updated 4/22/2005 2:45:52 PM ET 2005-04-22T18:45:52

Guest: Jeannine Gramick, Robert Bennett, James Moroney

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.

The Catholic Church has a new pope.  After two days and four ballots, the College of Cardinals in Rome today gave enough votes, that‘s two-thirds, to German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to make him the new pope, Pope Benedict XVI. 

The new pope blessed the crowd from the balcony of St. Peter‘s—boy, were they happy—of St. Peter‘s Basilica earlier today.  And around the world, Catholics are celebrating—and that‘s the right word—celebrating the new pontificate.  Pope Benedict has been known for his conservative viewpoints, which aren‘t always in step with American Catholics, based on the polls. 

NBC‘s Anne Thompson reports now on how America‘s Catholics are reacting to the new pontiff. 



For American Catholics, often called cafeteria Catholics for picking and choosing parts of their faith, the reaction was mixed.  In the words of one, this is not a step forward, because a step to the side. 


THOMPSON (voice-over):  In Skokie, Illinois, this was the rewrite Ana Rose Gerga (ph) wanted.  Her German language weekly tore off its front page to tout the German pope. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I was sort of hoping and praying that he would be elected. 

THOMPSON:  There‘s cautious optimism at the Voice of the Faithful near Boston, the lay activist group formed in response to the priest sex abuse crisis.  As cardinal, Benedict first blamed the scandal on the media.  But the group‘s president says the pope eventually realized its seriousness. 

JAMES POST, PRESIDENT, VOICE OF THE FAITHFUL:  For those who were looking for open window, I think the open window opened a crack, but not very wide. 

THOMPSON:  The news welcomed in New York St. Patrick‘s Cathedral.  But when flashed on the Jumbotron in Times Square, signs of disbelief. 

Visiting the cathedral in Los Angeles, Mary Ellen Phillips (ph) wanted a younger, more liberal pope. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Maybe there will be married priests, because we need them. 

THOMPSON:  Yet those concerns, married priests, birth control and divorce, are not the issues of the global church, as Chicago‘s Cardinal Francis George explained in Rome before the conclave. 

(on camera):  How does Vatican look at the American church? 

CARDINAL FRANCIS GEORGE, CHICAGO:  They recognize our importance.  They would like us to not be a threat to the faith.  American Catholics are given one set of directions from our culture, another set of directions from our faith.  And we have to live that through. 

THOMPSON:  A gap few believe this new pope will close—Chris.


MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  That was MSNBC‘s Anne Thompson up at St.


For more on what people—what Pope Benedict XVI‘s election will mean for American people, especially Catholics, we‘re joined by Monsignor James Moroney, what a great guy, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a Holy Cross guy, And Robert Bennett, a great guy here in Washington, a fabulous lawyer who investigated the church‘s sex abuse scandal. 

You were where the tire hits the road in terms of that scandal.  You know what the problem was.  What is the pope‘s responsibility from way over there in Rome to keep it from happening? 

ROBERT BENNETT, INVESTIGATED CHURCH SEX ABUSE SCANDAL:  Well, I think he has a responsibility.  And, Chris, I think he is going to take this issue very seriously. 

MATTHEWS:  Pedophilia. 


When the apostolic delegate, Archbishop Montalvo, refused to meet with the board, we sent a fax.  You‘ll get a kick out of this, a fax to Cardinal Ratzinger.  And he responded to the fax.  And Justice Anne Burke (ph), our chairman, and Bill Burly and I went over and spent two, two-and-a-half hours with the cardinal on this issue. 

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about that.  First of all, I want to know a fact. 

How is his English? 

BENNETT:  His English is fine.  He clearly can understand them.  I don‘t think it is his preferred language. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes.  But he spoke to you in English? 

BENNETT:  He spoke to us in English.


BENNETT:  He had a little bit of assistance.  But he understood exactly what we were saying.

MATTHEWS:  How does he see—how does the new pope see the problem of pedophilia?  Does he see it as distinctive to—it seems like it‘s a particular problem among, I hate to say it, Irish-led churches.  It‘s either in Ireland or England or Australia or here.  Is that because we‘re more open or we have a problem with it more dramatic or is it booze or what is it? 

BENNETT:  Well, Chris, I‘ll answer that a little indirectly. 


BENNETT:  Because the ground rules for our meeting, which we wanted, as well as the new pope, were, it was an off-the-record conversation. 


BENNETT:  So.  But I can tell you this.  This was not a courtesy meeting.  This was a member of the hierarchy who wanted to know what we were finding and what we thought . And for two or two-and-a-half hours, he asked questions.  He took notes.  And then, at the conclusion, he read to us a summary.  And he had it down.  Had I been able to take notes like he took, I would have been an A-plus student. 


