updated 4/13/2005 12:54:15 PM ET 2005-04-13T16:54:15

Guest: Stacey Honowitz, Pam Bondi, Ed Smart, Matthew Bunson, Johnette Benkovic, William Donahue, Rachel Maddow, Jordi Rivero, Mary Grant

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, cardinals jam into pre-conclave conferences while charges of a sex scandal cover-up reverberate through the Vatican. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required and only common sense allowed. 

As millions of pilgrims stream out of the Eternal City this weekend, cardinals get down to the business of preparing to pick the next pope.  Meanwhile, protesters shout cover-up outside a Vatican mass held in honor of Pope John Paul II.  Inside, Boston‘s disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law is inside leading the service.  Is the Vatican rubbing salt in the wounds of sex victims, as protesters claim?

Plus, are the pope and Cardinal Law merely the latest victims of anti-Christian bias?  And are conservative Christians unfairly targeted by the mainstream press, like the pope this past weekend?  That debate tonight. 

And, also, buried alive, shocking revelations about the murder of Jessica Lunsford.  After being repeatedly raped, the 9-year-old may have been buried alive.  Could Jessica have been saved if her killer‘s family hadn‘t lied to the police?  And why aren‘t they behind bars, too? 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

Hey, welcome to the show. 

Tonight‘s top headline, of course, Cardinal Bernard Law.  Now, he resigned in disgrace from the Boston Archdiocese for covering up the sex abuse scandals in that city.  But, today, he performed a mass in Vatican City for Pope John Paul II in his memories, and victims of the church abuse are outraged.  Now, of course, Law resigned back in 2002, but then he scored a prestigious post as a special priest in Rome very close to the pope. 

It‘s really hard for some to understand why this man, who protected predator priests, is now given the honor of conducting a mourning mass for the pope.  And outside that mass, protesters spoke out. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA BLAINE, ABUSE VICTIMS ADVOCATE:  At this time, Cardinal Law is being put in a position of prominence here in Rome.  And we believe that it‘s just basically rubbing salt into already open wounds. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  With us now from Los Angeles is Mary Grant.  She‘s of the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests.  Also, we have Father Jordi Rivero from St. Raymond Church in Miami.  And we have MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. 

Mary Grant, let me begin with you. 

You all organized protests over at the Vatican outside of the mass where this was conducted, where Bernard Law conducted a mass in honor of Pope John Paul II.  Why did you organize those protests? 

MARY GRANT, THE SURVIVORS NETWORK OF THOSE ABUSED BY PRIESTS:  Well, we felt we could not idly stand by while Cardinal Law was already rubbing salt into the deep wounds of victims and Catholics who are trying to mourn the death of the pope. 

We simply want to reach out to clergy abuse victims, help prevent more pain from happening as a result of Cardinal Law‘s actions and Vatican officials, who are allowing Cardinal Law to say these masses. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, I‘ve got to admit it.  I am obviously—

I‘ve been a strong supporter of Pope John Paul II‘s.  I don‘t understand why this guy—I mean, let‘s talk about what he did.  He covered up the priest scandal in the states.  He actually sent pedophile priests to other archdiocese without letting them know what was coming their way, and then he was appointed to a special place over in the Vatican.

And this does seem like it‘s rubbing salt in the wounds of all these victims.  If my child had been abused in Boston and this guy was elevated to the position he‘s at, I would be outraged.  Wouldn‘t you? 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I understand that, Joe, and there‘s no question about it.  Cardinal Law‘s behavior was reprehensible, rightly condemned, moving those priests around.  And, in my judgment, he should not have been given this basilica, this honor in Rome. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why was he?

BUCHANAN:  But my understanding is, this was done a couple of years ago.  And I thought it was a mistake then.  I don‘t know particularly why they chose Cardinal Law to say mass for the Holy Father.

But as a priest and a cardinal and a bishop, he is sort of obligated to say mass every day in Rome.  I think the offense, if it was wrong, was two years ago, when the Vatican secretariat approved him for this position.  I don‘t know...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, why would they do—Pat, why would they do that? 

Again, you are a strong Catholic and I just—I don‘t understand it. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  I‘ll tell you why. 

The Catholic Church does believe in forgiveness.  It does believe that people, once they have done wrong, should not be thrown out and completely neglected.  It believes we‘re all sinners and we all ought to be brought back in.  Now, to me, I agree, this is an honor.  And I don‘t think an honor should be extended, but it was.  I don‘t agree with it, but it was. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Father Rivero, let me ask you. 

