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CNN Inside Politics - Transcript

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CNN Inside Politics - Transcript


WOODRUFF: Updating our top story this Tuesday, we're looking at live pictures from the Vatican, where tens of thousands of mourners have gathered for a second day to pay their respects to Pope John Paul II. The pope's body lying in state at St. Peter's Basilica as the countdown to his funeral continues. Services will be held on Friday with the burial in the grotto beneath St. Peter's.

Members of the College of Cardinals still have not decided on a date for the conclave that will choose the next pope.

And while we are look at these live pictures, we have just gotten a little information about why former President Jimmy Carter will not be part of the delegation that President Bush is making to attend the funeral. President Carter, Jimmy Carter's office, has just issued a statement expressing fond memories of President Carter's visits with Pope John Paul, but it goes on to say, "After issuing a public statement of condolences last week, President Carter expressed to the White House a desire to attend the pope's funeral."

Continuing the statement, "He was quite willing to withdraw his request when he was subsequently informed that the official delegation would be limited to just five people and that there were also others who were eager to attend. He and his wife Rosalynn are very pleased with the official delegation."

The statement goes on to say that they will be honoring Pope John Paul II in spirit. So again, an explanation for why Jimmy Carter will not be part of that five-person delegation going with President Bush this Friday.

Well, in his 26 years as head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II had an enormous impact on political issues around the world. With me now from Capitol Hill, Senators Barbara McCulski, Democrat of Maryland, and Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas. Both of them are Catholics.

Senator McCulski, to you first. A lifelong Catholic, someone born into the church, you are were also a Polish-American. Of course the pope was Polish. He had a special meaninging for you.

SEN. BARBARA MCCULSKI (D), MARYLAND: Oh, absolutely. We in the Polish heritage were absolutely thrilled when we heard that John, then Cardinal Wojtyla, was picked to be the Polish pope.

I lived in a Polish neighborhood. The church bells rang. The tugboats board in Baltimore. We closed the streets, and we just partied. And we were absolutely thrilled.

But really what had given us the great joy was the role that he has played in helping stand up for solidarity, to work with President Reagan to bring about the end of the Cold War. And to be such a person to help bring down that iron curtain and truly work to liberate the Poles and liberate people everywhere.

WOODRUFF: Senator Brownback, you came to the Catholic Church differently. You converted to Catholicism a few years ago. Talk about your feeling for this pope.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK ®, KANSAS: Well, I watched him for a number of years before I joined the Catholic Church. And I thought he was just an extraordinary individual.

Very bold. Very aggressive. Very clear in his statements and the things that he would do.

Very much living the teachings of Christ. And I studied that and I looked at it. And it was very appealing.

It reminded me of a great leader one time who said that he would become a Christian if he could see somebody who lived the true Christian faith. And I thought really Pope John Paul II did.

WOODRUFF: Senator Mikulski, do you think this pope changed American politics?

MIKULSKI: Well, the pope doesn't influence politics. I think the pope influences people and influences society. And therefore, influenced us. I think his continual call for peace, for human rights, to talk about being worried about the poor-I remember when he came to Baltimore and made a wonderful appearance at Camden Yards and rode through the pope mobile. And after the great mass in the stadium, he didn't just go to meet with the power elite.

He went up to Our Daily Bread, a soup kitchen run by Catholic Charities, to continually-to remind us to remember the people who were left out in our society. And I think that was the challenge that he issued. And with my dear friend, Senator Brownback, we recalled that the pope said, "Be not afraid," and he offered conviction and consistency in those principles.

WOODRUFF: Senator Brownback, at the same time, there are clearly differences at times between people in public life, people in private life, and the Vatican, the pope, even when they're the same-you're of the same faith. How do you deal with those contradictions?

BROWNBACK: Well, I think one has to pray about it and search their own soul. But I do think the Catholic Church has some very clear teachings on the sanctity and the sacredness of each and every human life no matter what its stage, no matter what its place, no matter where it is, no matter where it looks like.

And that's why this pope would stand up for people in downtrodden places throughout the world and stand up for life in the womb and for the end of life. And stand on issues like capital punishment as well. That life per se is sacred. And he really drove that point.

WOODRUFF: Senator Mikulski, clearly you don't agree with every teaching of this pope or the Vatican at this moment in history. How do you reconcile that?

MIKULSKI: Well, first of all, I take a lot of my guidance from Matthew 5:1-12. It's called the Sermon of the Mount, where our lord stood up and said, feed the hungry, care for the sick, be humble and work for the poor, and hunger and thirst after justice.

I believe that's what that pope advocated. And I certainly subscribe to those principles.

Would I have liked for him to be more inclusive of women? The answer is yes. Did he stand up for issues related to woman? Absolutely. Domestic violence, an issue Senator Brownback and I are working in against the trafficking of women and children being sold around the world.

And we try to find common ground, but there are those convictions of the principles that I believe that were found in the gospel.

WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there. But we want to thank both you, Senator Mikulski, and you, Senator Brownback, for sharing your thoughts with us on this day. We appreciate it.

BROWNBACK: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you both.


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