MATTHEWS:  So, you‘re happy.  You think he will be open to this problem. 

BENNETT:  I think he will be very open, because following the report which we issued, a number of things happened, which I believe have his fingerprints all over them. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me broaden it a bit, Monsignor. 


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about one of the things talked about when I was over in Rome, when you were great to be on the show...

MORONEY:  Thanks.

MATTHEWS:  It seems so custodial, but it is the issue of administration. 


MATTHEWS:  Can a—can the new pope, a man who is 78 years old, grab the reins...

MORONEY:  Yes.  

MATTHEWS:  ... and have a system of checking up on different congregations around the country—world he has to—and make sure everything is smooth? 

MORONEY:  I think that‘s—I think that‘s a legitimate concern.  But you can look back and you can say, for the last 23 years, he‘s been in charge of the Congregation For the Doctrine of the Faith, which—and he has transformed that congregation. 

Prior to his arrival at that congregation, it was probably more faithful to its name of the holy office.  When he left it, it has become a collaborative instrument, as well as a monitoring instrument of theologians.  I think, if I were looking for a new pastor of my church, I would be looking for somebody who was a rock and somebody who was pastoral, somebody who is a rock, somebody who, when someone I love dies, is going to be able to tell me unambiguously that the lord loves them and the lord can forgive them and I‘m going to see them again. 

And so—so somebody who has an unambiguous approach to morals and to the teaching of the church.  But then secondly you want somebody who is going to be a pastor. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MORONEY:  Someone who can just ooze warmth. 


MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s get to that.  There‘s a lot of people watching right now.  Let me go through a number of people. 


MATTHEWS:  And I‘m not carrying their cause for them, except I think they have a right to be respected, because they‘re human beings.  And I think every religion better get on that one, people who are gay, people who have been dumped by their first husband because he wants to marry somebody younger, some woman who is divorced and told, wait a minute, you just sit there until you die. 


MATTHEWS:  Because that‘s your role.  Because you‘ve been married once, you don‘t get a second chance.  People like that, I just wonder, is he going to respond to those kind of situations? 

MORONEY:  Without question. 

Let me tell you, not because of—I don‘t want to talk about the fine points of theology or of moral law.  He is going to address those in the next few days.  And I don‘t—next few years.  And I don‘t want to preempt him. 

But what I do want to say is that the church believes certain things that he won‘t move from.  But, at the same time, I mentioned that he should be a pastor.  I can tell you—and I‘ve seen him a couple of dozen times.  I‘ve been in rooms with him and talked with him.  When he walks into a room, and you‘ve got the big important people who are there for a meeting, and then you have got the unimportant people like myself standing at the back, he‘s never walked into a room I‘ve ever been in where he hasn‘t walked to every single person and tried to find out something personal with them. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MORONEY:  I‘ll tell you a story.

MATTHEWS:  So, he‘s not John Bolton. 

MORONEY:  Well, there‘s a story—that‘s your next segment. 


MATTHEWS:  No, he was referred to as a kiss-up, kick-down kind of guy, the least kind of—the person I least like.  So, in other words, he follows the rule of the Bible, which is, to be a just man, you must treat everyone the same.  Is he a just man? 


MORONEY:  He is a just man.  But even more than being a just man, he loves the poor.  He has got a preferential option for the person who is the underdog, for the person who is in the—behind.


MORONEY:  A quick story that I heard just today.

When he was over here in 1990 and he was blessing a center at the seminary in Philadelphia.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MORONEY:  They had arranged this great big suite for him to live in.  And they bring in flowers and stock the bar and stuff like that.  He walks into the room and he says, no, I don‘t want to stay here.  I want a student room.  And they had to find a student room to put him in, because he wants to try to take the last place.  That‘s the kind of pope that I want. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Bob, as a layman, a friend of mine and a lawyer in Washington, you know how the world works.  Is the Roman Catholic Church in America at odds with the Roman Catholic Church coming out of the papacy on all matters of issues? 

BENNETT:  I think...

MATTHEWS:  Or does it basically just got a few problems?  I was just making a list.  And it seems to me, there‘s a lot of concern.  I was thinking about AIDS in Africa, condoms, even something like altar service.  I was talk to Susan Molinari.  Girls want to be altar servants, like older boys.  In some parishes, they don‘t let them.

Divorced women, I talked about, birth control, which every Catholic practices and, according to this new poll, believes in, married priests, gay Catholics, these seem to be issues, the power of Opus Dei, which I find interesting, if not scary sometimes.  Those questions, does a new pope have any way one man can handle all this and reconcile us with them and that sort of thing?  Does he want to? 


BENNETT:  Chris, you and I are good friends.  And I think we probably agree on most of those issues.

I‘m very hopeful that the new pope will get into those issues, at least discuss them and not have this, you can‘t even discuss these things.