Pat Buchanan talks about forgiveness, but, at the same time, Father, what about accountability?  If you look through the Bible, if you look through the teachings of the Catholic Church, they talk about accountability.  Shouldn‘t he have been held accountable and not been elevated to one of the most sacred positions in the entire Catholic Church? 

FATHER JORDI RIVERO, ST. RAYMOND CATHOLIC CHURCH:  Well, it‘s not true that being the archpriest of the basilica St. Mary Major is one of the highest, prestigious places in the Catholic Church.  As cardinals go, that‘s one of the most humble places, I would say, for a cardinal to serve at. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Humble?  He‘s right next to the pope.  He‘s giving the service in the Vatican in honor of the pope.  I would guess that 95 percent of the priests in the Catholic Church would love to be doing just what he was doing today. 

RIVERO:  Sir...

SCARBOROUGH:  What‘s humble—what‘s humble about being there? 

RIVERO:  The point is that a cardinal, once he‘s a cardinal is always a cardinal. 

As a cardinal goes, to be the archpriest of the basilica of Mary Major is not a very important position that he has a great responsibility.  Now, as the previous speaker said correctly, in the church, we have to bring things into mind.  We have to have accountability.  Wrong is wrong.  And, absolutely, I agree that child abuse or protecting child abuse is a wrong thing.  It‘s not my place to Judge Cardinal Law or anybody else.

The point of the church is to teach the truth, the truth about morality, the truth about doctrine to everyone.  I think the church in Boston right now is doing an admirable job on trying to make sure that those who have tendencies to be child abusers are not going to seminaries. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Father, he didn‘t do an admirable job, though, when he was in Boston, did he? 

RIVERO:  No, he—well, did he do it or not?  That‘s not the point for me to judge. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But, I mean, the truth is truth.  Did he do an admirable job when he was up there? 

RIVERO:  Sir, the point is, he resigned.  He asked forgiveness, OK?  Now he‘s brought to Rome to be the archpriest of a basilica.  Now he‘s celebrating a mass, which is one of the jobs that the archpriest of a basilica would do, is celebrate one of the masses for the Holy Father. 

It‘s part of the job of being the archpriest of the basilica.  And the first thing you do when you celebrate mass is ask forgiveness.  I have no reason—I have no reason in my mind to doubt...

(CROSSTALK)

GRANT:  By holding out a complicit bishop, by holding out a complicit bishop, the poster child of complicit bishops, what we fear the Vatican is telling us is that there‘s really no consequences in the church if you harm children and shield child molesters. 

And what it‘s also doing is, it‘s intimidating thousands of victims out there who are thinking about coming forward and now will be less likely to come forward.  They feel helpless to report the crime. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Joe, I feel that is grossly unfair.  These priests were outrageous.  Most of them were in the ‘60s and ‘70s.  Many of them have been prosecuted. 

All of them who have been caught in this have been defrocked.  Cardinal Law has publicly said he made terrible mistakes.  He‘s been taken into Rome.  As the priest indicates, he‘s been given a lower basilica for a cardinal there.  He says mass every day.  If you go to mass, you begin mass by making a confession, basically an act of contrition for your sins.  Now, the idea that he is saying mass, I think there‘s nothing really wrong with that.  In a way, is it not time that people got off his case? 

GRANT:  But we know that this bishop is hurting more children. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  He is not hurting any children where he is right now. 

GRANT:  Forgiveness—forgiveness does not mean allowing somebody who has harmed children, whether by molesting them or covering up their crimes, to allow them to continue to hurt. 

This is not about judging Cardinal Law.  It is not about punishing Cardinal Law. 

BUCHANAN:  If he were hurting someone, I would agree with you.

RIVERO:  It is about preventing more pain to the wounded victims, whose wounds are already opened and Catholics...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, Pat. 

Pat Buchanan, let me tell you something. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Pat, let me tell you, let me tell you—and, again, I‘ve been the staunchest supporter of the Catholic Church for years.  In this one instance, though, in this one instance—and we agree most of the time—this strikes me as a very arrogant move by the Catholic Church.

And it hurts me that they did it.  I don‘t understand why they did it.  We can talk about this being a humble position.  But, Pat, this is just like somebody getting in trouble working for the president in the Treasury Department and getting moved to an office right by the Oval Office. 

BUCHANAN:  Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  This guy is sitting on the right hand of the pope in Vatican City. 

(CROSSTALK)

RIVERO:  He‘s not sitting on the right hand of the pope.

GRANT:  Even the pope forgave his would-be assassin.  Even the pope forgave his would-be assassin, but didn‘t allow him to go free.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mary, I directed the question to Pat Buchanan. 

