Martin Bashir | March 12, 2013
>>> pictures of the vatican where a short time ago black smoke was seen coming from the chimney of the sistine chapel indicating that a new pope has not yet been elected. after taking an oath of secrecy, the 115 cardinal electors locked themselves inside the chapel earlier today and began their deliberations. an american cardinal sean o'malley of boston is getting a lot of support from latin american cardinals who think their part of the world has been ignored by rome. this as american catholics increasingly express their desire for a more open and contemporary church . a new " washington post "/abc news poll reveals 55% of them believe priests should be allowed to marry. and 58% say it's time to allow women to join the priesthood. chris jansing , host of msnbc's "jansing & co" joins us live again from rome. chris , in addition to ardcardinal o'malley, new york's archbishop, timothy dolan is attracting attention. are some of the candidates somewhat undermined by the sex abuse scandal that has roiled so many american diocese?
>> reporter: good evening, martin. i think not. and here's the reason why. let's take the case of cardinal o'malley who has been at three separate diocese as head of those diocese, and in all of them he has been tasked with cleaning up the sex abuse mess and has gotten generally high marks in fallriver, massachusetts, palm beach , and of course now in boston. timothy dolan has been someone who's been very open and outspoken about the mess that was created by the church and the secrecy. he believes now that the church is on the right path, although not all the organizations that support those victims of sex abuse might agree with that. certainly among the cardinal electors , i think ifiteria is to look at someone who has a track record of cleaning up the mess, the two men you named cardinals dolan and o'malley are not two that would be eliminated on that ground. in fact, if anything, it probably helps cardinal o'malley, martin.
>> it's interesting. now, that same poll, chris , asked american catholics if they felt the church was out of touch with their views. and 6 0% said yes. there does appear to be such a deep disconnect between the pronouncements of the church on issues, for example, like contraception, and the behavior of ordinary catholics , the vast majority of whom ignore the leadership and happily use contraception.
>> reporter: and have, frankly, for some time. this is nothing new. i think that same poll showed that only about 40% of the adults in america who call themselves catholic go to church on a regular basis. look, this is an ongoing problem, and it's something that has a lot of americans looking very closely at this conclave because part of the split really is from the camp that wants the church to remain theologically pure. it's kind of like the really right-wing republicans who want to remain what they consider to be fiscally pure. they want theological purity which means no movement on the social issues that concern a lot of u.s. catholics and, in fact, they're willing to have a smaller church if it is a purer church , and that's up against a lot of the reformers who believe there need to be changes. now, are there a lot of cardinals in there who are going to immediately say, let's have married priests ? or let's have women priests ? you're not going to see that out of this college of cardinals, but i think there really is going to be a message that's sent with whoever is elected about which direction the church is going in, and certainly american catholics are watching this very closely, martin.
>> msnbc's chris jansing . traversing politics and theology. thank you so much, chris .