BENNETT:  But there are even bigger issues to that.

You know, the core of the Catholic Church—and my friend here certainly knows more about it than I do—is the sacraments.  And one major problem in the church today, in America, is, you don‘t have enough people who are giving the sacraments. 

MATTHEWS:  We have something like 3,000 parishes in America.  And this may be true in Protestant and Jewish communities as well.  But it is so dramatic to see.

I think it goes, Bob, how many people in your family become priests? 

My family, we had—my mother‘s two sisters are nuns, sisters of St.  Joseph.  But nobody in this generation is talking about it.  I just think that‘s just—that‘s a problem.  How can you complain about the priesthood when nobody wants to replenish it that we know? 


BENNETT:  I beg to disagree that nobody is considering it today, though, Chris.  Bob and I were just talking, walking in, about how one of his colleagues is in the seminary right now. 


BENNETT:  You‘ve got certain...


MATTHEWS:  You mean someone who was in public life as a lawyer who then went into the priesthood. 

BENNETT:  Yes.  There could be a lot of explanations for that, that I was such a hard taskmaster. 


BENNETT:  No, a wonderful young man named Harold Reeves (ph), who is over at the north—I‘ve never lost anybody to another law firm.  But the big guy steals my best people. 


MORONEY:  And North American College is bursting at the seams. 


MATTHEWS:  But this issue is so close to reality here.  It is not doctrinal.  It is just the way we live. 

Young boys in a—it‘s not a sex-crazed society, but it‘s a sexual society we live in—don‘t want to give up girls.  They don‘t want to give up marriage.  They can‘t imagine a life of virginity.  They just don‘t do it.  I‘m just stating facts. 

MORONEY:  And I think it even goes beyond that, though, Chris. 

I think it‘s—remember when Cardinal Ratzinger said, before they walked into the conclave—there certainly was truth in advertising with him.


MORONEY:  He let them know right at the beginning where he stood on things. 


MORONEY:  And he said, there is this tyranny of relativism.


MORONEY:  That, in this country, where—and in this world today, there‘s this idea that we can negotiate any truth into oblivion.  But there...

MATTHEWS:  You mean like annulment? 

MORONEY:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  That wonderful term.

MORONEY:  Well, I think that the church needs to look clearly at what the core truths and the core beliefs are and preach them unambiguously, while, at the same time, being as loving and as compassionate and as merciful as Christ is. 

BENNETT:  And I think what bothers a lot of American Catholics is that a lot of the strict rules have nothing to do with core truths.  It‘s not a core truth that a woman cannot be a priest.  It is not a core truth that a married man can‘t be a priest. 

MATTHEWS:  Is it a core truth—and this is much more troubling...


BENNETT:  These things should be discussed.

MATTHEWS:  That you should have 15 kids?  If everybody in America stopped practicing birth control and continued the way they behaved, you would have China here.  It would be so many people. 

Now, I admit Europe is a problem because they‘re underpopulated on the continent.  But we have six billion human beings on this planet.  In our lifetime, it‘s doubled.  It will triple.  It will quadruple.  Is there not a reasonably Christian argument, a Christian argument, to stop overpopulating the planet?

MORONEY:  There is a reasonably Christian argument for birth control. 

But the problem that church has is not with the idea of birth control at

all, but with artificial, technological mean of control.  And you can say -

·         you can smirk about the... 


MATTHEWS:  No, you just lost me there. 


MATTHEWS:  You‘re using words.  It‘s not smirk.  I disagree with you. 

MORONEY:  But with natural family planning.  Nobody has ever taken a close—I‘ve never heard this program or any other program take a close look at the natural family planning that does work.  Mother Teresa in India did widespread natural family planning, very inexpensively. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean thermal? 

MORONEY:  No, well, there was—well, see, the sarcastic response is...

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m just asking.

MORONEY:  ... because there‘s lack of an understanding.

I challenge you to do a program sometime on natural family planning. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll do it at Sunday morning on 5:00. 

We‘ll be right back with Monsignor James Moroney and Bob Bennett.

You‘re watching MSNBC‘s live coverage of the election of Pope Benedict XVI.  Get used to that.  It‘s great.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to our live coverage of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. 

We‘re back with Monsignor James Moroney and Bob Bennett, a big Washington attorney. 


MATTHEWS:  I could say lawyer, but attorney is nicer tonight.

BENNETT:  It sounds better.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about—you know, you talked during the break about the concern you wanted to raise.  Just to set it up, we were all growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s.  We went to a very traditional Latin mass and the priest had his rear end to us and facing into the wall.  And it was kind of cold and stiff, although I do like the sound of Latin. 

Then he turned the other way and the altar would be between us and we could enjoy the celebration of mass together and it was in the vernacular, in English, with the altar service, including, in many parishes, girls.  Where are we headed right now with a new pope? 

