MSNBC Hardball - Transcript
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MATTHEWS: And that's the way it's been this week. Thank you, Katie Couric.
Among those here in Rome to pay tribute to Pope John Paul II are congressional delegations from both the House and the Senate of the United States. With me now are five members of the House delegation, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Congressman Mark Foley Florida, and Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York and Congressman Peter King of New York.
Let's start. I want to make this very nonpolitical, as you all do.
That's why you came.
Marcy, talk about the pope and then everybody else, your feelings about coming here.
REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO: Well, first of all, we're very grateful to be here and very grateful to this great religious leader, who will go down in history as one of the greatest leaders of this era of human kind.
Two memories in particular for me will live forever, one as a young member of the White House staff during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. I was there to welcome the first Slavic pope in U.S. history to the White House. I'm of Polish American heritage. I shall never forget that.
And the president and all the people gathered on the White House lawn. The weather was as beautiful as it is here today. And then a more recent memory, in 2001, leading a pilgrimage from my own church back in Ohio, a little flower parish, to Ukraine to help the pope at that moment for the first mass in former Soviet-occupied territory east of Poland or Hungary. Russia, of course, never let him in.
But, in 2001, setting foot on that soil and being there for that moment will be with me until I die.
REP. ROSA DELAURO (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, I was here at the Vatican in 2000 for the millennium. And I was at the mass that the pope officiated at.
And I was struck then, as I am now in watching him, in that what he did was, he was the head of our church, but he didn't stay behind the doors. He reached out. He said to people all over the world, wherever he went, whether it was United States or Mexico, Poland, that this was the church. He was, but it wasn't bricks and mortar. It was about a humanity. It was about social justice, economic justice. It is about a social gospel that he spread.
And I was struck. I was in St. Peter's Square on Saturday night when the pope died. And I was struck by the faces of the young, so many young people here who he attracted. And he was a man of enormous compassion and dignity and human rights, and they're back here to pay their respects to him tonight.
REP. MARK FOLEY ®, FLORIDA: Well, like Marcy, I'm of Polish ancestry. My grandmother came from Poland. She came to this country.
And the proudest moment of her life was when her pope, her John Paul became pope, giving hope to every person of Polish ancestry. And I remember coming back in 2003 for the 25th anniversary of his papacy. And I had him bless my grandmother's rosaries. For me personally, it was amazing, because it would have been her 100th birthday that day.
And I said to him (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE), which is happy birthday, long life. So, he was so serene. He was so gentle. He was so kind. And he made our church real. He brought it, as Rosa said, to the people. He made it touchable, the first pope in history where people felt they could reach out and feel the man of God, St. Peter's disciple. It was just awe-inspiring.
And then seeing him today in rest, and the people that were there, the young, the old, Muslims, Jews, from all walks of life, waiting hours to just say goodbye to a man that they may never have met, but they knew in their heart he was great and he did good things.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: I met with the pope at least a half dozen times. And each time was more awesome than the first.
But I remember the first so well, because I was chairing the Select Narcotic Committee. That's with Ben Gilman and Frank Guarini. And I had to practice all night the protocol. And when I saw him, I was explaining that I was a former altar boy. And I couldn't talk to bishops, never cardinals. And I forgot the protocol.
And from then on, he called me his altar boy.
RANGEL: He had such a compassionate concern about those people that were afflicted with drugs. He knew that it was the poor of our country and he also knew it was the poor that was growing the drugs. And he would talk in very sophisticated ways about substitute crops.
And I guess the most flattering thing is that, when the committee came, because Rome was the center of international crime fighting, is when he sent for us. Then we thought we were doing something good for the world.
MATTHEWS: Peter King.
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: First of all, I should say, my wife is Polish and she always claims the pope as being her pope. So, I can understand what you're talking about, Mark.
I met the pope one time in 1995 when he was at Newark Airport. I was part of the welcoming party when he came into the United States with President Clinton. And, again, he was a person that carried the aura of history. He was just magnetic. He had-certainly stood for principles, had incredibly great leadership.