GRANT:  I‘m sorry. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let Pat respond and then I‘ll go to you. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Joe, look...

SCARBOROUGH:  Go ahead, Pat. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Joe, look, two years ago, after he went to Rome, no one asked that he be called back and be indicted.  He was given—as the good priest said, he was given a cathedral, as others do in Rome, a basilica.  It is not the greatest one.  He has been there.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s prestigious, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Joe, give it a rest. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s not play any games, Pat.  It‘s prestigious.

You give it a rest, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  It‘s two years ago, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Those are some of the most prestigious positions that any cardinal in the world can get. 

BUCHANAN:  Joe, look, he‘s been in it for two years.  You haven‘t been arguing about it for the last two years.  Why not?  He‘s saying mass.  That‘s all he‘s doing.

SCARBOROUGH:  Why I haven‘t been arguing about it?  Because we haven‘t been talking about it until now.  The world‘s attention has been turned to Vatican City and to Rome.  And I‘m asking a legitimate question here. 

And, Pat, I want to understand why they gave him that position. 

BUCHANAN:  I‘m telling you, it was two years ago.  I don‘t agree it was a good decision.  He is doing today what he does every day, which is say mass.  And when he gets up at the beginning of mass, you begin a confession of your sins to almighty God. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

BUCHANAN:  Now, I don‘t defend what he did, but I‘m not going to sit in judgment on where he stands right now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I‘m not going to sit in judgment of the man.  I‘m not going to sit in judgment of where he stands right now. 

I think, again—I think, like what Mary said, this is sort of like rubbing salt in the wounds of some of these victims.  I know, if one of my children had been assaulted, had been sexually abused by a priest in Boston and it had been covered up by this cardinal, had been moved to another area, so more children would be abused, I would be very angry right now by what the church has done. 

Mary Grant, I‘ll give you the last word. 

GRANT:  This—this is not about whether to forgive Law or not.  Pope John Paul II forgave his would-be assassin, but he didn‘t advocate to release that man from jail...

RIVERO:  He did so.

GRANT:  ... so he could go on to harm other children. 

We‘re simply asking that Cardinal Bernard Law, that, for once, Vatican officials, American cardinals speak up on behalf of children raped in the church and help prevent more pain to those already who have been wounded and Catholics who are trying to focus on the death of the pope and put their interests above Cardinal Law‘s self-rehabilitation effort.

SCARBOROUGH:  Mary, we‘re going to have to leave it there. 

Father—Father, I wish we had more time to go to you.  I apologize. 

Also, Pat Buchanan, thank you.  And, Pat, stay around, because, coming up next, we‘re going to be talking about more attacks on the pope and religion in general and why are people of faith seemingly always in the target and how people of faith can fight back. 

Plus, we‘re going to be taking an inside look at who just may well be the next man to fill Pope John Paul II‘s shoes. 

And, later, shocking new information in the murder of Jessica Lunsford.  Was she still alive when police came to question her killer?  And why are her relatives, who appear to have covered up for that killer, not being thrown in jail tonight?  That‘s coming up. 

(NEWS BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pope John Paul the Great, evangelical Christians, Orthodox Jews, are they the latest victims of anti-religious bias?  We‘re going to be talking about that coming up next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, even as the pope was being buried, many were sharpening their knives.  Bill Donahue of the Catholic League put it like this—quote—“The storm is about to hit.  For the most part, anti-Catholic bigots and the disaffected dissidents within the Church have been quiet.  What they have been waiting for is about to happen.  The week between the end of the mourning and the beginning of the conclave is upon us.  And that means the left is ready to explode.”

With me now is Bill Donahue.  We also have Rachel Maddow of Air America radio.  And MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan is still with us. 

Bill, I‘ll start with you. 

Is the Catholic Church being attacked, just like you predicted on Friday it would be attacked? 

WILLIAM DONAHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE:  Oh, yes, it‘s exploded. 

Not only did we see it with the pundits over the weekend, but, clearly, we saw it today with the United Nations Population Fund.  Some woman who runs it had the business now of lecturing the Catholic Church, saying that we have too many deaths due to AIDS and that‘s thrown at the Catholic Church‘s doorstep because of its opposition to condoms. 

Isn‘t it interesting that, in Africa, where you have everybody using condoms in South Africa and Zimbabwe, they have the highest rate of AIDS in all of Africa.  And yet in Uganda and in Senegal, where they practice abstinence more than they do condom use, you have the lowest rates.  So, why is it that the world isn‘t accepting the Catholic Church‘s teachings? 