MORONEY:  Well, I think, 40 years after the council, there are a lot of people who are afraid that things—that someone is going to roll back the reform. 


MATTHEWS:  Back to the ‘50s. 

MORONEY:  Back to the ‘50s, that, tomorrow morning, the altars are all going to be turned around, we will all be back...

MATTHEWS:  Do you know who isn‘t afraid of that? 

MORONEY:  Who isn‘t afraid?

MATTHEWS:  Patrick J. Buchanan. 


MORONEY:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  Because he goes to a church—he loves that ‘50s experience.


MORONEY:  That‘s right.  I understand.  I understand.

However, what—if you look closely at the writings of this pope, he has said unequivocally that the introduction of the vernacular is one of the greatest gifts of the post... 


MATTHEWS:  So we‘re sticking with English. 

MORONEY:  Yes, sticking with English.  We definitely—we do experience of Latin as an experience of the universality of the church, so he would like to see a little more Latin, but only Latin that people understand.  And he has said that repeatedly over and over.  His two main concerns...

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t we do the “Our Father” in Latin?  We all know what it means. 


MATTHEWS:  The whole thing.

MORONEY:  It would be a wonderful thing.  And imagine what it would be like, then, when you get together internationally.  You‘re standing in St.  Peter‘s Square.  You‘re singing something that you understand and the German and Chinese people standing next to you are singing the same... 


MATTHEWS:  Yes, we could all do the Father—yes, I recommend it. 

MORONEY:  So there are isolated...


MATTHEWS:  ... my liturgical modification.

MORONEY:  That‘s wonderful.  We‘ll call it the Williams liturgy—

Matthews liturgy, rather.

But here, we have got—there are two main concerns that this pope has had with the liturgy.  One is that we see that there‘s an organic change.  The change is not something that just happens overnight.  You remember in 1970, Chris, when, all of a sudden, the altars were turned around.  The mass was in English and everything.  And people were not ready for it.  The priests weren‘t ready for it half the time. 

And it was—so there has to be a sense of organic change, of slow change. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BENNETT:  And then, secondly, of orientation, the idea that what we‘re at mass to do is to worship God. 


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about power and administration.  I began with that, Bob Bennett.  You were involved in investigating the charges and cases of pedophilia.  How do we get a more open church? 

BENNETT:  Well, I think—I think two of the challenges for the new pope will be more transparency, more accountability, and—and—and...

MATTHEWS:  Does that mean the diocesan budget should be published online? 

BENNETT:  Well, yes.  I—you know, I think so.  I mean...

MATTHEWS:  How about payoffs to priests and that sort of thing? 

BENNETT:  I don‘t know anything about...

MATTHEWS:  I mean payoff to victims of... 


BENNETT:  Well, I think victims, if they‘re entitled to compensation, should get it.  And had the church dealt with this, instead of planting the seeds of a massive scandal...


MATTHEWS:  What was the thinking about transferring—you know, we have Megan‘s Law in this country in New Jersey and places like that, where you have some with this particular problem with kids, which apparently is a problem of continued—you can‘t really get rid of it very easily.  Assigning priests to new parishes after they‘ve had a problem with altar boys, why did they do it?

BENNETT:  Well, I don‘t think I ever got a good explanation for that. 

I got some very poor explanations. 

I also must say, to this day, I can‘t answer the question about why there was not more of a sense of outrage.  And I personally must tell you, I was very troubled when Cardinal Law, who caused so much of this difficulty, was awarded or placed at a basilica.

MATTHEWS:  What was the motive for the cover-up in Boston?

BENNETT:  Well, I don‘t know that there was a motive.  It‘s fear of bringing scandal to the church, that it is better that nobody know about these things. 

MATTHEWS:  I understand.

BENNETT:  All of the presumptions were in favor of the priests.  The father said, he didn‘t do it or he will not do it again.  Ours is a church of forgiveness.  We forgive him. 

And I think it was very naive conduct.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  They didn‘t know about the recidivism.  Yes. 

BENNETT:  I don‘t think it was evil conduct.  I mean, it may have resulted in evil.  I don‘t think those who—I mean, how on earth could Cardinal Law write Egan—Geoghan, who—Geoghan, who was a clear pedophile in maybe 100, 123 instances, and write a letter to him and say, yours has been a great service to the church?  How could you write a letter like that? 

MATTHEWS:  Sympathy. 

BENNETT:  And how can you have, after the Bishops Conference creates our board, how could you have Bishop Bruskewitz of Nebraska absolutely refuse to meet with us and discuss the matter with us?  And yet this new pope, this new pope answered a fax and spent two-and-a-half hours with us. 

There‘s a dichotomy for you, Chris.  And what I‘m hoping is that this new pope will open this stuff up... 


