Christiane looks at the disqualification of candidates from next month's presidential election in Iran.
Father Thomas Rosica speaks with CNN's Christiane Amanpour about the new directions Pope Francis is taking the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis has been shunning the frills of his new job and this time he is choosing a new more modest apartment as his home for now.
By Samuel Burke, CNN
Many Jesuits are stunned that a Jesuit is now Pope.
"Saint Ignatius never intended for Jesuits to have positions of power, authority or influence in the Church,” Father Joseph McShane told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “So we were always told from the day we entered there would never be a Jesuit Pope and now we have one. We are all stunned."
McShane is President of Fordham University in New York and even though he didn’t expect the selection of then-Cardinal Bergoglio, he believes Pope Francis has the background to reform.
The new pope must confront a crises and crimes that have rocked the Church over the last decade.
To tackle the sex abuse catastrophe McShane said the new Pope would be “wise to listen to the American bishops” who are advocating for a policy of zero tolerance throughout the Church.
“More importantly, he has to say that whenever such an act, such a sin, such a crime is reported, the first concern is for the victim and the victim's family,” McShane said.
But is Pope Francis powerful enough to make sure the curia and the Catholic hierarchy abide by that?
“I don't know if it's a question of ‘is he powerful enough?’ I think it's a question of ‘is he brave enough to call it out,’” McShane said.
He believes Pope Francis is.
“If you look at what he has done in Buenos Aires with his own priests, it is clear,” McShane told Amanpour. “I'm sure you've read the stories about him excoriating priests who refused to baptize children who were born out of wedlock – calling them the new Pharisees, a new class of hypocrites, who forgot that the Lord ate with prostitutes and sought out sinners. So I think he's brave enough and direct enough to do this.”
According to veteran Vatican journalist Marco Politi, the initial traction in the papal vote was not for then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
“From the first leaks we understand that there was a strong candidate,” Politi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday. “The Italian Archbishop of Milan, Scola, who entered the conclave with the strong determination of his supporters to make him Pope But in the first ballots he couldn’t provoke an ‘avalanche effect’ to get more and more votes.”
Politi said that Scola then stopped campaigning and a compromise “bridge builder” like Cardinal Bergoglio began to lead the way and that man is now Pope Francis.
In the video above Politi shares other fascinating details about the papal vote.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio's name was not name in the media as one of the papal front runners in the past few weeks, even though it had been reported that Bergoglio came second to Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
When CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about those reports, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick simply said, "That is what they say.” McCarrick would know if that is true, because he participated in the 2005 vote — keeping the promise he took to ever reveal details of that election.
Even though McCarrick didn't take part in Thursday's vote, he told Amanpour he wasn't surprised Bergoglio was selected. The media may not have seen it coming, but McCarrick said "many of us had thought about it beforehand." McCarrick believes that time was on Bergoglio's side; that with each inconclusive vote, it became more likely that the cardinals would gravitate toward Cardinal Bergoglio.
In the video above you can watch Amanpour's full interview with McCarrick and hear his thoughts about how a Latin American Pope could change the Catholic Church.
Since Benedict XVI announced his resignation as pope, Church observers have been pondering whether a new precedent has been set. Could papal resignations become more commonplace? Could a pope even be fired?
“No, a pope could not be fired,” Cardinal Edward Egan told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour unequivocally on Tuesday. But he did leave open the possibility of a new precedent for popes to resign.
“The years do have an effect on all of us. And it can be that, at a certain point, our health is such that we aren't able to handle the job that has been assigned us,” Egan told Amanpour.
He compared it to the president of CNN, saying that if that person’s health was in decline he too might consider stepping down.
Amanpour replied, “Well, the head of CNN is obviously not infallible. The pope is.”
Egan acknowledged that there has not been much history of popes resigning in the Catholic Church, but said that that fact alone does not make it unacceptable.
“This wonderful man [Joseph Ratzinger] felt that he needed to step aside,” he said. “I suspect it was reasons of health. I have no inside information. He made the decision and I would say that I'm at peace with the decision. And I think the Catholic world is at peace with the decision.”
By Samuel Burke & Juliet Fuisz, CNN
Pope Benedict XVI bears personal responsibility for not holding sexually abusive priests in the Catholic Church accountable, alleges the director of a new documentary, "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.”
“From 2001 to 2005, as cardinal, [Benedict] ran the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. And in that office, he looked over every sex abuse case that there was all over the world. So he's the most knowledgeable person in the world about this issue,” director Alex Gibney told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “Then, as pope, he presided, as more and more information about this came out. And he was pretty much utterly ineffective in being able to stem the tide.”