You know, there‘s two ways you can close this gap.  You can either have the Catholic Church become more like the rest of the culture or the rest of the culture more accepting of the Catholic Church‘s teachings.  Certainly, when it comes to matters sexual, the whole world would be better off to practice the virtue of restraint, as opposed to libertinism. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to tell you, I want everybody to take a look at how Christopher Hitchens—of course, everybody knows Christopher Hitchens with “Vanity Fair”—described the pope‘s funeral. 

He said—quote—“this day is only the interment of an elderly and querulous celibate, who came too late and who stayed too long, and whose primitive ideology did not permit him the true self-criticism that should have saved him, and others less innocent, from so many errors and crimes.”

Rachel Maddow, Christopher Hitchens blamed, as Bill Donahue just said, blamed the pope for AIDS in Africa, for genocide in Rwanda, also blamed the pope for the enslavement of people throughout the Middle East.  Is that fair? 

RACHEL MADDOW, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, Joe, let‘s talk for a second about the AIDS issue.  First of all, I think that Bill has mischaracterized the situation in some African countries. 

In Uganda, yes, abstinence, be faithful or use condoms, that‘s always been part of their mission.  Now, in Kenya, you have got 20 percent of Kenyans infected with HIV.  The archbishop of Nairobi came out and said condoms spread AIDS.  You have the head of the Vatican Office of Family coming out and saying, HIV is too small.  It goes right through condoms. 

It‘s one thing for the pope or for Catholic teachings to say, Catholics, we don‘t want you using condoms; we don‘t want you having any sort of birth control.  It‘s another thing for the Catholic Church to come out and say, regardless of whether or not you‘re Catholic, no one should use condoms.  They shouldn‘t be available.  We‘re going to support the burning of them in some African countries. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, Rachel, you think that the Catholic Church is responsible for AIDS in Africa.  What about genocide in Rwanda?  Is that a fair shot? 

MADDOW:  Listen, I think that the Catholic Church has crossed a line from interpreting Catholic doctrine into politics.  And if they‘re going to step into politics, like they did on the AIDS issue, like they have done on homosexuality, like they have done on the death penalty, like they have done on the war in Iraq, then you have to interpret...

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s in the Bible, though. 

MADDOW:  But, listen. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s in the Bible. 

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW:  Once they cross the line and they start talking about politics, you have to evaluate the impact of what they‘re talking about in political terms.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second. 

MADDOW:  Yes.  Sure. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You bring up homosexuality.  Hold on.  Rachel, you bring up homosexuality.  I mean, certainly, that is a political issue.  It‘s also a spiritual issue.  It‘s discussed in the Old Testament, the New Testament.  Are you saying the Catholic Church shouldn‘t talk about homosexuality, abortion, and other issues like that?

MADDOW:  Well, Joe, it‘s interesting.  In 1986, the pope came out and said that homosexuality was disordered and evil.  So, that‘s what he said in 1986. 

In 1992, what he said is, he told the bishops to go out and campaign against gay rights initiatives, not just for Catholics, but for all Americans, that, based on what Catholics believe, no Americans should have equal rights if they are gay or lesbian.  Now, that‘s crossing the line from what they‘re telling Catholics to do and how to live their lives into what Americans should do based on Catholic interpretation of morality.  That‘s a political position. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, should the church—should the church be doing that?  Should the church the pope be doing that? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, the church and the Holy Father should be telling the truth about what is moral and what is an immoral life.  And the church—the Holy Father did not invent the fact that homosexuality was an intrinsic disorder. 

It is an intrinsic disorder.  And the church has taught this for 2,000 years.  The pope simply expressed himself. 

Now, with regard to the United States of America—and we got all the condoms in the world available and very much AIDS was very much begun here in the homosexual community and among those who use illicit drugs through dirty needles. 

Now, the point is and the point Bill Donahue was making is, if the folks in the bathhouses follow the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, they would not have the problem.  Secondly, if they‘re in the bathhouses, they‘re probably not listening to the pope anyway. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I was just going to say, you know, one of the more interesting comments is, you have—for most of the people who have studied AIDS in Africa, they will tell you that you‘ve got male—men over there that share 10, 15, 20 female partners a year.

And I‘m wondering, Rachel, if they‘re living that type of lifestyle, are they really listening to what Pope John Paul II is pronouncing from, you know, Vatican City? 

MADDOW:  What people make a decision about in their individual morality certainly is influenced by their faith.  It‘s influenced by a lot of cultural things. 

