Hardball | February 11, 2013
>>> new pope. let's play "hardball."
>>> good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this stunning news today that the head of the 1.2 billion. person roman catholic church is retiring at the end of the month. this is the first time in many century that is a pope has done anything like this. well, the question is whether a new pope to be elected in the next two or three weeks can refine church doing trin on matters like birth control , the role of women . can he correct and meet certainly head on the scandals that have besieged and enraged the catholic chump in the u.s. and in irmd and other countries in tonight i will tell you what i think. i know who the front run ser right now and what we can expect of him. and let's face it, the election of a pope is a political as well as a spiritual undertaking. ambition and humility both play their roles. the stakes, who will lead the church for the years ahead, probably for our lifetimes. it's going to matter and not just to catholics. i'm joined by melinda henin burger and e.j. deon. here is my pick, cardinal angelo scala , just barely young enough to make it. the biggest thing he has gone in his favor, the pope wants him and there are a lot of voting cardinals who owe the pope. a majority were picked by the fellow right there, his holeyness. about 56%, close to the two-thirds needing to win. he's italian, that always helps. he's european, 62, a majority are from europe. you know how political i'm getting here? i'm just starting here, melinda . this is a political enterprise. it's a secular event and it's an election very democratic. my bet is that this pope wants a quick election because he has a successor and he wants that successor to be his guy scala from milan. your thoughts?
>> i agree with you that i think scala is the most likely outcome but i do not see benedict as trying to have a big impact on the election because i really think that of the people who are possible to take on this role, there's very little difference on them -- among them on policy, on what would come next, on, as you said, things like contra contracepti contraception, order nation of women. all the people on the running would be quite orthodox leading the orthodox catholic church , so i really don't think that he's going to get very involved in --
>> you are so pessimistic here. i want to go to e.j. now because there's two good things that can happen. i'm a progressive on catholics issues and all kinds of issues. you are, too, e.j. i think melinda is too. we get a guy like scala who turns out to be more liberal than the pope things and second, some way out candidate we never heard of perhaps from italy, that's where the liberals come from, comes forth and offers himself up and we pull a big surprise because scala can't put it together.
>> let's stipulate we would probably pick a nun.
>> i spent a lot of time last week with my late aunt agnes' friends in the convent. i would rather they pick the next pope.
>> i think it would be a good thing.
>> they are good people and they have good values and they believe in a vow of poverty and they live by it and they're good people.
>> here is the problem with the scala theory. it's not 100% clear to me he is the benedict guy. number two, this isn't like a chicago committeeman saying we're voting for scala and all the hands go up. this is more like the united states senate where every member believes he is entitled to the top job and is as good as the other guys. the other thing i think that --
>> so you don't think the white smoke is going to come up in two or three weeks.
>> i think it could take a while. that's the other advantage for scala is also the problem which is the italians don't always stick together. as you know in politics, some of the worst fights are within your own camp.
>> usually the irish.
>> it is often the irish, but, you know, he is a leader, that gives him a power base. it's an important group in the church , but they have had some trouble with some of their politicians --
>> let's talk north america . all politics is local. i want to talk to melinda , is there any chance one of us from this continental would be the next pope. how about mark willette, 68, preeffect of the conditioning for bishops, that means he gets to be the gatekeeper for who becomes a bishop around the world. they say he's a bit of a chill but he makes the top -- the irish betting odds, the bookies in ireland, they bet on him for some reason.
>> he's my number two choice. i really do think -- he's very close to the pope. he is an adviser to the pope. he knows everybody by virtue of working in rome , which is very important because some of these people just don't know their fellow cardinals that well. and --
>> how about his language ability. he can speak english, french, portuguese, spanish. he's got german. it seems to me like german would be pretty good when you're dealing with ratzinger.
>> i think if it's going to be someone from north america , it's most likely to be he. i don't see -- i know there's a lot of talk about cardinal dolan and a couple of the other americans --
>> what do you hear about tim dolan? about the archbishop of new york , the head of the catholic bishops in new york. i really like the guy. i think he's a moderate.
>> he's very well-known. he ran the north american college there, the place for young american and canadian seminaryians, and he's very well liked, but i think he's seen as too american, first of all, having a super power pope really would bother a lot of people from catholic countries around the world --
>> but you know what --
>> and his --
>> he's too american. he's too regular person. let's talk about the policy here. i believe vitae, where pope pious vi came out against birth control had to be refined. it has 2340g to do with murder or death. it's a simply better of discipline and sexual relations between husband and wife. it seems it has to do more about their relationship. it's about the long relationship between man and woman when they're married. sex is part of that. what is wrong with that more yamly? i can't find out what's wrong with it? i think the church has never explained that. and i don't think explaining is going to work.