MATTHEWS:  And you‘re here as his character witness.  And it‘s great. 

BENNETT:  Well...


MATTHEWS:  It‘s great.  Please come back.  We don‘t do religion here much, but we‘re going to do it for a while.

Thank you very much, Monsignor James Moroney and Bob Bennett.

When we return, we‘ll check back with David Shuster, who is still live over there at the Vatican and has been talking with the faithful gathered in St. Peter‘s Square.  What an opportunity for David.

You‘re watching MSNBC‘s live coverage of the election of Pope Benedict XVI.  History today.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to our live coverage of the election of Pope Benedict XVI.  All night long, crowds have gathered in St. Peter‘s Square to celebrate the announcement of the new pope. 

David Shuster is at the Vatican right now and joins us now with more -

·         David. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, it was just an incredibly magical moment this evening for everybody, regardless of whether you‘re a believer or not. 

It was about 20 minutes from the time the smoke first started coming out of the chimney above the Sistine Chapel to when the bells started ringing, confirming that, in fact, yes, there was a new pope.  And during that time, literally tens of thousands of people started streaming into St.  Peter‘s Square.  They were mostly young people, waving flags, like you can see there, holding crosses, screaming in the way you might expect at a European soccer match.  Only, many of the cheers and songs were:  The pope is one of us.  The pope is one of us.

We went down into the middle of it after it got dark at St. Peter‘s Square to try to get a sense about whether these crowds of young people, were they there because they were so inspired by the process or simply because of their hope for this new pope.  And it turned out to be a little bit of both, a little trepidation and optimism.  The best example we found was a young German woman who was studying here in Rome.  We talked to her.  Let‘s watch. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m really very impressed about everything, because I did not expect it would be a German pope.  And about this situation over here, that it is such a big party for all the people that there‘s a new pope, it‘s creating a very big impression. 

SHUSTER:  Is this large sort of a party because people are witnessing history or are they celebrating the fact that it is Ratzinger?  What is driving people today? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think it not very important who got the pope.  In one way, yes, it was important, but I think they are just happy to have a new pope who is with them in Rome for the church, that there‘s a new person for these people. 

SHUSTER:  It is the first German pope in nearly 1,000 years.  As a German, what is your reaction? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I have to be honest that I didn‘t think too much about this until now.  But I‘m happy in one way, although there are many different reactions, as you said, that some people say he is very conservative.  Is he going to change something?  I‘m just hoping he is going to make good work and is going to change to something about the church and what is going on. 

SHUSTER:  Do you think the students will be here all night long? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think they‘re going to stay for a very long time.  They were setting—saying, we sit down here for all the time waiting until you come out. 


SHUSTER:  Eventually, the security at St. Peter‘s Square cleared out many of those students.  And, in fact, very few now are left, except to sort of drift around the edges. 

But, Chris, what an incredible, incredible evening.  And when you talk to these students, you just get this sort of great sense of optimism, not only because of what they were witnessing, but also, at least for this evening, they put aside their concerns and focused simply on the process that unfolded before their eyes—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David.

I love the way you do man in the street. 

Anyway, up next, we‘ll hear from a nun who was silenced by Cardinal Ratzinger for ministering to gays and lesbians. 

You‘re watching MSNBC‘s live coverage of the election of the new pope, Benedict XVI. 



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to our live coverage of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. 

Across the world—around the world, rather, Catholics are celebrating the announcement of the new pope. 

NBC‘s Peter Alexander is at St. Patrick‘s up in New York—Peter.

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening to you, Chris. 

That‘s the case around the world, certainly here in New York City.  St. Patrick‘s Cathedral, really the central icon of American Catholicism, sees about three million over the course of a year.  And they saw plenty of them over the course of today.  It was quite a celebration.  In the next few days, they‘re decorate the front bronze doors with papal bunting—it is gold and white—to celebrate the election of Benedict XVI. 

Just a few days ago, they removed the purple and black mourning bunting, as it was called, that had previously been there to honor the life of Pope John Paul II.  There is a special ceremony that will be held here, as there are many ceremonies being held at churches across this country, this one at 7:00 tomorrow. 

The cardinal, Edward Egan, is in—well, he‘s now complete with the conclave.  And he listed a series of remarks through a statement to us.  Among his words, he said that, as he looked out upon St. Peter‘s Square earlier today, his joy matched theirs.  And that was very much the case over the course of the day, Chris.  There was a lot of celebration, exuberance, exhilaration as the bells here outside St. Patrick‘s tolled for more than 20 minutes in celebration of what occurred. 