But when you have the archbishop of a country where 20 percent of people are infected saying, condoms spread AIDS, which is a lie, or you have the head of the Vatican Office of the Family saying condoms don‘t stop HIV, which is a lie, regardless of whether or not you‘re Catholic, their disinformation affects what you know about how to keep yourself safe.  That‘s a political decision.  And it‘s lying. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill Donahue? 

DONAHUE:  Yes.  Yes. 

Look, look, there‘s a new strain of HIV available in New York City. 

It‘s because of gay men.  All right?  All the talk about condoms...

MADDOW:  Or virology.

DONAHUE:  The fact of the matter is, it‘s due to the behavioral recklessness of gay men in New York City, that they‘re endangering the lives of everybody. 

So, you want to talk about the Catholic Church intervening in other people‘s lives.  The gay community has yet to apologize to straight people for all the damage that they have done for contaminating the blood supply in New York City and around the country.  And I find it amazing that, when people are acting so morally delinquent, that they‘re asking for more rights at the same time. 

It seems to me that gay people in this country should apologize to the rest of the people, the way the pope has apologized to other people, and practice sexual reticence. Practice restraint and you won‘t have the problem.  It‘s entirely a result of behavioral recklessness that we have this disease.  And it‘s a politically correct disease, isn‘t it? 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Bill Donahue, we‘ll have to leave it there. 

Rachel Maddow, thank you. 

Pat Buchanan, stick around, because, coming up, much more.  What kind of man is going to be the next pope and who has the inside track on the job?  You may be surprised.

And then disturbing details on the kidnap and murder of Jessica Lunsford and the outrage over what police are failing to do in Florida to apprehend all of those responsible for this death. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  As the cardinals prepare to begin the papal conclave next week, we ask, what does the Catholic Church need in the next pope and who is the man who can do it?  That‘s coming up next. 

But, first, here‘s the latest news that you and your family need to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The largest funeral the world‘s ever seen is over.  Pope John Paul II has been laid to rest.  And now the business of the Vatican turns quickly to selecting the next leader of the church; 115 cardinals are going to begin that conclave next week, and they‘re going to be focusing on Catholic conservative dogma and some may be concerned with the charm and character of the next Holy Father also. 

Here to add insight on who the next pope will be will be John—or Johnette Benkovic.  She‘s founder and president of Women of grace.  And, also, we have Dr. Matthew Bunson.  He‘s author of “The Pope Encyclopedia.”  And rejoining us is MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan. 

Johnette, who‘s going to be the next pope?  Let‘s go ahead and just kill Hamlet in the first act. 

JOHNETTE BENKOVIC, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, WOMEN OF GRACE:  Well, thank you very much for asking.

I must say, Joe, that is the question of the hour, isn‘t it?  And yet, we have to remember that this is a very spiritual process that we‘re going to be seeing.  And we know that Pope John Paul II was a surprise for many, many people.  So, while there is a short list that many people are talking about, we must remember that this is an action of the Holy Spirit. 

So, we can speculate, but I‘m not sure that‘s where we should be putting our energies.  I would rather see us putting all our energies into praying for the College of Cardinals as they convene next week. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dr. Bunson, you know, I hope that‘s the way it works.  I believe that‘s the way it works.  A lot of people are very cynical about this process and say, hey, you know what, it‘s just politics.  These guys are going to get together and broker deals. 

Take us inside and tell us why that‘s just far too cynical of an outlook and why this process is driven by the Holy Spirit. 

MATTHEW BUNSON, AUTHOR, “THE POPE ENCYCLOPEDIA”:  Well, hello, Joe. 

It‘s good to be with you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks. 

BUNSON:  The conclave is really two things. 

It is a combination of absolutely an election.  A group of men will be locked into the Sistine Chapel and 115 of them will vote until a successor to John Paul II is chosen.  But it is also, as Johnette has stressed, an undertaking that functions with the spirit and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Now, that‘s an important factor to bear in mind. 

Now, when we look at the individuals who will be comprising the 115 cardinals who will be voting, we see a gallery of fascinating individuals who have a vast amount of experience.  They are not just the leaders of the Catholic Church.  They are, in their own right, intellectuals, philosophers, theologians, canon lawyers.  So, they bring a breath of experience, a universal understanding of the needs of the world. 

And all of those are going to come into play as they try to reach a consensus as the person most suitable to succeed one of the greatest popes in the history of the church. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s take a look at the breakdown of the 115 cardinals.  Remember, 115 cardinals are going to be selecting the next pope, keeping in mind that Pope John Paul II appointed all but three of these men.