Gibney, whose documentaries have taken on complicated characters from Jack Abramoff to Dick Cheney, says Benedict took some positive steps: “He did make some apologies. He did blame some bishops. But he took no responsibility for the Vatican itself. So, in a way, I think this whole sex abuse crisis engulfed Benedict.”
“Mea Maxima Culpa” focuses on the case of Father Lawrence Murphy, an American priest who is accused of molesting as many as 200 boys at St. John's School for the Deaf. The film traces his case to the highest levels of Church power.
A former student at the school, Terry Kohut, told the filmmakers about a time he was alone in Father Murphy’s office. He says the priest asked him to take off his pants.
“I was looking at this man in a black suit with a white collar. I thought to myself, he's a priest and I'm supposed to obey him. So I took my pants down and he molested me. I felt sick and confused. Why would a priest do that to me?” Kohut described all these years later, using sign language.
The filmmaker believes that Father Murphy went after deaf children whose parents could not sign, so they could not even tell their families what was happening to them.
“But at the end of the day, there was no real punishment at all for Father Murphy, even though the deaf students and, indeed, one archbishop tried to reach out to then Cardinal Ratzinger to have this man defrocked. It never happened. And so he was buried in his priestly vestments. No punishment at all was meted out on him.”
Mea Maxima Culpa is Latin for “my most grievous fault.” There are no interviews with Vatican officials in the documentary, which is why Gibney says the subtitle of the film is "Silence in the House of God."
“Sadly, there was utter silence,” he told Amanpour. “And I not only went to the Vatican, but I also went to the most high-ranking prelate in the United States, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and asked him over and over and over again to please speak to us. And once again, the answer that came back was silence.”
Many practicing Roman Catholics participated in the film. Gibney believes they took part because they hope to change the Church.
“It's a system-wide problem,” Gibney said. “Unless the church reckons with it, it's going to come crashing down."
By Samuel Burke, CNN
You don't have to be Catholic to care about who the next Pope will be.
The guessing game about who will replace Benedict XVI has begun, and near the top of many lists is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.
The Catholic Church is growing fastest in Africa and Asia, so many are wondering if the next Pope might come from outside Europe.
“It is certainly possible to have a Cardinal come from the Southern part of the globe,” Turkson told CNN’s Christaine Amanpour on Tuesday, citing the long history of the Church in Latin America and Cardinals from Africa and Asia now taking important leadership positions. “So the possibility that a candidate, or that any of the Cardinals, to be elected Pope can come from the southern part of the globe is very real.”
When Amanpour asked Turkson about the possibility of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal spreading to Africa, he said it would unlikely be in the same proportion as it has in Europe.
“African traditional systems kind of protect or have protected its population against this tendency,” he said. “Because in several communities, in several cultures in Africa homosexuality or for that matter any affair between two sexes of the same kind are not countenanced in our society.”
According to the American Psychological Association, "homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are."
Turkson acknowledged that many Catholic nuns have been driven out of the church because they are prevented from joining the top levels of the Church and becoming priests, but he defended the practice as part of Catholic tradition.
“If one does not have access to ordination is not discrimination,” he said, but rather “it is just how the church has understood this order of ministry to be.”
You can watch the interview with the possible papal contender in the video above.
By Lucky Gold & Richa Naik, CNN
While it is rare for a pope to step down, it has happened before – though not always by choice.
Nearly 1,000 years ago, Pope Benedict IX was accused of rape and murder (one historian even called him “a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest”). He was so despised that the Church actually paid him to quit.
Four hundred years later, Pope Gregory XII was pressured to resign in order to end the Western Schism, a division in the Church.
Although Vatican records are sealed on the subject, it is said that during World War II, the controversial Pope Pius XII had a letter of resignation prepared, in case he was kidnapped by the Nazis.
But there was one pope who chose, completely voluntarily, to give up his crown. In 1294, Pope Celestine V resigned after only five months. He preferred the simple life of a monk to the majesty of being pope.
Perhaps Pope Benedict XVI was inspired by Celestine’s example?
He has visited Celestine’s tomb twice in just two years. You can see photos from his visit in the video above.
The Pope’s announcement on Monday that he will resign at the end of February surprised the world, and even many of his closest aides.
But one friend of Pope Benedict XVI isn’t shocked at all.
“I’ve known him for many years. I’m not surprised at this decision that he made today because he’s always placed the emphasis – the priority of the Catholic Church over any kind of ambition,” the Former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, Joseph Flynn, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday. “I think he has really recognized and sees that this is an opportunity to move the Church forward for a more energetic person in good health.”
The Pope has admitted in the last four or five months that he is in declining health, Flynn said.
In the video above, Flynn says the timing of the Pope’s announcement may have to do with Lent, an important six week period for many Christian denominations leading to Easter Sunday, which begins this week.