But among many of the liberal Catholics, the Catholic population in the United States, about 64 million, there was also some disappointment, some skepticism.  As one young woman said to me, she said, you know, frankly, we were hoping it would have been anybody but Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, just many of the opinions being expressed over the course of today.  But most people acknowledge, they really don‘t know so much about this now pope and they hope to learn much more about him in the days, months and obviously years ahead—Chris.  

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Peter Alexander, who is up there on Fifth Avenue in front of St. Patrick‘s Cathedral, a place I like to visit often. 

As the Vatican‘s enforcer, Cardinal Ratzinger was known for silencing dissidence within the Catholic Church.  Sister Jeannine Gramick was ordered by Cardinal Ratzinger to end her ministry to gays and lesbians.  She has refused to do so and has called the election to the—his election to the papacy devastating. 


SISTER JEANNINE GRAMICK, CO-FOUNDER, NEW WAYS MINISTRY:  Well, it‘s devastating for the people that I have been trying to serve for over 30 years, to lesbian and gay Catholics.  Really, it is devastating to women. 

If we had had women there in that conclave, I doubt that he would have been elected.  It is devastating to Catholics who want to see reform within the church, who really want to see the spirit of Vatican II returned to our church, people who would like to have a say in the church, people who want to be consulted in the church. 


GRAMICK:  I mean, when you—I think of three C‘s.  I think of collegiality.  And when you talk about collegiality, Cardinal Ratzinger, in his position as the prefect of the Congregation For the Doctrine of the Faith, tried to, and I think quite successfully, tried to centralize authority and destroy collegiality in the church, so that bishops are almost treated as altar boys.  I know that...

MATTHEWS:  Well, how much—you know, I want to talk to you about being gay and being Catholic. 


MATTHEWS:  Now, there‘s a wonderful scene at the end of that movie “Boys in the Band,” where the guy up there, he‘s part of a gay group of guys. 

They‘re all getting together.  And after it is all over, he says, I‘m going to church, midnight mass at St. Malachy‘s or something in New York.  It was a great scene.  And I said, well, how—this guy is putting it all together.  And I know some gay guys who are Catholic, a couple of them. 


MATTHEWS:  And I think they do it.  So, how do you do it in your head? 

Because you know the church says, you can‘t be gay, really.

GRAMICK:  Well, no.  The institutional church does not say you can‘t be gay.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you can‘t—be born gay, because you have no control over it, but you can‘t practice any kind of gay lifestyle. 


GRAMICK:  Right.  Exactly. 


MATTHEWS:  So, OK.  We‘re quibbling here, aren‘t we? 


No, it is not a quibble.  It is an important distinction to make, because people are and can be celibate.  And so they‘re...


MATTHEWS:  But I‘m not talking about them. 


MATTHEWS:  I‘m talking about the people who are gay. 

GRAMICK:  All right.  All right. 

MATTHEWS:  Who have a gay lifestyle and they‘re Catholic.  How do they put it together? 

GRAMICK:  Well, I think the ones that I have known over the years put it together because they put into practice the primary teaching of the church. 


GRAMICK:  Love and follow one‘s conscience.


GRAMICK:  To make a conscience decision about—to do what you believe in your heart is right. 


Let‘s imagine we had a really frisky liberal new pope.  Pope John XXIII comes back.  Pope John the Paul—or, rather, Pope John XXIV. 

GRAMICK:  Fourth.

MATTHEWS:  He comes roaring into town.  What, within the Christian faith, is he capable of doing with regard to homosexuality in terms of anything? 

GRAMICK:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  How can he be any different than any other pope? 


GRAMICK:  Well, I believe what a liberal pope would do, as Pope John XXIII tried to do and succeeded partially, was to invite the bishops to claim their own authority. 

And then, in turn, the bishops invite the faithful to claim their own authority, the authority within them.  And so, one thing that the pope, a new pope, I would hope would do is to encourage bishops to listen to their people.  What is the faith of the people?  How can these people, who are supposed to be articulating the faith, articulate a faith that they don‘t know what their people believe? 

And so, I would say that the pope should encourage the bishops around the world to hold listening sessions. 

MATTHEWS:  To what effect, that the church would accept the gay lifestyle? 

GRAMICK:  Maybe as a result of those listening sessions, that would happen, yes.  I think that that would be a possibility.

MATTHEWS:  Could you—could you dispute, would you dispute the question of moral theology about gay people, gay behavior within the church, the statement that it a sin, it is a mortal sin?  How do you contest that? 


GRAMICK:  I would say that the traditional teaching is that there needs to be procreation for sexual activity to be moral.  All right. 


GRAMICK:  But most Catholic moral theologians and even most Christian moral theologians depart from that idea.  

MATTHEWS:  I think you‘re right. 


MATTHEWS:  I think people feel a healthy marriage in itself is a valuable Christian institution.

GRAMICK:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Whether you have children or not.

GRAMICK:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Whether you‘ve already had your children or not.