Two of them are ill, leaving 115 to vote; 21 come from Italy, while 38 hail from the rest of Europe; 21 are Latin Americans, the fastest growing region for the church.  The United States and Canada combine for 14 cardinals, while Asia and Africa are represented by 11 each.  The youngest of these cardinals is 52, while the oldest is 79. 

Pat Buchanan, break it down for us.  And I don‘t want to sound political here, but, you know, my mother did tell me, because she was a church organist and a director.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  She said, Joey, if you ever want to lo your faith, go work in a church. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is there going to be some politics going on here, where the European cardinals get together with the—my mom—by the way, my mom‘s going to be very angry that I said that publicly—but where the Europeans get together with the Americans and they strike deals?  Does this sort of thing happen behind closed doors or is that just those of us who are worldly who don‘t understand how men of God really move? 

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t think this is a smoke-filled room situation at all. 

I do believe the Holy Ghost is present.

And I do believe the main thing these men will be doing is praying.  But I also believe they are—Joe, they are human beings.  They‘re influenced I think very much by the tremendous impact and beneficial impact the Holy Father had, not only in his life, but in death.  And they‘re going to want to try to bring some of those attributes to the papacy again. 

The key individual...

SCARBOROUGH:  Give us some names, Pat, if you will.

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

The key individual to watch and the most influential individual in the conclave—and I‘d like our other guests to talk to this—will be Cardinal Ratzinger.  He was tremendously close to the pope.  My guess is, he‘ll get number of votes on the first ballot. 

And because they‘re all brand new cardinals, they‘ve never been in a conclave before, they‘ll be looking to him for leadership.  My guess would be for continuity.  You are probably—if I had to put money on it, you will get a northern Italian cardinal from Genoa, Florence, Venice, or Milan. 

(CROSSTALK)  

SCARBOROUGH:  Ratzinger is German, right? 

BUCHANAN:  Ratzinger is a German.  I do not believe he will want to be pope himself.  I think he‘s in his upper 70s.  But I think he will want to try to use his influence.

And he‘s tremendously respected.  He‘s the one who is charge of doctrine and dogma, who is in charge of keeping it, make sure it‘s pure.  And so I think they‘ll follow him.  And I think will be an Italian cardinal from northern Rome, from northern Italy.

SCARBOROUGH:  Johnette, some are saying that we may actually have our first pope from Africa.  What do you—is that a possibility?

BENKOVIC:  Well, of course, here you‘re talking about Cardinal Arinze. 

And I much say that he is a very affable person.  He has a great sense of humor.  He seems to relate well to youth.  These are all areas in which we watched Pope John Paul II excel. 

And I‘d like to comment on Cardinal Ratzinger.  You know, one of the, I think, challenges that‘s going to face the next pontiff is that our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, gave us a corpus of work, a tremendous body work theologically, philosophically, as well as calling the Catholically faithful to enter into this time of new evangelization. 

And I think one of the challenges that the pontiff will face who is elected is to, in some way, be able to take what the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has given us, and in a sense to put legs to that, and, at the same time, to allow the Holy Spirit to move in him to bring out the gifts and the talents that he, as an individual, has, so that this transition, if you will, can happen. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Doctor, let me ask you—Dr. Benson, let me ask you—

Dr. Bunson—now, you‘re in Las Vegas, right? 

BUNSON:  Yes, I am.

SCARBOROUGH:  It looks like that is—the guy that writes “The Pope Encyclopedia” has the lights of Las Vegas behind him. 

BUNSON:  Well, faith is everywhere, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me ask you a highly inappropriate...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  Exactly. 

Let me ask you a highly inappropriate question. 

BUNSON:  Certainly. 

If they were laying odds in Vegas on who the next pope would be, who would be at the top of that list?

BUNSON:  Well, you don‘t have to look very far.  All you have to do is just log on to the Internet and, unfortunately, there are quite a few different sites you can visit that post different odds. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, really? 

BUNSON:  Indeed. 

The list itself is a fairly long one this year.  It‘s a testimony, I think, to the diversity of the Catholic Church around the world that there are so many what they call papabile, which is one those classic nuanced Italian terms to indicate someone who is popeable, someone who might be a good pontiff. 

The list depends in large measure on where the cardinals come down as a consensus vote on where the most urgent needs of the church are situated.  If we think of the spheres of the Catholic Church as extending into the First and the Third World, we see a bit of mutual interdependence.  The First World supplies the funds and much of the energy for the evangelization of the Third World.  And the Third World today is supplying many of the priests who are populating, unfortunately, priestless convents, priestless rectories and sisters for the different convents. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, Doctor, give us a name. 