And I really find it so rewarding to see this massive outpouring. So much of our society has dealt with trivialities and self-absorption. And to have someone who stands for principles and ideals to find people-I guess there is a yearning in everyone. They really wanted someone who was willing to stand up and be counted and who was willing to be, as Rosa said, a real person, go out and meet with the people.
Whether you agree with him on every issue or not-some of us do-some of us don't-the fact is, he really stood for something. He stood for something that was lasting and eternal. And I think that reflects in the tremendous outpouring of love for him.
MATTHEWS: Remember Joseph Stalin, who said, how many-asked, how many divisions does the pope have?
MATTHEWS: Well, you all grew up probably praying, like I did, for the conversion of Russia every Sunday, right?
MATTHEWS: Do you have any thoughts about this man's role in history and how he was the spiritual sort of trigger to what happened in Eastern Europe?
KAPTUR: I think that if we consider all work that he did in building a counterpart to the Polish communist state and helped to bless Solidarity in Poland.
And, in fact, Lech Walesa always wore a Lady of Czestochowa and carried the pen that the pope gave him when he would sign agreements as that movement moved forward, the first real crack in the wall of the Soviet state. It was that spirit that then carried forward. The pope was truly an evangelist for peace, for freedom, for inclusivity.
MATTHEWS: Did you see those Communist Party posters coming in here today? They are all over town. So the pope, the Catholic Church, of course, you all know, is the biggest bulwark against communism. We were taught that.
Charlie, talk up-well, because the church was always the biggest enemy of communism. And it got rid of the Communist Party power in this country. They're still out there, though, the commies.
MATTHEWS: They actually have a very good looking candidate. I noticed this guy today.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of that fight between the Catholic Church and communism all these years, and who won?
RANGEL: Well, the fantastic thing, I think Peter King was saying, is that, no matter where you stood on certain issues with him, you dare not challenged his spiritual authority on those things that are important to the entire world.
If the world leaders could have the compassion for human beings and the concerns, not just for this generation, but generations to come, there would be no war. And I don't think there would be poverty either.
KING: Getting back to the Soviet Union, Chris, when he went into the heart of the Iron Curtain countries and said, be not afraid to the people and had millions of people out there, he was defying the Soviet Union without one bullet, without one gun, without one division, in answer to Stalin's question.
And yet that was the cracking of the Iron Curtain. That was the bringing down, ultimately, of the Berlin Wall, and by doing it in Poland, going right, again, to the center of the Iron Curtain countries, the Soviet Bloc.
MATTHEWS: But, Mark, what is it? I see these people in line here. They were standing in line, some people, last night 12 hours without water, really, without anything, without a place to go to the bathroom. I keep saying it because it is so unusual to put up with that kind of patience.
Is that the kind of willpower he unleashed, this spiritual-they are all religious people here. They aren't doing it for a photo-op. These people are all like you guys. You came over because you wanted to. And tell me about that, that spiritual power that this guy was involved with.
FOLEY: Well, no question.
I mean, he gave hope to people that were hopeless. I mean, I can imagine politburo the day he landed in Warsaw. We're freaked out. They realize the biggest mistake, they allowed him to...
MATTHEWS: The communists.
FOLEY: Yes, no question.
But he gave people hope and inspiration. He changed the dynamics of the world. And these people are reflective of that, even people that may not have known him, joint recently born. You see parents with their kids expressing and holding them up to the pope. He just made people's lives better. And that's why they're waiting in the heat. They could watch it on TV.
FOLEY: Millions came, 12, 13, 14 hours in line.
MATTHEWS: Well, Israeli tell you one thing. They all feel better now. I've been talking to a lot of them. It's like a sacrament. It's like going to confession. Everybody feels better than they did a couple days ago.
MATTHEWS: We'll be right back with Congressman Foley, Rangel, King, Congresswoman Kaptur and DeLauro.
You're watching a special edition, a bipartisan edition of HARDBALL, from the Vatican, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We're back with five members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are here in Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
I want to ask you all. This is somewhat divisive, but let's go for it. The values of the man who just died, who is being honored tomorrow in this funeral, they were Catholic values. But were they Republican or Democratic values? How do you divide them up, the right to life, supporting pro-choice-pro-life candidates, but yet opposition to death penalty, for poor nations of the world, for debt relief.