GRAMICK:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  The sex should not stop with having children. 



MATTHEWS:  I think it is all about a healthy relationship that brings some children. 

GRAMICK:  You said the word.  The word is relationship. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

GRAMICK:  If there is love. 

MATTHEWS:  I think that will evolve, but I am a theologian.  You‘re making the case.


MATTHEWS:  I‘m trying to referee.

Anyway, Sister Jeannine, stick with us.

GRAMICK:  All right. 

MATTHEWS:  She‘s going to stay with us.

In a minute, we‘re going to be joined by another point of view, Monsignor Thomas McSweeney.

And you can get the latest on Pope Benedict XVI on our Web site, www.pope.MSNBC.com.  It sounds funny.

You‘re watching MSNBC‘s live coverage of the election of Pope Benedict






MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to our live coverage of the election of Pope Benedict XVI.  We‘re back with Jeannine Gramick, Sister Jeannine Gramick.  And we‘re joined now by Monsignor Thomas McSweeney. 

Monsignor, thank you for sticking around.  I have to ask you...


MATTHEWS:  How much leeway—I mean, you‘re a learned man.  How much leeway is there among—between pontiffs, among them, in terms of reevaluating church doctrine and not even doctrine, but discipline?  How many changes could a pope make if he were the most liberal person in the world or the most conservative?

MCSWEENEY:  In terms of manmade laws...


MATTHEWS:  Like disciplinary questions of...

MCSWEENEY:  The disciplinary questions, of course they can be dealt with quite effectively.  And, as Sister has been pointing out, there‘s a great hue and cry for more dialogue, some more discussion about some of those things. 

But then we get into the moral issues, as you‘ve been talking to Sister about homosexuality.  Chris, if you can let me step out of the role of an analyst for a while and just speak to you from my heart as a priest. 


MCSWEENEY:  I spent five years in Manhattan hearing confessions at St.  Patrick‘s Cathedral.  I was very privileged to be there, and what a cross-section of the country there, indeed. 

I have worked in university life for over 20 years and come to know young people through many generations.  I‘m going on 60 years of age.  I help out at a wonderful Polish parish in Erie, Pennsylvania, where the fated seems to be so vibrant as well.  I look at the crowds of people moving into the square.  And I sense—Father Egan said he saw joy in the people‘s faces.  What I see is expectation.  I see hunger. 

People want joy.  Which one of us doesn‘t want to have happiness in life and a joy that nobody can take away?  I sense that our culture, whether it is the culture of death, or you would want to call it modernism or secularism or whatever, assaults that expectation.  It takes us down other venues.

And what we need is leadership, papal leadership that transmits to a Tom McSweeney, who can explain it to somebody else, how that we feed people‘s hunger for joy and happiness and wholeness.  Everybody wants to be whole.  They don‘t—they don‘t—it doesn‘t work for me very well when I have to give them rules.  I mean, we‘re beyond the rules.  We‘ve got the message.  We understand the norms. 

Teach us; help us; enable us; give us the grace to pass on what is morally right and wrong with an explanation and an environment where there‘s free, open, robust dialogue and people will come to understand that, indeed, what we want is everyone to have that joy that no one can ever take away.  And when we accomplish that, then we accomplish holiness. 

Our new pontiff has quite a task in front of him in that regard.  He has got to feed us.  He has got to give us the tools to pass on that hope.  John Paul II took us to the threshold of hope.  And I see expectation, people hungering for the truth, yes.  How can I make that truth a part of my life, so I can be whole?  This is a difficult thing to accomplish.  But, by the grace of God, this pope can take us there. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you both, because you‘re both people of faith, going to church on Sunday, which is one way—in fact, it sometimes, unfortunately, is the main way that Catholics behave as Catholics.  They show up for mass. 


MATTHEWS:  And if they don‘t, they feel guilty about it.  They go to mass.  They go to communion.  How does that benefit them?  Is it the homily?  Is it the mass, the sacrifice itself of the mass?  In what way does that make them on this earth better people? 

Let me start with you, Sister, because I think it is the central question of most Catholics.  How does participation in church liturgy make me a better person, or does it?

GRAMICK:  Well, I go to church because I want to worship God in a faith community.  I pray to God in my heart in the silence and the quiet of my room. 

But I also want to pray to God with others who are similarly motivated to love God. 

MATTHEWS:  I know what you mean.  I know what you mean.

GRAMICK:  So, I go to church, you might say, to express my solidarity with a community of faith.  And so, yes, it‘ nice if I get something out of it, if it is a good liturgy.  But even if it is not a very vibrant or exciting liturgy...


GRAMICK:  ... at least I am with a community of faith that believes in a God. 


Monsignor, do you think that people who are Catholic and go to church on Sunday and try to—are they better people than other people?  Do you think they—have you watched them?  Have you noticed a pattern of being more Christian than the average person? 


