Jansing and Co | February 12, 2013
>> now by carl bernstein , contributor to the daily beast , who co-authored a book about pope john paul and who was here with me in rome when we covered the death of john paul . and carl, it is good to see you. and i'm wondering just about your general reaction now, eight years later, when many people thought this would be a placeholder pope, what are your thoughts today?
>> i think that it was worse than a placeholder pope. that the church fell into a kind of morass because of its internal problems and the failure to modernize its institutions, the conclave that elected benedict probably could have seen this coming, it didn't. but the truly revolutionary act of this papacy is the resignation of benedict while he's still somewhat able. it breaks tradition and it's an extraordinary and brave act that perhaps will enable the next conclave to think differently about the future of the church . and i started doing some thinking and going back and looking at modern history of the church last night. maybe, they're always talking, the cardinals, about hoe the holy spirit may move them. maybe it's time for a new vatican council , such as pope john xxiii called in the middle of the century, in the '60s, that revolutionized the church , the church in the modern world . and i looked at his opening prayer of vatican ii , in which he said, it was time for the doctrine to be studied afresh and reformulated in contemporary terms. my guess is that there are a lot of cardinals that know that something has to be done to turn the ship of this great and old and troubled institution in a new direction, and perhaps a conclave, such as a new ecumenical council , might be occurring to some of them. one would hope.
>> do you think that the election of this new pope will give us an indication of where the church is going? and i mean in this context, because we know that in his writings, pope benedict had actually argued for a more traditional church , a more conservative church , and then a smaller church , believing that if you focus on what have been the traditional and core values, that the church will grow, in ways that it has in latin america and in africa. that in opposition to a lot of more western, european, americans who believe that the church has to be more open, has to at least consider a wider role for women in the church , perhaps married priests , no more celibate priests. is that what you think the battle will be? and will we get an indication when we see who the new pope is?
>> i don't think it's quite that simple. it's not quite simple terms like conservative or liberal. it's a very nuanced concept, because the theology of the church and great catholic social teaching and its application to the third world are not necessarily antithetical to a modern papal and vatican institution and a different kind of hierarchy and a different role for women. that's why i'm suggesting, perhaps, a new ecumenical council , which would take two or three years, as vatican ii did, to study and reformulate these matters, might be an answer to help the church in this terribly troubled time, for the faithful. but what happens when a cardinal is elevated to the papacy is a mysterioious process. we didn't know that john xxiii was going to be the great pope that he was, he we didn't know that votilla was going to be the great pope that he was, even though what we're seeing now in terms of the status of the church go back to him. he's the great figure in the fall of communism . he's one of the great popes of all time, and yet, this terrible difficulty of the role of the priesthood, of the role of women , became worse, as well as many other questions internally and institutionally during the papacy of john paul ii . now will a new pope in his mysterious way and through contemplation and prayer, and we're not going to know when he gets up at that window, after the grey smoke, and makes his first address to the people gathered where you are, what he is going to do. it's going to take a little bit of time. but the hope, i think, is that we will get a pope, the world will get a pope, this church will get a pope who thinks differently and perhaps thinks differently than what the cardinals' expectations of him are going to be. don't forget, these cardinals, two-thirds of them were appointed by john paul ii , and pope benedict . theologically, they adhere to the same views as john paul ii and benedict , in terms of the hierarchy of the church . they're not really, most of them, for any kind of break with the past. and yet, there have been popes who see, through whatever means of prayer, contemplation, tradition, whatever, that their job is to move the church in a different direction, and that's why i'm suggesting that john xxiii , with his call for vatican ii and ecumenical council , to look and re-evaluate the role of the church and particular the hierarchy, women, sexual questions in the modern world , this might be on the agenda of the next pope. carl bernstein , it is good to talk to you, even from afar. thank you so much for being with us.
>> you're in a beautiful spot.
>> it is, indeed.