>> the majority on pope paul vi 's own commission on that agreed with what you just said. i'm sure the three of us completely agree on it but i just don't think the electors in that room are going to be thinking about the kind of things that we're thinking about.
>> every catholic watching this show and about a third of the people watching this show are catholic, they know they have not heard a sermon since the 1950s against birth control .
>> public religion research institute that i do some work with, 70% of church going, weekly church going --
>> 70% disagree with the church 's teaching on this. so it's clearly true here. it's true throughout western europe . just to go back to the pundit tri for a second, on the ouleete matter --
>> he's the quebec guy.
>> who i should be for. there's a great saying among the folks in the vatican, after a fat pope, a thin pope, he is too much like benedict and he might look like benedict light. i'm trying to knock down all the front-runners because i think our best hope for a pope like john xxiii is -- a long --
>> i think a chubby popebe -- i don't thin k governor christie is available for this particular line of work although he's a fellow religious. i want to get back to you, linda, i read your column all the time, and i think your values are a tad to my right, a tad or a half a tad. that's all right. i know you're smiling because it's true. let's talk about this. a lot of people who weren't catholic are wondering why we're talking about this. 1.2 billion people in the catholic church . it's a loud church to be heard from and it tends to be a bulwark of belief. it isn't a pr church . it does what it believes. the question is what it believes. does it have to be refined? the role of women is not the same as the role of women 2,000 years ago in any society. why can't women be priests?
>> i would be the first to lead that parade. i'm just saying -- all i'm really saying, there's no daylight between you and me on this issue, but i'm just saying that when, you know, we can impose what we think they should be thinking about and what we think they should be discussing but i'm just telling you the reality in rome is that that's not on the table.
>> the reason i say that is because culturally, it's not a religious thing, culturally sure jesus called the apostles who were men. today who are the best chefs? a lot of them are men. these roles are different. the women cooked the meals 2,000 years ago. the men cook the best meals today. there are a lot of different roles we play.
>> i always tell my daughters the good news is the catholic church is will have women priests some day. it might take us 200 years. and i think it's a real shame that these issues get in the way, that they don't take a step forward because when you look at the catholic church , including benedict , they are great on all matters of social justice and i wish that were louder --
>> most of the new deal came from the church and pope pious. i know all that stuff. they thought liberal was a bad word because they thought it meant capitalist. the important thing this pope has done with all respect for our holy father, he quit. this is remarkable, melinda . he basically --
>> admitted he was becoming fallible. becoming a person who couldn't make the decisions. i'm not speaking in terms of spiritual terms as much as getting up in the morning, dealing with these crises, traveling, walking. these are things he couldn't do anymore and he acknowledged. there's a humility there.
>> it's an extraordinary and brave thing and i'm glad we're getting back to thinking who comes next, who relinquishes power willingly whether it's in government, whether it's in your office? i mean it just doesn't happen. so i think that the irony here, one of them, is that this man who many people associate with the middle ages is going to go down in history as a modernizer because he really showed this modern reality and was the first, you know, even 600 years ago when it happened, it happened to heal a schism. this is happening because he, a, sees we're living longer now, but, b, sees for all the incense and candlelight around the papacy, it's also a job and there are certain requirements of the job and if you can't do it, what he's saying and voting with his feet, is that you need to leave.
>> well said.
>> i think it shows a lot of humility. in april of 2005 when pope john paul ii died we broadcasted "hardball" from rome . as we closed our last show from there, let's listen. look at these people standing for hours, day and night , through the avenues of rome , packed together as if they had been caught and crushed in an industrial strength trash compacter. there they stood seeking no edge, plotting no photo opportunity , playing none of the games that people do in politics, in business, in so much of life. this is no pub lisible stunt or initial stock offering or inside deal or anything but the purest most obvious most grandly transparent display of individual devotion. voting with your feet.
>> thanks four your wise and warm words. thanks for coming on and enl deon, mr. america and french canadian and all kind of things.
>>> dick cheney from the sublime to the ridiculous . dick cheney can't stand the fact that his side lost the election, dick. that he and his neocons are under assault and in retreat thank god. he's saying president obama is picking second class people. we'll be right back with the story of dick cheney .
>>> also the white party . how did the gop become the home office for conservative whites? a fascinating new story in the new republic argues the cause is not overt racism but is based on the precivil war southern interpret tas of the constitution shared by modern day republicans, you know, secessi secession, nullification.
>>> plus the man who shot osama bin laden , we don't know his name yet and have never seen his face yet, but the member of the s.e.a.l. team who pulled the trigger three times has told his story to esquire. we've got the author here tonight, phil bron steen. let me finish with some thoughts on the stipe of republican dick cheney leads. the kind that would believe in him. this is "hardball," the place