BUNSON:  Well, it depends on where you‘re looking. 

If we‘re speaking about Central or South America, a number of individuals have been—who have come to prominence, I think, over the last couple of months and even the last few years, one is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who is the archbishop of Buenos Aires, who is deeply respected in his country as an ascetic, someone who is a true spiritual father to the country. 

Further North in Sao Paulo, Brazil, you have Claudio Hummes, the archbishop there, who is a Franciscan, who has been an outspoken supporter of workers‘ rights, but is considered very theologically sound.  Even further north, or farther north, you find in Honduras, in Tegucigalpa, Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the archbishop there, who has three doctorates, is world renowned for his eloquence and also knows how to fly his own plane and said that, prior to his entering his priesthood, had considered a career in music. 

If we shift the focus to Europe, the list is even more compelling in a way.  I would pick up on something that Archbishop Buchanan, as you called him the other night, said.

(LAUGHTER)

BUNSON:  But in northern Italy alone, there are several very promising candidates.  One looks immediately for example to Milan, Dionigi Tettamanzi, who is a deeply respected moral theologian.

Very near there, you have the patriarch of Venice, Angelo Scola, who has led one of the great fights to try to re-Christianize and respiritualize Christian culture in Europe, but whose interests are also far more extensive in his outreach to the orthodox churches into Africa and elsewhere into the Third World. 

Father afield, we have in Vienna Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop there, who is a scion of one of the ancient families of Europe who helped draft the catechism.  And one of the more...

SCARBOROUGH:  And he‘s also—he‘s a favorite, too, excepted he‘s considered too young.  I believe he‘s 59 years old.  Is that right? 

BUNSON:  He‘s early in his—in his early 60s now.  So if you consider...

SCARBOROUGH:  And he‘s considered too young, though, for this position, most likely, right? 

BUNSON:  Not necessarily. 

If we think that, in 1978, Karol Wojtyla was 58 at the time of his election, in the early 60s isn‘t necessarily too bad.  Angelo Scola, for example, is in his early 60s. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

BUNSON:  There has been a discussion of the possibility of an older cardinal being appointed.  And there, of course, the scenario opened up for Cardinal Ratzinger or Cardinal Sodano. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Some others.

Pat Buchanan, final thought.  Whoever the next pope is, do you believe the church is going to make sure, these cardinals are going to make sure that he‘s able to communicate with the world in the way that John Paul II was able to?  How important is that moving forward for the church? 

BUCHANAN:  I think it is important.

But I think it‘s unrealistic to think that you can have another Holy Father with the charisma of John Paul II.  To expect—I mean, you can pray for that, but to expect it is very, very difficult.  I think that you‘re going to get a Holy Father who is very much—on faith and morals, very much in tune with the pope, who appointed all—about almost all 115 electors. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

Johnette, Matthew, Archbishop Buchanan, thank you so much for being with us. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, coming up next, Jessica Lunsford was kidnapped and murdered by a sex offender, as you know.  But new evidence out there suggests she may have been alive when police checked the crime scene the first time.  Ed Smart joins us to discuss this new outrage. 

And then, the amazing video of what D.C. police feared was a suicide outside the Capitol today and what they did with the suitcases that they thought were to possess bombs. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We all know about the tragic death of Jessica Lunsford, the 9-year-old girl who was abducted from her Florida home on February 23, and later murdered. 

But even more shocking new details are coming out that suggest that her death could have been prevented.  That‘s right,.  John Couey, the man accused of raping and murdering little Jessica, may have kept her alive after he took her home from her bedroom.  And it‘s possible she was still alive when police questioned Couey‘s relatives at home, where he was staying.  Couey himself said that he was hiding in the trailer when the police were there. 

And family members, Dorothy Dixon, Matthew Dittrich and Madie Secord were arrested, but then released, and have yet to be charged with anything.  Jessica‘s body was found behind their trailer on March 19, nearly a month after she was abducted. 

With me now to talk about these new shocking developments, we‘ve got Ed Smart.  He, of course, is the father of Elizabeth Smart.  We‘ve got Florida state prosecutor Pam Bondi, and also Stacey Honowitz, assistant state attorney in the sex crimes and child abuse division. 

Stacey, let me ask you, how could something like this happen?  If in fact, the information we‘re getting is accurate, you know, Couey was in there hiding when police came.  They talked to the relatives.  The relatives hid the fact that, in fact, that Couey was a registered sex offender.  Why aren‘t they in jail? 

