purest, most obvious, most grandly transparent display of individual devotion, voting with your feet.

I remember the line of East Germans winding their way slowly to the Berlin Wall back in 1989 like grim figures from a black-and-white movie on to a Technicolor screen.  The young man I met said that freedom meant just talking to me. 

I remember the biblical length of those lines in South Africa a decade ago, when everyone, the majority blacks, the mixed-race folk, the Indians, for the first time got to vote.  I remember the young girl saying, this is the day I waited for my whole life.  And she was white. 

I now have another picture to place in the album of grand memory, of Roman and Poles and some undaunted Americans waiting in the damp April night to make a statement of love for a pope they not only respected, but actually liked. 

I‘ll be back on Monday live from Boston.  Among my guests, former General Electric chairman Jack Welch, later in the week, Bob Dole, Lesley Stahl, Jane Fonda. 

Right now, we leave with you some of the sights and sounds of this amazing, historic week.



POPE JOHN PAUL II:  Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor pain, nor death, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God. 




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