How do figure it all? You start, Mark.
MATTHEWS: How do you divide up the spoils here, because...
FOLEY: Well, thank God the pope never thought politically. He thought about the doctrines of the church and he made those pronouncements very clear to the following.
We can all disagree politically, but the joy of the process is, that is our job as government officials. His was to lead, lead the church and the flock. And so I'm proud of him for not choosing sides or pointing any political direction.
MATTHEWS: Marcy, do you think he understood that, in our system of government, that, since we have a pluralistic society and we really believe in personal freedom more than anything, that the church views can't influence all the time public policy?
KAPTUR: I think that the pope very carefully inspired best actions in people.
And he really walked that political line surely in the part of the world from which he came. Because he never lived the majority of his life in a free society, I think that some of his positions and the need for dialogue within the church internationally is something he spoke of on occasion, but needs to be broadened now in this new millennium.
I think he hoped for that. But, in some ways, he was locked into the job of his era, what did he was profound. And if I could just say, I was here in 2000. Rosa mentioned the young people. I went to one of those world youth days over at the Pope Paul VI center.
And the young people-what he inspired in the young people around the world is unquantifiable. It's going to come. And I think many of them will lead the world forward. So, he-he tried to inspire the best in us and get us to draw on our spirituality in every one of the decisions that we make.
MATTHEWS: I mean, Charlie, Jesus didn't hang around with the swells, the rich people.
RANGEL: Well, he said the rich are going straight to hell.
MATTHEWS: Well, he did not.
MATTHEWS: He said it is harder to get through a needle's...
RANGEL: No. But the deal with St. Matthews and all these people are trying to get into heaven. And he said, hey, when I was hungry, you didn't feed me. I was thirsty. I was naked. I was sick. You didn't do all these-he's talking about food stamps, Social Security.
RANGEL: He's talking about taking care of those who haven't got. So, when it comes to moral value, my Republican friends can decide which side the pope was on.
MATTHEWS: Peter King.
KING: Yes, I think we can certainly debate these in another setting.
To me, I am very confident that my beliefs reflect the pope's, but I'm not saying Charlie's don't. I mean, I think, as a Catholic, I try to bring my faith and my religion to views I hold. I may end up on a different side than Charlie. I believe that mine are more close than he does, but that's really what our country is about.
But I think, on certain lasting principles, the pope stood out. And the pope did speak out, and rather than have these debates tonight. But there are different levels of what is dogma, what is prudential judgment, what's informed judgment. And we can have those debates another time.
I just think what he did tell all of us was that, if you are going to make a decision, make sure it does have a moral basis for it and be secure in your own conscience.
MATTHEWS: Mark, you want to get in on this?
FOLEY: Well, I can't believe we're talking Social Security in front of the Vatican.
FOLEY: But I want to thank Speaker Hastert for making this unique opportunity possible for all of us. Member Pelosi is here with us, the minority leader.
This has been an awe-inspiring time. And I think all of us need to reflect on his greatness. If we could bring that wonderful love he gave the world to the Chamber of Congress, rather than fighting each other, talking about solving problems, we would be a lot further ahead.
MATTHEWS: What don't we can about the pope we should know, Laura?
DELAURO: Well, you know, I think-let me just say this one thing. I think your comment about values, they're Catholic values. They're not Republican values. They're not Democratic values.
And each of us has grown up not-and exercises those values, not in the time frame we have served in the United States Congress, but where we have come from. I'm from an Italian American Catholic family. That's where my values were learned. That's what motivates me. The backgrounds of my colleagues, that's what motivates them.
And I think that the pope did have that at his core. There are differences. But it is about getting back to not use either religion or values as political weapons, but for what they are in order to bring some light to life, which is what did he for the millions of people in the world.
KING: So, we shouldn't bring the pope into the Social Security debate.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Peter King. Thank you, Charles Rangel.
Thank you, Mark Foley. Thank you, Rosa DeLauro. Thank you, Marcy Kaptur.
A great group. We almost got through there without a fight.
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