MATTHEWS:  Because is there a real connection between participation in the Catholic liturgy and being a Catholic for all practical purposes make you or suggest that you will be better with other people, Christian? 


MCSWEENEY:  Sister I think is right about that sense of community.  There‘s nothing else like it.  We are in this together and we must love one another, accept each other for what we are and forgive one another. 

You get that always in that sense of community.  It is not good to be alone.  It is good to be together, but with this important difference.  It isn‘t so much what we get out of that liturgy, actually.  It is what we bring to it.  It‘s the grace that we‘ve experienced in a given week that we come to celebrate and thank God for, rather than expect to pick up a little bag of grace and take it out for the rest of the week. 

I really think that sense of community and that sense of inclusion.  I am loved no matter what.  Our love from God is unconditional. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MCSWEENEY:  It is for gays.  It is for everybody.  It is for the worst sinner in the world.  And we can all qualify for being a sinner. 

So, I think it‘s that great sense of community and this great opportunity to learn not just the truths or the rules of the church, but the spirit of the church. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

Will the next pope be able to say, I love you, the way that Pope John Paul II did?  And will it include the people you mentioned, the divorced woman, the gay person, the person who has had an abortion?  Will they be included in this? 


GRAMICK:  Well, to me, the way the pope would show that he is saying that I love you is to trust people and to trust people‘s experience. 


GRAMICK:  The problem in the past has been that those in authority have not even heard people‘s experience.  We need to listen to the experience of people. 

MATTHEWS:  Sister, thank you for being on.  It‘s great to have you, Sister Jeannine Gramick.

Monsignor Thomas McSweeney will be staying with us.  We have another group joining us and he‘ll be part of it.

You‘re watching MSNBC‘s live coverage of the election of the new man -

·         not being irreverent, but he has a new name and—a new name a new man, Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Ratzinger.


We‘ll be right back.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Laura and I offer our congratulations to Pope Benedict XVI.  He is a man of great wisdom and knowledge.  He is a man who serves the lord. 


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Monsignor Thomas McSweeney.  And from Rome, we‘re joined by David Shuster. 

David, old buddy, you‘re over there.  Now, let me go to David first.

David, you‘re not Catholic. 

SHUSTER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Yet, you‘ve been covering this thing as much as I have for two or three weeks now.  What‘s your—what did you learn about the Catholic Church or your attitude about it?  How has it changed or what have you gotten out of all this coverage you‘ve done? 

SHUSTER:  Well, Chris, I think what is so impressive is, any time you see any group that is so dedicated to their beliefs or to their faith, it is certainly inspiring. 

And that was certainly the case the last couple of days.  When you saw the majesty, the drama, the traditions, it just inspires you.  But I think the other thing that we‘ve talked about before, even in our own office, the disconnect between what you see here at the Vatican, the inspiration, the traditions, the reality that so many people, whether Catholic or not, the reality that you live with or the friends that you have who to go Africa and want to do something about the AIDS problem there, and then you realize that, well, the Catholic Church doesn‘t allow for the local leaders to condone the use of condoms, it is that disconnect which I find so amazing, because it is.

You see this stuff, as you did with the pope‘s funeral, and it is just

·         it‘s majestic.  It‘s dramatic.  It is just incredible.  But then you step back out of this place and you go back into reality and realize, well, you know, a lot of Americans, a lot of people around the world still have such a huge disconnect in their own lives with what they‘re seeing on television. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Monsignor McSweeney.

You are not disconnected, Monsignor.  You must have a~ harmony in your soul between the wonderful joy of today and the celebrations and the public trappings and manifestations of the Catholic Church and the inner life of the church.  What will this do in terms of reconciling those phenomena in the weeks and months ahead? 

MCSWEENEY:  You‘re right.  I can‘t help myself.  I do feel the joy.  And it is frustrating that sometimes people can go through all the ritual and so forth and still come up empty somehow and not find that connect that our friend just spoke about. 

What I‘m looking forward to now is, of course, the reality that we have a pope who is going to be the custodian of a message that has been finally hewn dogmatically, doctrinally, and in terms of the disciplines of the faith.  And he is going to be the custodian of that.  Before that, we had a pope, of course, who could provide, as the messenger, could provide the human touch, actually, touch.

This pope must have another way of touching.  There‘s an eloquence to all of us.  We all have our own way of showing love. 


MCSWEENEY:  And he has got to find his voice.  And he‘s got to make that connect or, again, the message is going to only be a stumbling block. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, Monsignor Thomas McSweeney and David Shuster.

As always, buddy, see you back here. 

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more


Right now, MSNBC‘s live coverage of the election of Pope Benedict XVI continues with Keith Olbermann.



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.


Discussion comments