(CROSSTALK)

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY:  They should be.  They should be in jail for obstruction of justice.  And right now, what the new legislation is trying to be passed is saying that, if these people knew that he was a registered sex offender and they harbored him, that they should be charged and they should go to jail and there is no reason why they shouldn‘t be out. 

So, we‘re hoping that this new law of charging them and making it a crime to harbor these sexual predators is going to pass.  Certainly, this is a screw-up on everybody‘s part if, in fact, these facts are true. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, in fact, Pam Bondi, these people knew.  Obviously, they knew that the police had spread a dragnet around their area.  They knew that their relative was a sex offender, and yet they said nothing to police.  I can‘t believe there‘s not a law on the books that wouldn‘t allow the police to throw them in jail for obstruction of justice. 

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR:  Yes, I think every prosecutor in this country agrees with you, Joe. 

However, as you know, we all have to follow the law, and that‘s what Stacey was just saying.  Hopefully, new legislation is going to pass that will make it a crime that you have to report a registered sex offender if you know his whereabouts.  And that‘s what‘s going on now.  And, hopefully, that will pass. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ed Smart, is it unfair for us to criticize the police, to criticize law enforcement officers for not doing enough, for not pursuing this enough? 

Obviously, with your daughter, there were a lot of times when she was a lot closer to you than you all even knew. 

ED SMART, FATHER OF ELIZABETH SMART:  Absolutely.  I mean she was there and we had no clue.  You know, I don‘t know that you can place a lot of blame on law enforcement, because they were there trying to do their job.

But the system isn‘t functioning right.  And I think the important thing is, is that we learn from this horrible mistake.  I mean, my heart just goes out to Mark and his family.  I can‘t—hearing that she still might have been alive at that time is absolutely heartbreaking.  But I think the important thing is, is we‘ve got to learn from our mistakes.  And the legislation has to be changed. 

I think that it‘s important that it‘s changed nationally, though, not just in Florida, because there are so many issues that really need to be addressed.  It‘s not—it‘s not just the children that are offended, but I think so many women are also assaulted by sex offenders.  You know, they may not be pedophiles, but it‘s a huge issue out there that really needs to be thoroughly addressed. 

HONOWITZ:  Joe, can I just say one thing? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me ask all three of you, is there no way these people can be arrested? 

(CROSSTALK)

BONDI:  Go ahead, Stacey. 

HONOWITZ:  Well, actually, Joe, you know, if you‘re harboring a fugitive, if there would have been some information that he was a fugitive, that he was a sex offender, then they could have been arrested. 

But, certainly, charges for obstruction of justice can be brought against them now and actually tampering with evidence, anything along those lines.  But hopefully now, with this new legislation, the penalties are going to be much stiffer. 

But I just want to go back to what Ed said.  This is not just a Florida issue.  This is a national issue.  And what we need is a national database.  Sexual predators, when they get out of prison, don‘t want to register.  Why would they want to register?  There has to be a way...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Ed, why don‘t we have a national database? 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Why don‘t we have an effective, easy national database? 

SMART:  You know, we do have a national database, but it is very ineffective.  It is not complete.  It trickles in state by state and it‘s very different. 

I mean, Florida has a very good sex offender registry.  I‘ve had a chance to meet with them and I think they‘re doing a terrific job.  But it needs to be very effective.  I mean, in a number of the states right now, it‘s only a misdemeanor if they don‘t register.  And it needs to be a felony.  I mean, it needs to be a felony if these people were harboring him and knew that he had a problem.  I can‘t even imagine how they would allow him to be there and not know that she was in there with him.  I mean, it‘s unbelievable. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Unbelievable. 

Ed Smart, thank you for being with us.  Ed and Pam and Stacey, we‘re going to be following this story and have you all back.  Greatly appreciate you being here tonight. 

Such a sad story. 

We‘re going to be right back with an amazing story from our nation‘s capital when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  This afternoon, in Washington, D.C., a man with two suitcases stood outside the west side of the Capitol and demanded to see the president. 

Well, he didn‘t get to see the president, but he did get to see a couple of effective Capitol Hill police officers.  The 33-year-old Chinese national has been in our country less than a week, according to a police spokesman, and now he is in custody.  As for the man‘s two suitcases, police detonated what they feared could have been bombs. 

Fortunately, the suitcases revealed nothing, and it was back to business as usual on Capitol Hill, spending your tax dollars and wasting all of our time. 

Hey, if you want to talk to me, by the way, you won‘t be wasting my time.  E-mail me at Joe at MSNBC.com. 

We‘ll see you here tomorrow night.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,